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  1. The consequences of plagiarism can be severe for both the plagiariser and the person whose work or ideas have been plagiarised. Just the mention of the word plagiarism is often enough to strike fear into the heart of any writer or student, or in fact in the heart of the creator of any original work. This article looks at why plagiarism is such an important issue, some of the main types of plagiarism, and how you can actively avoid plagiarising another person’s work. What is plagiarism? “plagiarism: The practice of taking someone else's work or ideas and passing them off as one's own. Recorded from the early 17th century, the word comes from Latin plagiarius ‘kidnapping’.” ~ Oxford Reference Plagiarism is seen as a form of stealing - illegal, unethical, and damaging to both plagiarist and those being plagiarised. What sort of content does it cover? It covers not only written content such as books, articles, and essays, but anything that is another’s original work. For example, music, graphics, video games, TV programmes and films, paintings, photography, computer software, and clothing. Producing original written work for yourself and for others is crucial to retaining your integrity, and that of your work. If you pass off the work of others as your own you risk losing professional or academic credibility, and permanently damaging your reputation. The consequences of plagiarism are just as far reaching for those whose work has been used without permission. I know someone well who had their writing stolen from their website, and word-for-word made into a book which sold on Amazon for more than a year before the original author discovered it. The impact on the original author was not only on an emotional level; the work had now been published which made it impossible for them to publish it themselves without rewriting. The only ‘consolation’ the true author of this work took away from their experience, was that the book received many favourable reviews. However, to see someone else receiving praise and financial compensation for something you 100% created yourself is a very unpleasant experience. Even when content is being given away for free by the original author, as was the case with this book, plagiarism isn’t by any means a victimless act. If, for example, university students routinely plagiarise content in order to get higher grades, the value and academic integrity of university degrees would be undermined. And if someone gains professional credibility through passing off someone else’s work as their own, the advantages and respect they consequently receive from colleagues and the wider community are not earned, and may well be taken at the expense of others. Types of Plagiarism Accidental or unintentional plagiarism The book example above was deliberate plagiarism – the plagiarist knowingly copied that work and published it without attribution or consent. The original work was clearly marked as copyrighted but even if it had not been, they knew none of the content they published belonged to them, and they deliberately set out to gain financially from another’s work. Accidental plagiarism on the other hand, occurs when someone unintentionally uses another’s work or words without identifying the author or original source. However, the fact that you did not intend to deceive is no defence against accidental plagiarism, and the consequences can still be serious - your reputation may suffer regardless of whether the plagiarism was intentional or not. Unfortunately, it’s easy to unintentionally plagiarise someone else’s work. We have access to online resources and sources that we can simply copy and paste from when we read something that we would like to refer to in our own writing. Or we might copy an extract from a printed book, journal, research paper etc., and forget to make a note of where those words come from. When we return to our notes later, we think the words are ours and they are included in our final piece without credit to the original author. Very often, accidental plagiarism is simply caused by a lack of knowledge about how to credit sources properly. And sometimes it’s caused by a writer’s lack of confidence in their ability to put their thoughts or ideas into their own words. Direct Plagiarism The example of plagiarism we discussed earlier, where a whole manuscript was taken and turned into a book sold under another’s name, was an example of complete plagiarism. Direct plagiarism is similar to complete plagiarism in that it relates to the word for word copying of someone else’s work without giving proper attribution, but direct plagiarism refers to the copying of sections of work, rather than the whole text. Self-Plagiarism Self-plagiarism is the reuse or duplication, without attribution, of work you have previously published. It might seem strange that you can plagiarise your own work – after all, you created it – but self-plagiarism is also frowned upon and can have serious consequences. If you’re a published author, it’s likely you will need permission from your publishers to reuse any part of your work. Check your publisher’s rules on this. As a student, you cannot reuse content from one essay in another without citing that you have previously used it. Freelance writers often write on similar topics for multiple clients. Your clients want original