Showing posts with label essays. Show all posts
Showing posts with label essays. Show all posts

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

List of frequently used academic words







Have you heard of corpus linguistics

Corpus linguistics proposes that reliable language analysis is more feasible with corpora (samples) collected in the field, in their natural contexts, and with minimal experimental-interference.

How did it all start?


A landmark in modern corpus linguistics was Henry Kučera and W. Nelson Francis's Computational Analysis of Present-Day American English (1967).

This work was based on the analysis of the Brown Corpus, a carefully compiled selection of about a million words, drawn from a wide variety of sources in current  American English

How did technology help?

The first computerized corpus of one million words of transcribed spoken language was constructed in 1971 by the Montreal French Project. This effort inspired Shana Poplack's much larger corpus of spoken French in the Ottawa-Hull area

The analysis of academic writing shows that there are many 

frequently used words and phrases:

a form of   

a function of   

a high degree   

a large number   

a large number of   

a list of   

a number of   

a result of   

a series of   

a set of   

a small number   

a variety of   

a wide range   

a wide range of   

according to the   

allows us to   

an attempt to   

an example of   

an increase in the   

and so on   

and the same   

and the second   

appear to be    

appears to be   

are a number of   

are able to   

are as follows   

are based on   

are likely to   

as a consequence   

as a function   

as a function of   

as a result   

as a result of   

as a result of the   

as a whole   

as an example   

as can be seen   

as opposed to   

as part of   

as part of the   

as shown in   

as well as   

associated with the   

assume that the    

assumed to be   

at least in   

at the outset   

at the same    

at the same time   

at the time of   

at this stage 

   


based on a   

based on the   

be achieved by   

be argued that   

be carried out   

be considered as   

be explained by   

be noted that    

be regarded as   

be related to the   

be seen as   

be the case   

be used as a   

be used to   

because it is   

been carried out   

been shown to   

between the two   

both of these   

but this is   

by virtue of   

FREE BOOK AVAILABLE ONLINE: 

Statistics in Linguistics

Christopher Butler

http://www.uwe.ac.uk/hlss/llas/statistics-in-linguistics/bkindex.shtml













can also be   

can be achieved   

can be considered   

can be expressed   

can be found   

can be found in   

can be seen   

can be seen in   

can be used   

can be used to   

can easily be   

carried out by   

carried out in   

could be used   

degree to which   

depend on the   

depending on the   

depends on the   

difference between the   

different from the   

different types of   

does not appear   

due to the   

due to the fact   

due to the fact that   

each of the   

each of these   

even though the   

exactly the same   

example of a   

extent to which   

fact that the   

factors such as   

focus on the   

for example if   

for example in   

for example the   

for the purposes of   

for this purpose   

for this reason   

form of the   

from the point   

from the point of   

from the point of view   

function of the   

give rise to    


An enquiry into the role of satire and sense in academic life today:

The Graves of Academe

Would you recommend this book?



















