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romeo

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  1. Hello Rich, thanks for stopping by. I will allow it to read much bigger chunks but for the premium plan because it is costly for us too.
  2. i might be wrong https://github.com/defmethodinc/just-not-sorry
  3. A common mistake due to the pronunciation of could've would've and should've is to write it incorrectly as could of would of and should of. This should be linted to return either 've or have.
  4. romeo

    Plagiarism checker

    A huge portion of our audience are students doing essay editing. A plagiarism checker makes a lot of sense and is in the works for the next version.
  5. romeo

    Speech to text

    Feature that allows users to use a microphone and dictate to Typely which will use AI to identify and send back the spoken words. The feature will have to include some trigger words or sentences to manipulate the content such as: new sentence (period) new phrase punctuation formatting shortcuts The speech-to-text feature is highly requested as it brings a lot of benefits such as: faster typing (writers can be up to 3 times faster compared to normal typing) you can work literally anywhere without issues it integrates very well with mobile phones where typing is hard/slow
  6. If you're a writer, you're probably always looking for some way to get ahead in the game. What if I told you that there was one technique that could take your regular writing and make it pop? This technique is simple, anyone can use it to make their writing more effective, exciting and most importantly, professional. What is this technique? It's called writing in an active voice. You might have heard the words passive voice and active voice before when it comes to writing, but what exactly do these words mean? Simply put, an active voice is a sentence where the subject is performing an action. Grammatically speaking, we would look a sentence like this Tom hugged Sally. If we look at the breakdown of this sentence, we can see that Tom is the subject, hugged is the action and Sally is the object. Subjection + Action + Object. The active voice is more alive and exciting than the passive voice. The active voice conveys a sense of action and movement, it makes the writing stronger and gives it a better punch. Let's rearrange the sentence a little bit to find out how the passive voice would read. Sally was hugged by Tom Here, we find that everything is backward. Sally is now the subject, the action is being hugged and it doesn't have a lot of action to it. She's simply receiving an action and there's no amount of punch or energy to it Sally is entirely passive. That's where we get the word passive voice. The subject is active in the first sentence, but passive in the second sentence. This is a very simplified example, we will look at some more things that qualify a passive sentence a little later on. First, we must ask the hard question, why avoid passive voice? Sometimes rules of language can be a little confusing and no one wants to adhere to arbitrary constraints on language. However, the simple explanation of why you should avoid passive voice is all about style more than anything. Style determines how a person perceives your work. When the language is passive, few people will be impacted by the strength of the writing. When there is energy in your words, you will convey a stronger sense of urgency. Compare these two sentences below and determine which one reads better to you: Jacob charged at the troll with his sword. Vs The troll was charged at by Jacob. Quickly, you can see that there is a significant amount of energy in the first sentence. This conveys a sense of action, impact, and strength. The second sentence isn't wrong on a grammatical sense, but stylistically, it lacks the punch and energy of the first one When you are writing, your biggest challenge is drawing people into your words. Your words can either draw people in or push them away. If you don't avoid passive voice, you run the risk of boring your readers. If a reader becomes bored, you run the risk of them moving on to read something else. There are millions of things that a person could be reading with the click of a button, so there is no reason for them to engage with a work that isn't rewarding to them. This fact alone should motivate you to want to keep your voice as an active as possible. So let's talk about some more rules that will help you identify passive voice in your writing. The easiest way to identify a passive voice is to always follow the “to-be” rule. There are various forms of to-be words such as is, was, are, were, have been, has been, will, will, etc. These words are the gateway to quickly identifying a sentence that is passive. The rule is simple, if a to-be word is followed by a past participle, then the sentence is passive. A past participle, if you don't remember, is a verb that ends in an -ed such as loved, hugged, touched, etc. When you combine a to-be word with a past participle, you are most likely going to be finding out that your sentence is indeed written in the passive voice. Susan was grabbed by the pirate. The pirate had been stabbed by Susan's protector. Susan was being saved by the handsome rogue. All of these sentences are passive, and while they are functional in the fact that they convey information, they don't carry a lot of energy and excitement. Revising these sentences doesn't take much effort and provides you with a considerable amount of forward motion in your writing. This captures the imagination and can excite those who are reading. Remember, the more visceral and alive your work is, the better. The pirate grabbed hold of Susan. Susan's protector lunged forward and stabbed the pirate. The handsome rogue saved Susan. See how much more energy comes across in these words? They are basic changes to the structure of the sentence, but they are arranged in the correct order. The best way to avoid passive voice is to make a habit to start evaluating your writing every day. Look for the simple combination of to-be words and past participles to determine if your writing is passive or not. Once you get in the habit of identifying them, all you have to do is rearrange the structure and your writing will take on a much stronger voice. You must remember that when it comes to learning to write in the active voice at all times, that practice will make perfect. Writing is nothing more than a collection of habits and inclinations. Your writing habits are shaped by the discipline and importance that you place upon writing itself. If you don't see the passive voice as something to avoid, you will never work to get rid of it however, if you understand and respect the active voice, if you make sure that you earnestly believe that the passive voice is inferior, you will have a much easier time getting into the discipline of sitting down and rooting out the passive voice. Practice as much as you can, each time you find yourself writing in the passive voice, stop and rewrite it then remind yourself why you are rewriting. Remember, the best type of writing is the kind that can draw readers in and active voice is the best choice for that.