work, and they own the work you created for them, and for which they paid you. Although you wrote the words, you cannot reuse them without permission. Mosaic plagiarism or patchwork plagiarism Mosaic or patchwork plagiarism is taking someone’s sentences or phrases and inserting them throughout your work without using quotation marks, and without using proper citation. It includes rewording or paraphrasing the material whilst at the same time keeping the same sentence structure of the original source. How to avoid plagiarism Be confident in your own writing skills and your unique perspective As mentioned above, some instances of plagiarism occur because writers are new and not yet confident in their subject or their writing skills. They are learning their craft, and learning the subject they are writing about, and much of this learning is done by looking at the work of others who seem to express so easily exactly what they would like to say. In those circumstances it might seem easy to copy a few perfect sentences or turns of phrase. But instead, be confident in your own ideas and your own way of expressing them. We all have something to offer, an opinion, or unique perspective or point of view. You’ll become more confident in including these in your writing the more you practise the art of writing, and the more you learn and write about your subject. Know when to exercise caution if you employ virtual assistants, ghostwriters, or freelancers Claiming you didn’t know the work written by your freelancer, ghostwriter, or virtual assistant was not original is not a valid defence. Make sure the people you employ to create work for you are aware of the potentially serious consequences of plagiarism for both of you – for your careers and credibility. And make sure they know your policy regarding crediting the work of others. Do you have a checklist you can provide for them as a reminder? If not, create a document that shows exactly how you want them to quote or cite and reference etc. in the work they create for you. If you’re using a site such as Fiverr where you can get blog posts or articles for a very small sum in a short space of time, exercise caution and check the work before you publish it. There are many good writers on these sites who are simply starting out as writers and earning a small income before they get established, but there may be others who are not as genuine and who will pass work on to you that is, wholly or partly, reused or copied from elsewhere – be careful. Automatic plagiarism checkers make it easy to check the written work you commission is original. It’s also worth keeping in mind that for good quality original work you should expect to pay more. Use consistent note-taking techniques to help avoid plagiarism If you’re making notes in Word or any other electronic note-taking system, immediately highlight any text/quotes etc in yellow (or a different colour of your choice) so it’s obvious you didn’t write it. Include a link to the original source, or notes about the book, other printed sources, so you can go back and reference your sources properly before you publish. You could do the same on paper with a highlighter pen – or write the copied text in a different colour. Know how to use citations properly, and credit all your sources Very often, plagiarism occurs simply because of a lack of knowledge about how to credit original sources correctly, rather than the intent to deceive and pass off another’s work as your own. Use your own words and ideas as much as you can, and make sure you know and follow your university’s, employer’s, or publisher’s guidelines for citation style. If in doubt, cite. Use a plagiarism checker Plagiarism checkers show you whether your text contains any duplicated content. Anyone who creates original written content can also check to see if someone has copied parts of their work. If you put your work through a plagiarism checker and find apparently duplicated copy, don’t panic, it doesn’t automatically mean that the content identified is plagiarised. Use the checker as a tool to help you find anything you might have missed. Look at the parts highlighted as identical or very similar to other content – do they need citations, or quotation marks? Maybe you forgot to put them in. If you think you’ve quoted or copied something but not credited it, do a simple internet search and see if you can find the original source. It may be that the expression or extract highlighted is simply a commonly used expression and not something copied from another person’s work. Summary The consequences of plagiarism can be serious even if it is unintentional. It can be easy to commit plagiarism whether out of forgetfulness, or a lack of knowledge about the correct way to credit your sources. Always err on the side of caution and provide citations for words and ideas that are not your own. Refer to your university’s guidelines - or whomever you are writing for. Adopt a careful note-taking process that will help you minimize the potential for inadvertently passing off another’s work as your own. And don’t forget it’s possible to plagiarise your own work! Passing your work through a good plagiarism checker will help you identify any missing citations or quotation marks.
  2. What do you mean? The app is ad editor.typely.com
  3. romeo

    loosing my works

    what exactly do you mean? Your work is not saved?