has also been   

has been used   

have shown that   

have the same   

high levels of   

his or her   

if they are   

if this is   

important role in   

in a number of   

in accordance with   

in accordance with the   

in both cases   

in conjunction with   

in more detail   

in most cases   

in order to   

in other words   

in other words the   

in relation to   

in response to   

in some cases   

in such a   

in such a way   

in such a way that   

in table    

in terms of   

in terms of a   

in terms of the   

in the absence of   

in the case   

in the case of   

in the context   

in the context of   

in the course of   

in the form of   

in the next section   

in the present study   

in the same   

in the sense   

in the sense that   

in this article   

in this case   

in this case the   

in this paper   

in this paper we   

in this way   

insight into the   

is affected by   

is based on   

is based on the   

is consistent with   

is determined by   

is likely to   

is likely to be   

is more likely   

is much more   

is not possible to   

is the case   

it appears that   

it follows that   

it is clear   

it is clear that   

it is difficult   

it is important   

it is important to   

it is impossible   

it is impossible to   

it is interesting   

it is interesting to   

it is likely that   

it is necessary   

it is necessary to   

it is not possible   

it is not possible to   

it is obvious that   

it is possible   

it is possible that   

it is possible to   

it is worth   

it may be   

it should be noted   

large number of   

less likely to   

likely to be   

little or no   

means that the   

more likely to   

most likely to   

nature of the   

need not be   

needs to be    

none of these   

of the fact   

of the same   

of the second   

of the system   

of the two    

of these two   

of view of   

on the basis   

on the basis of   

on the basis of the   

on the other   

on the other hand   

on the other hand the   

on the part of   

other words the   

out that the   

over a period   

over a period of   

part of a   

part of the   

parts of the   

point of view   

point of view of   

referred to as   

related to the   

same way as   

see for example   

should also be   

should be noted   

should not be   

shown in figure   

shown in table   

similar to those   

size of the   

small number of   

so that the   

such a way   

such a way that   

such as the   

such as those   

take into account   

take into account the   

terms of the   

the ability to   

the amount of   

the area of   

the basis of   

the case of   

the change in   

the concept of   

the context of   

the definition of   

the development of   

the difference between   

the difference between the   

the distribution of   

the effect of   

the effects of   

the example of   

the existence of   

the extent to which   

the fact that   

the fact that the    

the first is   

the form of   

the frequency of   

the idea that   

the importance of   

the issue of   

the level of   

the meaning of   

the most important   

the nature of   

the nature of the   

the next section   

the notion of   

the number of   

the order of   

the other hand   

the other hand the   

the part of the   

the point of view   

the point of view of   

the presence of   

the presence of a   

the problem of   

the process of   

the purpose of this   

the question of   

the rate of   

the real world   

the reason for   

the relationship between   

the result of   

the role of   

the same as   

the same time   

the same way as   

the size of   

the size of the   

the structure of   

the study of   

the sum of   

the total number   

the use of   

the validity of the   

the value of   

the way in   

the way in which   

the way that   

the work of   

their ability to   

there are a number   

there are a number of   

there are no   

there are several   

there are three   

this means that   

this paper we   

this type of   

this would be   

to carry out   

to determine whether   

to distinguish between   

to do so   

to ensure that   

to ensure that the   

to show that   

to some extent   

to the fact that   

to use the   

total number of   

two types of   

value of the   

view of the   

was based on   

was carried out   

way in which   

ways in which   

we assume that   

we can see   

we do not   

we have seen   

what are the   

whether or not   

whether or not the   

which can be   

which is not   

which is the   

wide range of   

with regard to   

with respect to   

with respect to the   

with the same    

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Drama Questions for IB or A level

Getting on top of the drama exam

I've been trawling the exam boards and internet sites for examples of A-level / IB exam/essay questions on Drama. These questions are suitable for 16-18 year-olds.

If you are 'lost for ideas' also take a critical look at my TWO compilations of key quotations :

Tragedy: Selected Quotations

Comedy: famous quotes


Exam / Essay Questions:

1. Using two or three plays you have studied, compare the presentation of two or three characters [e.g. introduction, dramatic interactions with other characters], saying in each case how the presentation furthered the dramatists' purposes, and how it rewarded your study.

2. 'While the momentum of the play is carried by major characters, there is often a significant minor character who is a catalyst for change or enlightenment.' Compare the role of a significant minor character in in plays you have studied, showing how these characters contribute to the dramatic action.

3. 'People often act first and reflect afterwards'. In what ways have the connections between action and reflection been more and less important to the plays you have studied?

4. Human illusions have always been a powerful subject of plays, both tragic and comic. In what ways have the plays in your study considered this aspect of human behaviour and with what effects?

5. A play is often a complex web of conflicting emotions. Compare the ways in which playwrights in your study have presented emotional conflicts so as to make an impact on the audience.

