Responding

ESSAY WRITING:  HOW TO USE  [   ]  WHEN QUOTING

Your essays should predominantly be written in the present tense – is, shows, explores ideas about, purpose is to….

However, QUOTATIONS don’t always fit smoothly in our essays when a novel or article is written in the PAST tense.

That’s when these little guys [  ] come in really handy.  They tell a marker that you have CHANGED or ADDED something in the quotation.

EXAMPLE 1: GETTING THE TENSE CONSISTENT

In the opening of his dystopian novel, Orwell states that “it [is] a bright cold day in April, and the clocks [are] striking thirteen” as a way of signposting that all is not normal in this futuristic London.

The actual quote is “It was a bright cold day….the clocks were striking…”

My marker can see  [  ]  that for the purposes of grammatical correctness, I have amended the tense.

This tells them - I know how to use verb tense and punctuation properly.  Reward me!  😊

EXAMPLE 2:  PROVIDING SOME NECESSARY INFORMATION

Orwell shows how serious the surveillance in Airstrip One is when he says “they [thought police] watched everybody all the time”.

It may not be clear to a marker who “they” are – so I provide the context for my marker using the square brackets.  I need my marker to be able to follow my argument

AND THAT’S IT.  TOO EASY!  Be careful though – you can’t use [    ]  to change the writer’s meaning to suit yourself.  And don’t use these ones (  )  -  that would be wrong. 😊

Leave a Reply