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Exploring Writing: Sentences and Paragraphs



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McGraw-Hill Education
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  • Exploring Writing: Sentences and Paragraphs
    Exploring Writing: Sentences and Paragraphs
  • Exploring Writing: Sentences and Paragraphs
    Exploring Writing: Sentences and Paragraphs


Exploring Writing: Sentences and Paragraphsserves as a guidebook for every step of the writing process. Emphasizing both process and practice, with a focus on revision, the new third edition helps to apply and advance writing skills using John Langan's proven techniques. Mastering essential sentence skills, learning to write effective sentences, paragraphs, and essays, and becoming a critical reader are turning points for every writer, and they will prepare the students for writing situations in college and beyond.

Table of Contents


By John Langan




1. An Introduction to Writing 4

Understanding Point and Support 5

An Important Difference Between Writing and Talking 5

Point and Support in Two Cartoons 6

Point and Support in a Paragraph 8

Writing as a Skill 10

Why Does Your Attitude toward Writing Matter? 10

Writing as a Process of Discovery 12

Keeping a Journal 13

2. The Writing Process 16

How Do You Reach the Goals of Effective Writing? 17

Prewriting 17

Technique 1: Freewriting 17

Technique 2: Questioning 20

Technique 3: Making a List 21

Technique 4: Clustering 22

Technique 5: Preparing a Scratch Outline 23

Writing a First Draft 25

Writing a First Draft: A Student Model 25

Revising 27

Revising: A Student Model 28

Editing and Proofreading 29

Editing Tips 30

Proofreading Tips 30

Editing and Proofreading: A Student Model 31

Tips on Using a Computer 32

Using a Computer at Each Stage of the Writing Process 33

Using Peer Review 35

1. Identification 35

2. Scratch Outline 35

3. Comments 36

Review Activities 36

Prewriting 37

Outlining, Drafting, and Revising 37

Taking a Writing Inventory 39

Chapter Review 40


3.Four Steps for Writing, Four Bases for Revising 46

What Are The Steps to Writing Effective Paragraphs? 47

Step 1: Make a Point 47

Step 2: Support Your Point 50

Step 3: Organize the Support 67

Step 4: Write Clear, Error-Free Sentences 73

Four Bases for Revising Writing 73

Base 1: Unity 74

Base 2: Support 75

Base 3: Coherence 76

Base 4: Sentence Skills 77

4. Nine Patterns of Paragraph Development 85

Important Considerations in Paragraph Development 86

Knowing Your Subject 86

Knowing Your Purpose and Audience 86

Patterns of Development 87

Exemplification 88

A Paragraph to Consider 89

Writing an Exemplification Paragraph 89

Description 92

A Paragraph to Consider 92

Writing a Descriptive Paragraph 93

Narration 97

A Paragraph to Consider 97

Writing a Narrative Paragraph

Process 100

A Paragraph to Consider 100

Writing a Process Paragraph 101

Cause and Effect 105

A Paragraph to Consider 105

Writing a Cause-and-Effect Paragraph 106

Comparison or Contrast 108

A Paragraph to Consider 109

Writing a Comparison or Contrast Paragraph 111

Definition 114

A Paragraph to Consider 114

Writing a Definition Paragraph 115

Division-Classification 117

A Paragraph to Consider 117

Writing a Division-Classification Paragraph 119

Argument 121

A Paragraph to Consider 121

Writing an Argument Paragraph 122

5. Moving From Paragraph to Essay 126

What Is an Essay? 127

Differences between an Essay and a Paragraph 127

The Form of an Essay 127

A Model Essay 128

Important Points about the Essay 129

Introductory Paragraph 129

Supporting Paragraphs 131

Transitional Sentences 131

Concluding Paragraphs 132

Essays to Consider 132

Planning the Essay 135

Outlining the Essay 135

Form for Planning the Essay 136

Practice in Writing the Essay 136

Understanding the Two Parts of a Thesis Statement 136

Supporting the Thesis with Specific Evidence 137

Identifying Introductions 139

Revising an Essay for All Four Bases: Unity, Support, Coherence,and Sentence Skills 140

Essay Assignments 142



6. Subjects and Verbs 153

A Simple Way to Find a Subject 154
A Simple Way to Find a Verb 154
More about Subjects and Verbs 157
Distinguishing Subjects from Prepositional Phrases 157
Verbs of More Than One Word 158
Compound Subjects and Verbs 159