  7. A contraction, or short form, is an abbreviated form of a word or words, from which one or more letters have been left out and replaced by an apostrophe. They're very common in conversational spoken English. For example, when speaking informally we usually say words such as ‘I am’ as ‘I'm’, ‘he is’ as ‘he’s’, ‘it is’ as ‘it's’, and ‘we will’ as ‘we'll’. What about contractions in written English? Informal writing Informal writing is very much like a spoken conversation because you’re writing as you would speak. So contractions are also very common in informal written English such as personal letters, emails, text messages to close friends and family, and postcards. Contractions can also be used in business correspondence such as letters, emails, and email newsletters, where you want to communicate with clients or customers in a friendly, conversational tone. Blog posts are almost always written in an informal way, as are many longer online articles, and so contractions are common in both. Depending on your audience, website content such as Home and About pages are also usually written informally. Fiction writing Contractions are common in fiction writing, both in dialogue and normal prose. The playwright George Bernard Shaw famously didn’t use the apostrophe for contractions in his fiction writing, preferring to write ‘dont’ instead of ‘don’t’, ‘wouldnt’ instead of ‘wouldn’t’, ‘cant’ instead of ‘can’t’, and so on. Equally famously, author Lewis Carroll took things to the other extreme with extra apostrophes; writing ‘ca’n’t’ instead of ‘can’t’, ‘sha’n’t’ instead of ‘shan’t’ (shall not), and so on! Formal writing Style guides and recommendations for the use of contractions in formal writing vary, but the general advice is that you shouldn’t use them. So, for example, instead of ‘it’s’, we should use ‘it is’, and instead of ‘didn’t’’, we should use ‘did not’. However, there are varying degrees of formality, and contractions are increasingly accepted in formal writing because they make the writing more natural, and easier to read. The best advice is to write in the style most appropriate to your specific audience, and in the style which is required or recommended by the context, profession, business, or institution you’re writing for. Academic writing Academic writing, which would normally be included under formal writing, does at times use a more informal tone with some contractions, for example in some course books and scholarly articles. But for university assignments and research papers you will almost certainly be required to write formally, using long rather than short forms of words. And of course many other academic texts, technical writing, and legal documents, etc., are also expected to be very precise and formal, with only long forms of words used. So, what are some of the most common contractions? Common English Contractions First of all, and as we said above, in written English the apostrophe ( ’ ) is used to replace the missing letter or letters in contractions. For example: am becomes ’m are becomes ’re had becomes ’d has becomes ’s have becomes ’ve is becomes ’s will becomes ’ll would becomes ’d List of common English contractions Long form Contraction/short form I am I'm he is he's it is it's she is she's they are they're we are we're you are you're I have I've it has it's he has he's she has she's they have they've you have you've we have we've I had I'd it had it'd he had he'd she had she'd they had they'd you had you'd we had we'd Question words + 'is' Long form Contraction/short form how is how's what is what's when is when's where is where's who is who's why is why's Negative Contractions Long form Contraction/short form are not aren't were not weren't do not don't did not didn't has not hasn't have not haven't had not hadn't is not isn't was not wasn't can not can't could not couldn't must not mustn't might not mightn't shall not shan't should not shouldn't will not won't would not won't Example sentences using common English contractions he'll – he will Do you think he'll pass his driving test? I'll – I will I'll see you next week. I'm – I am I'm going for a walk. I'm hungry - can we eat now, please? it's – it is It’s freezing outside! she'd/he’d – she/he would or she/he had a) I wish she'd told me she wasn’t coming. (she had) b) Do you think he’d like to come to our party? (he would) Contractions are used often in negative sentences. For example: aren't – are not Why aren’t you answering your phone? can't – can not I can't find my glasses anywhere. didn't - did not They didn't tell me the meeting was cancelled. hasn't - has not He hasn't been in touch for over a month. mustn't - must not You mustn't be late for work shouldn't - should not I shouldn't have eaten so much! won't – will not My husband’s been feeling ill for days, but he won’t go to the doctor. wouldn't - would not My dad wouldn't let me drive his car. Questions words + ‘is’ What's the time? (what is) Where's my newspaper? (where is) When's your wedding? (when is) Who's coming to your wedding? (who is) Summary Contractions (or short forms) are abbreviated forms of a word or words, from which one or more letters have been left out and replaced by an apostrophe. They're very common in spoken English and many forms of informal writing, and are increasingly accepted in more formal writing. However, in some formal writing such as university assignments it’s still considered inappropriate to include contractions. Write for your audience and your purpose, and follow any guidance you have been given by the profession, business, or institution you’re writing for.
  8. How confident do you feel about using English phrasal verbs correctly? If you’re a non-native English speaker, the prospect of mastering the use of these frustrating, but very common and very useful, parts of language might fill you with dread! I know English language learners often worry about learning how to use them correctly. But if you’re a native English speaker, there’s a good chance you use them many times a day without giving them a second thought. And although they’re very familiar to you, it’s possible you might not even know what these much-used parts of language are called. Here’s a very brief explanation and reminder if you need one… What is a phrasal verb? Phrasal verbs are also sometimes called multi-word verbs. They’re used just like other verbs and are a combination of a verb, such as ‘talk’ or ‘run’, plus one or two particles (an adverb or a preposition), that results in a new word or unit of meaning. Examples of common phrasal verbs: buy out call off cool off eat up fall for freshen up hit it off look after pull out run out sell up show off step up soup up talk over write off Phrasal verbs are particularly common in normal conversation. Using phrasal verbs in your informal speech makes it sound more natural, and if you’re a non-native English speaker, using them makes your speech much more like that of a native English speaker. But what about phrasal verbs in writing? Phrasal verbs are also very common in informal writing where the style of the writing is similar to a spoken conversation. In informal writing you’re writing very much as you speak and, according to the context, your writing may include slang, idioms, colloquial expressions, abbreviations, contractions, and of course, many phrasal verbs. Because of their frequent occurrence in informal speech and writing, it’s not unreasonable to think that phrasal verbs are always informal. You may have read that phrasal verbs should be avoided in formal writing, and that the single verb equivalents should be used instead. While to some extent that’s true, the reality is more complicated. Phrasal verbs in formal writing There are many phrasal