6. 'Characters in a play are often motivated by strong passions or desires.' Compare and contrast plays you have studied in the light of this statement. Discuss, in each case, the dramatic effects created by the exploration of such motivation.

7. Compare and contrast the presentation of any three or four characters in plays you have studied. Explain how, and how effectively, each character seems to you to further the dramatic force of the play in which he or she appears.

8. 'What do women and men really want?' Discuss the dramatic techniques through which similar or different desires of the genders have been expressed in plays you have studied, saying how the presentation of them creates an effect on the audience.

9. Plays which succeed with audiences must communicate some aspects of the thoughts and motivations of the characters. How far and by what means have dramatists in your study conveyed the interior lives of their characters?

10. All characters in plays are mouthpieces for their author. From a consideration of some characters from the plays you have studied, say how far you agree.

11. A necessary part of drama is not only to present conflict between the characters in a play, but also to create conflicts within each member of the audience. Compare and contrast two or three plays you have studied in the light of this comment.

12. 'In real life, we are frequently unsure of the motives behind the actions of our fellow human beings, but in a play we must be sure, or the character will become blurred.' In plays you have studied, compare how far and by what means dramatists have ensure that the audience will be very clear about the motives of significant characters.

13. Consider how dramatists make characters speak in plays you have studied, and say how the language and tone of these dialogues, conversations and monologues contribute to each play as a whole.

14. The audience's response to characters in drama is due, in part, to the relationships of these characters with others in the play. Compare the ways in which dramatists in your study use such interactions to present full and complex character portrayals to enhance the theatrical experience.

15. A drama critic recently drew attention to the 'threatening encounters' as a powerful feature of a new play. Discuss encounters [threatening or otherwise] in plays you have studied and consider them as features of the drama created in each case.

16. The 'past' of characters - their implied or recollected experiences - are often used by dramatists to enlarge and enrich character portrayal. Evaluate the use and the importance of characters' lives prior to the events of plays in your study to explain or complicate the events included in the plays.

17. Using plays you have studied, write an essay on the presentation of the relationships between male and female characters [or between characters of the same sex], giving some idea of the dramatic effects achieved by these means.

18. Because a play is simply not words on a page, actions and gestures play a significant part in engaging the audience. Considering the plays you have studied, compare and evaluate the role of action and gesture in enhancing the central thrust of the play.

19. The interactions among characters in a drama is often associated with the acquisition, the holding or the loss of power. By what means and with what effects have plays in your study addressed power relations?

20. What part does fantasy play in the lives of the characters in plays you have studied; how is this fantasy presented and to what effect on the audience?

21. In every play there are characters who the audience regard as either essential or expendable. In plays you have studied, discuss why characters can be seen in either of these ways because of their relationship to the play's meaning.

22. In what ways do the plays you have studied dramatise either the depths to which human beings can sink or the ridiculousness of some human actions?

23. Discuss the extent to which, and the ways in which, each playwright's presentation of female characters differs from that of male characters, making clear effect in each play.

24. The playwright cannot depend, as does the novelist, on a narrative voice rounding out a a character by means of description and analysis. How are the personalities and views of characters effectively conveyed in the plays you have studied?

25. 'A play stands or falls on the dramatists' ability to create believable characters.' How far have you found this statement to be true in the plays you have studied?

26. Through an analysis of some of the characters in two or three plays you have studied, compare the ways in which the struggle between internal and external forces is presented.

27. How do characters and the choices they make contribute to meaning in two or three plays that you have studied?

28. The difference in a play between what is being said and what is being done can provide one focus of interest for the audience. In plays you have studied, by what means and to what effect have dramatists made good use of such differences?

29. 'Drama explains individuals, not relationships'. Paying close attention to how individuals and relationships are presented in two or three plays you have studied, say how far you find this statement to be true.

30. Dramatic conflicts arise when dominant individuals or groups regard themselves as the norm against which others are to be measured. With reference to specific scenes from at least two plays you have studied, discuss the significance of such conflicts and how they are explored.