7. Fragments 162

What Fragments Are 163
Dependent-Word Fragments 163
How to Correct Dependent-Word Fragments 164
-ing and to Fragments 167
How to Correct -ing Fragments 167
How to Correct to Fragments 168
Added-Detail Fragments 170
How to Correct Added-Detail Fragments 170
Missing-Subject Fragments 172
How to Correct Missing-Subject Fragments 172

8. Run-Ons 179

What are Run-Ons? 180
A Warning: Words That Can Lead to Run-Ons? 180
Correcting Run-Ons
Method 1: Period and a Capital Letter 181
Method 2: Comma and a Joining Word 184
Method 3: Semicolon 186
Semicolon Alone 186
Semicolon with a Transition 186
Transitional Words 187
Method 4: Subordination 188
Dependent Words 188

9. Sentence Variety I 195

Four Traditional Sentence Patterns 195
The Simple Sentence 195
The Compound Sentence 196
The Complex Sentence 197
The Compound-Complex Sentence 201
Review of Subordination and Coordination 202


10. Standard English Verbs 210

Regular Verbs: Dialect and Standard Forms 210

Present Tense Endings 211
Past Tense Endings 213

Three Common Irregular Verbs: Dialect and Standard Forms 214

11. Irregular Verbs 220

A Brief Review of Regular Verbs 220

List of Irregular Verbs 221

Troublesome Irregular Verbs 226

12. Subject-Verb Agreement 231

Words between the Subject and the Verb 232

Verb before the Subject 233

Indefinite Pronouns 234

Compound Subjects 235

Who, Which, and That 236

13. Consistent Verb Tense 241

Keeping Tenses Consistent 241

14. Additional Information about Verbs 245

Verb Tense 245

Present Perfect (have or has + past participle) 246
Past Perfect (had + past participle) 246
Present Progressive (was or were + the -ing form) 246
Past Progressive (was or were + the -ing form) 246

Verbals 247

Infinitive 247
Participle 248
Gerund 248

Active and Passive Verbs 249

15. Pronoun Reference, Agreement, and Point of View 252

Pronoun Reference 253

Pronoun Agreement 255

Indefinite Pronouns 256

Pronoun Point of View 258

16. Pronoun Types

Subject and Object Pronouns 263

Subject Pronouns 264
Object Pronouns 265

Relative Pronouns 267

Points to Remember about Relative Pronouns 268
Possessive Pronouns 269
Demonstrative Pronouns 270

Reflexive Pronouns 272

Points to Remember about Reflexive Pronouns 272


17. Adjectives and Adverbs 276

Adjectives 276

What are Adjectives? 276
Using Adjectives to Compare 277
Points to Remember about Adjectives 277

Adverbs 279

What are Adverbs? 279
A Common Mistake with Adjectives and Adverbs 279

18. Misplaced Modifiers 283

What Misplaced Modifiers Are and How to Correct Them 283

19. Dangling Modifiers 289

What Dangling Modifiers Are and How to Correct Them 289

20. Faulty Parallelism 295

Parellelism Explained 295

21. Sentence Variety II 304

-ing Word Groups 304

-ed Word Groups 305

-ly Openers 306

To Openers 308

Prepositional Phrase Openers 309

Series of Items 311

Adjectives in Series 311
Verbs in Series 313


22. Paper Format 319

Guidelines for Preparing a Paper 320

23. Capital Letters 324

Main Uses of Capital Letters 325

First Word in a Sentence or Direct Quotation 325

Names and Titles

Names of Persons and the Word 325
Names of Particular Places 325
Names of Days of the Week, Months, and Holidays 325
Names of Commercial Products 326
Titles of Books, Magazines, Articles, Films, Televisions Shows, Songs, Poems, Stories, Papers That You Write, and the Like 326
Names of Companies, Associations, Unions, Clubs, Religious and Political Groups, and Other Organizations 326

Other Uses of Capital Letters 327

Names and Titles

Names that Show Family Relationships 328
Titles of Persons When Used with their Names 328
Specific School Courses 328

