Saturday, November 6, 2010

With me grading papers, I have a pet peeve.

AUUGHHH. What is UP with all the unnecessarily roundabout constructions? And why are some students apparently allergic to the word "because"?

"Being that I'm wearing the pope hat, you have to do what I say."

"With me being the one wearing the pope hat, you have to do what I say."

Nonononono. Because I'm wearing the pope hat, you have to do what I say*. Or: I'm wearing the pope hat, so you have to do what I say. What is so difficult about this?

ALSO, why do students always want to write "In the article, they say..." instead of "The article says..."?

* Yes, I'm aware that some K-12 teachers, for some inscrutable reason, tell students that they must never ever begin a sentence with the word "because." Dudes, that's a bogus, made-up rule, but if you MUST follow every silly instruction your high school teacher ever gave you while totally ignoring mine, what's wrong with "You have to do what I say because I'm wearing the pope hat"?


Horace said...

Oh they know how to use because, but only when saying, "the reason you must listen to me is because I'm wearing the pope hat."

Fretful Porpentine said...

Heh. Too true.

(Is it horrible that I've stopped taking my comp classes for sessions with the reference librarian because she kept saying "The reason is because..." every five seconds, and it was driving me nuts? Well, that, and she told them journals and magazines were the same thing right after I'd spent an entire day explaining that they were NOT the same thing, but that's another rant for another time.)

Lea said...

The thing that bothers me irrationally is the number of students I have who have actually BEEN pregnant and yet cannot SPELL it. IT HAS TWO Ns, EVERYONE.

Flavia said...

My best explanation for this (and I see it all the time, too), is that they're trying to put on what they believe to be an authoritative or academic voice--and that involves long words and roundabout, often passive constructions.

I'm quite sure they don't write like that to their friends, and I know they (usually!) don't speak like that.

But while I'm sympathetic to the impulse or at least the reasons underlying it, it MUST BE STOPPED.

Sisyphus said...


In addition to these annoyances, my students will not be broken of writing the entire paper in the second person and still treat the essays we have read as oral texts ("Thoreau says you need to go out into the woods and live off the land." Except for the first paper, they were all on a first-name basis with the women authors, who they invariably called "girls" regardless of age.)


Bardiac said...


It's like reading my nightmares to read the original post and the comments.

What is it with thinking they're on a first name basis with female writers?

Fretful Porpentine said...

I think a lot of them, consciously or unconsciously, think it's rude to refer to a woman by last-name-only. (Some students here in the Bible Belt seem to think it's rude to refer to anyone by last name only, so you get papers full of references to "Mr. John Keats." Which I find sort of adorable, actually.)

heu mihi said...

Every one of these things, except the "pregnant" and "Mr. John Keats" examples, torments me constantly.

I did a Grammar Day in comp recently, for which I wrote a Ghastly Paragraph on the subject of knitting and crocheting. Perhaps it was because I'd been on campus for 10 hours at that point, but when I drafted the sentence, "Also being a craft that involves yarn, I am very good at crocheting," I began giggling uncontrollably.

(And not *one* student figured out what was wrong with that sentence--not until I hinted very heavily--"What am I saying that I am here, people??". Then, at least, one or two tentatively proposed a solution.)

the rebel lettriste said...


"Point being..." (Point being I want to kill myself?)
"in which" (what the fuck does that even MEAN?)

Also, articles. Look into them, especially if your native language doesn't have them. (Every Slavic language and just about every language in central fucking Asia, I see you.)

S-V-O. When in doubt, follow that structure and you can't go wrong.