Columns on View All Columns
Visit ELTBOOKS - all Western ELT Books with 20% discount (Japan only)

Writing Right

Helping and assisting writers

August 08, 2010

Rules for writing - Micro and Macro

Here I will talk about how to arrange the information you put into your paper or other piece of writing. The micro is for the sentence and paragraph level and macro is how to arrange things in a full paper, or longer text.

First remember that there is no "natural" or "order of English" way to order things. Any way you decide to order your stuff is all right, but be careful to explain yourself clearly so your readers will be able to follow you.

there is no "natural" or "order of English" way to order things

There are however conventions for the order of what we write that readers expect you to follow, if you don't do any particular explaining. So, if you follow these conventions you don't have to explain a lot, and conventions are particularly helpful when you are developing your writing skills or trying to coax a reader to read about what you have to say (your research?). Now, first the micro stuff.

Qualifying terms and listing stuff

First there is naming: make sure that everything has a name and that it is clear what it is, if there is any doubt explain some more. Then, one thing should only have one name. If you are writing about "iron" don't switch between metal, iron, steel, and Fe. Think about who will be reading your stuff and then pick one moniker and stick with it. If you are writing for chemists, "Fe" may do, a more general audience would prefer "iron" or "steel," and if it is shiny stuff with red splotches maybe just "metal" in some situations. Each of these terms has its own range of applications, it is you as the writer who selects which term to use. Think hard about which to pick. Ask yourself "Who will be reading this?" "Where will this be published" and questions like that, and then stick with the names/words you pick.

About qualifiers, the words you put before terms to focus and draw attention to what exactly it is you are saying. Do you say a small red expensive purse or one of the other six permutations that are possible with three words to describe an item? Again there are no fixed rules, it is your job to pick the one way of saying something that fits your piece of writing, and to stick with it. Consistency is reassuring to readers. So maybe you arrange your qualifiers by length and it becomes a "red small expensive purse," or by importance "an expensive red small purse" if the price still sticks in your mind, or "small red expensive purse" if the purse just fit your pocket and you like the color. All are fine so long as you had some reason for the arrangement you picked.

One learner grammar I know proposed an OSACOMP order (Opinion, Size, Age, Color, Origin, Material, and Purpose) for qualifiers, and wanted learners to memorize it. Nothing wrong with that order, but you rarely use seven qualifiers in one go, so you would seem better off thinking up your own orders for things. Still, while you are learning, remembering OSACOMP may help you to boost your confidence. For the purse, we would need just the O, the S and the C of OSACOMP to make it an "expensive small red purse."

OSACOMP may help you to boost your confidence

Then there are commas, if you have just three or four qualifiers maybe no commas are necessary but with more you are well advised to add commas, with seven qualifiers make it: "It was a beautiful, little, old, pink, Amazonian, plastic, hair clip," your readers will thank you. Commas in lists are a little different, you are free to make up an order for the list, but you have to put commas, like "air consists of nitrogen, oxygen, and carbon dioxide." Here the last comma is sort of optional but you are well advised to add it to avoid ambiguities that may slip in.

Order in paragraphs

Next level up after words are paragraphs. Try not to jumble the information in the sentences of one paragraph. Start with what could be a title in the first sentence of a paragraph, then explain this title in an ordered way. Maybe it is steps in a process in the order they should be performed, maybe what happens temporally or in some other obvious order, left to right, clockwise, or counterclockwise. If you feel that the order may not be clear to the reader explain what it is so the reader knows what your idea is, and stick with it throughout the story/paper.

Try not to say "the trip will be till October from March," make time flow to the right, so March to October is preferable. And, generally, don't state reasons or outcomes at the end, put them at the top, that way the reader knows that you are in control. First say what it is about, and then explain how we will get there.

The order of the parts of a paper or report - macro

I am sure you have been told exactly how to order things in a full paper, and been told how to do it in several mutually contradictory ways. Let me give you one more, how about arranging your paper by telling the reader: what the basis for your paper/report/story is, then what you will contribute to push it along, what tools you used, how it all happened/went, then tell about the results, and what it all means in our world.

Read the previous part from the colon one more time please. This way it sounds like a reasonable progression and if we use more abstract terms it becomes something like: Introduction, Purpose of the paper, Methods, Implementation, Results, and Discussion. So really this very fine sounding list is a natural (sort of) progression and you will do well to follow it. When you deviate from this order you can always explain how you are deviating and your readers will not lose you.

