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EFFECTIVE ENGLISH WRITING

By: Muhammad Azhar Shoaib Shah


Assistant Professor (English)
PAEC EDUCATION CENTRE CHASHMA
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What is the problem?
It takes time to read. Time is money.
If your message doesnt arrive, you lose.
Everybody wants quick access to information.
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What is the solution?
Know your audience.
Use plain English.
Structure your information
for easy reading.
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Knowing your audience (overview)
Understand their:
Context
Viewpoints
Skills

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Use tools:
Personas
Scenarios
Plain English (overview)
Everyday words
Short sentences
Active voice and writing personally
Same words each time
No synonyms
Same word pattern
Clear meaning
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Structure (overview)
Chunkingthe 72 rule
People only cope with about 7 things at a time.
People learn by grouping things into chunks.
Tables
Headings
Bullets and numbers
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Knowing your audience
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Knowing your audiencecontext
In what context will they read the information?
Motivation?
Pressure or distractions?
Other information available?
Access to experts for help?

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Knowing your audienceviewpoints
What is the viewpoint of your audience?
Confident?
Caring about detail
Willing to use initiative?
Potentially hostile?
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Knowing your audienceskills
What do they know already?
What detail do you need?
Is it OK to use jargon?

What is their reading age?
Do you have to use REALLY simple language?
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Knowing your audiencetools
Personas
Create imaginary people who are your typical audience
members.
Make them real create a past, present and future for
them.
Scenarios
Create imaginary situations for your personas and make
them real.
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Knowing the audienceexamples
Directions around your suburb
With residents you can say
Go to the hospital.
Industry jargonuse it when needed.
neoplasm (to doctors)
tumour (to other people)
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Knowing the audienceexamples
Absolute location
Melways Map 30, A7
Third shop along Mitchell St from the High St corner
(partly relative)
Relative location
Take the third turn left and then the second turn right.
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Plain English language
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Same words each time
Always use the same word for somethingDont
change names for variety.
Use the same word patternDont change for the sake
of it.
Dont worry about being boring.
Transfer information, dont entertain.
Use pictures and colour to reduce boredom.
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Everyday words
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Traditional Plain English alternative
despite the fact that though, although
determine decide, work out, set, end
detrimental harmful, damaging
difficulties problems
diminish lessen, reduce
disburse pay, pay out
discharge carry out
disclose tell, show
disconnect cut off, unplug
discontinue stop, end

More verbs, fewer nouns
Avoid making verbs into nouns.
Dont say Make application.
Say Apply.
Watch out for noun strings.
tank restraint safety lock emergency release lever
Being brief is good, but you can go too far!
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Foreign words
i.e., e.g., etc., vs, et al, viz, via
ergo, ad hoc, per annum, carte blanche, panache,
raison detre, zeitgeist, chutzpeh
Some people dont know foreign words.
Use English!
Do keep enjoying them outside your academic
writing!
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Quiz Point What do these mean?
Old fashioned words
These (and many others) have no place in academic
English!
hereto
hereinafter
hereby
aforesaid
bequeath
as under
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Short sentences
Break sentences up.
Aim for 12 clauses per sentence.
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This uses simple language, but it is too long!
An orange is a round reddish-yellow fruit,
which comes from a medium-sized tree
harvested in the winter, and contains Vitamin C,
essential for the vitality of human blood.

Short sentences
Break sentences up.
Aim for 12 clauses per sentence.
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This is better!
An orange is a round reddish-yellow fruit. It
comes from a medium-sized tree harvested in the
winter. Oranges contain Vitamin C, essential for
the vitality of human blood.

Short paragraphs
Have one idea per paragraph.
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Write personallywe and you
Address the reader directly.
Use we and you.
This helps you to be clear about who does what.
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Write personallywe and you
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Personal:
If you are not satisfied with our service,
we may refund your money.
Impersonal:
Refunds may be given to customers who consider
that they have not received satisfactory service.
Write personallyuse commands
When writing instructions, use commands (imperative).
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Statement (not imperative):
Passengers are not permitted to open the doors.
Doors may only be opened by crew members.
Command:
Do not open the doors.
Ask a crew member to open them for you.
Use active voice
Quiz Point
Change into active voice:
The engine is started by the driver.
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Use active voice
Quiz Point Answer
This is in active voice:
The driver starts the engine.
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Use active voice
Who is the agent?
The person doing the action.
We usually want to know who the agent is.
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Use active voice
Passive voice:
Object goes first.
Subject (agent) last or missing.
Reader has to mentally turn it around.
Sometimes not clear who does what.