31. Drama is often the expression or investigation of power: characters can, at different moments in a play, be oppressors or victims, dominant or subservient, users and used. In terms of power and its effects, discuss three or four characters from the plays you have studied, and say what this power-play adds to the play as a whole.

32. In plays a character who appears briefly, or who does not appear at all, can be a significant presence, contributing to action, developing other characters or conveying ideas. To what extent have you found this to be true of at least two plays you have studied?

33. 'Comedy exposes human weakness; tragedy reveals human strength'. How and to what extent does this claim apply to at least two plays you have studied?

34. A change in status of the characters in a play [a success, for example, or a loss or exposure] helps to convey the ideas and/or values of the dramatist. How and to what extent has change in status contributed in this way to at least two plays you have studied?

35. 'In drama there are more interesting roles for men than women'. Discuss to what extent you agree with this statement and what it is that makes a role interesting. Refer closely to at least two plays you have studied.

36. Consider the ways in which scene changes may highlight the development of characters and their relationships in two or three plays you have studied.

37. Isolation, either mental of physical, can lead to despair or enlightenment. In the plays you have studied, show how playwrights have used isolation of any kind to heighten the dramatic effects of their plays and develop their characters.

38. How far, and in what ways, do plays you have studied support the idea that communication between human beings is difficult or perhaps impossible?

39. How have plays you have studied presented 'what happens inside a human being' in dramatic terms?

40. One dramatist has maintained that theater ought to pursue a re-examination, not only of aspects of an objective external world, but also aspects of the inner worlds of human existence. What choices have been made in the plays you have studied to pursue one or the other, or both, of these aspects, and what theatrical techniques have been used to carry out this choice?

41. In achieving a strong dramatic effect, a playwright will sometimes work to elicit from the audience heights of admiration or depths of loathing for certain characters. Compare by what means different dramatists have have managed to construct such powerful characterisations and the effect of those on the play.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

The Eight Openings and the Blank Page Trauma

Are you familiar with the terror of the blank page in the exam room?
Do you experience a sense of writer's block in this situation?
Are you just unsure about your technique in starting an essay?

In fact, there are many tried and tested openings that will get your writing off to a confident and winning start. Although there are infinite possible ways of leading into an essay, blog, or news article, there are some common opening gambits that writers rely on (as in a game of chess). After a strong opening you will be ready for a winning middle game.



Before outlining the Eight Openings, here are some points to think about:

Is your aim to engage the reader by being relevant, creative, and original?
Are you trying to arouse curiosity or to meet expectations?
Are you explaining what’s on offer (like a menu), or offering a taster session?
In a promotional sense you want to encourage the reader to come through the door: to enter your mental world. Some readers are reluctant, suspicious people who need to be coaxed into your space.

Remember that your aim is a happy relationship between writer and reader; not a divorce.

Sometime it is helpful to signal or summarize what your topic is, and how you will be approaching it (methodology). In academic essays there is often a well-crafted thesis statement that encapsulates the main argument in one sentence.

1. The Quoted Opening

"As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect." Franz Kafka, The Metamorphosis (1916). My transformation happened over three lazy weeks, but it was not any less wonderful... Begin with an impressive quotation from someone who will be recognised by your reader. A well chosen quotation can also have the advantage that it provides an unusual angle on your content. Also, it may hint at the tone and approach you are taking to your topic. In academic essays marks may also be gained for evidence of research. Disadvantages: quotations can be over used (clichés); you are relying on someone else’s work at the outset.

2. The Story Opening

"I write this sitting in the kitchen sink."  Dodie Smith, I Capture the Castle (1948). A story has a universal appeal and everyone wants to know what happens next if there is an element of intrigue. This opening plays on the art of the unexplained: look where I am; how did I arrive at this point. This approach also involves the art of delayed resolution (ending) that we find in jokes or anecdotes. A story that is relevant to the reader also plays on empathy.