Macro order: Introduction, what are the bases, what to do, what tools to use, how it went, the results, what it means globally

I missed something in the previous paragraph, the conclusions. I guess in an ideal world you would leave that to the reader to work out based on the discussion, but you will have insights you yourself learned through your work, and the reader deserves to hear those. Maybe you are dying to tell them too, but that is another matter. The conclusions are really what you learned by doing the work you are writing about and going into some detail about that is useful not only for the reader but also for you too.

A personal note here, often it seems that the Conclusions section of papers in language acquisition research are the least well thought through. This is maybe understandable for a field with many strong egos taking potshots at anything that does not mesh perfectly with what should or could be, still you owe yourself to draw the conclusions that your data and results merit.

You would have other and maybe more ideas about order in writing. I would love to hear about those.

July 05, 2010

Advance organizers, redundancy, word choice, punctuation, and more little stuff explained.

This time I will talk about what is wrong with a few sentences I came across recently.

Here is sentence number one, the problems with this sentence are the lack of signposting, the qualifying scaffolding, and redundancy - and then one more thing that is also really quite serious. First the sentence as it was presented to me:

Before the program, to the question, “How important do you feel it is to have etiquette training at your place of work?”, those in favor accounted for 94.3%, while those not in favor accounted for 5.7%. After the program finished, those in favor increased to 95.5% and those not in favor fell to 4.5%.

This is the opening sentence in the results section of a paper. The first thing to notice is that there is no signposting for the reader to know what this section will be about, other than the section title, Results. In the paper there were four more questions for a total of five questions described in this pattern. Not notifying what is coming in a section is poor manners and it would irritate, maybe even confuse, the reader. A short mention of what to expect is the first thing to put in a new section (this has been termed an Advance Organizer).

Then the sentence has two qualifying pieces of scaffolding (my term) at the top, please never ever use two phrases to qualify (restrict) like this at the start of a sentence. Make sure that a sentence reads from left to right without the reader having to jump back and forth or take notes to know what is going on. Preferably, qualifying conditions should be integrated into the sentence so that they appear where the information supports the rest of the sentence. There is always a better place to put at least some of this than just bunging it together at the start or finish of a sentence.

please never ever use two phrases to qualify anything at the start of a sentence

Be economical with words: the five words "those in favor accounted for" can be expressed in three "were in favor." Remember that the topic here is the response, not the respondents, so the word "those" has no place in the sentence. There will be time to talk about the respondents in the conclusions.

Now for the quite serious problem, the numbers. To me (as a reader of the paper) before and after look like the same, more or less. That is of course all right but to a reader it looks funny and needs an explanation. Why did the author put two sets of numbers when there are no real changes? Usually, in this kind of paper there is some sort of statistical treatment, and the paper here also had that later. Blandly stating numbers is a job for a table and increases/decreases must be of some kind, statistical, unimportant, or maybe "surprisingly small," not just blandly stated like here.

My suggested correction was:

The responses to the survey questions will be listed first. Before the program 94.3% answered “in favor” to the question: “How important do you feel it is to have etiquette training at your place of work?” with 5.7% not in favor, after the program these numbers were 95.5% and 4.5%.

or with the second sentence further rationalized:

The responses to the survey questions will be listed first.“How important do you feel it is to have etiquette training at your place of work?” had 94.3% in favor and 5.7% not in favor before the program and after the program the numbers were 95.5% and 4.5%.

Removing the problems with the absent advance organizer, the redundancy, and word choice, the 57 words of the original became 44 (plus 10 for the introduction) or 39 for the second try at an improvement. Fewer words are always preferable if no information is lost. Adding words introduces the danger of saying things that have no place in a sentence, here using "those" "increased," and "fell" shows that the writer is not in control.

The next couple of sentences where I found things to improve on were:

Their academic backgrounds were as follows: graduates from specialist school or vocational college, 66.7% and graduates from junior college or college, 33.3%. Regarding the number of staff working under the subjects’ supervision, 50.6% of the subjects had five or fewer staff, while 49.4% had six or more staff.

Here the paper is describing the demographic details of the participants in a study, so maybe "their" could be all right but a simple "the" would also do the trick, and with two letters less. An additional issue is that the writer should try to be as general as responsibly possible, again making "the" the better choice.

