Ms. Jones was the teacher of the biology course that I was the teacher's assistance of.

This really sounds strange, and I was wondering how I could make it more clear.

If the sentence doesn't make any sense, I'm just trying to say that the course that I TA'ed, its instructor was Ms. Jones.

  • 2
    This is what semicolons are for: Ms. Jones was the teacher of the biology course; I was the teacher's assistant. – John Lawler Jul 12 '17 at 22:17
  • Another great usage, +1 for @JohnLawler comment. – Kace36 Jul 12 '17 at 22:18
  • Please edit your question to clarify what you are saying, to whom, in what context, and maybe why you believe that your version of the sentence “sounds strange”.  See my answer (and, I guess, some of the others as well) to get a clearer idea of what I am asking for. – Scott Jul 13 '17 at 14:15

"I was the TA for Ms. Jones' biology course."

Or, alternatively, "I TA'd for Ms. Jones' biology course."

(Removed, see comment below) "Ms. Jones taught the biology course I TA'd for."

  • 1
    I would avoid the first option. It's much than the OP's example but we should avoid ending with prepositions if we can. And it's very easy to do it here by going with option 2 (best one) or option 3 (also not bad). In fact I would advise removing the first option just so readers of the answer don't get in that habit. Just my opinion. But +1 nonetheless. – Kace36 Jul 12 '17 at 21:07
  • 2
    The order of I and Mrs Jones is important, though. In starting with I you are emphasizing it was you and no-one else; in starting with Ms Jones you are saying that that data is more important. It all depends on context, of course. But there is no preposition you can't end a sentence with. – Andrew Leach Jul 13 '17 at 8:40
  • I would advise against the use of the possessive (“Ms. Jones’ biology course”). There are colleges and universities that are over a hundred years old, where some courses have been taught by the same faculty member for twenty years or more, and are considered to be “owned” by them. “I was the TA for Ms. Jones’s biology course.” could be the lead-in for “I was the TA for Ms. Jones’s biology course the year that she was on sabbatical (not teaching).” … (Cont’d) – Scott Jul 13 '17 at 13:47
  • (Cont’d) …  If you want to focus on your activity, this may be good enough, but these options do not clearly state that Ms. Jones taught the course when you were there.  Also, as noted in my answer, people who are not and have not recently been involved in higher education might not immediately recognize the “TA” abbreviation. – Scott Jul 13 '17 at 13:47
  • Also, if you are talking about your rock collection, you can write “The stones’ weight was too much for me to carry.”   But, if you are talking about Ms. Jones and her biology course, you should write “Ms. Jones’s biology course,” with a second “s” after the apostrophe. – Scott Jul 13 '17 at 13:48

I was assistant for the biology (course's) teacher Ms. Jones.

A bit very direct and not as natural as the answer of @LoganHoward. But unless you want to refer to her in the further telling, this would fit a CV.

  • First of all, you should probably say “I was the assistant …”  If you say “I was the assistant for the biology teacher Ms. Jones,” that could mean that you were her research assistant, her office assistant (a position that was called “secretary” many years ago), or even some sort of personal assistant (e.g., you pushed her wheelchair and got things down from the top shelf of the bookcase for her). And are you suggesting “I was the assistant for the biology course’s teacher Ms. Jones.”?  That strikes me as being very awkward.  (At the very least, I would insert a comma after “teacher”.) – Scott Jul 13 '17 at 13:50
  • Thank you for your first contribution to SE EL&U. Unfortunately this sort of question draws answers that are subjective — i.e matters of opinion — and the questions are usually put on hold. If you want to answer this or any other question here you cannot just state your opinion. How can anyone judge whether it is right or wrong. You really have to explain with links to support your point of view. (Hence the unsuitability of this question as it is difficult to do that.) – David Jul 13 '17 at 18:08

There are many possibilities.  The choice may be driven by factors like

  • What degree of formality do you require?  Are you looking for something that you can
    • say in a casual conversation?
    • say in a job interview?
    • write in a letter?
    • write in a résumé or job application?
  • A related issue: who is your target audience?
    • Academics: other teachers/faculty, other students, and/or people who were recently in one of those categories?
    • A recruiter or somebody who is interviewing you for a job?
    • A journalist or historian who is interviewing you because he or she needs the information for something that (s)he is writing?
    • A random person: maybe a family member; maybe somebody you just met at a party?
  • How strongly do you want to stay how close to the wording and sentence structure that you already have?
  • What is the tone you want to convey?
    • Are you just stating the facts of the professional / academic relationship?
    • Are you trying to say something about Ms. Jones?
    • Are you trying to say something about yourself?
    • Are you trying to impress your target audience?
    • Is this the primary statement you are making, or is this just a qualifying lead-in to your main point?  E.g., “Ms. Jones was the teacher of the biology course that I was the teacher’s assistance of, and I observed that she was always very well prepared.”

That said, here are some possibilities:

  • Ms. Jones was the teacher of the biology course that I TA’ed.

    This is informal, and should probably be used only with academics: people who will recognize the “TA” abbreviation and accept its use as a verb.

  • Ms. Jones was the teacher of the biology course where I was the teacher’s assistance.

    This is very similar to your original sentence in wording, structure, meaning, and tone, but, IMHO, less awkward.  You can use it just about anywhere.

  • Ms. Jones taught the biology course where I was the teacher’s assistance.

    This is almost the same as the previous example.  It’s a few words shorter, and might be considered a bit snappier (i.e., less boring) because it replaces a static verb (“was the teacher of”) with an active verb (“taught”).

  • I assisted Ms. Jones teach the biology course.

    This represents a major shift in tone, as it seems to highlight your role while deemphasizing / subordinating Ms. Jones’s.

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