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       Book, books... Table, tables... Phone, phones... Day, days... So... life, lifes, right? Nope! The plural of life is lives. And, isn't the plural of sheep sheeps? Nope! The plural of sheep is sheep. It's the same word.      Have you ever wondered how to handle all of the rules and exceptions to rules in the English language? Here is an introduction (a beginning) to understanding the rules about plural nouns. Hopefully, it will make figuring out how to change that word less of a guessing game and more of a skill. '   Plurals What is a plural noun? A plural noun is a person, place, or thing of which there is more than one. Example: If there is more than one phone, they are called phones. When should I make a noun plural? Make a noun plural when there is more than one of what that noun represents How do I make a noun plural? Usually,... read more

For many (most?) high school students, compulsory writing evokes frightful visions of blue essay pamphlets, red editorial comments, and a taunting landscape of white paper refusing to be occupied. The battle between disinterest in the topic and angst towards a looming deadline is matched only by the uncertainty of having anything worth saying, fear of having the ability to say it well, or both.   Some students choose to bide their time, sure that when they leave their high school (and college) self behind they will likewise leave behind ever having to do a compulsory writing assignment again, but we live in a time, an age, and a culture that is dominated by social media, and social media is dominated by posting, blogging, emailing, texting, tweeting, retweeting… in other words, words. That means that regardless what your plans for the future are, you are going to have to write, and if you are going to have to do it anyway you might as well choose to make friends... read more

Most writing geeks are not fans of adverbs, and I'm no exception. If you believe you're a good writer who has mastered the basics (maybe you've received good comments from your teachers, professors, or peers), consider eliminating as many adverbs as you can from your writing and replacing them with good, strong verbs.    An example: She walked slowly into the classroom.   That's correct usage, but this is a post about writing, not grammar. And from a writing standpoint, that sentence is boring and not very informative. Is she walking slowly because she's, well, a slow walker? Or is she sad? Infirm? Afraid? A strong verb can give the reader a lot more information about what's going on.   She trudged into the classroom. (Here, I think she's sad; maybe she's bummed that she forgot her homework.) She drifted into the classroom. (I think she's daydreaming about something. Maybe her boyfriend is out in the hall.) She staggered into... read more

Who wouldn't like to communicate clearly and persuasively to others on the first try?  After all, we have ideas and opinions that are important to us!  While many people can make compelling arguments in person, explaining these same ideas in writing can seem more challenging.  Writing well is a process that involves research, planning, and revision.  Once you have an initial draft about a topic that you have carefully considered, here are some easy editing tips that are frequently overlooked but greatly help to keep your ideas clear and well organized. Writing clear sentences is half the battle so keep these basic rules in mind . . . 1.  Capitalize new sentences.  This may seem very obvious, but people often fail to do so in their haste or due to errors while typing on assorted devices.  Every time you start a new sentence, be sure to capitalize the first letter of the first word.  Example:  Busy writers sometimes forget... read more

Computerized spell-check can be a handy time-saver when writing papers, and many students swear by it. However amazing it may be, though, spell-check is still just a computer program, and as such should not be considered a substitute for proofreading with human eyes. As evidence, here are three common mistakes that spell-check won't catch. Proper Nouns Spell-check uses a dictionary to compare the words you type to existing words. Proper nouns, like names of people or places, usually won't be in the computer's dictionary, and so the spell-check will flag them as misspelled. This means that when you proofread, you'll have to ignore the wavy underline under those names. But this can also backfire – what if you happened to misspell that name? The computer will underline it same as before, but your brain is already prepared to ignore underlining on that name so you run the risk of not catching it yourself. This is one reason I advocate actually printing out a hard... read more