Then there is the words that are used. Just before the colon it says "as follows," this is really redundant as the colon indicates that the following will be a list of things. The start of the second sentence "regarding" suggests a change of topic and so has no place in the middle of a paragraph. If you want to use "regarding" it should really start its own paragraph, or maybe show an aside that is of no great importance in the sentence/paragraph.

Then the verb to have (here in the past tense form "had") is used for staff working under the supervision of these persons. Please never say that you "have" staff or that your boss "has" you, maybe if you add "working for them" would make it acceptable, but "to have" implies close kinship or ownership (have children, have a car). Please make sure that the words you use are accurate and do not have too many meanings that are at variance with what you wish to say. Using the past tense is also not in the spirit of a report. What you discuss should be generalizable to the present and so here the present tense is preferable.

There is also a "while" here. While suggests a contrast between what came before and what comes after the "while." Here it is a simple straightforward list however, so "and" is the word to use, you are just introducing the information after all. Maybe in the discussion section the situation changes but this is not the discussion section.

About finding the best words to use, remember what I suggested about using dictionaries a couple of columns back, check both J-E and E-J dictionaries before you select unknown or iffy words.

There is also a preposition, the "from" in "from junior college etc." From suggests an origin, mainly of a geographic kind, and sometimes the usage like here could be possible, but "of" would be a better choice. There is no specific institution mentioned and the talk is of graduates. This is the main reason why "of" is the more acceptable here, but prepositional use is another can of worms that I will get back to time and again, and there are no general rules for cases like this. Only, shorter more general prepositions are preferable when writing about non-specific entities, like here.

Number. The different educational institutions mentioned are all in the singular. I wonder why, like I wonder every time I see "BOOK" outside a bookstore. In English, the form to use here and with the bookstore is the plural. A good rule of thumb when you are not too sure whether to use singular or plural is to use plural.

Now the possesives! Possesives indicate a close connection, even ownership (remember "have"). However, here the sentence is talking about "supervision," and who owns that? It is just wrong or at least awkward. A good rule when you want to use possesives is to try to avoid them. In the case here it is certainly unwarranted and would make a reader wonder if the writer knows what is what.

use punctuation marks (commas, semicolons, periods, and colons) to divide and isolate information that goes together

I have kept the biggest problem with this sentence till the last. It is the punctuation. We should always use punctuation marks (commas, semicolons, periods, and colons) to divide and isolate information that goes together. In the original sentence here, the commas are before the numbers, they separate the numbers from what they describe. We can sort of guess what belongs where, but the job of the writer is to tell the reader what belongs together - accurately, not to present a puzzle that the reader has to work out for themselves. For punctuation marks it is useful to keep in mind that semicolons are just a division mark, intermediate between periods and commas. My suggested rewritten paragraph was:

The academic backgrounds were as follows: graduates of specialist schools or vocational colleges, 66.7%; and graduates from junior colleges or colleges, 33.3%. The number of staff working under the supervision of the subjects were five or fewer for 50.6% of the subjects, and six or more for 49.4%.

No words were saved, 48 words in the original vs 48 words in my rewriting, but the rewritten sentence says what needs to be said with far less ambiguity than what the writer offered.

June 07, 2010

How to pick the correct article (at the top of nouns) most of the time

If you are like most learners of English, you are often unsure about articles, where to put which, and when. Here I would like to give you a couple of rules of thumb that will help you pick the right article eighty percent of the time. If you are still wondering, articles are the little words to put in front of nouns: a/an/the/ø (nothing).

When you think about which article to use, the first thing to remember is to keep your reader in mind. What does this person (the reader) already know and what is new in a sentence/story? Now the rules:

1. If you are writing a noun that is well known or something that was already introduced in a story - add the definite article "the."

2. If you are writing a noun for something the reader likely doesn't know or it is something you are introducing into the story in this sentence (often the same thing) use a/an .

3. Proper nouns - names (of things etc.) that may start with a capital letter - usually use no article.

4. Another way to distinguish which article to use is to think about whether something is "general" then no article) or "specific" then rule 1 or 2 above.

If you are writing a noun for something that is well known (in a story) use "the."

If you are introducing a noun for something new (with a noun) use "a" or "an"

Which of "a" or "an" to pick? Use "a" for words that start with a consonant (b, c, d, etc.) and "an" with words starting with vowels (a, e, i, etc.). But you may break this a/an rule by adding "what sounds like" after "with" in the previous sentence - so you may see "an history" - "h" dropped when voicing "history" and people on stage may say "an hat" not voicing the "h" and making it sound like "an at".

