flaw

Status
Not open for further replies.

peter123

Senior Member
Joined
Sep 13, 2007
Member Type
Student or Learner
Native Language
Arabic
Home Country
Malaysia
Current Location
Hong Kong
Hi there,

Is it correct to say like this?

1. His essays are full of flaws in sentence structures.
2. The main flaw in his essay is the sentence structures.

Thanks
pete
 

Neillythere

Senior Member
Joined
Mar 10, 2008
Member Type
Interested in Language
Native Language
British English
Home Country
England
Current Location
Thailand
Hi.

Item 1 reads OK, but Item 2 has me concerned about: "The main flaw in his essay is the sentence structures" i.e. combining singular with plural.

I'm not a teacher, but, anyone actually using such comments should be very cogniscent of their effect on the student.

We are in the process of doing annual appraisals at the moment and one of the things that we emphasise is that it is better to be positive, rather than critical when reviewing people's work.

On a "Writing Job Descriptions" course, recently, we were advised that it can cost over 7 times an employee's annual salary to replace them - and there's a currently a major shortage of 30-40+ year olds available in our industry to take the place of those planning on retiring soon. We therefore really have to consider training before criticism.

In your examples, you may wish to suggest something such as: "..... could benefit significantly from extra [detailed] training and practice in sentence structure".

It's a subtle change, but it could make all the difference to whether the student looks ahead in a positive manner or is just totally "turned off" by a negative comment.

Saying that the work, on which someone has possibly spent a lot of time & effort, is "full of flaws" could totally demoralise a student and turn them of their studies.

What do you think?
 

peter123

Senior Member
Joined
Sep 13, 2007
Member Type
Student or Learner
Native Language
Arabic
Home Country
Malaysia
Current Location
Hong Kong
Hi there,

Thanks a lot.

Is it ok to say like this?

You (could OR can) benefit significantly from more practice (in / on) sentence structures.

Thanks
pete
 

Neillythere

Senior Member
Joined
Mar 10, 2008
Member Type
Interested in Language
Native Language
British English
Home Country
England
Current Location
Thailand
I would probably prefer:

"You could probably benefit significantly from more training/practice (in/with) sentence structures".

Practice on its own is insufficient. It appears the student will need some training-type assistance to solve the problem.

The problem with using "can" is that it presumes capabilities that the student may not have.

Regards
 

David L.

VIP Member
Joined
Nov 7, 2007
Member Type
Other
Is 'flaw' the word to use in this context?
a 'flaw' is a 'blemish' , an 'imperfection' that detracts from the quality, especially of a work of art or other artistic creation, a gem, a carefully contrived plot or plan etc
In terms of writing sentences and their structure,
1. His essays are full of errors in sentence structure. (singular)
2. The main shortcoming in his essay is the sentence structure. (singular)
 

Neillythere

Senior Member
Joined
Mar 10, 2008
Member Type
Interested in Language
Native Language
British English
Home Country
England
Current Location
Thailand
If the sentences concerned were examples from the student, I would have no problem agreeing with David, as there would be no implied "destructive" rather than "constructive" criticism from a tutor involved.

If however the sentences were the tutor's comments on a student's work, I would be concerned, as previously noted.

I personally wouldn't be so worried by the word "flaw" as such, since, if a student's essay expressed a brilliant new slant on an old problem, but was difficult to read (as a result of poor sentence structure) I could consider the latter, in David's words, as a blemish on an otherwise excellent essay.

Regards
 

stuartnz

Senior Member
Joined
Mar 16, 2008
Member Type
Other
Native Language
English
Home Country
New Zealand
Current Location
New Zealand
I personally wouldn't be so worried by the word "flaw" as such, since, if a student's essay expressed a brilliant new slant on an old problem, but was difficult to read (as a result of poor sentence structure) I could consider the latter, in David's words, as a blemish on an otherwise excellent essay.

Regards

One phrase my teachers used to use a lot with me was "let down by", as in "Your essay had some interesting thoughts, but you let yourself down with that 104-word sentence" (I had just read Milton's record holder, and had tried to emulate him).
 

Neillythere

Senior Member
Joined
Mar 10, 2008
Member Type
Interested in Language
Native Language
British English
Home Country
England
Current Location
Thailand
Yes, I believe that your teachers were in fact trying to be constructive at that time. "Let down by" suggests that your work was otherwise excellent!

They obviously hadn't realised your emulation of a Grand Master of the English language.

Me? I'm afraid that, although I "accidentally" acquired 4 language O-levels (by moving to the right place at the right time), I failed English Literature.
 

David L.

VIP Member
Joined
Nov 7, 2007
Member Type
Other
if a student's essay expressed a brilliant new slant on an old problem, but was difficult to read (as a result of poor sentence structure) I could consider the latter, in David's words, as a blemish on an otherwise excellent essay.

Neillythere: Would anyone have considered Einstein's handwritten draft of Theory of Relativity to be 'flawed'' because he made spelling mistakes or errors in sentence structure??
 
Last edited:

Neillythere

Senior Member
Joined
Mar 10, 2008
Member Type
Interested in Language
Native Language
British English
Home Country
England
Current Location
Thailand
No, it wouldn't have been a flaw in the theory itself, but it might have been considered by some as a blemish in the presentation of his theory if it distracted people from understanding the intent of his theory.

The fewer such blemishes the easier it is for people to read and appreciate.

Regards
 

stuartnz

Senior Member
Joined
Mar 16, 2008
Member Type
Other
Native Language
English
Home Country
New Zealand
Current Location
New Zealand
Yes, I believe that your teachers were in fact trying to be constructive at that time. "Let down by" suggests that your work was otherwise excellent!

The teacher's tone was more laconic when I protested his critique qith "But Milton wrote one with more than 200 words!" The reply was irrefutable: "You're not Milton.":-D
 
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top