A serious issue- if your writing can’t be read, you cannot be given credit for what you have written
In future, please leave a line after every line you write
Too short- you can’t cover all the points and develop your argument in a satisfying manner.
Too long- you run the risk of including irrelevant information.
Range of essays
Range from primary school level essays to those that seem copied off a website
Problem with the latter is that
(a) it may not be relevant to the question and
(b) suddenly your writing will be very different under test conditions.
Harking back to the days of yore
Little evidence of new learning
At the upper secondary level, issues are dealt with in greater depth, so the right type of structure is essential for shaping a more mature handling of the topic.
Plunging straight into the essay- no build up
Lack of organization, no thesis statement and immature outbursts.
‘Imagine if everyone wasted paper’ or ‘imagine if everyone lit a cigarette at the same time’
The issue of human culpability
Much more emphasis is needed on this- HOW are humans responsible for the state of the environment?
“Deforestation has also played a part in producing the state of the environment today. Deforestation is the cutting down of trees in a large area. After cutting trees down, many have not been bothered to plant them back. This has resulted in more extinction of animals as their habitats are being destroyed. For example, Tongass, which is a rainforest in the United States, is facing forest destruction as trees are being cut down thoughtlessly. Hence, deforestation is at fault for creating the situation of the environment today.”
‘… it is true that the state of the environment today is largely due to Man’s activities. These… acts have contributed to worldwide deforestation, extinction of animals and pollution.’
Good idea to list the underlined points as consequences or evidence of harmful activity, and not activities themselves
Getting too emotional
Difference between writing a speech and an essay
‘It is evident that humans are cruel beasts that sacrifice innocent lives just to satisfy their greed and vanity.’
‘Man… has lost his sense of mind…’
Points must be on same level: eg smoking is not something that can compare with industrial emissions or deforestation.
This is where extensive reading and developing maturity of thought and expression are very important
Counter argument and rebuttal
The ‘but still’ fallacy commonly employed (this is not a valid rebuttal)
Invalid counter arguments:
some say that there is nothing we can do about it now
some say man has no choice if he wants to progress
one species cannot possibly have such a major impact on the world
Counter argument should be developed and rebuttal should be complete, not a mention of a point and then a summary dismissal
Example of counter argument
‘Some people think that the state of the environment now is natural, and part of the process of evolution. This is a common misconception. The fact is that human activities such as the emission of greenhouse gases, the cutting down of trees and the hunting of animals for profit have caused many changes to the environment. Had it been for these activities, there would not have been global warming, and many more animals would have survived.’
‘Most of us are aware that the earth is facing a huge problem and man’s activities are responsible for the destruction of the environment.’
Renders whole argument unnecessary.
I was sleeping soundly in my large and comfortable bed when I was rudely disturbed by the interrupting noise produced by the workers that were busy chopping down trees near my apartment. I heard from my neighbors that a new housing estate would be constructed just opposite our estate. // Thinking of what my neighbor had claimed, I thought of how our earth would look like after a century. Would there be sufficient resources for the younger generations?
The connection between the new building/tree removal and resource for the next generation is not made.
‘Firstly, the emission of greenhouse gases.’
Not a full sentence.
Let’s look at some slides on run-on sentences:
Of course many of the actual errors are more complicated than that, but now you will know what it means when you see the phrase ‘run-on sentence’ in the margin of your essay.
Inconsistent Adjacent Clause Structure
“News reports of floods and droughts in parts of China and India, areas of forested lands are disappearing at a fast speed, and ice caps at Antarctica and Arctic are melting”.
This should be changed to read “News reports of floods and droughts in parts of China and India, rapidly disappearing areas of forested lands in places such as the Amazon Basin, and melting ice caps in Antarctica and the Arctic…”
Consistent structure of listing clauses- creates rhythm (1)
‘I totally agree, the state it is in now is caused by the mass clearing of forests for land use, fossil fuels burnt to generate energy and the motor vehicles that emit gas which are harmful.’
‘I totally agree that the state it is in now is caused by the mass clearing of forests for land use, the burning of fossil fuels to generate energy, and the emission of harmful gases by motor vehicles.’
Consistent structure of listing clauses- creates rhythm (2)
‘Factories and industries produce greenhouse gases that harm the ozone layer, deforestation forms hazes and production of chlorofluorocarbon products are just some of the reasons’
‘Factories and industries produce greenhouse gases that warm the climate to dangerous levels, deforestation leads to widespread problems and the manufacture of CFC-containing products damages the ozone layer. All these are examples of the negative effects man has had on the environment , through his various activities’
Subject consistency across adjacent clauses
‘Places like America, where abundant fields of vegetation and lush green forests once stood, are now replaced by cities and buildings crammed at every corner.’
Places like America, where abundant fields of vegetation and lush green forests once stood, are now covered with cities and buildings crammed at every corner
Grouping of list items
‘… Man causes water pollution, global warming and takes natural resources for granted.’
‘… Man causes water pollution and global warming, and takes natural resources for granted.’
X = X and O construction
‘The main sources of pollution are water pollution and air pollution.’
Some DP errors are less easy to spot. But with practice, and by constantly being on the lookout for them, you will soon be a super DP detective!
‘By killing all these trees, they are unable to absorb carbon dioxide.’
Active and passive
The use of the passive can be helpful, but it work against us when we actually need to highlight a sense of guilt
‘An example of an animal which is used for human needs and is endangered is the elephant. The ivory of an elephant can be extracted to make jewelry and the ears are used as padding on donkeys’ backs. Other animals like sharks and pandas, which are captured for Man’s purposes, also face extinction.’
What is the stand on rhetorical questions?
Do not overuse them. No more than two in the whole essay
A statement that clearly sets out what the paragraph is about in relation to the question is needed
The government should…
But the question is extensive in its scope and obviously expects you to go beyond one country.
Only if you are asked, for example, “This country needs to do more to protect the environment. Discuss.” Here, you are clearly asked about a specific country.
‘Not using environmentally friendly products’
Why not say- ‘Using environmentally unfriendly/ harmful products.’
Less negation shows you in a more positive light
‘Engaging in activities’
‘Carrying out activities’
‘I agree with this statement as it is true. Man’s activities have been a threat to our environment since civilization started. It is only in recent years that the harm we have done to the environment has been recognized by more people. Although Man has now realized that many of the things he is doing are harming the environment, he still does not stop harming the environment. The damage to the environment is just the result of humans’ work.’
Pronoun and other references
When you use a reference, it must be clear what you are referring to
Eg: ‘They’, ‘this’, ‘it’. Which noun or noun phrase do these words refer back to?
Man= ‘he’, not ‘they’
The way things appear…
“How” and “like” do not have to be used in the same clause when referring to appearance.
So you either say “how (something) looked” or “what (something) looked like”.
General nouns and articles
In English, when we refer to general nouns, we do not add any article:
“Industries, especially those energy plants…” should read “Industries, especially energy plants…”
Use of modality creates impression of hypothesis
‘Deforestation is the clearing of forests. This would mean that the homes of animals would also be destroyed. This would also lead to the extinction of animals as they no longer have a home to stay in…This would increase the amount of carbon dioxide…’
‘If all the land is used for the dumping of rubbish, where would people live? The smell of the rubbish would be unbearable. The rubbish would contaminate the seas and rivers… Fishes… would die too.’
The good and the bad
The most overused words in English compositions: good, bad, nice, happy, sad.