Well, that is nearly all there is to deciding which article to use. It is really this simple, but when we think about what a reader would know or what is specific and what is general, then it is often difficult to agree with the ideas of others and there will be disagreements. There are so many opinions. If you do a computer search you will often end up with no good guidelines, computer searches report just what others wrote, not what is right in any particular way. Next issue, what can conscientious writers do to improve their writing?

On your own, you can train your "ear for English" so you can learn to trust your own intuition better. Listen to how people speaking English use articles and notice articles as they appear in print. Then, when you think something is wrong, start to think. Maybe you see an article before a noun, in print somewhere, in a place you thought there shouldn't be one or where it should have been another article. Then, because it has been printed it is quite likely that it is an accepted usage, and you should try to think about why it is (or is not) there. Also, when someone is speaking and uses a "funny" article, ask why this person used it (if you can get away with that), or on your own think about a reason why it was used.

Then when you are told that your choice of articles is wrong - where you thought you were right - don't argue, just accept the correction. The eyes (and ears) of others are often good at catching wrong (or just unusual) article usage. Of course, think about who is telling you to correct, and if you trust (or maybe have to trust) the English of your corrector, follow the advice and accept it at face value. Usually the meaning will not be completely ruined by a few misplaced articles, but see below.

If you do what I am suggesting in the previous paragraphs (regularly, repeatedly) you will become more confident at picking articles. However, if you do it a lot (try really hard to get everything right) you may get very tired and maybe more confused. Limit yourself to three (or some other number that suits you) instances at a time but keep doing it as long as you think you need to improve in this department.

More things to consider

Getting confused about articles is really easy. One reason is that for example "a" can mean several things. It can be an indefinite article like we are discussing here, or it can mean one of a thing mentioned. Like, if you see the sentence "I have a car." without further context you do not know what "a" means in this sentence - is it an article or is it the number one? The reader cannot (should not!) guess without further context.

But, how often did you see a sentence like the car sentence without a context to make it comprehensible, and still had to think about the meaning? Maybe many times in your English study, and you may even have been asked to put such sentences, which have any number of meanings, into Japanese or some other language - and been told that you were wrong if you didn't give the answer the test demanded. Likely the test answer was wrong and you could be right. This, tests of "English" that are not English, is of course not a problem of English but a problem with English education. But remember, because of this situation, it is reasonable that you are confused and unsure about what is what, certainly with articles.

Recently I saw two sentences like these:

a) Original: In experiments here we irradiated figure in tube. (This sentence appeared in the section of a paper with the procedures for some experiment that had been introduced earlier.)

This original sentence seems to show that the paper mentions the three nouns for the first time, they present new information. I suggested that the sentence be changed to:

a) Corrected: In the experiments here we irradiated a figure in the tube.

Then the sentence would say that the reader would know about (the paper has already mentioned) "experiments" and "tube," but that the "figure" is a new thing for the reader to pay attention to.

And the second sentence:

b) Original: A questionnaire was administered to examine participants' perceptions of effectiveness of an assignment of homework. (Again we are deep into the paper after several mentions of everything in the sentence.)

Here the sentence seems to show that we have a "new" questionnaire and some homework assignment that is different from what the reader has been told about previously. My suggested correction was:

b) Corrected: The questionnaire was administered to examine the participants' perceptions of the effectiveness of the assignment of homework.

The corrected version tells the reader that there is nothing new in the sentence, the sentence is just recording this step of the process (reminding the reader), and the reader does not need to pay attention to anything new here.

Using articles well will make your readers trust you and you will understand your writing better.

How do you like the corrected b) sentence? I don't like it really, it seems heavy. There are too many "the" in it, but it could have been worse, like: The questionnaire was administered to examine the participants' perceptions of the effectiveness of the assignment of the homework. Now "the" appears five times, and the last three just for details of the specifics of the homework. It would be possible to cut the "the" before "assignment" in the corrected sentence. That would make a better looking sentence (I think) but with the "the" before assignment the reader is alerted to the fact that there is nothing new here, no need to think deeply. So, I suggested this not so wonderful sentence with the extra "the" because that would make it clearer to the reader. When we write papers we should first of all try to be clear!

