This is the second of 3 posts about English language writing.
A piece of English language writing whether for an exam, an assignment or work should demonstrate your ability and flexibility with the language. Getting your message across clearly and expressing yourself with good style will gain you more marks and/or make a good impression.
Here are my 7 deadly sins that are easy to avoid and will certainly help you to add a little more sophistication to your work.
- nice, get – useful words but they really don’t mean much. Write down a list of synonyms that you can use instead.
- translating – this rarely works, if you can’t express your idea well in English then think of another idea that you can! (see my post on thinking in English)
- phrasal verbs – these are not appropriate for formal pieces of writing – make a list of alternatives. (see my post on Register)
- wandering apostrophes – its/it’s, your /you’re – PLEASE make sure you understand the difference and know where and when not to use these!
- adding new ideas in the final paragraph – this is usually the result of not planning and it not only destroys your piece it also shows a lack of joined up thinking. Even if it’s an earth shattering idea if it ruins your essay or report it’s not worth it!
- not planning – if you don’t plan you won’t know where you are going and you’ll end up with a very fragmented piece and the danger of Number 5 above!
- not sticking to your plan – I have known students who constructed their plan after the essay just because I had asked for a plan! This shows a fundamental lack of understanding, in my view, of the writing process. It causes Nos. 5 and 6 and if you have a good plan then stay with it – remember the ideas will not come across if your language is poor and it doesn’t flow. This, again in my view, can only be achieved by careful planning. (see my last post on planning and checking your writing)
For a general overview of writing and the process of producing exam essays see the section How to Write on the Gapfillers site.
My next post will look at the ‘dos’ rather than the ‘don’ts’ of writing.