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Common Errors and Pet Peeves
Active versus passive voice: Avoid the passive voice as much as possible. The active voice strengthens the tone of your argument, while the passive voice weakens or obscures it.
Passive voice: Gettysburg is considered the decisive turning point of the Civil War. By whom? This statement lacks force and critical information.
Active voice: Most military historians consider Gettysburg to be the decisive turning point in the Civil War. This statement is clearer and more informative.
Past versus present tense: You should mainly use the past tense in your paper. When referring to a text and the authors views, it is acceptable to use the present tense. Example: Karl Marx writes that capitalism alienates workers from the products of their labor. However, it is preferable to say that Marx wrote what he wrote and keep the tense consistent throughout your paper. This will make it easier for you to avoid confusion.
Punctuation in a quotation: Periods and commas go inside the closing quotation mark. Colons and semi- colons, however, follow the quotation.
Passive voice and improper punctuation: In Fukuzawas article, it is said that under no circumstances should a man be deprived of his rights.
Active voice and proper punctuation: In his article, Fukuzawa writes, under no circumstances should a man be deprived of his rights.