verbs that can and also should be used in formal writing. You will often see them used in many quite formal and formal texts such as business letters, academic writing, scientific papers, technical papers, legal documents, news reports, and official government documents. Before we move on to examples of phrasal verbs that are useful and appropriate for formal writing, let’s look at language register for a moment... ‘Register’ is the term we use to refer to different varieties or styles of speaking and writing, and also the degree or level of formality with which we speak or write. Degree of formality is on a sliding scale rather than in distinct categories, and although phrasal verbs are often thought of as an informal part of language, most of them are neutral, and some are in fact rather formal. Some phrasal verbs are definitely informal, for example: beaver away – work hard for a long time belt out - sing or play a musical instrument very loudly harp on – talk non-stop about something in a boring or annoying way pig out - eat a lot of or too much food In your formal writing, you should of course avoid phrasal verbs that are at the informal end of register, and steer clear of slang phrasal verbs, and those that would be considered by many to be offensive. A good phrasal verb dictionary will tell you which phrasal verbs are informal, slang, or offensive. It's true that very often, single verbs are more formal and therefore are more appropriate for formal writing than their phrasal verb equivalents. Some examples of these are: Single verb/Phrasal Verb constitute/make up calculate/work out cause/bring about discover/find out discuss/talk about emerge/come out eradicate/stamp out increase/go up maintain/keep up organize/set up propose/put forward select/pick out However, most phrasal verbs are neutral, neither informal or formal, and in general there’s no reason to specify they shouldn’t be used in formal writing. In fact, in some cases it’s more appropriate to use a phrasal verb in place of a single verb. For example, the phrasal verb ‘carry out’: “Researchers carried out a survey into …” sounds much better for formal writing than “Researchers did a survey into …” At the other end of the formality register, there are phrasal verbs that are so formal they’re only used in very formal or serious speech or writing. If you were to use them in informal writing they would very strange and out of place. Examples of formal phrasal verbs adhere to appertain to ascribe to disabuse of emanate from/to depart from engage in enlarge on/upon enter on/upon offend against permit of pertain to provide against set forth As always with writing, context is everything – remember to use the language most appropriate to your audience. Your university, organization, etc. will most probably have a guide to the language you should use for formal writing, including their preferences for using phrasal verbs or their single verb equivalents. Summary Often, single verbs are more formal than phrasal verbs and therefore can be more appropriate for formal writing than their phrasal verb equivalents. Nevertheless, phrasal verbs are very common in formal writing. Offensive, slang, and informal phrasal verbs are not appropriate for formal writing. Most phrasal verbs are neutral and therefore, in general, there’s no reason to specify they shouldn’t be used in formal writing. Some phrasal verbs are so formal they’re only used in very formal or serious writing. Yes, you can use phrasal verbs in formal writing, as long as you choose those that are the most suitable for your context or audience.
  9. their, there, they’re (/ðɛː/) ‘Their’, ‘there’, and ‘they’re’ are commonly misspelled and used incorrectly in writing, even by native English speakers. It’s easily done because they’re homophones - words that are pronounced the same, but are spelt differently and have different meanings. The word ‘homophone’ comes from Greek homóphõnos homo same – phõné sound However, although these three words sound the same, they have very different meanings, and so it’s important to use them correctly. For example: their – Their car is blue. there – It's parked over there. they're – They're going to buy a new car soon. THEIR ‘their’ is a determiner meaning belonging to, or associated with, people, animals, or things previously mentioned, or easily identified. It’s nearly always followed by a noun. For example: their children their car their house Example sentences using ‘their’: I could use some ideas about the best ways to help my children with their homework. The couple and their accomplice were eventually caught red-handed. Have you seen their new house? This is their car, and this is ours. We also use it as a gender-neutral alternative to ‘his’ or ‘her’. For example: Someone left their coat in the bar last night. Who finished their dinner first? Anyone who cares about their writing should proofread and edit it carefully. Some people dislike the use of ‘their’ as a gender-neutral substitute as they feel it’s ungrammatical. But it's now become widely used in this way and generally accepted as a natural part of language use. THERE there – in, at, or to, that place I had a great time in Malta. I’d like to go there again. there – used to introduce the subject of a sentence There’s someone at the door. There were too many people on the bus to work this morning. get there – arrive somewhere It took us more than five hours to drive home in the snow. I thought we’d never get there. THEY'RE ‘They’re’ is a contraction of ‘they are’ - the ‘a’ from ‘are’ is replaced by an apostrophe. ‘They’ is a pronoun used to refer to a group of people, animals or things that have already been mentioned, or are easily identified. Example sentences using ‘they’re’ I saw Marie and David last week. Did you know they’re getting married? They’re getting here around six o’clock If they said they didn’t know what they were doing, they’re lying. My parents said they’re going to Nice for their holiday. Example sentences that have their, there, and they’re in the same sentence Their parents live in Canada and they’re flying to Quebec to be there with them for their fortieth wedding anniversary. When they get there, they’re staying in a hotel with their extended family. They’re staying there for ten days and then travelling to visit their friends in Montreal. They’re hoping to have time to visit all their favourite places while they’re there. How do I know if I’m using their, there, and they’re correctly? Mistakes made by confusing ‘their’, ‘there’ and ‘they’re’ in your writing are not usually picked up by proofreading software because although you may have used a word inappropriately in a sentence, if it's spelt correctly the software doesn't recognise it as an error. So, how do you know if you’re using them correctly? In most cases, the following tips should help you decide if you’re using the right word in the right place... THEIR: Try replacing ‘their’ with ‘our’ in your sentence. Does it still make sense? If it does, then you’re using it correctly. For example: Their parents live in Canada. Our parents live in Canada. Have you seen their new baby? Have you seen our new baby? THERE: Try replacing ‘there’ with ‘here’. Does your sentence still make sense? If it does, then it’s correct. THEY’RE: For ‘they’re’, does your sentence still make sense if you replace ‘they’re’ with ‘they are’? If it does, then it’s correct. A final word from their, there, and they're … Remember, they’re easy to mix up because their sound is the same, but their meanings are different. Proofreading software won’t help you identify when you’re using them incorrectly but, for most cases, there are questions you can ask yourself to test whether you have the right word.