Please read the original b) sentence and the one with "the" five times in the middle of the previous paragraph once again. What do you think? For me the original seems light and airy - maybe devoid of relevance in a serious paper. The sentence with "the" five times seems clunky and over insistent. When you are writing, the job is to strike a balance between these two extremes, "meaning lost" vs. "inflexible insistence on rules." The goal is to find a balance where the writing is informative but not too pedestrian.

Of course, we are just scratching the surface of article usage here, but follow the advice above and you will be more right than wrong. You will also have a couple of ideas for how to think about articles without bothering to remember any obscure grammar. Good luck, and do post a comment with what ideas you may have and we can share them around, or tell us what I missed out on.

Using articles well will make your readers trust you and you will understand your writing better.

May 13, 2010

Sentences, Paragraphs - how long and how many

Here I will talk about something very basic in writing, but something which seems to trouble many in these parts. For myself, it took me a while to understand that this particular matter could be a problem, and I want to make sure that we understand each other. It is about what a composition, a sentence, a story, and a paragraph is in English.

First about stories and sentences.

A lot of the people who have had to study to learn English seem unclear about what a sentence is. A sentence is generally confused with a "story" - a longer piece of text (made up of multiple sentences). Some of the reason for this is likely linguistic interference from the native language (and dictionaries, E-J and J-E published in Japan are often not clear on the concept either), but when you are trying to write in English you should really know, and be clear about, what a sentence is.

A sentence, it is a string of text that starts with a capital letter and ends with a period (a dot really, like this "."). This is of course not true some of the time, but most of the time it is a correct description of a sentence. As a result this story (the text you are reading here), has, so far, had eight sentences (and a title) and the sentence you are finishing reading now is sentence number eight.

A sentence, it is a string of text that starts with a capital letter and ends with a period.

Following the period at the end of a sentence (the "." that completes the sentence) there will generally be one more sentence, but no change of line! This is not always true however, but outside of literature (novels, poetry, and that kind of creative writing) it nearly always is true.

So, a sentence rarely appears alone, it is surrounded by other sentences that elaborate and puts into context what this sentence is saying.

You may have been taught "the five sentence patterns of English" in school. Please remember that those patterns were invented to make teaching convenient and when you have become acquainted with these five patterns you should not try to emulate them (they are just there to help you to understand how words in a sentence hang together - when you are lost). You are better off forgetting all about sentence patterns when you have some little feel for what makes sense in English. Writing requires you to tell what is on your mind, not to fit your ideas into any particular preset pattern.

Let me elaborate this previous and say that if you have a subject and a verb the arrangement of the other parts of a sentence is largely up to you, but you have to make sure that a reader will know what it is you are saying - if you wish to communicate.

Now about paragraphs, paragraphs are the sentences before and after a sentence. A paragraph starts with an indent (the space [blank part] before the first word on the left in the first line), then continues with a number of sentences focusing on one subject or topic. Again, literary/creative writing may be different, but in a report or a letter a paragraph provides the information that the writer wishes the reader to pay attention to about one matter.

So, it is wrong, like some people unfortunately do, to change lines (pressing the return key, 改行 in Japanese) after each period. You only change lines when you change topics. But you may be thinking, "I can put all I wish to say about a topic in one sentence, why worry about paragraphs or anything?" Read on to find out more.

. . . make each of your sentences at least ten words long.

The next matter is the length of a sentence. Here there are no rules, but you should make some for yourself till you are comfortable with writing in English.

One possible rule is to set a minimum number of words for your sentences. It may seem silly and too mechanical, but many very short sentences are difficult to digest for a reader. Try to make each of your sentences at least ten words long. With short little sentences you may write:

It was Friday. I had work to do from nine. I was a mile from the nearest bus stop.
or written as one sentence:
This Friday I had to be at work at nine, but I had a kilometer and a half to walk to the bus that would take me there.

Another example:

The survey was long. I could not administer it in class. The deadline became next week.
It was a long survey, too long for one class period, so I handed it out and asked everybody to bring it back the following week.

The second try, with just one sentence each, is not so great either perhaps, but at least it integrates all the information so the reader knows it is meant to hang together. Also the two longer sentences will be in their respective paragraphs, so (hopefully!) they will not appear alone without a context like here.

Maybe you think that ten words as a minimum is far too long, but ask around and find out what readers think and you will find that they appreciate the longer sentences. Of course, when you are just starting out writing in English eight or even seven words may be an easier target, but, like running practice, you will be able to do much better with just a little bit of training.

