ESL: Dropped Quotation

From The ESL Student Handbook, by Young-Kyung Min, PhD

 

One of the main problems that students have in quoting is a dropped quotation. A quotation that is left alone without being fully integrated into the paper is called a “dropped quotation.” It is also known as a “dangling quotation” since it is dangling (separated) from the point of your discussion without being fully integrated into your writing. What does it mean by integrating the quote into your paper? Basically it means that you connect the key idea of the quotation with the point of discussion in your paper before introducing the quote. Let me explain this further in the following sample texts.

[Original Source]
“The encoding dictionary can promote a deeper level of processing words and can help learners increase their knowledge of collocational partnerships more effectively by comparing differences in word usages based on the specific examples. As the title of this dictionary suggests, it can help learners develop receptive (reading) vocabulary into productive (writing) vocabulary.”  [Min, Y.K. (2013). Vocabulary acquisition: Practical strategies for ESL students, Journal of International Students, 3(1), p. 65.]

[Student’s Text]
I spent a lot of time memorizing the English grammar rules, but I always have difficulties when I apply the rules to my writing assignments. A tutor at the Writing Center introduced an encoding dictionary to me and explained that I could improve my knowledge of English grammar more effectively through the encoding dictionary. “As the title of this dictionary suggests, it can help learners develop receptive (reading) vocabulary into productive (writing) vocabulary” (Min, 2013, p. 65). I started to use an encoding dictionary for my English writing assignments, and I can see how such a dictionary can help ESL students’ writing abilities.

Can you tell what is wrong with the above text? The main problem with the text is a dropped quotation. What does it mean by dropping a quote in the paper? As explained above, a dropped quotation refers to a quote that stands by itself as a separate sentence without being fully integrated into the paper. In other words, the writer did not connect the key idea of the quotation with the point of discussion in the paper before introducing the quote. As explained in the section “Quoting,” whenever you use a quote in your paper, you must always integrate the quote into your writing by connecting the quote with the point of discussion in your paper. There are multiple ways you can integrate a quote into your writing. Take a look at the examples below.

Introducing a Quote with a Signaling Verb and a Signal Phrase
One practical way to integrate a quote into your own work is to use “signal verbs” (they are also known as “reporting” verbs). They are called “signal verbs” because you are “signaling” that other people’s works are used in your own writing. You can introduce a quotation, a paraphrase, and a summary by using signal verbs.  Here are some examples of signal verbs. More explanations about how to integrate a quote into your paper using a signal verb and a signal phrase are provided in the sample texts below.

Acknowledge   Synthesize   Highlight     Demonstrate    Articulate    Elaborate
Conclude          Add              Admit          Agree               Argue          Assert
Believe             Claim           Comment     Compare          Confirm      Contend
Declare             Deny            Dispute        Emphasize        Endorse      Grant
Illustrate           Imply           Insist            Note                  Observe      Point out
Reason              Refute          Reject          Report               Respond     Suggest
Think                Write            Maintain      State                  Propose      Explain

Example I: Use a Signal Verb to Introduce a Quote
I spent a lot of time memorizing the English grammar rules, but I always have difficulties when I apply the rules to my writing assignments. A tutor at the Writing Center introduced an encoding dictionary to me and explained that I could improve my knowledge of English grammar more effectively through the dictionary. The tutor showed to me how words that have similar meanings are used differently based on specific examples in the dictionary. I can see how such a dictionary can help ESL students’ writing abilities. Min (2013) explains that an encoding dictionary can help students “develop receptive (reading) vocabulary into productive (writing) vocabulary” (p. 65).  I started to use an encoding dictionary for my English writing assignments and realized the importance of learning word usages in context.

The writer introduced the quote by using a signal verb “explain.” Note that the writer added the following sentences before introducing the quote: “The tutor showed to me how words that have similar meanings are used differently based on specific examples in the dictionary” and “I can see how such a dictionary can help ESL students’ writing abilities.” These sentences help readers understand why the encoding dictionary can be helpful for ESL students to develop their writing abilities.

