There is no “I” in academic writing

Posted by on Apr 26, 2013 in Writing |

The obligation to write in the correct style does not only apply to examinations.  The author of this article is struggling with the rigid constraints of academic style.  I am having the same struggle as I complete my master’s degree.  It’s very strange having to write about what I think without being allowed to use the word “I”! But unfortunately, this is just the way things are.  This is the style and fighting against it will only get me a bad mark.  There are a number of complex social reasons behind the different styles we write in, and part of successful writing is knowing how to manipulate styles effectively.  When you’re preparing for your exam, make sure you are familiar with the type of styles that will appear on the test!  Check my writing tips for the CAE and the IELTS to be sure you are...

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Write emails easily with a new app

Posted by on Apr 17, 2013 in Grammar, Learning Websites, Writing |

Email Writer is a new app for iPhone, iPad and Android which will allow you to select from thousands of sentence combinations so you can write your business emails quickly and easily.  Sometimes you don’t want to look for the right preposition or expression when you’re in a hurry and this app will be a huge help in those situations.  Watch the video to see how it works! The maker of the app also runs The Business English Blog with regular updates, exercises and activities.  If you need to practice business English, I recommend checking it...

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Write like a pro: use a style guide

Posted by on Mar 28, 2013 in Writing |

How do you write about the person who plays music on the radio or at the club?  Is it DJ, D.J., D. J., deejay or dee-jay? Should there be 3 commas or 4 commas in the list above? Should I have written three and four in the sentence above this one? Should I have written “three” and “four” in the sentence above this one? Is it better to write from 2-5:00 pm or from 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm? Do you write the abbreviations for meters, kilograms, etc. next to the number or leave a space?  100m or 100 m? It’s confusing for everybody, even professional writers.  And for the pros, there is always someone who delights in finding “mistakes” and “exposing” the writers as barely literate children.  I’m sure the same thing happens in your language. The solution for this is the style guide.  Each publication that you read has a set of rules that they declare to be THE RULES.  Many of these rules will be the same for everyone, but sometimes they are particular for the institution.  But the purpose of style guides is not to declare one set of rules to be the only correct set of rules, but to make consistent choices in your writing.  So choose one of the style guides below and stick to it.  If you’ve followed the guide, you don’t have to worry about people telling you where to put your commas. These are all respected English publications written to a high standard: The Economist style guide The Guardian style guide The Telegraph style guide For business writing, why not follow the European Union style guide? The European Union style guide American style guides (sometimes called “stylebooks,” a term I doubt would be permitted in a British English publication) are a for-profit industry, I’m afraid.  All of the major publications’ stylebooks are available for purchase or online subscription only.  You can see a small sample of the Associated Press stylebook in the link below.  You can also try a free 30-day trial of the Chicago Manual of Style: Chicago Manual of Style AP Stylebook FAQs New York Times Manual of Style...

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Learning with the BBC

Posted by on Mar 11, 2013 in Grammar, Learning Websites, Listening, Reading, Videos, Vocabulary, Writing |

The BBC is possibly one of the richest sources of high-quality, free English learning material on the Internet.  Their Learning English site has so many sections I really can’t talk about all of them here (although I will say Words in the News is a very good place to start).  Skillswise has excellent sections on spelling, reading, and writing.  Their Video Nation site has interviews with real people and a short quiz afterwards to see if you heard the information correctly.  A good way to hear lots of different accents (and see where they are...

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Advanced writing techniques for American university students

Posted by on Mar 11, 2013 in Grammar, Writing |

The Guide to Grammar and Writing is a resource for American college students so the language on the site is considerably more advanced than on a site for English learners.  However, the information is extensive and you may find the pages on punctuation (under Word and Sentence Level) and sentence combining skills (under Paragraph Level) particularly...

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