3. The Headline Opening
The Times Of India: “We saw the sea coming, we all ran. But God saves little”

This approach keeps coming back to the essay title or the newspaper heading, but offers more detail or clarity. Again the emphasis is on focus and relevance. This technique works well where the eye-catching headline is not a ready-made statement, or the solution to an issue. 

4. The Shocking Opening

Shock tactics may fit well with an eye-catching sensational opening. Often the trick is to reverse normal expectations, turning the world upside down. The element of surprise can be very effective, but it may be difficult to sustain after the initial impact.  Build your special effects using rhetorical drama (pattern, pace, rhythm, alliteration) and memorable literary devices (such as simile or metaphor).

5. The Interrogatory Opening

This opening relies on asking questions that engage the reader. This may involve empathy (Don’t you just hate daytime marketing calls? Why do we want to laugh in a moment of crisis?); or it may interrogate the title/heading in a curious or surprising way (Why do most disasters happen on Thursday mornings?). But too many questions leave the reader frustrated or perhaps impatient to hear the answers. Avoid this problem by asking unusual, thought-provoking questions.

6. The Summary Opening

This opening offers a preview of the remainder of the essay. It’s rather like a menu that explains what to expect and offers an insight into your approach (how the steak will be cooked; is the food spicy). The risk is that you give away all the surprises at the outset. So try to avoid going into too much detail at this stage. Better to give a sense of the general scope of your project, rather than trying to tick every box.

7. The Strange, but True, Opening

This is also known as the newsworthy or factual opening. ‘In Great Britain in 2012 it is reported that 3,678 babies swallowed an iPhone. All but one survived. This is his story...’ Common features of this approach deploy data, or statistics, but also develop a human angle on the arithmetic. Again, eye-catching news reverses expectations: the "Man Bites Dog" Rule.

8. The Connoisseur Opening

This opening does not fit any of the above categories, or it is a hybrid strategy that deploys several styles of opening. Sometimes it is a low-key opening that marks the innovator. In 1913, Marcel Proust began his epic novel sequence, "For a long time, I went to bed early." Swann's Way. (tr. Lydia Davis).

Tips to Develop Your Style:
Use a notebook, or simply cut and paste opening sentences and paragraphs which in your view are engaging and appealing. Also note down why you think they are effective. It’s also useful to make a list of your own categories of opening. For instance, what are the differences between factual items and literary fiction? What else is required in an essay for school or college? Why are some openings longer than others?
It is worthwhile examining existing models of great writing, but with practice you will craft engaging openings that bear your personal stamp of creative genius.



Dr Ian McCormick is the author of
also available on Kindle, or to download.

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Creating a Map of Connection and Transition

Students create their own maps of connection

"The creative journey has more departures than arrivals."

 

Students often have problems thinking about the flow of their ideas within a paragraph. This is not surprising as different thought-pathways occur at each (full) stop. 

For instance, having expressed one idea, the next one might illustrate, supplement, qualify, or reverse the preceding sentence. 

As a result, our sentence journeys quickly become very complicated. A complex argument often degenerates into confusion, and the sense of feeling lost. Writers and readers need signposts, and they need a map.

In reality, writing involves weaving together a complex and dense thread of connectives and transitions. These words have the special function of signalling the direction of travel. They help to maintain a sense of purpose and direction. By using them effectively the writer is able to stick to a plan. Transitions help writing to flow.

By thinking about the different kinds of transition needed in writing it is possible to create word and phrase clusters for each one. 

In visual terms each cluster can become a line that has many variations: 

the Location Line, 
the Timing Line, 
the Comparison Line, 
the Contrast and Difference Line, 
the Supplement Line, 
the Disputation line, 
the Sequence Line, 
the Example and Illustration Line,
the Summary Line. 

My book provides lists of these word clusters, together with hundreds of examples of their usage drawn from published writers in all fields of work.

I have also provided a useful summary of the most frequently used transition words and phrases at the end of this blog.