  4. In this post we first look at what adverbs are and what they do, along with some examples of adverbs in use. We’ll see how adverbs can be very useful in our writing and, conversely, how they can also be a problem - especially if they are overused. Finally, we’ll look at when, and where, we should consider pruning them from our writing. INTRODUCTION “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice As I was writing this post about the much-maligned adverb, and thinking about how valuable, or problematic, this part of language is for writers, it occurred to me that much like Jane Austen’s universally acknowledged truth about wealthy single men, it seems it’s a universally acknowledged truth that adverbs are a problem – that they should be avoided, entirely if possible, and sought out and ruthlessly pruned from our writing. Perhaps an appropriately similar quote would go something like this… It is a truth universally acknowledged that writing in possession of too many adverbs must be in want of some pruning/editing! I expect you have read a great deal of advice that recommends avoiding over-using adverbs in your writing, especially with regard to creative writing. Mark Twain complained of an “adverb plague”, and according to Kingsley Amis, if you are using an adverb, you have got the verb wrong. But probably the most quoted advice is from the writer Stephen King I believe the road to hell is paved with adverbs, and I will shout if from the rooftops. To put it another way, they’re like dandelions. If you have one on your lawn, it looks pretty and unique. If you fail to root it out, however, you find five the next day . . . fifty the day after that . . . and then, my brothers and sisters, your lawn is totally, completely, and profligately covered with dandelions. By then you see them for the weeds they really are, but by then it’s — GASP!! — too late. But are adverbs really such a problem? Should we purge them from our writing, or should we celebrate them as a perfectly good and useful part of language, and an essential part of the writer’s set of tools? First, let’s take a quick look at what adverbs are, and what they do. What are adverbs and what do they do? Adverbs are words that modify (describe) verbs, adjectives, and other adverbs. They provide us with additional information and describe the way something happens or happened. They can tell us things such as how, when, and where something happens, and to what extent or under what conditions. For example: She sings beautifully. I write in my journal daily. He writes very well. We saw her yesterday morning. We’re looking for somewhere to stay in France. We’ve never been to Paris. Some examples of common adverbs ‘How’ adverbs badly carefully cheerfully expertly quietly well ‘When’ adverbs afterwards – They met in May 2009 and got engaged shortly afterwards. daily early monthly never now often regularly soon still then today – Are you working today? ‘Where’ adverbs here – The countdown to Christmas starts here. outside somewhere there – I emigrated from the UK in 1992 and I haven’t been back there since. ‘Adverbs showing the extent of something extremely – She did extremely well in her exams. quite terribly – Would you mind terribly if we didn’t come to your party next week? very Adverbs modifying verbs Our greenhouse was badly damaged in the storm. He walked home slowly. He gets up early every day. I’m sorry, I must go. My train will be arriving soon. She stepped carefully into the steaming bath. Adverbs modifying adjectives He drives a very fast car. My grandfather was an extremely tall, thin man. Our boss expects us to work impossibly long hours. Adverbs modifying other adverbs My train arrived unexpectedly early. He ate his food extremely quickly. Many adverbs end in -ly These are formed by adding –ly to an adjective. For example: beautiful – beautifully bold – boldly eager - eagerly slow – slowly quiet - quietly If the adjective ends in a ‘y’ you need to change the ‘y’ to an ‘i’ and then add -ly. For example: angry – angrily cosy - cosily easy – easily moody – moodily ready - readily steady – steadily Some adverbs have the same form as adjectives, for example: fast hard late well wrong daily, weekly, monthly, yearly For and against adverbs The main argument against adverbs is that they can make your writing weak by littering it with unnecessary words. However, as we have seen above, we need some adverbs - those that tell us things like how, when and where, and to what extent etc., something happens. We also need linking adverbs – these are words such as ‘therefore’, ‘however’, ‘nevertheless’, ‘whereas’, and ‘while’, that enable us to do things such as connect or contrast ideas and emphasize contrasting points or arguments. Adverbs can add meaning, clarification, colour, depth and interest to your writing. Used properly, they strengthen your writing. If a character in your story is singing, you can give your reader more information with adverbs… Elsie sang quietly to herself as she folded her baby’s clothes. You can use adverbs to create sentences that create a picture for your readers, or that evoke an emotion: “Tread softly because you tread on my dreams” – from The Cloths of Heaven, W.B. Yeats “…or if your wish be to close me, i and my life will shut very beautifully, suddenly…” – from somewhere i have never travelled, gladly beyond, by e. e. cummings How to identify and cut unnecessary adverbs from your writing Locate the adverbs in your writing – and see how removing each one affects its sentence. Ask yourself whether, without the adverb, the sentence has less impact and its meaning is now less clear. If so, keep the adverb in, or think of a stronger word or expression to replace the adverb. Conversely, if by removing an adverb you feel a sentence’s clarity and impact for your reader has now improved, feel free to unceremoniously eject the offending adverb from your writing. Here are a few things to look out for… Adverb/verb combinations Adverb/verb combinations can sometimes be better written with a single (stronger) verb, e.g. ‘She ran quickly up the stairs’ could be ‘She sprinted up the stairs.’. ‘He walked quickly through the graveyard and into the church’. Depending on your character and the effect you want, perhaps this could be better written as… ‘He strode through the graveyard and into the church.’ walked slowly – ambled smiled cheerfully – grinned Intensifiers Intensifiers are words such as, absolutely, completely, definitely, extremely, highly, really, so, totally, truly, and utterly. They are very common in speech… Oh my God, this song is totally amazing. Her wedding dress was absolutely gorgeous. …but ‘amazing’, and ‘gorgeous’ are strong descriptive words that most likely don’t need those modifiers in your writing, unless you are writing very informally, or you are writing a character’s speech. My father was extremely angry when I got home late. Here, ‘extremely angry’ could be replaced with a strong adjective like ‘livid’. The hurricane completely obliterated the town. The intensifier ‘totally’ is redundant here because if something is obliterated it is already wiped out or utterly destroyed. Redundant or repetitive adverbs Other redundant or repetitive adverbs include descriptors such as: she screamed loudly – ‘loudly’ is redundant because a scream is usually understood to be loud he smiled happily – ‘happily’ is redundant because it’s generally accepted that a smile is happy. An adverb would be an appropriate addition to ‘smile’ if you want to convey something other than happiness, e.g. sarcasm, malice, or fear. Conclusion Very often, adverbs are useful because they are helping you define and clarify meaning. But sometimes they are redundant, and excessive, and are simply literary litter to be deleted posthaste. It’s impossible to completely avoid using adverbs, but when you check for them in your writing consider each one’s value and the work it’s doing for you and your reader. Consider which ones are unnecessary and can be removed where doing so will improve your writing, and which ones should stay because they are earning their keep. Don’t automatically assume that adverbs must be avoided at all costs – after all, it’s your writing, your unique style, and your audience. But certainly, do use adverbs wisely and remove them judiciously – use them, but don’t overuse them. Finally, let’s finish with a positive shout-out for adverbs… “I adore adverbs; they are the only qualifications I very much respect.” Henry James
  5. 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.
  6. i might be wrong https://github.com/defmethodinc/just-not-sorry
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. 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'.
  15. 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?
  16. 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.
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
  20. Definition of superlative adjectives, and how to form them. Includes a useful list of 100 common superlatives, plus example sentences. What is a superlative? The superlative is used to show that someone or something has more of a particular quality than any other of their kind. Superlatives are usually formed by adding the suffix -est to the end of the adjective, and using the before it (e.g. the fastest), or by adding the most before the adjective (e.g. the most delicious, the most expensive). The cheetah is the fastest land animal. It was the most delicious meal I’d ever eaten. Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi has just become the most expensive painting ever sold at auction. How to form the superlative Here are some tips to help you form the superlative with different adjectives. Adjectives with one syllable For adjectives with one syllable, we usually form the superlative by adding -est. For example, It was the coldest winter in living memory. The coldest place on earth is in Antarctica. If the adjective ends with a single vowel letter, followed by a single consonant, we double the consonant. For example, That summer was the hottest on record. The Sahara Desert and the Gobi Desert are two of the hottest places on earth. London is the biggest city in England. What's the saddest movie you've ever watched? If the adjective ends with -e, this is removed, and -est is added. For example, nice/nicest - She was the nicest girl in my class. blue/bluest - That summer’s day, the sky was the bluest blue we’d ever seen. wise/wisest - My grandmother is the wisest person I know. If the adjective ends with a consonant followed by -y, the -y is replaced by -i and -est is added. For example, dry/driest The Atacama Desert is the driest non-polar desert in the world. Adjectives with two syllables As with one-syllable adjectives, if the adjective ends with a consonant followed by -y, the -y is replaced by -i and -est is added. For example, happy/happiest – On the day I married my husband I was the happiest woman in the world. messy/messiest – Our teenage son has the messiest bedroom you’ve ever seen. easy-easiest - That was the easiest English exam ever! Adjectives with two or more syllables not ending in -y Place the most before the adjective. For example: the most complicated the most beatiful the most inspiring the most pointless She was the most attractive woman in the room. Delhi is one of the most crowded cities in the world. Examples of irregular superlatives Adjective/Superlative good – best bad- worst little – least far – furthest/farthest Note: We never use most and –est together. For example, we wouldn’t say or write, the most easiest, the most funniest, the most kindest, or the most hungriest. We would just say the easiest, the funniest, the kindest, and the hungriest. 100 common English superlatives Now that we've looked at how to form the superlative, here's a list of 100 frequently-used examples: the best the biggest the bluest the bravest the busiest the cleverest the coldest the driest the easiest the fastest the fattest the funniest the gentlest the happiest the healthiest the highest the hottest the kindest the largest the latest the longest the loudest the luckiest the meanest the nicest the oldest the prettiest the quickest the quietest the richest the saddest the safest the shortest the simplest the smallest the smartest the strangest the strongest the tallest the thinnest the weakest the wettest the wisest the worst the youngest the most admirable the most athletic the most attractive the most amusing the most awesome the most beautiful the most boring the most careful the most caring the most charming the most clever the most comfortable the most complicated the most crowded the most daring the most dependable the most difficult the most economical the most efficient the most embarrassing the most exciting the most expensive the most extraordinary the most extroverted the most famous the most forgetful the most fragrant the most funny the most generous the most gentle the most graceful the most grateful the most important the most inspirational the most intelligent the most interesting the most introverted the most irritating the most modern the most musical the most organized the most original the most peaceful the most photogenic the most pleasant the most popular the most talented the most talkative the most thoughtful the most trustworthy the most unforgettable the most valuable And not forgetting these irregular superlatives... the best You're the best mother in the world! the worst I've had the worst day ever. the farthest/furthest The furthest point from land is known as Point Nemo.