The form must be signed.
The notice was posted by the manager

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Use active voice
Active voice:
Subject (agent) firstnever missing
Object last
Quicker to read
Clear who does what

Applicants must sign the form.
The manager posted the notice.
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Reifyingwhen you reify, you:
Say that something inanimate is an agent.
The report forces us to consider three options
Checking helps you avoid mistakes
The picture shows how to wrap the parcel
Do not correctly identify the agent.
(Agent is not real!)
Do not communicate the sequence
<Agent> <Action> <Object>.

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Reifyingpossible cures
Refer to the author of the document.
The authors of the report force us to consider three
options.
Describe action and consequence.
If you check, you may make fewer mistakes.
Describe action to get information.
See the picture to find out how to wrap the parcel.
Use an appropriate verb for the agent, such as is or
contains.
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Reifying is an advanced topic
Do not worry too much about reification.
Even this presentation has it.
If you worry too much you may:
Waste time and effort
End up with more verbose results
Just watch out for missing agents. People need to know
who is responsible.
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Is your meaning clear?
Simple language can be ambiguous
Check your work.
Get someone else to read it.
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Hotel Signs
Norway
Ladies are requested not to have children in the bar.
Budapest
Please do not feed the animals. If you have any suitable
food, give it to the guard on duty.
When to use plain English:
When you want to give:
Information
Instructions
Warnings
academic communication
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When to use creative English:
Creative writing
Poetry
Fiction
Personal letters
Essays
Journalism
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Structure for easy reading
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Chunking and 72
Only have 7 items at a time.
If you have more than 7, create groups.
Give groups names (subheadings).
If you have more than 7 groups, group the groups and
give them names.
This is the natural way that everyone learns.


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Chunking and 72 example
Party pies
Pizza
Potato chips
Cup cakes
Lamingtons
Birthday cake
Sauce
Ice
Cordial
Drink jugs
Cups
Serviettes
Plates
Candles
Sparklers
Matches

Balloons
Streamers
Game prizes
Tablecloths
Twister game
Donkey poster
Blu-tack
Donkey tails
Treasure hunt prizes
Send invitations
Warm pies
Mix cordial
Set out food
Set up donkey game
Set up treasure hunt
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Chunking and 72 example
Food
Party pies
Pizza
Potato chips
Cup cakes
Lamingtons
Birthday cake
Sauce
Ice
Nuggets
Equipment (food)
Drink jugs
Cups
Serviettes
Plates
Candles
Sparklers
Matches

Equipment (other)
Balloons
Streamers
Game prizes
Tablecloths
Games
Twister game
Donkey poster
Blu-tack
Donkey tails
Treasure hunt prizes
Tasks
Send invitations
Warm pies
Mix cordial
Set out food
Set up donkey game
Set up treasure hunt
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Chunking and 72
In what way is information the
opposite of food?

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Chunking and 72
In what way is information the
opposite of food?

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To digest food, we break it down
into components.
To digest information, we build it
up into chunks.

Tables
If you have more than two pairs of items, use a table.

The Blue team has 5 members, the Red team has 7
members and the Green team has 4 members.

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Tables
If you have more than two pairs of items, use a table.

The Blue team has 5 members, the Red team has 7
members and the Green team has 4 members.