It is easy to create your own multiple-line personalised maps:

Pairs of students research and select the key words that will stand in as the stations. 

They draw coloured lines with sufficient stations and then add the words to create their personalised map of connection.  

They will be learning about connection by making links.

A traditional - and easy - way to create a London Tube-style connection map is to use coloured wool and drawing pins on a noticeboard. Each station then becomes one of the key words or phrases used to signal a sentence connection or transition. The cluster then represents the colour of the line.

Lines of writing can also be demonstrated in the classroom by using human subjects as the 'stations' and throwing around a ball of coloured wool. But be warned, this activity can create a tangled web. Yet this experience usefully serves an apt metaphor to express the idea that complex writing sometimes works - and sometimes fails. Sentences are social; they require teamwork.

A useful follow-up game is to guess the line:

"If am at station X and move to station Y, which line am I on?"

Logic line clusters can also be used to analyse an essay. This involves highlighting the writer's choice (or implied choice) of connection and transition, sentence by sentence. In this process we stick back in and stress the otherwise invisible moments of connection and transition.

Clearly, a high frequency of time-based words suggests narrative; a high frequency of space-based words will be evident in description; multiple sequence words are crucial for argument, &c.

I also like to use the idea of the electronic circuit board. We are not always using all of the elements on the board. Nonetheless, a broken circuit will sometime lead to a fatal system error.

I'd love to see your connectivity maps if your have tried out this activity! 


Images for Connectivity on Pinterest

 




The Nine Lines of Connection:



The Space Line

A sense of where something is in relation to something else. This use is rather like using a preposition or an adverbial phrase. The words associated with this usage are: above, across, adjacent, adjacent to, alongside, amid, among, around, at the side, before, behind, below, beneath, beside,  between, beyond, down, from, further, here, here and there, in front of, in the back, in the background, in the centre of, in the distance, in the foreground, in the front, in the middle, near, nearby, next, on this side, opposite to, over, there, to the left, to the right, to the side, under, up, where, wherever. These words all suggest a sense of place or location and are therefore very useful for visual description.

The Timing Line

Supply a sense of when something is happening, or to communicate the sense of a logical sequence in time. Examples of this usage of transitional words and phrases: about, after, afterwards, all of a sudden, as soon as, at the present time, at the same time, at this instant, before, currently, during, eventually, finally, first, formerly, forthwith, fourth, from time to time, further, hence, henceforth, immediately, in a moment, in due time, in the first place, in the future, in the meantime, in the past, in time, instantly, last, later, meanwhile, next, now, occasionally, often, once, presently, prior to, quickly, second, shortly, since, sometimes, soon, sooner or later, straightaway, subsequently, suddenly, then, third, to begin with, today, until, until now, up to the present time, when, whenever, without delay.

The Comparison Line

Point to a comparison of two ideas. This may be achieved by deploying words such as additionally, again, also, and, as, as a matter of fact, as well as, by the same token, comparatively, correspondingly, coupled with, equally, equally important; first, second, third, fourth, fifth; furthermore, identically, in addition, in like manner, in the light of, in the same fashion, in the same way, like, likewise, moreover, not only ... but also, not to mention, of course, similarly, to say nothing of, together with, too. As these examples demonstrate the ruling idea is similarity.
Tube map of the Art of Connection with key words presented as stations
Another Map showing The Art of Connection

The Difference Line

Indicate a contrast. English provides many examples to signal the notion of difference. The most common examples are and still, and yet, above all, after all, albeit, although, although this may be true, at the same time, be that as it may, besides, but, conversely, despite, different from, even so, even though, however, in contrast, in reality, in spite of, instead, nevertheless, nonetheless, notwithstanding, on the contrary, on the other hand, or, otherwise, rather, regardless of, still, then again, unlike, whereas, while, yet.

The Supplement Line

If the writer wants to present additional or supplementary ideas the most common options are: also, and, as well, moreover, then, too, besides, equally, furthermore, in addition.

