MLA Checklist

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Checklist 12: Common Style Errors

 
8.

Do the words "This quote" or "This means" appear anywhere in your paper?

Some English teachers expect students to "analyze" of "explain" any quotation that they insert into their own writing.

There is nothing terribly wrong with this advice, except that students sometimes develop a habit of following every quote with a sentence that begins with "This quote . . . " or some variation thereof.

The result is writing that sounds amateurish. Here are some examples, all taken from student papers:

  • This quote is an example of . . .
  • This quote clearly shows . . 
  • This quote shows that . . .
  • This quote is basically saying that . . .
  • This means that . . .
  • This clearly shows . . .
  • This clearly states . . .
  • From this quote it is clear that . . .

Avoid this mistake. Instead, just think to yourself, “This quote shows that . . .” and then leave out everything before “that.”

The following phrases may also help: 

  • Clearly,
  • Obviously,
  • In other words,
  • The consequence of [your evidence] is that . . .

Here is an example. Imagine that on your first draft you have written the following paragraph:

 

First, Jackson had a terrible temper. In fact, according to the website American Presidents, "Andrew Jackson once killed a man for insulting his wife" (Carson). This quote shows that Jackson had a thin-skin and sometimes took insults personally.

 

 

On your next draft, revise out the "This quote shows", like this:

 

First, Jackson had a terrible temper. In fact, according to the website American Presidents, "Andrew Jackson once killed a man for insulting his wife" (Carson). Clearly, Jackson had a thin skin and sometimes took insults personally.