I have been involved education as long as I can remember. My parents were educators. They helped start a school, were on the board of another, and were founding board members of the North Dakota Home School Association. I started teaching at the age of thirteen, as a volunteer. I have taught professionally, for over fourteen years. I have coached soccer. I co-founded a school and taught a wide array of subjects there for three years, including Latin, Rhetoric, General Science, and History. For nearly twelve years, I have been an education consultant, tutor, and mentor. I am prepared to tutor students in all subjects through high school, and I am well-versed in ACT and SAT preparation. I also do some college-level tutoring, particularly in English, Writing, Study Skills, and other humanities-related subjects. Feel free to ask for more details. I tutor adult students in a variety of subjects, and I have also had success in the past working with students who have a variety... read more

For those who want to know the reason for writing "reflection" papers, consider how the process is simply another way to learn   Learning is not just about acquiring and using new skills, the process also involves “thinking about your thinking.” The actual term for this action is “metacognitive behavior,” which is a means to help you organize and reflect on information and behavior. The process may sound complicated, but this is simply a form of higher order thinking that requires you to consider how or why information is valuable as well as what makes it important or necessary. Sometimes, we do this automatically. Consider a time when you’ve been in the store and have been presented with two options for purchase. First, you go through a decision-making process, then select the product, and then take it home for use. Most likely, you will then know if you made the appropriate selection. At this point, you may likely reflect on why you made the choice... read more

Ernest Hemingway is one of the American writers of all time, but that did not happen overnight. Hemingway was a great writer because he accepted the fact that even great writers write terrible first drafts. The real magic happens in revision. As a writer, the most important thing to do is write. The time to be critical of your writing is when you come back to it for revision later. 

In school, teachers will tell you the exact order in which they want you to write an essay. Often times they will want you to start with an outline, develop a thesis, gather evidence, and then write your essay. However, the more essays that you write, the more that you will realize that this sequence does not work for everyone. In college, I realized that I often did not develop a good thesis until after I already finished my essay. This is just fine; you can change your thesis after you finish your essay as long as you leave yourself adequate time for revision. You have to do what works best for you.

Most would probably say the single best way to improve your writing skills is to write.  They would be wrong.  You can write until your fingers cramp, but that does not mean you will be writing properly.   The single best way to improve your writing skills is to read.  When you read a lot, you are subconsciously taking in the correct way to write.  Sentence structure and punctuation will begin to come naturally because it is something you will see regularly.   Of course, nobody is going to chose to read something they are not interested in.  So, it is equally important to chose a topic that will hold your attention.  This could be a book, a magazine, or a newspaper, so long as what is written was done so by a professional.

Verbs breathe life into your writing. They're responsible for the "vivid images" that your English teacher is always raving about. But frankly, our first drafts almost never use the right verbs; too often, they're chock full of the verb "to be." "Is" and "are" make writing bland. Great writers use them sparingly, and so should we. Here are three easy ways to get rid of the verb "to be" quickly and easily. Use metaphor. "My mom was a strict woman" becomes "My mom ruled the household with an iron fist." Change nouns and adjectives into verbs. "I am a student at Wellesley College" becomes "I study at Wellesley College." "I was happy" becomes "I rejoiced." Creatively rework your sentence by changing the subject. "We were all too tired to go on" becomes "Exhaustion overwhelmed us." See how many instances of the verb "to be"...

Don't feel bad if your personal narrative uses a lot of the word "I." It's very common, and it's hard to avoid. After all, we're writing about ourselves. Ultimately, though, too much of the word "I" can weaken your essay (and even make or break your college acceptance). Basically, repetition of the word "I" makes writing boring. Not only does it keep sentence structure generic, it also makes you as the author seem self-centered. If you want your essay to stand out and capture readers' interest, it's time to do something about the "I" problem. Here's how to do it: First, you'll need to highlight or underline every instance of the word "I" in your essay. It's easiest to do this on your word processor, since editing will be easier on the computer. Now, you're going to need to get rid of some of those pesky pronouns. A good rule of thumb is five I's per essay. Ten might be OK. Any more, and we've got some work to... read more