  21. Definition of comparatives, and how to form them. Includes a useful list of 100 common comparatives, and example sentences that show how they’re used. What is a comparative? The comparative forms of adjectives and adverbs are used when you want to compare two things in order to show the difference between them. Let’s have a quick look at a simple example of comparatives in action. In this case, the comparatives more expensive, and cheaper: --> Online Course A is $97, and Online Course B is $47. --> So, Online Course A is more expensive than Online Course B. --> And Online Course B is cheaper than Online Course A. Note: When we’re comparing more than two things we use superlatives, and you can see an explanation and examples of those here if you want to go on to check those out too. How to form the comparative We use 'than' when comparing one thing with another. I'm taller than you. He's shorter than me. My son is more musical than my daughter. Words with one syllable Generally, the regular comparative is formed by adding '-er' to short (one syllable) words For example: dark- darker She has darker hair than her sister. fast – faster My car is faster than yours. long – longer slow – slower smart - smarter quick – quicker But for one syllable words that end in a vowel and a consonant, we double the consonant and add '-er' For example: big – bigger Sweden is bigger than Finland. fat – fatter I'm fatter than my sister. hot – hotter It’s usually a lot hotter in Spain than in the UK. thin – thinner You’re looking much thinner than when we last met! Words with two syllables To form the comparative with most two syllable words we add 'more' For example: boring - more boring careful - more careful Some two syllable words can have '-er' and 'more' funny – funnier – more funny He's a lot funnier than you. He’s more funny than you. simple - simpler - more simple healthy - healthier - more healthy quiet - quieter - more quiet Words with three syllables For three or more syllable words we must use 'more' more musical Are some people naturally more musical than others? more efficient We need to make our filing system more efficient. more important There’s nothing more important to me than my family. more difficult This year's English exam was a lot more difficult than last year's. more interesting I think older people are more interesting. Words that end in ‘y’ For words that end in 'y', change the 'y' to 'i' and add '-er' to form the comparative: healthy - healthier Apples are healthier than cakes. funny - funnier happy – happier angry – angrier And for words that end in '-e' we just add 'r' safe - safer She's a much safer driver than her husband. Irregular Comparatives Irregular adjectives and adverbs don’t make the comparative using either -er / -est or more / most. Unfortunately, there isn’t a pattern or system for these, so we have to remember each one. Fortunately, there aren’t many 😊 Adjectives: bad – worse good - better little - less many - more much - more some - more Adverbs: badly - worse little - less far - farther/further well - better 100 English comparatives Now that we've looked at how to form the comparative, here's a list of 100 frequently-used examples that shows how each one is formed: angry - angrier good - better big - bigger blue - bluer brave - braver busy - busier clever - cleverer clever - more clever cold - colder dry - drier easy- easier fast - faster fat - fatter funny - funnier gentle - gentler happy - happier healthy - healthier high - higher hot - hotter kind - kinder large - larger late - later long - longer loud - louder lucky - luckier mean - meaner nice - nicer old - older pretty - prettier quick - quicker quiet - quieter rich - richer sad - sadder safe - safer short - shorter simple - simpler simple - more simple small - smaller smart - smarter strange - stranger strong - stronger tall - taller thin - thinner weak - weaker weird - weirder wet - wetter wise - wiser bad - worse young - younger admirable - more admirable athletic - more athletic attractive - more attractive amusing - more amusing awesome - more awesome beautiful - more beautiful boring - more boring careful - more careful caring - more caring charming - more charming clever - more clever comfortable - more comfortable complicated - more complicated crowded - more crowded daring - more daring dependable - more dependable difficult - more difficult economical - more economical efficient - more efficient embarrassing - more embarrassing exciting - more exciting expensive - more expensive extraordinary - more extraordinary extroverted - more extroverted famous - more famous forgetful - more forgetful fragrant - more fragrant funny - more funny generous - more generous gentle - more gentle graceful - more graceful grateful - more grateful important - more important inspirational - more inspirational intelligent - more intelligent interesting - more interesting introverted - more introverted irritating - more irritating modern - more modern musical - more musical organized - more organized original - more original peaceful - more peaceful photogenic - more photogenic pleasant - more pleasant popular - more popular talented - more talented talkative - more talkative thoughtful - more thoughtful trustworthy - more trustworthy valuable - more valuable
