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As a service to our students, MCU has created a writing tutorial to remind students of basic English grammar forms. Please, read the tutorial and fill out the evaluation form on its usefulness. This will help us to refine it in the future to better serve the needs of our students.
The Mid-Continent University writing tutorial will
provide students basic information on writing for different purposes. The
tutorial will address such issues as Sentence Structure, Paragraph and Topic
Sentence Structure, Essay and Thesis Statement Structure, and Research
Citations. The tutorial is intended for students who need a refresher in
prewriting but is not intended to be a comprehensive resource on writing
A sentence is a group of words that
contains a subject and a verb and makes sense by itself. There are four basic
sentence patterns: simple, compound, complex, and compound-complex.
This tutorial will deal with the first three patterns.
A simple sentence is defined as one
independent clause only. An independent clause is a group of words with a
subject and verb and can stand alone as a separate sentence. The sentence does
not have to be elementary or simplistic but should present one idea. Since the
simple sentence presents one main idea, it is useful for creating emphasis.
Example: Mary called her sister in Hawaii. Go
and prepare for the luncheon. (You is the understood subject in this sentence.)
A compound sentence contains two or more
independent clauses joined by a comma and a coordinating conjunction (and, but,
or, nor, for, yet and so) or by a semicolon. The compound sentence presents a
balanced relationship between the ideas that are joined. This pattern
emphasizes that the ideas are of equal importance.
Example: The man moved to Kentucky in 1993, but he
often visited Mississippi and Ohio. The
man moved to Kentucky in 1993; he often visited Mississippi and Ohio.
A complex sentence contains at least one
independent clause and at least one dependent clause. A dependent clause is one
that has a subject and verb but cannot stand alone as a separate sentence. The
dependent clause is introduced by either a subordinate conjunction or a relative
pronoun (See list below.). The independent clause is emphasized over the
dependent clause in this interrelationship of ideas.
Example: Because a hurricane was moving toward
Florida, our vacation was altered. --“Our
vacation was altered” is the independent clause. It is the main idea of the
The young lady believed that he was
honest in his proclamation of love. --“That he was honest in his proclamation
of love” is the dependent clause.
to the process of joining simple sentences to form a compound sentence.
Coordination presents ideas that together establish an important, parallel
Melissa to be absent.The absentee
report showed her present.
Melissa to be absent, but the absentee report showed her present.
to the process of joining simple sentences to form a complex sentence.
Subordination indicates relationships of ideas where one is subordinate to the
other. Subordination is the basis of a mature and effective sentence style. Any
independent clause becomes dependent when a subordinate conjunction or a
relative pronoun is placed in front of the clause.
ran four miles today. Clarence was feeling unusually strong.Because he was
feeling unusually strong, Clarence ran four miles today.
as long as
in order that
as soon as
A paragraph is a group of sentences that
support or develop one particular idea about a topic. Paragraphs vary in length
from three to ten or twelve sentences. A paragraph can stand alone or function
with other paragraphs to form a longer piece of writing.
A paragraph has three main parts: a topic
sentence, a supporting sentence/s, and a concluding sentence. The
main idea of the paragraph is the topic sentence. The topic
sentence has two parts: the topic and the focus (controlling idea).
an essential ingredient of a happy marriage. topic focus
Riding the bus is an
excellent means of commuting. topic focus
Most Americans have not given up on marriage
as a biblical ideal. topic focus
When writers write a topic sentence for a
paragraph, they should remember that an effective topic sentence is a complete
sentence, includes both a topic and focus, and takes into account
the audience and purpose. The topic sentences must contain a topic and some
point (focus) about the topic. The topic in the form of a fragment is not a
topic sentence. Before writing the paragraph, writers should have a complete
topic sentence that includes both topic and focus. Writers who begin writing
with only a topic in mind will probably not produce a coherent and
An essay does much the same thing
a paragraph does. It begins with a point, and the remaining part of the essay
provides details that support and develop that point. A paragraph is a series
of sentences about one point, and an essay is a series of paragraphs about one
The essay is made up of an introductory paragraph,
several supporting paragraphs, and a concluding paragraph.
Each of these paragraphs has a specific purpose.
The Stages of
the Writing Process
Planning is the strategy
of finding and formulating information for the writing assignment.
Drafting is the strategy of organizing
and developing information for the writing assignment.
The thesis statement asserts the main idea of a
piece of writing. This statement can emerge at any point in the writing
process. Like the topic sentence in a paragraph, the thesis statement should
have a topic and a focus.
Revising and editing are the strategies
of reexamining and reevaluating the writing assignment. Revising has to do with
content; editing has to do with mechanics.
Reasons for Revising and Editing:
Most college and university professors assign
research (library or term) papers to students. This assignment is similar to
other writing projects in that students must gather information to fulfill a
specific purpose. However, it differs from other assignments because the major
source of information is not from memory, observation or informal reading.
Rather, the sources become books, articles, and documents housed in libraries
or accessed on the Internet.
Most scholarly disciplines have their favored style
manual or guidelines for writing research papers. At Mid-Continent University,
faculty use one of three style manuals: The Publication Manual of the
American Psychological Association, The MLA Handbook for Writers
of Research Papers, and A Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses,
and Dissertations by Kate L. Turabian.
from a Latin word plagiarius (kidnapper) and refers to a
form of cheating. Alexander Lindey defined plagiarism as “the false
assumption of authorship; the wrongful act of taking the product of another
person’s mind, and presenting it as one’s own” (Lindey, Alexander. Plagiarism
and Originality. New York: Harper, 1952, 2). The serious penalty of
plagiarism reflects the importance that the public puts on honest information.
All three manuals give guidelines for
formatting and documenting research papers.
Manual of the American Psychological Association,Fifth Edition,
Chapters 4 and 5
The MLA Handbook
for Writers of Research Papers,Sixth Edition,
Chapters 4 and 5
Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations,
Seventh Edition, “Appendix” and Chapter 17
In APA documentation, called
parenthetical style, references are cited in text with an author-date
citation system and are listed alphabetically in the References section.
He states that
“professional theatrical activity in England came to an abrupt halt in 1642”.
(Wells, 2000, p.
(2000). Shakespeare in the theatre: An anthology of criticism. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Please see the APA reference here for more information on writing in the APA style.
In MLA documentation style, also called
parenthetical style, writers should acknowledge
their sources by keying brief parenthetical citations in the text of the paper
to an alphabetical list of works that appears on the last page of the paper.
critic states that “professional theatrical activity in England came to an
abrupt halt in 1642”. (Wells 6).
Stanley. Shakespeare in the Theatre:
An Anthology of Criticism. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000.
In the Turabian documentation style,
called footnote style, writers should acknowledge
their sources by placing a superscript number at the end of the sentence in
which they refer to the source. Then the writers cite the source of that
citation in a correspondingly numbered footnote at the bottom of the page that
provides information about the source (author, title, and publication facts)
plus pertinent page numbers. In most cases, writers list the source at the end
of the paper in a bibliography. The bibliography includes any source cited in
He states that
“professional theatrical activity in England came to an abrupt halt in 1642.”1
1 Stanley Wells, Shakespeare
in the Theatre: An Anthology of Criticism (Oxford: Oxford
University Press, 2000), 6.
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