  10. An explanation of the definite and indefinite articles in English, and how we use them. With example sentences. What is an article? Articles are a part of grammar often included in the word class determiner. In English, there are two articles: the indefinite article, a/an, and the definite article, the. We use the to refer to something specific, and a/an to refer to something non-specific or general. For example, if we say, “He’s married to an English woman.”, this could refer to any English woman, we don’t know specific which one he’s married to. If we say, “He’s married to the English woman.”, we know which specific English woman he is married to. Indefinite articles: 'a' and 'an' Let’s have a closer look at the indefinite articles 'a' and 'an'. 'a' and 'an' are used to modify non-specific countable nouns. We don’t use them with plural nouns or uncountable nouns. For example: “Let's watch a DVD.” We have more than one DVD we could watch, but we don't yet know which one we will choose. “She ate a banana.” There are probably several bananas, but we don't know which specific banana she ate. “She read a book.” There are many books, but we don't know which specific one she read. “His son really wants a ride in a helicopter for his birthday.” This could be a ride in any helicopter. “I’d love to go and see an opera this Christmas.” This is referring to any opera, not a specific opera. 'a' and 'an' are also used when we refer to what someone is, or what job they do. Here are some examples: She’s an airline pilot. He's an electrician. She's a university student. He's a Muslim. But remember, they are not used with uncountable nouns or plural nouns. For example: He likes brown bread (uncountable noun) He loves fast cars (plural noun) We use 'a' before words that start with a consonant or consonant sound. For example: a government a bird a book a horse a language a library a university - /ˌjuːnɪˈvɜː(r)səti/ a European - /ˌjʊərəˈpiːən/ We use 'an' before words that start with a vowel or vowel sound. For example: an apple an engine an English lesson an exam an honour - /ˈɒnə(r)/ an hour - /ˈaʊə(r)/ Where the noun is modified by an adjective, you use 'a' or 'an' depending on whether the adjective starts with a consonant or consonant sound, or a vowel or vowel sound. For example: a red car a terrible accident a difficult exam an exciting party an interesting job an action-packed football match Definite article: 'the' Now, let’s have a look at definite article ‘the’. 'the' is used to modify specific nouns when it’s clear what is being referred to. It can be used with both countable and uncountable nouns. For example: “On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong became the first person to step on the moon.” We only have one moon, so we know which specific moon is being referred to here. “The English course for beginners starts next Tuesday.” A specific English course starts next Tuesday. “They were lost in the Sahara Desert for four days.” There is only one Sahara Desert. “We went on a boat trip on the Danube.” There is only one Danube river. “She sailed solo across the Atlantic.” “Can you pass me the hammer and nails, please?” Examples of the definite article used with uncountable nouns. “Who's used all the bread?” “The weather has been gorgeous all weekend.” “The scenery around our hotel was amazing.” "I don’t have the courage to do a parachute jump.” Incidentally, according to the Oxford English Corpus, 'the' also happens to be the word that occurs most frequently in written English. Omission of Articles Some nouns don't take an article before them. For example, we do not use an article when referring to: the names of sports: e.g. hockey, football, tennis, ice-skating, swimming. academic subjects: e.g. geography, history, English literature, physics. the names of languages and nationalities: e.g. Italian, Chinese, English, French, Mandarin, Polish, Catalan. Note: If you are referring to the population of a country or nation, an article is used. For example: The French, The Chinese. "The French are well known for their excellent food." the names of countries, territories or islands: e.g. Holland, Peru, Latvia, New Zealand, Easter Island. Note: There are some exceptions to this. For example, the US/the United States, the Caribbean, the Philippines, the Netherlands. the names of continents: e.g. Africa, Asia, Europe. the names of cities or towns: e.g. London, Moscow, Sydney, Athens. Some languages have complex systems of articles relating to gender, person, number, and case, whereas other languages have no definite or indefinite articles at all. The English language only has 'a/an' and 'the' to learn and remember so, in theory at least, they should be straightforward to learn and use. Nevertheless, remembering their correct use and non-use can still be quite difficult for learners of English. Remember… We use the indefinite article 'a/an' to talk about something that is not specific or definite. We use the definite article ‘the’ to talk about something specific. Indefinite: “I’m going to eat an apple.” This could be any apple, we don’t know which one. Definite: “I’m going to eat the apple.” We do know which apple I’m going to eat. If you can remember these two rules, you’re off to a very good start mastering English articles 'a/an' and 'the'.