That was the minimum length. How about a maximum? I like to say five lines is as long as a sentence should be, but consider any sentence longer than three lines a candidate for dividing into two and your readers will thank you, and if you keep your paragraphs short, at most about ten or a dozen lines and half that number of sentences, you will be understood by many more readers.

April 01, 2010

Welcome, and watch out when you want to use the dictionary!

Welcome to Writing Right. This is the first column and I hope to post new installments at least every month.

This column is about writing, writing in English, writing papers and stuff you would want to get published. How to put it together and what to look out for when trying to placate editors and other gatekeepers.

You would have queries and opinions, and I hope to be able to respond one-on-one to what bothers you when you try to write. Do contact me about anything writing related. I repeat this "call for problems" at the bottom of the post too.

This column is about writing, writing in English, writing papers and stuff you would want to get published.

There are also other kinds of writing that cause problems of course. In school we all (or maybe just nearly all) had composition classes and we have been bothered by how little things can be picked on and - to the writer at least - be blown out of all proportion.

That goes for English as a second or foreign language too. When studying EFL/ESL, you may even have been told that three words put together in English it is a "composition," something that would be a brake on writing, and a surprise to people using English. But nowadays we all write emails and text with all with all our friends, so maybe this sad classroom specific "composition" will die out.

I have been assisting writers for many years and always found it challenging, sometimes writing is difficult to understand and sometimes writers will not write as they are told to. I hope to hear back with queries about what puzzles you and holds you back from writing fluently.

Recently I had someone query a definite article at the top of a product name (like The Acme Stapler). This person claimed, no doubt truthfully, that a teacher had insisted that "you must always to put the indefinite article, never the definite article, before a proper name" (An Acme Stapler), and the writer had lived happily without knowing any different. I told that writer to think about the reader, if the reader knows what an Acme stapler is then there will be no confusion if we use "the," and that it would even be considered right - by most people.

So it is not just editors that have to be placated. There is the reader, but what does this (usually unknown) person know that we can assume is really known? This is where convention comes in and where rules and regulations for how to put sentences together originate, and where we may end up disagreeing.

So when you are writing, think about your potential reader first. If you cannot imagine what this person can understand, ask someone who could be a reader of your stuff. If there is no one around you can ask me. I'll have an opinion.

There was another "mistaken belief" I ran into a short while back. One of my acquaintances had been told that the Japanese 多少 (tashoo) must be translated/written as "more or less" in English. You know, in Japanese we say 多少 when we don't have a number to put on something, and it can imply quite a lot of things. In English however, if we say that "a cake contains more or less of something" - well, then you are not saying anything really, or rather you are saying something in a way so your reader can't know what you mean. As a result "tashoo" sometimes becomes "some" but much of the time it can be left alone and not translated at all - something that deeply irks the literal translators among us.

When you write, the rule is never ever to use a dictionary. If you don't know a word or phrase try to write around it, don't look it up.

And now for a piece of useful advice. It is about how you should use dictionaries. This may be the first time this particular tip has been made available to a Japanese audience, at least from how little known it seems to be. When you write, the rule is never ever to use a dictionary. If you don't know a word or phrase try to write around it, don't look it up. Why? You ask. Well, because you are quite likely to pick the wrong word when you ply your dictionary in the dark. From English into your own language a dictionary if often helpful, but the other way - when you are looking for just the right word or phrase in English, say from Japanese - it never ends happily.

However, there are times when we cannot avoid using a dictionary to find an English equivalent for something, what to do then? Well, look it up, but before you use the word you find you need to check it the other way.

So, if you start with a Japanese word, first find a likely English term and then go to an English-Japanese dictionary and try to sort out what the English word you have pounced on means in Japanese. That will give you a good feeling for how well you chose, and you will end up being right more of the time. Still, the basic rule is: Never rely on a dictionary when you are writing. Then, like I said at the start, ask someone else and see what they think, others are pretty good at shooting down "funny" words you may have chanced on. And I didn't even start to discuss how to use the internet.

I will stop here - for this time. If you have a writing related question ask, and I will try to answer. The site will say how to get in contact with me. I look forward to hear from you.

Recent Columns

Recent Comments

  • Welcome, and watch out when you want to use the dictionary!
      - Carolina Casaril
  • How to pick the correct article (at the top of nouns) most of the time
      - Mr.Saeed
  • Sentences, Paragraphs - how long and how many
      - John
      - Torkil Christensen




World Today