Step 1 of the Kerrigan method of ‘Writing to the Point’ – SUBJECT & PREDICATE

by Grace

I’m backtracking to cover some basic elements of  Kerrigan’s Writing to the Point Step 1, omitted in my previous posts. (For new readers, this is my project to study and learn the entire Six-Step method, explained in my initial post in this series.)

Here is Kerrigan’s first step in writing an expository essay:

STEP 1. Write a short, simple declarative sentence that makes one statement. (Chapter 1, page 6)

.

The Step 1 sentence is what Kerrigan calls the X-sentence, and it should have a SUBJECT and a PREDICATE.

First, a review of some basic grammar:

The subject is the person or thing that acts or is described in the sentence. The predicate, on the other hand, is that action or description.

At a basic level, the X-sentence will look like this:

Subject———1———1———1—–Predicate
Somebody or something …………… is something
Somebody or something …………… was something
Somebody or something …………… does something
Somebody or something …………… did something

Examples:
Subject———1———1———1—–Predicate

Oxygen ………………………………………. is essential for life.
George Carlin …………………………….. was funny.
Power …………………………………………. corrupts.
Grandma …………………………………….. taught us valuable lessons.

Subject and predicate – both must be parts of the X-sentence.


The X-sentence is the thesis of the essay.

A subject without a predicate is a topic, but not a thesis. For expository writing you need a thesis, not just a topic.  This is an essential point in the Writing to the Point method.  The supporting details for the thesis flow from the X-sentence, creating the structure that makes the essay concise, clear and to the point.

Here are a few more examples of X-sentences:

X  Autumn is an exhilarating time of year.
X  Hosting a teen party can be nerve-wracking.
X  The Penn State scandal is a tragic event. 


Other characteristics of the X-sentence:

    • Short and simple
    • Declarative sentence – a statement, not a question or a command
    • Should make only one statement

All this is basic stuff, right?  Sometimes kids don’t learn (or remember) basic stuff.  I’m sometimes surprised at what kids are not taught in school.


Previous posts in this series:

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6 Responses to “Step 1 of the Kerrigan method of ‘Writing to the Point’ – SUBJECT & PREDICATE”

  1. Finally reading this!

    I myself didn’t make the connection that the topic is the subject of a sentence while the thesis is the subject AND the predicate until I started working with Kerrigan–!

  2. hmmm…. coment was from Catherine (of kitchen table math…)

  3. Catherine – you pointed that out to me, which is why I backtracked to write this post. I think it’s an important point. I’ve seen some writing recently where I’ve pointed out that the thesis was missing – the student had considered her topic to be the thesis. If you blow this step in an essay, it tends to go downhill from there!

  4. Simply wish to say your article is as surprising.
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  5. Wow that was unusual. I just wrote an incredibly long comment
    but after I clicked submit my comment didn’t show up. Grrrr… well I’m not writing all that over again.

    Anyways, just wanted to say great blog!

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