Interpreting Instructor Comments

— Deletion

Different reasons for deleting

Instructors use several types of marks (see examples above) to indicate that a portion of text (e.g., a letter, word, punctuation mark, or portion of a sentence) should be removed. Sometimes you can determine the reason for the correction from context as in the following example:

The writer does not need to include the author's name because it is already stated in the sentence.

The context in this case gives the writer the reason for the instructor's comment that the information is "too important for parentheses."

Sometimes a deletion might signify that the sentence should be changed to conform to convention, as in the first example. Other times, the deletion improves the rhetorical effect. In the second example above, the suggested change might result in a revised sentence:

Until reading Jared Diamond and William Haviland, critics who discuss the issue and question behind "race," I had always thought "race" to be a simple detail of life.

Using commas rather than parentheses to set off this important piece of information communicates the centrality of that information rather than presenting it as an aside.

Consider the grammatical effect of deleting

Ellipses are useful for abbreviating and integrating quotations into your own prose; they indicate where you've removed material from the middle of a quotation.

In this example, the ellipsis, "...", is unnecessary and should be removed.

Since it is clear in the example above that the writer has quoted only part of Barthes' sentence in order to incorporate it smoothly and grammatically into her own, she does not need to indicate the removal with an ellipsis. Consider, however, the following alternative, in which an ellipsis would be necessary:

Barthes makes the point in his essay that "when the author enters his own death . . . writing begins" (53).

Note: a comma is also not necessary before the quotation, since you wouldn't normally use it if the quotation marks were not there. For more information on integrating quotations, click here.

Not all deletion marks you may see on your papers will find a solution here, but most changes suggested by your instructor are likely to be supported by a rule. And sometimes the suggested deletion is the first step toward revising a sentence, as in the following example:

In this example, the instructor suggests removing the parentheses around "such as coloring."

But simply removing the parentheses would leave the following:

Scientists who have tried to base race solely on physical features such as coloring, come up short because these categories are . . .

This change, however, would incorrectly leave a comma between the subject "Scientists" and the verb "come up short." The correction should therefore not only remove the parentheses, but delete the comma, so that the sentence will read:

Scientists who have tried to base race solely on physical features such as coloring come up short because these categories are . . .

Click here for more information on comma use with clauses.

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