  11. The importance of proofreading your writing, plus key proofreading tips that show you how to proofread and make sure your writing is error-free. What is proofreading? To proofread a document is to carefully read it to find any errors in spelling, punctuation, or grammar, so they can be corrected before publishing. Have you ever wondered where the word ‘proofreader’ comes from? It makes sense when we know the etymology of the word ‘proof’, and that it comes from the Latin probare, to test or prove. We normally associate the word ‘proof’ with facts or information that show something exists or is true, but, as its etymology shows, it also refers to the action of proving or testing something. A proof (noun) is something produced as a test version. And a galley proof is a trial version of a book created for proofreaders, as well as authors and editors, for proofreading and editing purposes. So, a proofreader is someone who checks or tests proofs (or trial versions of documents/texts), for errors. The internet has made it possible for rapidly growing numbers of people to write for an audience and for their work to be read. Just about anyone can write and publish a book to Amazon Kindle. The platform’s detailed instructions make the publishing process straightforward and, providing you follow their rules, open to everyone. You can set up a free blog and immediately start publishing your ideas and thoughts. Many small business owners write all sorts of types of content and copy, from marketing and advertising copy, to Home pages and About pages, to emails for clients and potential clients. And a lot of office communication is now carried out by email, rather than in person or by phone. And then of course there are the more traditional forms of writing such as academic writing, fiction and nonfiction print books, and journalism. All these forms of writing need to be proofread before publishing. When you’ve written the final word in your piece of writing you might think that your work is finished. But there’s more work to be done. Proofreading for things like spelling, grammar, punctuation, and word choice is an essential part of the writing process, and a vital part of creating a fine piece of written work. Even if you have a gift for telling stories, or writing compelling blog posts, or you’re good at explaining complex issues in a way that most people can understand – your writing still needs to be proofread. Everyone makes errors as they write, and every writer has areas of weakness. Why should you proofread? Proofreading is important for several reasons, but most importantly for ensuring clarity of meaning in your finished text. You want to make sure your information is clear, and your message is understood – there should be no room for misunderstanding or misinterpretation. You also want to make sure your reader is not distracted by errors. Having a lot of grammatical errors or spelling mistakes in a piece of writing is not only distracting, but can also be seen as a poor reflection of your knowledge and expertise in a subject – even when your actual content is great. Some people do find errors like this particularly annoying, as well as distracting, and on content such as blog posts will happily point them out. Identifying and removing errors before you hit publish avoids any embarrassment you might feel about that kind of feedback. Unfortunately, even minor errors in your writing can negatively affect your reputation and undermine the weight of your arguments, which is especially important if you’re writing because you want to be an influencer and recognized as an expert in your field. Too many spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors can even affect your overall grades in your university essays. So, after you get your ideas, arguments, and other content in order, proofreading is an essential step that helps ensure your writing is as good as it can be. It shows you’re conscientious and, combined with your great content, gives your readers a good impression. First impressions count, and if your first contact with someone is via the written word, for example in emails or CVs/Resumes to potential employers, or in a university application, or for new visitors and possible clients to your website or blog, then you need to make that first impression as good as possible. Even though visual and audio content such as videos and podcasts are so popular today, most communication is still in written format. And with the prevalence of things like blogging, and the growing trend towards remote working, freelancing, and the favouring of email over telephone calls, very often the main, and sometimes the only communication you’ll have with someone is via the written word. More than ever, the ability to proofread documents is a necessary skill, and not only for those offering professional proofreading services. If you’re going to proofread your own work, here are some proofreading techniques to help with the process. Proofreading techniques Get your content right first. Proofreading is the final check of your writing. Get your content right first and make sure you’ve included all your ideas and arguments, and you have the right structure for your type or genre of writing. Carry out overview editing to check for things like: do your paragraphs flow well from idea to idea and guide your reader through your writing? if you’re writing an essay, thesis, article, blog post etc., does your title and your introductory paragraph let your readers know what to expect? Is your formatting correct? E.g. titles, subtitles, contents page, headers, footers etc. Check for whatever’s relevant to your piece of writing. Then when that’s done, you can begin your proofreading. Write first, proofread last. Leave your proofreading until after you’ve finished writing. Writing and proofreading/editing use very different mental processes, and trying to proofread as you write can break the flow of your writing, the creative process of writing, and your chain of thought. However, this is general advice only, as many people much prefer to proofread (and edit) as they go along. Print a copy. Print your document out for proofreading. It helps you see errors you might have missed when proofreading digital versions. Change how it looks. If you’re reading on a screen, change the font size and type. Work on one section at a time. If you have a very long document to proofread, break it down into sections and work on one part at a time. This way, what could be a totally overwhelming task becomes much more manageable. You’ll be able to concentrate more fully on each section and will be less likely to miss errors. Take your time. Read everything through slowly and carefully. Try tapping or pointing to each word with a pencil. Leave time between finishing your writing, and proofreading. For example, two or three days if you can for things like blog posts, articles, essays, ebooks, etc. If that’s not possible, for example for things like emails and exams, at least leave a few minutes after you finish writing, so you can look at it with fresh eyes. Check for spelling errors. Most writing tools have spell-checkers built in. Depending on your audience, if you’re writing in English check you’re using the correct spelling variations e.g. US or British/UK. Check for punctuation. Especially punctuation that commonly causes problems such as semicolons and colons. A labour-intensive but apparently effective way to identify any punctuation errors is to pick out every single punctuation mark with a red pen. Check for missing words. These are very easy to miss as our brains automatically fill in the blanks, and we read what we expect to read. Proofread for only one error at a time. It helps you to really focus and not miss anything. Identify your weaknesses in your writing, and focus on checking for these. Every writer has them. If you know you have a tendency to over-season your writing with semi-colons and exclamation marks, or you know you sometimes have trouble with subject-verb agreement, make a point of checking for those. When you get feedback on your writing, note down any recurring errors errors you make so you can hunt them out next time you proofread. Try reading aloud. Very often it’s easier to pick out missing words and misspellings when you have to slow down and really pay attention so you can read your writing aloud. However, much as you do when you’re reading your own writing to proofread it, there’s a chance you may also read aloud what you’re expecting to read/say. So for an important document, you could get a friend, family member, or colleague to read it aloud for you instead. Or you could even try text to voice software. Typely supports text to speech and you can use it to read your text. Read it backwards. Try something really different and start at the end of your text and read it backwards! It might sound strange, but it’s effective because it forces you to focus on just one word at a time. Have someone else check your writing Ideally, you need to have more than one pair of eyes looking over your work. For things like emails that need to be sent immediately, it’s not realistic to do this of course, but for longer pieces get at least another two pairs of eyes to look over your work if you can. It’s not always easy to find someone to check your work, but perhaps you could partner up with someone and reciprocate. Use Online Proofreading Software. Online proofreading software is a very useful tool for picking up a variety of issues in your writing, and suggesting ways you improve it. Remember to keep in mind not to rely on it, as it won’t identify some common grammatical errors. Hire a Professional Proofreader. If precision and clarity are vital for an important document, and if your budget allows, you can have a professional proofreader check your work. There are many sites offering proofreading services online, and finding one to suit your budget and time-frame is straightforward. You can even find proofreaders who specialize in different areas. For example, academic proofreading to check for errors in your essays and research papers, or proofreading for medical, legal, or business writing. There’s a caveat to the proofreading techniques suggested above - no matter how carefully a document is proofread, something will slip through the net. Who hasn’t spotted a typo or two in a published novel that’s probably gone through multiple stages of professional proofreading and editing? And I expect you’ve heard the quote, “I do my best proofreading after I hit send.” I think we can all empathise with that one! It’s very difficult to successfully proofread your own writing in a consistent way, and although it’s a little embarrassing discover you’ve made typos in work that’s been sent or published, there’s no point feeling bad about it. So, should this emphasis on the importance of proofreading for perfection put you off writing if you feel your writing isn’t good enough? Writing errors can attract surprisingly strong opinions, and it can be hard to go public with your writing if you’re worried about making mistakes. Blog posts and infographics with titles like “XX Grammatical Errors That Make You Look Dumb”, don’t help. The definition of a well-written piece of text is subjective. For some, it will be perfect grammar and spelling, for others it will be writing that connects emotionally, regardless of whether the spelling, punctuation or grammar is perfect. If you have something to say that you feel strongly about, it would be a great pity if you didn’t write it because of the fear that someone might call you out on your mistakes. The best way to improve your writing is practice – keep writing, and keep learning, and get into the habit of proofreading your work. It really is worth spending the extra time to make sure your writing is the best it can be, and that you're giving the best impression of yourself and your writing that you can. But don’t let fear of making errors put you off writing. Every writer makes mistakes, and even professionally edited and proofread documents are sometimes published with the odd typo, missing word, and grammar gaffe. How much do you worry about getting your grammar, spelling and punctuation perfect before you send or publish your writing? And do you have a favourite proofreading technique?
