ENGL000 Study Guide

Unit 2: Combining Ideas

2a: Outline relationships between main ideas and subordinate ideas within the writing of others and within your own writing

  • What transitional words or phrases express a relationship of example?
  • What transitional words or phrases express a relationship of cause and effect?
  • What transitional words or phrases express a relationship of contrast?
  • What transitional words or phrases express a relationship of conclusion?

Every paragraph should be organized around a single main idea. The evidence and examples given within a paragraph should support the main idea.

This image gives a visual representation of a paragraph's structure. Which boxes represent the major details of a paragraph? Which represent the minor details?

Effective writers help guide their readers by using language and sentence structures that signal the relationships between ideas in a paragraph. Expressions such as "for example" or "in conclusion" help the reader anticipate what comes next and how new information will relate to what they have already read.

To review, see Developing the Relationships Between Ideas.


2b. Write well-organized analytical paragraphs in response to writing prompts

  • What is a complete sentence?
  • What are some strategies for sentence variation?
  • What is a topic sentence?
  • What is a main idea?
  • What are the two types of subordinate ideas?
  • Which transitional words or expressions indicate relationships between ideas? What type of relationship does each word or phrase signify?

To review how to use each of these elements in your writing, see Relationships Between Ideas Paragraph Writing Quiz.


2c: Use commas effectively in writing, avoiding fragments and run-on sentences

  • What is a sentence fragment?
  • What is a run-on sentence?
  • What is a comma splice?
  • What is a coordinating conjunction? Give an example.
  • What is a subordinating conjunction? Give an example.
  • What is a conjunctive adverb? Give an example.

To write effectively, you need to understand grammatical rules, including comma rules. You also need to be able to apply those rules in your own writing. You must be able to recognize when you have made a grammatical error and understand how to fix it. This process is called proofreading.

To practice proofreading and test your knowledge of commas, fragments, and run-on sentences, see Fragments and Comma Splices and Run-on Sentences.


2d: Write a clear and focused thesis statement supported by appropriate evidence and examples

  • What is the purpose of a thesis statement?
  • What are the features of an effective thesis statement?

Just as a paragraph should clearly state its purpose in a topic sentence, an argumentative essay should clearly state its claim in a thesis statement. A thesis statement indicates the topic of an essay, takes a stance on the issue, and often suggests the way the essay will be organized.

A thesis statement is the organizing hub of an argumentative essay. Just as each subpoint in a paragraph supports the main idea, each paragraph in an essay should provide evidence that supports the thesis.

To review the features of effective thesis statements and to practice developing strong thesis statements of your own, see Choosing and Focusing a Topic and Developing a Thesis.


2e: Apply prewriting strategies to narrow a topic and develop a piece of writing

  • What is prewriting?
  • What prewriting strategies can help you identify a topic?
  • What prewriting strategies can help you narrow down your topic?
  • When should you organize an essay in chronological order?
  • When should you organize an essay in spatial order?
  • When should you organize an essay in order of importance?

Prewriting is the first stage in the writing process. After you have completed one or more prewriting activities to identify and narrow your topic, you should craft an outline. You can think of an outline as the skeleton of your essay. It should represent the basic ideas you will be discussing and show the relationship between those ideas. The purpose of an outline is to help you develop and organize your ideas before you begin writing your essay.

Many beginning writers do not enjoy writing outlines. Often your instructor will require you to submit an outline before writing a draft of an assigned essay. Outlining won't be very effective if you treat it as mere busywork. An effective outline will express both the order of your ideas in your essay and the purpose of the piece of writing. There are three main methods for ordering ideas in an essay: chronological order, spatial order, and order of importance. You should choose an order that suits the purpose of your essay. Outlines organize information visually, listing the main point and supporting details of each paragraph. There are two main types of outlines: topic outlines and sentence outlines. Explain the difference between topic outlines and sentence outlines.

To review, see Outlining and Sample Outline.


2f: Demonstrate principles of active reading

Active reading is the opposite of passive reading. When you read actively, you read with intention: looking for main ideas, looking up unfamiliar words in the dictionary, taking effective notes, and reflecting on what you read.

To review, see:


Unit 2 Vocabulary

This vocabulary list includes terms that might help you answer some of the review items above and some terms you should be familiar with to be successful in completing the final exam for the course.

  • active reading
  • comma splice
  • conjunctive adverbs
  • coordinating conjunctions
  • main idea
  • outlining
  • prewriting
  • proofreading
  • run-on sentence
  • sentence fragment
  • subordinate ideas
  • subordinating conjunctions
  • thesis statement
  • transitional expressions