25 February 2014

Fifty tips on writing better English

Patrick Comerford

Over the past few years, I have been involved in seminars on academic writing. Here are 50 tips on writing better English that have been forwarded to me in recent months and that I have collected:

1, Avoid Alliteration. Always.

2, Prepositions are not words to end sentences with.

3, Avoid clichés like the plague. They’re old hat.

4, Comparisons are as bad as clichés.

5, Be more or less specific.

6, Writers should never generalise.

Seven, Be consistent!

8, Don’t be redundant; don’t use more words than necessary; it’s highly superfluous.

9, Who needs rhetorical questions?

10, Exaggeration is a billion times worse than understatement.

11, Employ the vernacular.

12, Eschew ampersands & abbreviations, etc.

13, Parenthetical remarks (however relevant) are unnecessary.

14, Parenthetical words however must be enclosed in commas.

15, It is wrong to ever split an infinitive.

16, Contractions aren’t necessary.

17, Foreign words and phrases are not apropos.

18, Eliminate quotations. As Ralph Waldo Emerson once said: “I hate quotations. Tell me what you know.”

19, Profanity sucks.

20, Understatement is always best.

21, One-word sentences? Eliminate.

22, Analogies in writing are like feathers on a snake.

23, The passive voice is to be avoided.

24, Avoid colloquialisms … at all costs.

25, Even if a mixed metaphor sings, it should be derailed.

26, It behooves us to avoid archaic expressions.

27, Avoid archaeic spellings too.

28, Don’t repeat yourself, or say again what you have said before.

29, Don’t use commas, that, are not, necessary.

30, Avoid hyperbole; only one in a million can do it effectively.

31, Never use a big word when a diminutive alternative would suffice.

32, Subject and verb always has to agree.

33, Placing a comma between subject and predicate, is not correct.

35, Use youre spell cheque appllication to avoid mispeling and to catch typograhpical errars.

36, Poofread carefully to see if you any words out.

37, Don’t repeat yourself, or say again what you have said before.

38, Always end a sentence with a full stop

39, Use the apostrophe in it’s proper place and omit it when its not needed.

40, Don’t never use no double negatives.

41, Hopefully, you are learning to use words correctly, irregardless of how others use them.

42, Eschew obfuscation.

43, No sentence fragments.

44, Don’t indulge in sesquipedalian lexicological constructions.

45, A writer must not shift your point of view.

46, Don’t overuse exclamation marks!!

47, Place pronouns as close as possible, especially in long sentences, as of 10 or more words, to their antecedents.

48, Everyone should be careful to use a singular pronoun with singular nouns in their writing.

49, If you reread your work, you can find on rereading a great deal of repetition can be by rereading and editing.

50, And always be sure to finish what

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