Student Q: What’s the most important concept I should study for the ACT English section?
Miss Mary A:
I am so glad to hear that you are studying for your exam! From my view, all of it is important, but I will tell you this: the single most troublesome issue students exhibit, the one that is questioned repeatedly on the ACT and SAT exams, is the difference between the colon and the semicolon.
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An infinitive is one of three types of verbals. It’s the “to” form of a verb, and it can act as a noun, adjective, or adverb in a sentence.
- To wait seemed foolish when it was already so late.
(infinitive acting as a noun—in this case, the subject of the sentence)
- All of them wanted to go.
(infinitive acting as a noun—in this case, the direct object of the verb)
- Her ambition is to teach.
(infinitive acting as a noun—in this case, the subject complement)
- These are rules to remember.
(infinitive acting as an adjective to define the noun “rules”)
- She went to work.
(infinitive acting as an adverb to define the verb “went”)
Student Q: In A Separate Peace, what is something that Finny does that shows he represents youth? I need to show proof and page numbers. I only have one, which is play over work when Finny went to the beach. I need at least 1 more.
Miss Mary A:
As a teacher, I will not give you direct answers that will complete your school assignment for you. I will, however, offer some hints that might prompt your own ideas. Then, you can flip through your book for the page numbers of specific examples.
Think about the overall vitality of Phineas, his carefree and adventurous nature, his vibrant energy and athleticism. Are they not youthful aspects? Consider how he breaks rules and ignores authority. Isn’t he boisterous and spontaneous? Are these qualities generally associated with adulthood?
I have faith in you. If you’ve read A Separate Peace, you’ll be able to come up with the information expected of you.
Student Q: Explain the meaning of the paradox “seldom being happier since.”
Miss Mary A:
I believe you are referring to a quote from Annie Dillard’s memoir An American Childhood that states, “In winter, in the snow, there was neither baseball nor football, so the boys and I threw snowballs at passing cars. I got in trouble throwing snowballs, and have seldom been happier since.”
A paradox is a seeming contradictory statement, but one that houses an element of truth. One would think that a child getting “in trouble” would be an unpleasant experience, a memory not to be savored; however, Dillard reflects on this event of her childhood as the happiest one she’s had thus far. That seems like a contradictory notion. Not until taken in a broader context can truth be extracted from the statement.
The happiness Dillard feels looking back is likely a testament to the lack of fun abandon found in her adulthood as compared to the innocence prevalent in her childhood. Further, note that her happiness then was despite the lack of tangible, lasting toys that come at a monetary price. She and her brothers were able to use a fleeting element of nature to make lasting fond memories.
I hope you find this explanation helpful.
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Miss Mary A:
Lolita was originally written in English. It was first published in Europe in 1955, then in America in 1958. The author translated it to Russian, his native language, in 1967.