In today's class, we wrote an assignment entitled "On
Being Specific." Two teacher paragraphs follow:
"Summertime is Hammock Time" and "Summertime
Sleeping". Student examples: Morning; Afternoon.
Summertime is Hammock Time
Summer in the city is hammock
time, the best way I know to experience the heat in a comfortable way.
At the back of my yard, under a sweet cherry tree, my Mexican hammock
swings gently in the breeze. To climb in, I sit, then swing my legs
around. I push off the tree with one foot and sway back and forth. Now,
the fun begins! The spruce tree nearby fills the air with a strong, hot
scent. Above, high in its branches, birds rustle about in their nest. My
dog runs about underneath, her nose up, sniffing the air, reacting to
each tiny sound. I love to watch her, my little sentinel, as she defends
the space around my swinging perch. Often, I eat a cold gala apple or
sip a fruit juice while resting in my hammock. With each push of my foot
against the tree, I relax more and more. On a city summer day, a good
hammock is as essential to me as the shade of a neighbour’s tree that
falls across my house in the late afternoon. (Teacher: Written for
If you are like me, hot summer nights
can make it difficult to sleep. Really, I prefer a cold room with lots
of blankets on top of me. On sultry nights, however, I cover myself with
only a sheet, making me feel a bit uncomfortable. Since all the windows
are open and a fan runs in my room, it is noisy as well. But not noisy
enough to hide the sound of cats howling in my backyard, a popular
summer pastime for the tomcats in my neighbourhood. Some nights, I
welcome the sound of an approaching thunderstorm, knowing that after the
rain the sweet cool smells of the earth will soon enter my room. In all,
I often have trouble sleeping in the summer and look forward to the
cooler weather of the fall and winter.
Examples for Exercise “On Being Specific” (Morning)
In summertime, we can find a specific phenomenon on many
streets: bubble black tea stands or shops.
The phrase “many corners or sidewalks of streets” is a bit wordy.
This could be reduced to “many streets.” Using the colon to
introduce the answer to what you have suggested or a list of things is
very useful. This sentence was reduced from 29 to 17 words, but still
contains all the essential information.
Every summer month is different in Vladivostok.
June is usually cool and wet with mist and rain. Avoid “there
is” or “there are” constructions. Instead, begin with your true
Most of the time the weather is so hot that, because of
the heavy clothing women wear, most do not go out during the day.
Do not use “so” as “very” in writing. If you use “so” then
follow with “that.”
Student Examples for
Exercise “On Being Specific” (Afternoon)
I lie on my lawn chair (chaise lounge; lounger) behind
my blackberry bush where there is shade but I can still feel the
Find out words for back yard activities such as, “lawn chair.”
Perhaps check the Canadian Tire catalogue during the summer. Patio.
I love the sun—period. I like when the sun hits my
body; it immediately relaxes me.
A dash is used in pairs to separate words in a sentence that do not
follow its grammar (for example a side comment which may be also in
parenthesis) In this case, Sarah has used the dash for a kind of
emphasis. This is much more common in stories and novels than other
places. Do not use the dash to substitute for semicolons or colons or
commas if not necessary. In the above sentences we left one dash and
substituted a semicolon for the other. Another definition is a “super
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