Fascinating Facts


Signal Phrase Variations

To quote the text, you need a signal phrase such as this one:

And since the friend to whom you are writing probably doesn't know who Ruth Foster is, you should probably add an appositive phrase, like this:

You're also allowed to shorten the appositive and place it before the name of the author, like this:

Okay, that's the proper way to do it.

But, as you know, in this unit we're being creative. We're writing letters that fall somewhere between fiction and non-fiction, and because of this, it makes sense to give ourselves some "creative license". In other words, we're going to give ourselves permission to bend the rules just a bit.

So here we go:

For this unit, I will accept any of the the following signal phrases (along with close variations):

    1. According to Ruth Foster, the author of a popular book on geography,
    2. According to author Ruth Foster,
    3. According to my guidebook,
    4. According to our guide,

The third one, above, hardly bends the rules at all, since Ruth Foster's book could be used as a travel guide. Maybe you just happened to take Foster's book on your trip to a foreign country. The only thing "improper" about it is that we have left out Ruth Foster's name. That would be unacceptable in a formal academic paper, but we're not writing a formal academic paper. We're writing an informal, semi-fictitious, letter, so who cares. We can leave Ruth Foster's name out, on the assumption that your friend doesn't really care who wrote the book.

The fourth one, above, is . . . creative. We're imagining the words coming out of the mouth of a tour guide, even though they really came from a book by Ruth Foster.

Here is an example:

Imagine, once again, that you're on that camel trek in Algeria, and your guide, Khalil, is teaching you about the desert. That night, in your tent, you write a letter:

What an exciting day! Today we rode our camels for more than 12 miles, and never once did we see another human being. Sand dunes stretched to the horizon in every direction. According to our guide, Khalil, "The Sahara is the world’s largest desert, and it covers 80% of Algeria."

Needless to say, that's a fib (a harmless lie). That last sentence about the Sahara was written by Ruth Foster; they're not the words of a tour guide named Khalil. But we're being creative, so that's okay.

The important thing is this: If you quote a sentence (or two) from the text, you MUST enclose those words in quotation marks, and you MUST attribute them to Ruth Foster or to an imaginary travel guide! Otherwise, it's just plain copying, and that's called plagiarism, and that's just a fancy word for stealing.

Instructions for the Quiz

Answer the Questions.