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Team Members
Blue 5
Red 7
Green 4

Headings
Put headings and subheadings in your text:
Readers can quickly see what it is about.
Readers may only need to read some parts.
The headings chunk the information for easy digestion.
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Headings
Make a hierarchy:
Normally uses level 1, 2 and 3.
Shows the structure of your document.
Makes it easy to generate a table of contents.
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Lists
If you list 3 or more items, show them on separate
lines.
If there are 9 or more items, split the list into two
levels (chunking).
Know when to use bullets and numbers.
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Bullets and numbers
Numbers:
Use when there is order or rank:
Steps
Ranking
Bullets:
Use for other lists.
Neither:
OK for single line lists.
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Bullets and numbersexample
1 Heat the pan.
2 Fry onions.
3 Brown the meat.
4 Add the curry paste.
5 Fry for two minutes.
6 Add stock or water.
7 Simmer for 20 minutes.
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Bullets and numbersexample
1 Heat the pan.
2 Fry onions.
3 Brown the meat.
4 Add the curry paste.
5 Fry for two minutes.
6 Add stock or water.
7 Simmer for 20 minutes.
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Bullets and numbersexample
Favourite pastimes:
Going to the movies, but only to see shows that cheer
people up
Watching football on TV
Walking in the bush
Having coffee with friends
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Bullets and numbersexample
Favourite pastimes:
Going to the movies, but only to see shows that cheer
people up
Watching football on TV
Walking in the bush
Having coffee with friends
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Bullets and numbersexample
Shopping list:
bread
lettuce
pasta
milk
bananas
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Parallel form in lists
Have the same word patterns for all list itemsdont
mix:
Words
Phrases
Questions
Commands
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Parallel form in lists
Favourite pastimes:
Going to the movies, but only shows that cheer people
up
Do you like watching football as much as I do?
I go walking in the bush every week.
Coffee with friends
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Dont do it this way!
Parallel form in lists
Favourite pastimes:
Going to the movies, but only to see shows that cheer
people up
Watching football on TV
Walking in the bush
Having coffee with friends
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! ; . , : ?
Misplaced! Dangling!
Squinting! Agreement!
Commas 1
Use when the phrase is not essential:
Tim, who smokes, may get cancer.
Not when the phrase is essential for the sentence:
People who smoke may get cancer.

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Commas
Separating items in a list, but
Not separating subject and verb:
The large, grey object fell from the ceiling.

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Not here Here
Which and that
Which clauses add information and have a comma.
Go to the main menu, which shows all options.
That clauses help to identify or distinguish.
List all orders that have status Approved.

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Misuse of modifiers > ambiguity
Changes we are considering will affect all new
members. (misplaced)
People who jog often have knee injuries. (squinting)
Walking around the town, the prosperity was easy to
see. (dangling)

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Dont do it this way!
Subject and verb agreement
One of the boys has arrived.
Several have gone home.

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Subject and verb agreement
Any, none, some, most depend on the context
Most of the money is in the bank.
Most of the crew are aboard.
Collective nouns depend on the context
The team has arrived. (as one)
The team are getting changed. (as individuals)

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Pronoun-antecedent agreement
The leader and the sponsor have played their parts.
My friend and brother, Ian, lent me his car for the
occasion.
Everyone has his own path in life.
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Tense
Present tense
He eats the cake.
Past tense
He ate the cake.
Future tense
He will eat the cake.
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Person
First person (I, we)
I eat the cake.
Second person (you)
You eat the cake.
Eat the cake!
Third person (he, she, they, it)
She eats the cake.
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Verb form
Indicative (narrative)
The Line Manager authorises the Application for
Leave.
Imperative (command)
Authorise the Application for Leave.
Progressive (in the act of -ing)
Authorising the Application for Leave
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The use of apostrophe
Apostrophes have two correct uses:
PossessiveJohns book, the dogs collars.
Shortening wordsI wasnt hungry.
Never use apostrophes just for plurals. These are
correct:
Three cappuccinos, please.
The bank has two new ATMs.
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Tips for better instructions
For use anywhere!
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Tense
Present tense
Use most of the time.
Past tense
Only use to show something in the past.
Future tense
Only use to emphasise a time delay. Otherwise use
present tense.
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Shall, Will
Shall
Do not use. It sounds pompous and legalistic. Just say
Do it.
Will (future tense)
Only use to emphasize a time delay. Otherwise use
present tense.
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Slash /, (s)
Do not use slash /
It is ambiguous and confusing.
Does it mean or or and?
--- or --- or both is better than and/or
Do not use (s) or /s to allow for a possible plural. Just
make it plural anyway.
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Example (use concrete words)
Equipment
Weapons
Aircrafts
Bombs
B-57

