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I

Editing Marks Used in Grading

Spelling

Grammar – expression in parenthesis indicates what


kind of grammar error, e.g. (pronoun agreement)

Awkward – an inelegant or confusing use of words,


sometimes indicated as “awk + unclear” in cases
where awkwardness has gotten in the way of
understanding

Paragraph mark – start a new paragraph here

Inversion – grammar or ordinary logic dictates that


you change the order of the elements indicated

should be written

Insertion – grammar or logic dictates that you


should insert the word or punctuation mark indicated

Non Sequitur – Latin for “does not follow.” Indicates


that something you have written, as matter of logic or
common sense, appears unconnected or irrelevant to
what precedes it.
II

Common Mistakes to Avoid

its and it’s “It’s” is a contraction of “it is.”

“Its” is the possessive form of the pronoun “it.”

Count nouns As a matter of common sense and/or convention,


and quantities of some things are treated as discrete
Mass nouns units, others as continuously variable quantities.
This distinction can be tricky, and it is sometimes
cleverly exploited by philosophers:

“Mary had a little lamb, and some mashed


potatoes and gravy.” (J. L. Austin)

Of special significance for us, however:

People’s lives are count nouns, not mass nouns:

“the amount of lives saved”*


“the number of lives saved”

Whereas utility estimates are usually best


expressed as mass nouns:

“lots of benefits”* [note that this is ambiguous]


“of greater benefit”

“feels” A pet peeve of mine.

“Mitcham and Nissenbaum feel that …”*


“Kant says x, but I feel that y”*

If you want to talk about your feelings, by all


means do so. Typically, however, this use of the
verb to feel is just a vague, imprecise, mushy way
of saying “argue,” “say,” “maintain,” or “believe.”

“Mitcham and Nissenbaum claim that…”


“Kant says x, but I am prepared to argue that y…”
“When I think of all the suffering that x could
cause, I feel sadness.”
III

Possessives John Rawls’s name ends in an “s.” Therefore the


possessive form of his name is either:

Rawls’s (modern preferred form) or


Rawls’ (old-fashioned but still correct)

Rawl’s* is just wrong

… and so on for all other nouns

“e.g.” and “i.e.” e.g.: “for example” (from the Latin exempli gratia)

i.e.: “that is” (from the Latin id est)

These expressions are not synonymous and


cannot normally be used interchangeably.

Note also the punctuation of each.