In-Text Quotations• At the Beginning• “To live a life is not to cross a field,” Pasternak writes at the beginning of her narrative (11).• In the Middle• Woolf begins and ends by speaking of the need of the woman writer to have “money and a room of her own” (4)--an idea that certainly spoke to Plath’s condition.• At the End• In The Second Sex, Simone de Beauvoir describes such an experience as one in which the girl “becomes an object, and she sees herself as object” (378).• Divided by Your Own Words• “Science usually prefers the literal to the nonliteral term,” Kinneavy writes, “-- that is, figures of speech are often out of place in science” (177).
Block Quotations• In the MLA style, use the block form for prose quotations of more than four typed lines. Indent the quotation an inch (ten character spaces) from the left margin, as shown in the following example. Double space, just as you do in your paper. In ―A Literary Legacy from Dunbar to Baraka,‖ Margaret Walker says of Paul Lawrence Dunbar‘s dialect poems: He realized that the white world in the United States tolerated his literary genius only because of his ―jingles in a broken tongue,‖ and they found the old ―darky‖ tales and speech amusing and within the vein of folklore into which they wished to classify all Negro life. This troubled Dunbar because he realized that white America was denigrating him as a writer and as a man. (70)
Punctuating within QuotationsAlthough punctuation within a quotation should reproduce the original, someadaptations may be necessary. Use single quotation marks for quotations withinthe quotation:Original from David Guterson‘s Family Matters (pages 16 – 17)• E. D. Hirsch also recognizes the connection between family and learning, suggesting in his discussion of family background and academic achievement ―that the significant part of our children‘s education has been going on outside rather than inside the schools.‖Quoted Version• Guterson claims that E. D. Hirsch ―also recognizes the connection between family and learning, suggesting in his discussion of family background and academic achievement ‗that the significant part of our children‘s education has been going on outside rather than inside the schools‘ ‖ (16-17).
Punctuation• If the quotation ends with a question mark or an exclamation point, retain the original punctuation: • “Did you think I loved you?” Edith later asks Dombey (566).• If a quotation ending with a question mark or an exclamation point concludes your sentence, retain the question mark or exclamation point, and put the parenthetical reference and sentence period outside the quotation marks: • Edith later asks Dombey, “Did you think I loved you?” (566).
Avoiding Grammatical Tangles• When you incorporate quotations into your writing, and especially when you omit words from quotations, you run the risk of creating ungrammatical sentences. Three common errors you should try to avoid are verb incompatibility, ungrammatical omissions, and sentence fragments.
Verb Incompatibility.• When this error occurs, the verb form in the introductory statement is grammatically incompatible with the verb form in the quotation. When your quotation has a verb form that does not fit in with your text, it is usually possible to use just part of the quotation, thus avoiding verb incompatibility. As this sentence illustrates, use the present tense when you refer to events in a literary work.
Ungrammatical Omission.• Sometimes omitting text from a quotation leaves you with an ungrammatical sentence. Two ways of correcting the grammar are (1) adapting the quotation (with brackets) so that its parts fit together grammatically and (2) using only one part of the quotation.
Sentence Fragment.• Sometimes when a quotation is a complete sentence, writers neglect the sentence that introduces the quote — for example, by forgetting to include a verb. Make sure that the quotation is introduced by a complete sentence.
Avoiding Ambiguous Use of This and That• The Problem. Because you must frequently refer to the problem and the solution in a proposal, you will often use pronouns to avoid the monotony or wordiness of repeatedly referring to them by name. Using this and that vaguely to refer to other words or ideas, however, can confuse readers.
How to Correct It.• Add a specific noun after this or that. For example, in his essay in this chapter, Patrick O‘Malley writes: • Another possible solution would be to help students prepare for midterm and final exams by providing sets of questions from which the exam questions will be selected. . . . This solution would have the advantage of reducing students‘ anxiety about learning every fact in the textbook. . . . (par. 12)• O‘Malley avoids an ambiguous this in the second sentence by repeating the noun ―solution.‖• (He might just as well have used preparation or action or approach.)
Revising Sentences that Lack an AgentThe Problem: A writer proposing a solution to a problem usually needsto indicate who exactly should take action to solve it. Such actors—those who are in a position to take action—are called ―agents.‖ Look,for example, at this sentence from O‘Malley‘s proposal:• To get students to complete the questions in a timely way, professors would have to collect and check the answers. (par. 11)• In this sentence, professors are the agents. They have the authority to assign and collect study questions, and they would need to take this action in order for this solution to be successfully implemented.• Had O‘Malley instead written ―the answers would have to be collected and checked,‖ the sentence would lack an agent. Failing to name an agent would have made his argument less convincing, because it would have left unclear one of the key parts of any proposal: Who is going to take action.
How to Correct It• When you revise your work, ask yourself who or what performed the action in any given sentence. If there is no clear answer, rewrite the sentence to give it an agent. Watch in particular for forms of the verb to be (the balls were dropped, exams should be given, etc.), which often signal agentless sentences.