The Argument Line

In the process of disputation, argument, or debate a writer sometimes indicates that a point has been agreed or already taken into account. In order to suggest that a point has been conceded the following words and phrases may be used: granted, obviously, to be sure, agreed, certainly, of course.

The Sequence Line

In order to provide a sense of logical sequence the writer uses words such as accordingly, as long as, as a result, because, because of, consequently, due to, even if, for fear that, for this reason, for the purpose of, forthwith, given that, granted (that), hence, henceforth, if, in case, in order to, in that case, in the event that, in the hope that, in view of, inasmuch as, lest, on account of, on (the) condition (that), only, owing to, provided that, seeing that, since, so,  so as to, so long as, so that, thereby, therefore, thereupon, thus, to the end that, under those circumstances, unless, when, whenever, while, with this in mind, with this intention. In these examples there may be a sense of cause and effect, or the sense that one idea results from another. In some cases there is the sense of conditionality or a specific relation of purpose.


The Illustration Line

If the writer has been using concepts, ideas, or theories, it is often helpful to provide an illustration or an example. For this purpose we deploy words such as: another key point, as an illustration, by all means, certainly, chiefly, especially, first thing to remember, for example, for instance, for one thing, for this reason, frequently, important to realize, in detail, in fact, in general, in other words, in particular, in this case, including, indeed, like, issues to consider, markedly, most compelling evidence, must be remembered, namely, notably, on the negative side, on the positive, point often overlooked, recalling, significantly, specifically, such as, surely, surprisingly, that is to say, taking into account, to be sure, to clarify, to demonstrate, to emphasize, to enumerate, to explain, to point out, to put it another way, to put it differently, to repeat, truly, with attention to, with regard to, with this in mind.

The Summary Line


Useful connective words include: after all, all in all, all things considered, altogether, as can be seen, as has been demonstrated, as has been noted, as shown,  above, by and large, finally, for the most part, generally speaking, given these points, hence, in a word, in any event, in brief, in conclusion, in conclusion, in either case, in essence, in fact, in short, in summary, in the final analysis, in the long run, on balance, on the whole, ordinarily, overall, that is to say, that is, to sum up, to summarize, usually.



It will be clear that many transitional words have multiple and overlapping functions. The summary, for instance, also signals the end of a sequence. Similarly, examples may also be supplements, because they provide additional illustrations or instances.

Download a sample of this book.

The Art of Connection.

Illustration of connectives and transition words used in English composition
This was produced by a boy of  10 years

Friday, 29 November 2013

Top Ten Writing Problems - a list

That's my last sentence on this topic. Ever.

In your view, what are the TOP TEN problems that students experience in their writing?

Obviously, it depends quite a lot on the age group, their experience, and whether English is their first language. In this blog I'm thinking about weaker students, aged 11+.

It is clear, however, that many of the problems also affect the work of undergraduates and adult business people. And we're constantly striving to improve our writing, as earlier versions of this informal post would undoubtedly demonstrate.

In my experience, many common writing problems are persistent and recurrent.

Is a quick fix really that difficult? Do you make of a checklist for your students?

How do you empower your students to take more professional care and control of their work?

Any ideas?

Here is my draft list:

Many sentences that need a verb don't have one.

There is a tendency to use phrases, or sentence fragments, rather than sentences.

The flow of ideas is restricted by a lack of connectives and transitional phrases.

Paragraphs are not used at all.

Essays show an inability to compose an effective introduction or conclusion.

There is a failure to vary sentence length, for example, by using a range of simple, compound and complex constructions.

The vocabulary is limited and many words are repeated.

The style of writing is colloquial rather than formal; the style does not suit the target reader, or is inappropriate to theme and/or genre.

A monstrous flood of words has replaced the punctuation of sentences.


What's the best way to fix these issues, in your view?

Dr Ian McCormick is the author of The Art of Connection: the Social Life of Sentences
(2013) ... also available on Kindle, or to download. A bargain!