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Position of Modifiers
Placing of modifier is a matter of word order. There
are certain grammatical rules which govern placing
of modifiers. You must study and understand these
rules fully. If you place modifiers carelessly, you
may mean one thing and say another
Position of Modifiers (example)
Inform this headquarters whether the squadron
will be ready for operations by 1
st
February
Inform this headquarters whether the squadron
will be ready by 1
st
February.

Appropriate Length of
Sentences
Normally, a short sentence is clearer than a long one,
because its meaning can be taken in more easily by the
reader.
The average length of sentences should not be more than 17
words.
Though sentences should be preferably short, they should
not be of the same length.
For the sake of variety and interest long and short
sentences should be combined.
Parallel Construction
Parallelism that all parts of the sentences should be
of the same grammatical form. For instance if you
use infinitive in one part of the sentence, you
should use them through out.
Parallel Construction (example)
The responsibility of the mess secretary is to maintain
accounts, to look after the property of the mess and to
look after the general administration of the mess.
The responsibility of the mess secretary is to maintain
accounts, looking after the mess property, to call mess
meeting and the general administration of the mess.
Learn to Subordinate and Coordinate
Subordination and coordination is one of the means
of making clear the relationship between ideas.
You should know where to use coordinate clauses
and where to use subordinate clauses
Subordinate and coordinate (example)
The soldier saw the booby trap and draw back
Seeing the trap, the soldier drew back
When the soldier saw the booby traps, he drew
back
5 Tips To Improve English Writing
1- Do not use contractions.
Dont Do not
Shouldnt Should not
Cant Cannot
Wouldn't Would not
Couldnt Could not
Isnt Is not
Havent Have not
Hasnt Has not
5 Tips To Improve English Writing
2-Avoid There is/ There are
a) There are many issues that face students at
university .
b) Students face many issues at university.
a) There are many development projects that the UN
Supports.
b) The UN supports many development projects


5 Tips To Improve English Writing
3-Avoid words Really,very,a lot, so .
a) Many students think university is very hard.
b) Many students think university is very difficult.
c) Bill 399 is really controversial.
b) Bill 399 is controversial.
a) A lot of the students live on campus.
b) Many students live on campus.
a) A lot of time is wasted because of procrastination.
b) Much time is wasted because of procrastination.


5 Tips To Improve English Writing
4-Passive vs Active Voice.
a) Healthcare reforms were implemented by Obama.
b) Obama implemented healthcare reforms.
c) The war was won by the French.
b) The French won the war.
5- Use Strong Verbs.
a) He gave assistance to my friend.(weak verb)
b) He assisted my friend.( strong verb).
a) She made an objection.( weak verb)
b) She objected.(strong verb)
a) They conducted an investigation.(weak verb)
b) They investigated.(strong verb)





Writing Letters: Formal vs. Informal
Informal Formal
Contractions No Contraction
Use of Idioms: once in blue moon No Idioms: not so often
Phrasal Verbs: find out, go up No phrasal Verbs: discover , increase
Imperatives: Send it soon, No imperatives :You may it send it at your
early inconvenience.
Very, really, totally Strongly(advice , recommend, agree)
To top it all off Furthermore
On top of it all Moreover
Abbreviations:T.V No Abbreviations: Television
interjections: Hurrah ! Alas! No interjections
Common words: kids, smart Uncommon words: children ,intelligent
Useful Email Phrases
1- Please find attached photos from the conference.
Please find attached my resume.
2-Ive forwarded photos from the conferences to you.
Im forwarding John's email to you.
3-







Ive Cced Umer on this
email
Ccd
copied
4-If you have any question please dont hesitate to
contact me.
5-I look forward to :
Hearing from you
Meeting you
Your reply
6-Sign off :
Kind Regards, Warm Wishes, Regards, Yours Truly.

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Useful Email Phrases

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