  12. This post explores how the Flesch Reading Ease Score and the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level readability tests work, and how the results can be used. The Flesch-Kincaid readability tests are popular and long-established ways of measuring how easy your English writing is to read. They’re useful because the level of difficulty of your text directly influences how well your readers engage with it, and how well they absorb the information or message you want to convey. There are two related tests: the Flesch Reading Ease Score, and the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level. What is the Flesch Reading Ease Score? The Flesch Reading Ease Score has its origins in education, and the need for texts for learners to be appropriate to their reading level. The formula for working out the reading score of a text was developed in 1948 by author and writing teacher, Rudolf Flesch (1911-1986). Flesch was a supporter of plain English - English that is easily understood by the target readers, is clear and concise, with common vocabulary, and is free of language like clichés and jargon. How does the Flesch Reading Ease Score work? Using Flesch’s mathematical formula, texts are rated on a 100-point scale. The higher the score, the easier your text is to read and understand. The lower the score, the more difficult it is to understand. Readability statistics take into account things like sentences per paragraph, characters per word, and words per sentence. Texts with high scores will have short sentences and short/common words and will be easier to read. Those with long sentences and multi-syllable words get lower scores, and are more difficult to read. The results are interpreted according to the reading age someone needs to be to understand your writing. For example: A score of 80 to 100 is easily understood by readers aged 10 to 11 A score of 60 to 70 is easily understood by readers aged 13 to 15 A score of 0 to 30 is best understood by university graduates Advice varies but, generally speaking, a score of 60 to 70 is good for most standard written documents. The Reading Ease Formula If you’re interested in seeing exactly how it works, this is what the formula looks like (if you’re numerophobic you might want to look away now!): Reading Ease score = 206.835 − (1.015 × Average Sentence Length) − (84.6 × Average Syllables per Word) Average sentence length is the number of words divided by number of sentences. And average syllables per word is the number of syllables divided by number of words. What is the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level? In 1976 the US Navy modified the Flesch Reading Ease formula to produce a grade-level score based on US education grade levels – the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level - which they used to create easy-to-read training manuals. Readability scores are interpreted as grades as shown here: Score 90-100 5th Grade 11 years (British Year 6) Score 90-80 6th Grade 12 years (British Year 7) Score 80-70 7th Grade 13 years (British Year 😎 Score 70-60 8th and 9th Grade 14-15 years (British Years 9 and 10) Score 60-50 10th to 12th Grade 16-18 years (British Years 11 to 13) Score 50-30 College (British University) Score 30-0 College Graduate (British University Graduate) How can we use the Flesch-Kincaid Readability Scores and Grades? The Flesch-Kincaid tests are useful for anyone who wants to test how easily people can understand a piece of written text. They’re not infallible, but they can give you an indication of the age and level of education a reader needs to have reached to easily understand your writing. If you’re a teacher writing educational content you can test your teaching materials, and worksheets etc. to see if the grade level and reading ease scores are appropriate for your students. If not, you can fine-tune them to make them just right. You can also choose the most age-appropriate books to guide your students through reading levels and curriculum work. Authors and bloggers can use the tests as part of the editing process. The scores can point writers towards ways they can improve their texts. If they have more than two or three sentences per paragraph, or a large number of long sentences, they can edit accordingly. The tests can be used to improve the readability of newspaper content, and the effectiveness of marketing and advertising materials. You can use the results to improve your writing to make it either easier to read, or more sophisticated. Whatever suits your audience best. With judicious use of readability tests, teaching materials can be made more effective, businesses and government departments etc. can ensure the time and money spent on developing written texts is efficient and not wasted, and newspapers can retain and increase readership. Anyone who produces written texts can make sure their target readers can read their writing, and can understand the information and the message conveyed. How do I work out the reading ease score and grade level of my text? You’ll be glad to know you don’t have to use the complicated Flesch-Kincaid formula! Typely does all the hard work for you. It automatically works out both measures by analysing your text and giving you the relevant score and level, plus a breakdown of things like sentences per paragraph, characters per word, and words per sentence. Typely will give you suggestions for improvements, and can highlight paragraphs where you can make changes. And as you make those changes you can see the scores change, so you can keep making improvements until you reach the score and grade you want. Readability scores have some limitations because they measure the complexity of your writing, and not the quality. The scores also don't take into account other factors such as visual aspects like font size and line and paragraph spacing, which also affect readability and comprehension. Nevertheless, they are a valuable way of improving your readers’ enjoyment of texts and their levels of engagement with them. They help you ensure your writing is targeting the right age level, and has an appropriate level of complexity according to your audience and context.