  22. The full stop, or period. When to use it, and when not to use it. It’s surprising how much there is to say about a punctuation mark that most of us probably don’t normally give a second thought to. And while this post doesn’t promise to cover absolutely everything there is to know about the full stop - it does cover its most common uses. The full stop The full stop is the most commonly used punctuation mark in English. Its main function, as we know, is to mark the end of a sentence which isn’t an exclamation or a question - as in the following two examples of the opening lines of novels: But the full stop is so much more than a simple mark at the end of a sentence. Even in the two brief examples above we can see it's a key tool in the fiction writer’s toolbox. Each full stop is placed exactly where it’s needed to create the rhythm, pace, and dramatic effect the writers wanted. So, how else do we use them? When do we use the full stop? For dramatic effect in informal writing The full stop is used for emphasis or dramatic effect in informal writing such as text messages and social media updates, where a full stop between each word creates a pause and adds impact. For example: Oh. My. God. Worst. Movie. Ever. Just. Do. It! In abbreviations Full stops are also sometimes used to show abbreviated words or phrases. Latin abbreviations are very often written with them: a.m. - ante meridiem/before midday p.m. - post meridiem/after midday e.g. - exempli gratia/for example etc. - et cetera/and the rest i.e. - id est/in other words There are different recommendations for this use of full stops, and I've seen at least one university stating they're not necessary in Latin abbreviations. Many universities also frown upon using Latin abbreviations at all in academic English (except perhaps in footnotes), preferring instead the use of 'for example' instead of 'e.g.', etc. If you're writing academic English, always follow your individual university's guidelines. In time abbreviations a.m. (ante meridiem) and p.m. (post meridiem) are written in lower case with two full stops in British/UK English. 10 a.m. 5.30 p.m. In North American and Australian English there are no full stops. But North American English favours no full stops and (small) capitals: 10 AM 5.30 PM Whereas Australian English favours no full stops and lower case: 10am 5.30pm Who knew that writing the time could be so complicated? On Twitter If you’re a Twitter user, you might already be familiar with this social media tip. When you tweet someone directly, or reply to them using their Twitter handle, only the people you jointly follow will see that tweet in their feed. But if you put a full stop before the @ symbol on your tweet, it’s potentially visible in the feeds of all your Twitter followers. For example: When don’t we use the full stop? For titles, headings and subheadings Generally, a full stop is not used at the end of a title, heading or subheading. However, if you use a heading at the beginning of a paragraph as part of the text, this would normally close with a full stop (or a colon). You can see and example of this in the heading examples directly below: Social Media Marketing Platforms Facebook. More than 1.2 million people use Facebook every… Twitter. Businesses can use Twitter… Acronyms It used to be normal practice for some acronyms and initialisms to be written with full stops between the individual letters, but they’re now commonly written without punctuation. Here are some familiar examples: BBC – British Broadcasting Corporation CNN – Cable News Network EFL – English as a Foreign Language ESL – English as a Second Language FBI – Federal Bureau of Investigation NATO – North Atlantic Treaty Organization UK – United Kingdom UNICEF – United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund Mr and Mrs For titles such as Mrs, Mr, Ms, and Dr, British/UK English favours writing these without a full stop. In American English the preference is to use a full stop: Mrs. Mr. Ms. Dr. The full stop in text messaging and instant messaging In the informal writing of texting and instant messaging, the full stop has fallen out of favour and it’s now normal to end a message with no punctuation, as if the conversation has not ended. According to some linguists, ending a message with a full stop in this context can be interpreted as having some sort of significance other than simply indicating the end of a sentence – it means the conversation/discussion is over, or that the writer is angry or is being sarcastic. I’m not sure what I think about this. I still use full stops at the end of texts, but only because it seems normal and ‘correct’ to me. Am I in a minority now? Maybe. What I do see is that we’re using all forms of punctuation less and less, including the full stop, and I know this is all part of the natural evolution of language and language use. However, the full stop is such a useful punctuation mark, in many cases indispensable, and the humble . will be around for a long time yet.
