English 1301 - Composition & Grammar
Getting Started

The purpose of this course is to increase the effectiveness of your written communication. Nearly everyone is able to communicate to some extent. For instance, babies cry to express hunger or discomfort. Grunting and pointing however, never landed anyone a high-paying job or a date with the prom queen. Clarity of purpose, diction, organization, and proper grammar in your writing (and speech) are needed to effectively communicate specific ideas so that you may meet your needs, share your experiences and thoughts, and reach your personal and professional goals.

When writing, whether it be a letter to your sweetheart, a letter of application, or an article on why we should recycle plastic, you always have a purpose. That purpose may be to share your feelings with a loved one, to make yourself look promising to a prospective employer, or to persuade the public to agree with you and do something. In this course the purpose of your writing is to demonstrate your knowledge of the rules of written English through practical application by clearly answering the writing prompt for each assignment. What you say and how you say it should reflect your purpose.

The art of effective communication is not "sounding smart" by using "big words" that make your meaning ambiguous and your purpose unclear. Rather, allow your ideas to demonstrate your intelligence by being clearly composed and thoughtfully organized. Your audience should be able to consider your statements without trying to "figure out" what you said. Your diction should be appropriate for your purpose and your audience. The great pyramid is impressive because it is composed of thousands of smaller, carefully carved stones...not one big, bulky, obtuse rock.

Just as stones are placed to build a structure, your ideas must be organized to compose an essay. Your building blocks are words, sentences, and paragraphs. Words are (hopefully) used to compose a sentence which contains a complete thought. Several sentences are used to compose a paragraph, which contains an idea. Within the paragraph you must build upon your idea by providing evidence to support it in a logical manner. Unlike verbal conversation, your audience will not be able to ask for clarification, details, or examples. You must anticipate what your audience will want and need to know. Answer the following questions as they pertain to your thesis and supporting ideas and you will have fought half the battle; Who, What, When, Where, and (most importantly) Why and How. Each different audience/thesis/idea/purpose may require a different approach to how ideas are organized in your essay. Be sure to carefully read each chapter of Literature and the Writing Process for specific examples.

Last, but certainly not least, correct and proper grammar is a necessity! The greatest idea in the world is of little value if it cannot be understood. The Bedford Handbook will be your grammar bible. Make good use of it.