  13. The pros and cons of jargon in writing, and how we can avoid using it if we need to. If you’re baffled by ‘accountability matrices’, ‘leveraging synergies’, and ‘swim lanes’, and the expression ‘opening the kimono’ just sounds downright creepy - you’re not alone. Although jargon has a reputation for being pretentious, exclusionary, and confusing, it isn’t inherently bad. When used appropriately it’s actually a very useful form of language. So, let’s look at some of the pros and cons of jargon use. As the specialized language of specific groups, professions, or trades (e.g. law and medicine) its use enables people who are working in the same field, or who belong to the same group, to communicate quickly, clearly and efficiently. Here are some examples of jargon that are meaningful to people in the respective industry or service, but are potentially meaningless to people outside of those groups… Examples of jargon: Computing: defrag simple mail transfer protocol Education: bodily-kinesthetic intelligence constructivism intrapersonal intelligence locus of control Law: probate intestate grantor decree Medicine: dyspnea biopsy Of course, there’s nothing wrong with using specialized words if they’re the right words for the job. And as always, the best language to use in your writing depends on context and audience. If you’re writing for someone who shares your specialized knowledge, then the specific jargon of your trade, niche, or industry is entirely appropriate, and is the best choice of words to help you convey meaning and information effectively. In addition, if you use the jargon of your niche or industry in your writing it can enhance your authority and credibility within that group because it shows you are familiar with its specialized language, and you can use and understand it. However, there’s no doubt the use of jargon can be a problem in some circumstances. Why jargon can be a big problem If we use the special words and phrases of our profession or group outside of those contexts, that’s when it very often becomes meaningless talk, or jargon in its negative sense. Using jargon in this way may be down to simple thoughtlessness or lack of awareness, or something more deliberate. Problems arise when people use jargonistic language for excluding others from a group, by deliberately using language they know will not be understood. Or when they’re trying to impress their audience, or they have an inflated sense of their own importance. Most professions or groups have their own special words and phrases, but using them where it isn’t necessary or appropriate results in poor communication. It obscures and over-complicates meaning, which is irritating and alienating, with potentially damaging consequences. If, for example, a doctor uses medical jargon with a patient, or a lawyer uses legal jargon with a client, very often the patient or client won’t understand the language used, with the result they won’t fully understand issues that can have enormous significance for them. So, when we know we need to avoid using jargon in our writing, how can we do that? How to avoid jargon in your writing If you’re writing for a general audience, think carefully about the vocabulary you’re using and always keep your audience in the front of your mind. If you’re at all unsure your readers will understand any expressions, terminology, or acronyms, etc., then either use a plain English alternative if your jargon word isn't essential to your text, or give your readers a clear definition, or describe something in more familiar terms, so that: a) they don’t have to stop reading in order to look it up in a dictionary, and b) if/when they next encounter the expression in your text they will know exactly what it means. And if a word you're using isn't in the dictionary, change it! Even if it's a buzzword you’ve used and heard often, if it’s not in the dictionary it’s very likely to be jargon that won’t be understood by everyone. Just because something is familiar to you, be careful not to assume it is for everyone – especially if you have an international audience, or readers from a wide range of backgrounds. Online proofreading software will quickly and easily help you identify any jargon words or phrases in your writing that need editing. Don’t feel you have to use difficult words to make your writing better or more impressive. Plain and simple vocabulary is a good tool, and writing simply and with clarity is a great skill to master. Good writing can include jargon. But using jargon can certainly also result in bad writing. It just depends how it’s used – whether that’s as a useful tool to efficiently communicate meaning in an appropriate context, or carelessly without careful consideration of a text’s audience, or as a tool to deliberately isolate and confuse. You want your writing to clearly communicate ideas, to inform and persuade, and entertain. So pay careful attention to your choice of vocabulary, keep your audience foremost, and use proofreading software to help you pick out any jargon words or phrases that might hinder understanding.