  23. This post looks at how we use transition words and phrases in our writing. And lists some commonly used examples. What are transition words? Whatever your goal or purpose for your writing - whether it's to explain, inform, entertain or persuade - you want to present your reader with a cohesive text that conveys information clearly and concisely, and carries them effortlessly from idea to idea, and from beginning to end. Transition words - also known as linking or connecting words - give your text that coherence, enabling your reader to progress smoothly through your writing. They work by linking your sentences and paragraphs and connecting your ideas. And they help you build logical and coherent arguments by pointing your reader towards each successive stage of your argument. Without them, your writing would be a series of unconnected sentences or statements that don’t ‘flow’; making it extremely difficult for your reader to follow your train of thought, and requiring them to make disruptive stops and starts and intellectual leaps as they try and understand what you mean. Different transitions do different things They show your reader that you are doing such things as comparing and contrasting (yet, unlike, even so), elaborating (similarly, in other words, also), showing concession (admittedly, while it may be true), or concluding (finally, in conclusion) Here are some examples of transition words in use (with the transitions in bold): I don’t feel like writing this essay today. On the other hand, it’s due tomorrow so I have to get it done. Monica has a lot of books, because she loves reading. Moreover, she believes a house isn’t a home without books. In contrast, her husband hardly ever reads anything except the daily newspaper. Regardless of cost, the project must be completed on time. It is not an idea around which we can expand the business. On the contrary, we see it as one that will result in potentially huge financial losses. He’s arrogant and bad-tempered, and yet somehow, he’s likeable. Your proposal is ill-thought-out, poorly presented, and lacking in detail - in short, it’s a disaster. Below, are some examples of transition words and phrases according to categories (some words belong in more than one category)... Examples of transitions words: Transition words and phrases for adding information/elaborating and also equally important furthermore in addition (to) in other words moreover notice that not only..... but also... similarly that is which which is to say Giving examples or illustrating a point These transition words and phrases show your reader that you are illustrating a point and/or providing examples: another for example for instance including in other words in particular specifically such as Listing ideas These transitions help you list ideas: firstly secondly finally the following the first point the second point Transition words to show contrasting ideas alternatively although at the same time but conversely even so even though however in contrast (to) instead nevertheless on one hand on the other hand on the contrary or unlike while this maybe the case while this may be true whereas yet (and yet) Transition words to show location/position above adjacent behind below beyond here in front (of) nearby there Transition words to show similarity and by the same token equally in the same way likewise similarly too Transition words to show concession admittedly although at any rate but even so despite the fact that despite this even so even though regardless of while it may be true Transition words to show a result or to note consequences so accordingly as a result because consequently despite due to since therefore Summarising or concluding Finally, these transition words and phrases tell your reader that you are summarizing and concluding your ideas, your train of thought etc. as a final point finally in brief in conclusion in essence in fact in short overall to conclude to summarise To summarise, think of transition words and phrases as the bridges that connect your sentences, paragraphs, and ideas, or the glue that holds them together. Without them, your reader can’t follow your train of thought or see the connection or relationship between ideas and arguments. Employed effectively they help make your writing coherent, persuasive, and much more readable.
