Paul McHenry Roberts (1917-1967) taught college English for over twenty years,
first at San Jose State College and later at Cornell University. He wrote numerous
books on linguistics, including Understanding Grammar (1954), Patterns of English
(1956), and Understanding English (1958).
Freshman composition, like everything else, has its share of fashions. In the 195Os, when
this article was written, the most popular argument raging among student essayists was
the proposed abolition of college football. With the greater social consciousness of the
early '60s, the topic of the day became the morality of capital punishment. Topics may
change, but the core principles of good writing remain constant, and this essay as become
something of a minor classic in explaining them. Be concrete, says Roberts; get to the
point; express your opinions colorfully. Refreshingly, he even practices what he preaches.
His essay is humorous, direct, and almost salty in summarizing the working habits that all
good prose writers must cultivate. -- Editors' note from JoRay McCuen & Anthony C.
Winkler's Readings for Writers , 3rd ed., Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1980
It's Friday afternoon. and you have almost survived another week of classes. You are just
looking forward dreamily to the weekend when the English instructor says: "For Monday
you will turn in a five hundred-word composition on college football."
Well, that puts a good hole in the weekend. You don't have any strong views on college
football one way or the other. You get rather excited during the season and go to all the
home games and find it rather more fun than not. On the other hand, the class has been
reading Robert Hutchins in the anthology and perhaps Shaw's "Eighty-Yard Run," and
from the class discussion you have got the idea that the instructor thinks college football
is for the birds. You are no fool. You can figure out what side to take.
After dinner... [continues]
Cite This Essay
(2013, 01). How to Say Nothing in Five Hundred Word. StudyMode.com. Retrieved 01, 2013, from http://www.studymode.com/essays/How-To-Say-Nothing-In-Five-1358977.html
"How to Say Nothing in Five Hundred Word" StudyMode.com. 01 2013. 2013. 01 2013 <http://www.studymode.com/essays/How-To-Say-Nothing-In-Five-1358977.html>.
- MLA 7
"How to Say Nothing in Five Hundred Word." StudyMode.com. StudyMode.com, 01 2013. Web. 01 2013. <http://www.studymode.com/essays/How-To-Say-Nothing-In-Five-1358977.html>.
"How to Say Nothing in Five Hundred Word." StudyMode.com. 01, 2013. Accessed 01, 2013. http://www.studymode.com/essays/How-To-Say-Nothing-In-Five-1358977.html.