I believe that learning by mistakes is the only way, and learning involves a certain amount of risk-taking because it involves the ego, and the ego does not want to fail. National Teacher of the Year 1989 Mary V. Bicouvaris says she would "hope that all American children will be given the opportunity to become literate in their own culture and at the same time develop an international perspective that will enable them to work, lead, and thrive in a global community," and her hope rings true in our current day and age. Students react positively when they learn by mistakes, and I have witnessed a struggling student become confident simple because of hearing positive word when they needed it most. It is always important to remember that students are not experts in the area they are learning about, and that event when I try something new I make mistakes too. For this reason making mistakes is OK because it comes with the territory of being a novice. The only mistake... read more

A lot of people simply don't enjoy writing--and they do their best to take any shortcuts they can find to make the process shorter. One shortcut is avoiding outlines. Outlines can seem like just another cumbersome step. Why not just get the words on the paper and get the thing done?   But outlines serve at least two purposes: generating ideas and organizing the content. Many writers experience some form of writer's block. That empty page is intimidating, the clock is ticking, and the brain...freezes.    Outlining can help unblock things. It's easier to write down a few main ideas and some supporting facts than it is to come up with complete sentences and paragraphs, after all. Start with the introductory paragraph and write at least a fragment with the main idea. For beginning writers, it may help to highlight this to remember that the whole paper should support this focus.   Generate a few more ideas related to the topic. These might... read more

I know how they told you to write it. Now let me tell you how it's really done. Popular misconception is that because you read a paper from start to finish, that the best way to write it is from start to finish. This is, of course, nonsense. The best way to write a thesis paper is as follows.   Write your conclusion first. That's right... the easiest way to write a 5-paragraph thesis paper is to start with your conclusions first. This is how we think, anyway. When we read about a subject,  we are thinking while we read, so that by the time we've finished reading, we already know what we think about it. Those are our conclusions about what we just read/watched/experienced. We're already there, so why not start there? When you start the conclusion you should say something specific about your topic. By then end of your conclusion, you should show how the specific nature of your topic says something large, say, about the nature of life itself. Write... read more

Teaching, Poverty and Society By Ricardo Giraldo C, MA Education, MBA Business Economics                  Teaching and learning are an essential part of life; however not everyone is willing to teach sharing their knowledge. We can hear many excuses to avoid teaching to someone like "you have to love children to be a teacher, teachers are special people, to be a teacher you must have a lot of patience and motivation, too much work and low gratification, teaching someone is bringing competition into your workplace, threatens your job stability and more. The list of excuses go on and on, but at the end they are only dramatic excuses that accomplishes nothing because they do not help to reduce the gaps of poverty and the development of a society.                 Learning about life and basic education begins in the home, the schools and finished in the streets; all these... read more

Transitions! They can make or break your essay. You may have some great ideas that you write down, but if you don't connect them, it's hard for your reader to follow. People forget how your ideas are interrelated, and they therefore forget your main ideas.   The point here is: DON'T try to write without transitions. Here is a list of transitions to help you keep your ideas well-organized: first next then after after that afterward finally in conclusion in summary to start with in addition additionally second third moreover furthermore    

As a journeyman author of fiction, poetry, and general web content, it's getting harder and harder to not talk about the subject of writing. I feel as if all the writing I've done up until this point in my life was training, and the disappointment of sloppy wordsmithing over the years was just practice for even bigger disappointments. As a writer, it's important to remember you are one of many, many, many, many, many others out there trying to do the exact same thing; get published.   It's certainly hard to stay positive in world where getting a short story published is about as common as winning $100 on a scratch off. It happens, and you hear people talk about how it happened to them, but some of us just don't pick the lucky cards (or think of the lucky ideas). But every once in a while you come across an idea that is worth investing in. And you know it's probably not as original as you say it is, but the genre is unique (to you) and the plot is ripe for exploring... read more

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