The writer ends the paragraph by articulating his/her personal experience of using the dictionary to reinforce the point of discussion in the text. The quote is smoothly integrated into the text since there is a clear connection between the quote and the point of discussion in the paper. Remember that when you use a quote in your paper, the sentences before the quote and after the quote should be well-connected. Here is another example that illustrates how to integrate a quote into your writing.

Example II: Establish a Connection before Introducing a Quote
I spent a lot of time memorizing the English grammar rules, but I always have difficulties when I apply the rules to my writing assignments. A tutor at the Writing Center introduced an encoding dictionary to me and explained that I could improve my knowledge of English grammar more effectively through the dictionary. The dictionary presents how words having similar meanings are used differently based on specific examples. Thus, it is helpful for ESL students to “develop receptive (reading) vocabulary into productive (writing) vocabulary” (Min, 2013, p. 65). I started to use an encoding dictionary for my English writing assignments, and I can see how such a dictionary can help ESL students’ writing abilities.

In order to make a better connection with the quote, the writer added the sentence “The dictionary presents how words of similar meanings are used differently based on specific examples.” It functions as a kind of bridge for the next sentence, which begins with “Thus, it is helpful for ESL students to ‘develop receptive (reading) vocabulary into productive (writing) vocabulary’ (Min, 2013, p. 65).”  It helps the integration of the quotation “develop receptive (reading) vocabulary into productive (writing) vocabulary” into the paper. Also note that the citation information is provided for the quotation in the parenthesis. The added sentence and connecting words help to better integrate the quote into the paper.

Example III: Use a Signal Phrase and Introduce a Quote
I’ve spent a lot of time memorizing the English grammar rules, but I always have difficulties when I apply the grammar rules to my writing assignments. A tutor at the Writing Center introduced an encoding dictionary to me and explained that I could improve my knowledge of English grammar more effectively through the dictionary. It was easier to understand how words having similar meanings are used differently since the dictionary presents words by the meaning not by the alphabet order.  According to Min (2013), the encoding dictionary can be useful to international students for developing “receptive (reading) vocabulary into productive (writing) vocabulary” (p. 65). I started to use an encoding dictionary for my English writing assignments, and I can see how such a dictionary can help ESL students’ writing abilities.

The writer used the signal phrase “according to” to introduce the quote. You can also use other signal phrases such as “In the words of,” “In the perspective of”, etc. To make a better connection with the quote, the writer added the sentence “It was easier to understand how words having similar meanings are used differently since the dictionary presents words by the meaning not by the alphabet order.” The writer also changed the original wording “help learners develop” to “useful for international students in developing.” The added sentence and connecting words help the integration of the quote “receptive (reading) vocabulary into productive (writing) vocabulary” into the paper.

Compare differences between the three sample texts and the text that has a dropped quotation. There are many other ways to integrate a quote into your paper using a signal phrase and a signal verb. Because of space limitations, I presented some basic examples that can help you learn strategies you can use to integrate quote into your writing.

Do Not Repeat the Citation Multiple Times in the Same Sentence
I spent a lot of time memorizing the English grammar rules, but I always have difficulties when I apply the rules to my writing assignments. A tutor at the Writing Center introduced an encoding dictionary to me and explained that I could improve my knowledge of English grammar more effectively through the dictionary. The tutor showed to me how words that have similar meanings are used differently based on specific examples in the dictionary. I can see how such a dictionary can help ESL students’ writing abilities. Min (2013) explains that an encoding dictionary can help students “develop receptive (reading) vocabulary into productive (writing) vocabulary” (Min, 2013, p. 65).  I started to use an encoding dictionary for my English writing assignments and realized the importance of learning word usages in context.

As you can see, the writer referenced the original author two times in the same sentence. That is, although the in-text citation is provided in the parenthesis (Min, 2013, p. 65), the writer begins the sentence with the original author “Min” again. This is a common mistake that students often make in acknowledging sources in their papers. Remember that you do not need to repeat the citation multiple times in the same sentence.

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