For non-native speakers, writing in English can be a challenge even when reading is relatively easy. Perhaps you have the following questions about writing in English:
A basic requirement for writing good English is mastering the structure of English sentences. Often, an attempt is made to first write the text in one’s native language and then "translate" it into English. This is not a good way and often leads to an unnatural word order. It is better to start right away in English. Let's take a look at ten tips to help you write better English.
Let's say your task is to write about what you did at the weekend. You could say:
However, this sounds a bit boring. It simply uses was/were. Using appropriate verbs can make these sentences sound more interesting.
An alternative to using an adverb plus a verb is to use a more fitting verb. For example:
But be careful! Don't make the sentences too complicated - so don't exaggerate. The sentence shouldn’t be needlessly long, as in the following example:
We slowly walked to an extremely quiet park early on Sunday morning.
Instead of adverbs such as "very/really" + adjective you can instead choose an extreme adjective. Here are some examples:
very big → huge
really clean → spotless
really dirty → filthy
very cold → freezing
very hot → scorching
You have hundreds of adjectives to choose from, so use one that hits exactly what you want to say. However, be careful not to overuse extreme adjectives - only use them when they are actually appropriate.
It was nice. → We were having a great time.
The weather was fine. → The sun was shining, but it was a bit windy.
The following three sentences:
could of course be connected with and: → The weather was fine and we were at a park and we went for a stroll.
But this doesn't lead to better sentences. Connect the sentences a bit more logically, such as when actions have been completed:
→ The weather was fine, so we walked to a quiet park and went for a stroll there.
For clear, precise texts, it is usually better to write actively than passively.
Passive: The man was bitten by the dog
Active: The dog bit the man
The active expression, The dog bit the man, is clearer and more engaging than The man was bitten by the dog.
However, there are a number of good reasons to use the passive - for example, if you define firm rules or speak from a position of authority ("Children are not allowed to swim without an adult") or if you want to hide the subject of the sentence ("The cause of the noise was unknown") - but you should avoid formulating too many sentences in the passive.
Idioms are word combinations that are frequently used, even if another combination would be just as grammatically correct. They can be several words long or just be two-word phrases. Here are a few examples of some simple two-word idiomatic phrases:
|Correct idiom||Wrong idiom|
|heavy rain||strong rain|
|buy time||purchase time|
|tall trees||high trees|
|fast cars||quick cars|
Many idioms are longer phrases and their literal meanings are often not so clear:
|A blessing in disguise||A good thing that seemed bad at first|
|Break a leg||Good luck|
|Call it a day||Stop working on something|
|Cutting corners||Doing something poorly to save time or money|
|Get out of hand||Get out of control|
|Hit the nail on the head||Do or say something exactly right|
|It's not rocket science||It's not complicated|
|Piece of cake||A job or activity that's easy or simple|
|Under the weather||To be ill|
|Your guess is as good as mine||I have no idea|
Examples of English idioms can be found easily online, so take a look!
After you have written your text in an interesting way using some of the above tips, it may be time to say hello to a thesaurus. You can replace those words you use too often with more interesting, appropriate or advanced alternatives. By avoiding overly common or simple vocabulary, your text will become more individual and sound more refined. But be careful not to overdo it! Your text should still be easy to read and appropriate for the intended audience.
You've probably heard this advice before, but that's because it's so important! While reading you get to know new vocabulary, you often encounter interesting word choices, idioms, and beautiful phrases that you can integrate into your own texts. It doesn't matter what you read. It's about reading often and about a lot of different things. Novels, non-fiction books, blogs, newspaper articles, magazines - just read!
If you would like help with writing in English then please take advantage of my English proofreading services. I mostly concentrate on academic texts, especially in the fields of archaeology and earth sciences. I also take on other projects, such as websites and brochures.
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