  24. The importance of hedging in writing - how and why we use it - and the potential problems of overuse. Includes a definition of hedging language, plus examples of hedge words and phrases. Going solely by the title of this post, you’d be forgiven for wondering what on earth the hedges that grow in our gardens have to do with writing. But of course we’re not going to be discussing shrubbery. We’re going to look at the approach to making statements and claims, expressing opinions, and answering questions, known as hedging – with a focus on how we can use hedging language in our writing. If you write academic English, you are most likely already familiar with hedging as a linguistic device as it’s extensively used in this type of writing. But if you’re not quite sure what hedging language is we’ll take a quick look at its definition next, before moving on to look at examples of hedge words and phrases in use, and then its importance as a linguistic device in academic writing. Finally, we’ll look at why we should avoid overusing hedging words and phrases in our writing. What is hedging language? Hedging language is also known as cautious language or vague language. In this context, a hedge (noun) is a cautious, vague, or evasive statement. And to hedge (verb) is to avoid answering a question, making a clear, direct statement, or committing yourself to a particular action or decision. Hedging words and phrases are the things we write and say in order to soften our words, to make them less direct, and to limit or qualify claims and statements we make. You're probably already familiar with hedging in news reports where journalists make frequent use of the word 'allegedly' - partly because the statements they make are not necessarily proven, and also to create a defense for themselves if confronted about the content of the report (protecting themselves from criticism and potential legal action in the process). Examples of hedge words and phrases Hedging is achieved in many different ways, including: Modal verbs Such as: can could may might should would For example: Hedged: It could be that human expansion of the greenhouse effect is the cause of global warming. Not hedged: Human expansion of the greenhouse effect is the cause of global warming) Modal adjectives Such as: possible probable likely unlikely For example: Hedged: The study's results are likely due to chance. Not hedged: The study's results are due to chance. Adverbs Such as: conceivably perhaps possibly probably usually For example: We could conceivably finish the design outline by Friday. Nouns Such as: assumption likelihood possibility probability For example: There is a strong possibility, therefore, that we will have another economic recession within the next five years. Lexical verbs Such as: assume believe indicate interpret seem suggest For example: I suggest that we wait another week. Scientists believe there will soon be a cure for this disease. Introductory phrases For example: It appears that… It can be argued that… We can assume that… It is likely to be the case that… It is probable that... It is conceivable that... It can be concluded that… The data indicate... And vague language such as ‘about’, ‘kind of’, ‘sort of’, 'feel' and 'seems like'. For example: It's kind of difficult for me to do that. (which is less direct than 'It's difficult for me to do that' or 'I can't do that') I feel that you should pay more attention to your children. (which is less direct than You should pay more attention to your children) Hedging in academic writing It’s accepted practice for hedging to be used extensively in good academic writing. Using hedge words and phrases in academic writing allows you to be academically cautious, to acknowledge the degrees of uncertainty in your statements and claims, rather than claiming something is an absolute truth or fact. It allows you to be both cautious and more accurate when you’re explaining and interpreting results, and when discussing the implications of those results. Your reader understands the extent of your commitment to the reliability of what you are reporting and discussing. And there is less chance your claims will be questioned or disputed by other academics. Here are some examples of hedging in use in academic writing: Another possible area for further research could be... One possible implication of this is that... The evidence from this research suggests that... The data collected from this study appears to support the assumption that... The combined data from these studies appears to indicate there may be a link... It seems likely that these results are due to... A possible explanation for this discrepancy might be... There are various possible explanations for this... It is almost certain these changes can be attributed to... There is a strong possibility that X would be enhanced by... Current research appears to suggest that... Potential problems with hedging It’s likely that overuse of hedging will lead your reader to wonder where is the author of this piece, and where do they really stand on these issues? NOTE: As I typed the sentence above it occurred to me that it would (could?!) be more convincingly written as: “The overuse of hedging will lead your reader to wonder, where is the author of this piece, and where do they really stand on these issues?” But I'll leave it unedited as a small reminder that we need to consider how strong or weak we want our hedging to be in our writing, and indeed if we want or need to use these words and phrases at all! There will be times when your readers will want to see that you are happy to stand by your ideas and statements; too much hedging will only make it seem as if you are writing without any conviction. And why should they have any belief in what you write if it appears that you do not? To recap… Depending on what you’re writing, sometimes you have no choice but to use hedging words – to hedge – for example, in academic writing, legal documents and news reports. In general, using hedging words and phrases should be a conscious choice with a purpose, and not a habitual feature of your writing that runs the risk of you sounding like you don’t have confidence in your thoughts, ideas, and opinions. Use them where needed to soften what you say - to make it less direct - and to limit or qualify claims and statements you make. Typely proofreading software identifies hedging language words and phrases in your texts, giving you the opportunity to consider the results and, depending on how strong or weak you need your hedging to be, you can tweak or rewrite accordingly. 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