  14. What are euphemisms? Why do we use them? And are they words of kindness and comfort, or words of disguise and deceit? Euphemisms are mild, indirect or evasive expressions that are used instead of those that are offensive, unpleasant or embarrassing. They’re used in all areas of life, but tend to be most common around so-called taboo areas such as death, sex, bodily functions, and violence. Why do we use euphemisms? So, why do we choose to use less disagreeable, or vaguer, words or phrases than the ones we actually mean? Many euphemisms about sexual activity or bodily functions came about when it was considered extremely impolite to talk about such things. We’re now much less squeamish or prudish, and we're fairly relaxed about talking about sex and going to the toilet, etc. In fact, some might say we’ve gone too far the other way. But there are still occasions where maybe it feels less embarrassing to say someone has ‘slept with’ another person, than to say they had sex with them. Or more polite to say “I’m going to the bathroom”, than to say “I’m going to urinate”. When we know someone whose parent or husband or wife has died, it’s often kinder and gentler to say we’re sorry to hear that person has ‘passed away’. And the person whose loved one has died may find it easier to speak of it in vaguer terms such as “I lost my husband last year”. It’s simply a way of dealing with something that’s hard to face. The euphemisms of war are deliberately used to hide the horror and violence of war. They make that which is in reality horrific, so apparently commonplace that we're in danger of no longer considering the true implications of the words we hear, and of becoming immune or numb to the consequences. With the result that we're less likely to react, object, or question the morality and legality of actions supposedly carried out in our name. The real words conjure up graphic images of the results of war that people are less likely to support, and more likely to challenge. Euphemisms from the workplace Cleaners are now 'office cleaning operatives', and someone who stacks shelves in a supermarket is an 'ambient replenishment assistant'. Employees aren't fired from their job, they're 'let go'; and then they're not unemployed, but 'between jobs'. I'm not sure how euphemistic job titles really help anyone, but the intention of the vague language of dismissal is to soften the blow, both for employee and employer. Here are some more examples of common euphemisms, with the euphemisms in bold... Euphemisms related to war terminate – kill We must terminate him before he reaches the border. friendly fire – an attack that comes from one's own side that accidentally kills or injures one's own soldiers Ten soldiers were seriously injured in friendly fire. Enhanced interrogation techniques - torture collateral damage – the killing of innocent civilians by mistake (especially by the military) They say that some collateral damage is inevitable during military action. Euphemisms related to death lost their lives – were killed Many people lost their lives in the accident. put to sleep – (an animal) euthanized by a vet We had to have our dog put to sleep yesterday. pass away – die Her grandmother passed away last night. didn't make it - died I'm sorry to say he didn't make it. lost – as in, I lost my husband. Meaning my husband died. Toilet euphemisms go to the bathroom - go to the toilet pass water – urinate I don't know what's wrong with me. I'm passing water ten times a day! spend a penny – urinate Can we stop here? I need to spend a penny. Sex, health and alcohol sleep with – have sex with Have you slept with him? tired and emotional – drunk You'd better take him home, he's a bit tired and emotional. full-figured - overweight Clothes for the full-figured man or woman. over the hill - old I'm not over the hill yet! the big C – cancer Did you hear that Mrs Jones has the big C? Summary Euphemisms allow us to talk about something like the death of someone dear in a kind, comforting and sensitive way. They're also a way to avoid embarrassment or offence when talking about anything related to biological functions. But they're also used to hide the truth or reality of situations and actions. They can soften the reality of painful experiences and emotions. But they can also be vague, and at times undeniably deceitful, and so we should be careful when using them in our writing as they can muddy our meaning and hamper effective communication. In 2017, 'alternative facts' became a much-mocked euphemism for lies. I wonder what new euphemisms 2018 will bring.
  15. The analysis of texts to determine the writers' or speakers' opinion and attitude expressed, and how the results can be used. What is sentiment analysis? Sentiment analysis is also known as opinion mining. In its simplest form, it’s a way of determining how positive or negative the content of a text document is, based on the relative numbers of words it contains that are classified as either positive or negative. Positive words would include words such as 'amazing', 'friendly', 'clean', 'exceeded', and 'prompt'. Negative words could be words like 'scam', 'unprofessional', 'rude', 'refund', and 'incompetent'. Sentiment analysis can identify the attitude or opinions of a writer or speaker with regard to a particular topic, and whether that attitude is negative, positive, or neutral. It can also reveal their emotional state, and the intended effect of their words. The benefits of sentiment analysis Sentiment analysis is a useful tool for any organization or group for which public sentiment or attitude towards them is important for their success - whichever way that success is defined. On social media, blogs, and online forums millions of people are busily discussing and reviewing businesses, companies, and organizations. And those opinions are being ‘listened to’ and analysed. Those being discussed are making use of this enormous amount of data by using computer programs that don’t just locate all mentions of their products, services, or business, but also determine the emotions and attitudes behind the words being used. The results from sentiment analysis help businesses understand the conversations and discussions taking place about them, and helps them react and take action accordingly. They can quickly identify any negative sentiments being expressed, and turn poor customer experiences into very good ones. They can create better products and services, and they can formulate the marketing messages they send out according to the sentiments being expressed by their target audience or customers. All of which adds up to increased sales and revenue. By listening to and analysing comments on Facebook and Twitter, local government departments can gauge public sentiment towards their department and the services they provide, and use the results to improve services such as parking and leisure facilities, local policing, and the condition of roads. Universities can use sentiment analysis to analyze student feedback and comments garnered either from their own surveys, or from online sources such as social media. They can then use the results to identify and address any areas of student dissatisfaction, as well as identify and build on those areas where students are expressing positive sentiments. And by analysing the sentiment behind customer reviews on sites like TripAdvisor and Yelp, hotels and restaurants can not only manage their reputations by improving the services offered, but can also gauge the general customer attitude to their business or brand. Businesses can compare their results with those of their competitors to better understand people’s attitude to their business. They can identify where they may be excelling, or identify where there’s room for improvement compared to the competition. They can also conduct market research into general sentiment around key issues, topics, products, and services, before developing and launching their own new services, products or features. Limitations of automated sentiment analysis Sentiment analysis tools can identify and analyse many pieces of text automatically and quickly. But computer programs have problems recognizing things like sarcasm and irony, negations, jokes, and exaggerations - the sorts of things a person would have little trouble identifying. And failing to recognize these can skew the results. 'Disappointed' may be classified as a negative word for the purposes of sentiment analysis, but within the phrase “I wasn't disappointed", it should be classified as positive. We would find it easy to recognize as sarcasm the statement "I'm really loving the enormous pool at my hotel!", if this statement is accompanied by a photo of a tiny swimming pool; whereas an automated sentiment analysis tool probably would not, and would most likely classify it as an example of positive sentiment. With short sentences and pieces of text, for example like those you find on Twitter especially, and sometimes on Facebook, there might not be enough context for a reliable sentiment analysis. However, in general, Twitter has a reputation for being a good source of information for sentiment analysis, and with the new increased word count for tweets it's likely it will become even more useful. So, automated sentiment analysis tools do a really great job of analysing text for opinion and attitude, but they're not perfect. When you're using a tool like Typely to analyse your text to see if it conveys the sentiment you want for your readers/audience, combine the results it gives you with your human judgement to identify anything the tool may not be able to easily determine. Typely highlights phrases in your text by positive and negative sentiment, making it super easy for you to see where your document is either expressing exactly the sentiments you want it to, or where you may need to make some changes.
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