Miscellaneous Uses

Languages 328
Geographic Locations 328
Historic Periods and Events 328
Races, Nations, and Nationalities 329
Opening and Closing of a Letter 329

Unnecessary Use of Capitals 330

24. Numbers and Abbreviations 334

Numbers 334

Abbreviations 336

25. End Marks 339

Period (.) 339

Question Mark (?) 339

Exclaimation Point (!) 340

26. Apostrophes 342

Apostrophes in Contractions 343

Four Contractions to Note Carefully 344

Apostrophes to Show Ownership or Possession 345

Points to Remember 346
Apostrophes versus Possessive Pronouns 348
Apostrophes versus Simple Plurals 348
Apostrophes with Plural Words Ending in -s 350

27. Quotation Marks 354

Quotation Marks to Set Off the Words of a Speaker or Writer 355

Indirect Quotations 358

Quotation Marks to Set Off the Titles of Short Works 359

Other Uses of Quotation Marks 361

28. Commas 365

Six Main Uses of the Comma 366

Commas between Items in a Series 366
Commas after Introductory Material 367
Commas around Words Interupting the Flow of Thought 368
Commas between Complete Thoughts Connected by Joining Words 370
Commas with Direct Quotations 372
Commas with Everyday Material 373

Unnecessary Use of Commas 374

29. Other Punctuation Marks 379

Colons (:) 379

Semicolons (;) 380

Dashes (-) 381

Hyphens (-) 382

Parentheses () 382


30. Dictionary Use 386

Spelling 387

Syllabication 387

Pronunciation 388

Vowel Sounds 388

The Schwa 389

Accent Marks 389

Full Pronunciation 389

Other Information about Words 390

Parts of Speech 390
Principal Parts of Irregular Verbs 390
Plural Forms of Irregular Nouns 391
Meanings 391
Etymology 392
Usage Labels 392
Synonyms 393

31. Spelling Improvement 395

Step 1: Using the Dictionary 395

Step 2: Keeping a Personal Spelling List 396

Step 3: Mastering Commonly Confused Words 396

Step 4: Using a Computer's Spell-Checker 396

Step 5: Understanding Basic Spelling Rules 396

Step 6: Understanding Plurals 397

Step 7: Mastering a Basic Word List 399

32. Omitted Words and Letters 402

Finding Omitted Words and Letters 402

Omitted Words 403
Omitted -s Endings 403

33. Commonly Confused Words 407

Homonyms 407

Other Words Frequently Confused 414

Incorrect Word Forms 419

34. Effective Word Choice 423

Slang 424

Cliches 425

Inflated Words 426

Wordiness 428


Introduction to the Readings 438

The Format of Each Selection 438

How to Read Well: Four General Steps 439

1. Concentrate as You Read 439
2. Skim Material before You Read It 439
3. Read the Selection Straight through with a Pen Nearby 440

How to Answer the Vocabulary in Context Questions 440

How to Answer the Reading Comprehension Questions 441


Sister Helen Mrosla, “All the Good Things” 442

Paul Logan, "Rowing the Bus" 448

Rick Bragg, "All She Has - $150,000 - Is Going to a University 455

Mee Her, "Bowling to Find a Lost Father" 462

Rose Del Castillo Guilbault, The Conveyor Belt Ladies 468

Firoozah Duma, The F Word 475


Ben Carson, “Do It Better!” 483

Janny Scott, “How They Get You to Do That” 492

Grant Berry, “A Change of Attitude” 501

Beth Johnson, “Let’s Get Specific!” 511

B.J. Penn, "Stance" 521

Tony Hawk, "Do What You Love" 525

Edward P. Jones, "The First Day" 531


Katherine Barrett, “Old Before Her Time” 537

Amy Tan, “The Most Hateful Words” 546

Bill Wine, “Rudeness at the Movies” 551

Luis J. Rodriquez, "Turning Youth Gangs Around" 558

Barbara Kingsolver, "Somebody's Baby" 566

Al Gore, "Consume Less, Conserve More" 572

James Weldon Johnson, "Outcasts in Salt Lake City" 579

Appendixes 585

A. Parts of Speech 586

B. ESL Pointers 597

C. Sentence-Skills Diagnostic Test 609

D. Sentence-Skills Achievement Test 614

E. Answers to Activities in Part 3 619

Credits 637

Index 639

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