Get rid of these three words in your copy:
Writing flaws are based on mistakes that individuals make repeatedly. Becoming a
better writer includes eliminating these most common mistakes.
Writing Tips: The Big Five
- Eliminate “of” by using apostrophes in possessive clause
“With the assistance of the manager of the home” becomes “With the home manager ’s assistance.” Tip: review the “of” in your copy and change them: ‘The Pride of Canada” becomes “Canada’s Pride.
- "Is" can almost always be eliminated
Look at your own sentences and find all the ways you use it. "John is the best person for the job and he will begin his new assignment tomorrow" can be changed to "John, the best person for the job, will begin his new assignment tomorrow."
- By: Avoid the passive voice
This is one of the most common mistakes made in writing. Tip: every time you come across the
word ‘by,’ it’s the passive voice. Even the appallingly literal spell check can recognize this. The ball was thrown by John. No: John threw the ball. Rigourously eliminate the word by from your copy.
- It's and its
“Its” is the possessive. “It’s” is a contraction. Avoid this mistake.
- It and they
Organizations, corporations and institutions take “it” in second references. People and descriptions of groups are they. The Golden Key Center launched "its" fall session – not GKC launched "their" courses. However, “the students of Golden Key Center started their courses.
7. There are thousands of verbs in English, so dip into the well and use them. Auxiliary verbs—have, had, is, was – should not carry the verbal ball. “He had the ball” is weak. “He held, threw, pitched the ball.”Much
8. Find these words in your writing and figure out how to eliminate them. “The effect on the environment” can be “environmental effect.” “I gave the ball to John” can become “I gave John the ball.”Compress
9. We are not judged by the elegance of our long sentences and their dependent clauses. Look at your too-long phrases and find a place where a period would fit.
10. Write positively. “Not” is another writing bump in the road. Get rid of it if youcan say it affirmatively. “I do not remember ” can become “I forgot.”
11. Most clauses in the middle of a paragraph are irrelevant. We warm up and say our topic sentence, then support it and finish the idea. Usually the stuff in the middle is ineffective. Scrape it away and you have a better argument.
12. Understand the difference between written and spoken words. For example, one of the most common grammatical errors is misunderstanding how to say “Between you and me.”In spoken speech, it is often “between you and I.”Grammatically incorrect, but now par t of common usage. “Between you and I.” should never happen in print.
13. Adverbs don’t form compounds. Don’t use hyphens to form compounds with these words when they come after the verb. “The war was hard won.”But then they are adjectives, they do take a hyphen: “The fast -running Usain Bolt.” They may look like adjectives but do double duty. The exception is ‘very.’It’s never hyphenated. The short adverbs include:
c. Littled. Well
14. Avoid repeating words. This is easy.Comb through your sentences and check whether you’ve
repeated the same word. Microsoft Word will pick up two words repeated next to each other but not distant but repeated words. In the heat of composition ,we often fall into deploying the same words. Make sure you don’t.
15. Vary sentence structure. Too many sentences follow the same format. Noun verb object. They have clauses that could be turned around. In this sentence, the structure could be: As long as housing prices were jumping higher almost by the hour, sub prime mortgage holders pretty much managed their monthly payments.
Sub prime mortgage holders pretty much managed their monthly payments |as long as housing prices were jumping higher almost by the hour. Neither is more correct. It just demonstrates the language’s flexibility in that the sentence could be written either way to vary the reader’s perception. Another way to accomplish this is to split sentences into smaller ones and
then follow those by a longer phrase.
16. Who and Whom.
These words separate the amateur s from the pros. In speech, ‘whom’ almost sounds pedantic. In writing, incorrect usage is out of place. Simple definition:who is a subject, whom is an object. It ’s somewhat like “between you and I” in speech, and between you and me in writing. Whom is used following words like to and for—to whom, for whom (the bell tolls). Him or her also substitutes for it not he and she. Example “Whom will you invite?”(Will you invite him?)
17. Whose and Who’s – a possessive pronoun vs. a contraction. Here we have a clear distinction that is also often messed up. There was a prize-winning play a few year s ago called “Whose Life Is This Anyway.” That was correct. “Who’s here?”That’s also correct.
18. Break it up.
- Split up paragraphs.
- Use bullet points.
- Vary the length of paragraphs.
19. Affect and effect
- Affect: cause
- Effect: result
- Think of that and you won’t go wrong.
- Also affect is a verb and effect is a noun.
- “The net effect was to affect me.”
20. Able to and can. This falls under the category of eliminating unnecessary verbiage. Many
sentences read something similar to:
He is able to come tomorrow.
He can come tomorrow.
Or: I am going to come tomorrow vs. I am coming tomorrow.