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Student Information

ENGLISH LANGUAGE TIPS

Writing Tips from St Giles Vancouver

Adjectives:

Using less common adjectives makes your writing more impressive.  Avoid using words like “nice, interesting, good”.  Try using words like “wonderful, amazing, shocking, rewarding”, etc.  It helps to keep a thesaurus with you when you write.

The sunset created an extraordinary / breathtaking / dazzling background to our romantic dinner.

An abandoned rusty station wagon, a shiny emerald green gown, a nasty purple bruise, a tall elegant man, a delicious book, a random meeting, a darkly suspicious answer…..

Adding Emotional and Sensory Details:

Including colours, flavours, sounds, and feelings, helps a reader get a better picture of your description.

Compare this:

We walked all day.  It took 10 hours to get to the cabin.

With this:

We walked and walked until our feet were covered with blisters and our arms were covered with mosquito bites.  When we finally reached the cabin, we collapsed in exhaustion, 10 hours after we started.

And:  While we climbed over the mossy rocks through the thick forest, we could hear the roar of the waterfall getting louder and louder.

Be completely clear with your message:

Keep your writing clear.  Ask yourself, does the reader understand what I mean if I say it this way?  Who are my readers?  Do they know this topic?  Can they understand me?  How can I give this information in the clearest way?

Although you don’t want every sentence to be short, avoid long sentences that have many clauses.  A variety of length improves readability but if the sentences are too long and wordy, the reader will get confused.

Pronoun Agreement:

Check that your pronouns agree with the subject(s).  For example:  The man and the boy sat down at the dirty table.  He was arguing with the boy.  That is not correct.  It should be:  They were arguing or The man was yelling at the boy.

Another example:  Mrs. Baker and her daughter left to visit her aunt.  Whose aunt?  You need to give more information.  Mrs. Baker took her daughter to visit Annabelle, Mrs. Baker’s sister.