Lesson Transcript

Hi, everybody! Welcome back to Top Words. My name is Alisha and today, we're going to talk about 10 ways to improve your writing. So let's go.
1. Don't use text speak.
Okay, so the first tip to improve your writing is don't use text speak, text speak. By that, I mean for example like BRB or LOL or those kinds of words. The words that you use on the internet like SNS or in text messages with your friends, those very short, like slang words, TTYL or LMAO or those sorts of acronyms, do not use those in your formal writing. If you are writing a letter, a business email, whatever, do not use those.
The only one that you can use in a business email so not in a letter of recommendation, not in a formal letter, but the only thing you can use that sort of text speakish is the acronym FYI which means "for your information." You can use FYI in a mail to your colleagues and an email to your colleagues or your co-workers, but usually it's with somebody you have a good relationship with. You can say FYI in those cases. Other text speak, other acronyms like that, don't use them. You you will sound immature, you will sound too casual, not a good idea.
2. Use proper punctuation.
The next hint is to use proper punctuation, proper punctuation. Punctuation, for example, we have commas, we have periods, semicolons, colons, apostrophes, quotation marks, parentheses, all of these are punctuation marks. The little points in our writing that tell readers where to stop reading or how sentences are connected using proper punctuation in your writing will help your reader understand you and if your reader understands you well and you've used proper punctuation, you will also look a bit smarter too. If you're not using proper punctuation like for example, if you forget to use an apostrophe in a word, it's going to look kind of bad, honestly. For example, if you use the word "you're," if you leave out the apostrophe, if you just write youre, it looks lazy, it looks lazy. So make sure to use proper punctuation to avoid appearing lazy. So don't forget your little periods, commas, semicolons all that.
3. Don't repeat the same vocabulary words.
The next tip is don't repeat the same vocabulary words. Don't repeat the same vocabulary words, she says repeating the same sentence. But don't repeat the same vocabulary words means if you are using like an adjective, a specific adjective in a sentence, don't use that same adjective in every other sentence. Try to use different adjectives to describe your points.
If you're always using exactly the same words to describe your point like if for example I want to write about cake, if I want to write an article about cake and I just say this cake is delicious, this cake is so delicious, I love this cake because it was delicious, this was so delicious, it's boring for the reader to read the same word every single sentence. And also, you're not really communicating very much. If I just use the word delicious to describe a cake, the reader doesn't understand why the cake is delicious so give more detail.
When you're sharing your opinions, of course this time it's a very simple opinion about delicious cake, but use a variety of different adjectives, support your arguments with statements that use different vocabulary words. So don't always say the same word to describe something. Try to use a lot of different vocabulary words and think a lot about different adjectives you can use.
If this is difficult for you, there is a tool you can use. The English word for it is thesaurus. So many of you know what a dictionary is, a book or a resource to check the meaning of a word, but you can also use what's called a thesaurus. With a thesaurus, you can search for synonyms, words which have the same or similar meaning as other words. So if I look for the word like delicious, I might get, let's see, some synonyms for the word delicious might be yummy, tasty, good, delectable for example. So there are a whole range of other words that you can use. If you find that you are using the same word in every sentence, try to find a different word. You can use a thesaurus to help you do that. So avoid using the same word in every sentence or avoid using these repeated vocabulary words.
4. Avoid use of very and really.
Okay, the next tip is to avoid the use of very and really. By this I mean instead of saying, to go back to my cake example, the cake was very delicious, the cake was really delicious, very and really are sort of lazy words. Of course they're very, very useful, uh-huh, they're very, very useful when we're speaking casually and when we're thinking quickly, but if you're writing and you have some time to think about what you're writing, instead of using a word that's common like delicious and just attaching very like this cake is very delicious, what's a different word that means very delicious? So can I replace very and delicious with one different word like scrumptious for example? This cake is scrumptious. Scrumptious means very delicious. It's only one word.
So if you can do this, if you apply a word that means the same thing as very or really plus another word, it's going to level up your vocabulary and you're going to reduce the number of words in this sentence. So if I say this cake is very delicious or if I say, this cake is scrumptious, scrumptious has a much stronger meaning than just very delicious. So avoiding the use of very and really can level up your speech quite significantly so give it a try.
5. Use transition words and phrases.
The next tip is to use transition words and phrases, use transition words and phrases. So transition words are words and phrases, we use to move from one idea to the next idea. So continuing in my cake example, if I want to introduce my scrumptious cake and then I want to move on to a description of the store that sells that cake, I might use a transition phrase or some kind of sequence phrase to help me do that. So if in paragraph A I'm talking about my scrumptious cake and how much I enjoyed it and the chocolate flavors and the amazing frosting, I could use a transition phrase. For example, by the way, if you're interested, you can purchase this cake at ABC store for example. So in that case, my transition phrase was "by the way," a very casual transition phrase.
Depending on the kind of thing you're writing, you can use different transition phrases. If you're writing an academic paper for example, when you want to add information, you can say additionally, moreover, furthermore. You can also use plus if you'd like to add information. In addition is another one that you can use. So when you want to add information, there are some transition phrases or some ways to give more information. To describe a sequence, you can say next, then, following that. You can use your words like first, second, third, fourth, depending on the sequence. You can say subsequently or consequently as well.
So think about the relationship between the points you're introducing. Think about all these different relationships. How do you want to connect these ideas? So instead of just listing your points, each point, try to think about how to connect those points naturally. So depending on what you're writing, the words you use will change which is fine, but just think about the way you'd like your reader to understand your information and choose transition words and phrases accordingly.
6. Organize your writing: intro, body, conclusion.
Okay, the next one is a tip about organization. So the next tip is organize your paper or organize your writing into an introduction, a body and a conclusion. So these are the three basic elements of an academic paper or of an essay, perhaps an article as well. Introduction is as it sounds. It's introducing the main points. What are you going to talk about? What is your opinion? What is your argument? We introduce that in the introduction.
Then the next part is the body of the paper, in other words, the main points, your real arguments. Everything you would like to say about the things you introduced in your introduction, this is where you get into the details of that. So the body of the paper is typically the longest part of the paper, the longest part of the essay. So there's a lot of information in the body section.
Finally, the conclusion. The conclusion of the paper concludes or finishes the paper. In the conclusion, you will summarize your points from the body of the paper and you should connect those points to the items you introduced in the introduction of your paper.
So all of these elements, these three elements should connect together. So if you are finding that it's difficult to organize your thoughts or you don't know how to approach your paper or this item, maybe even an email you're writing, you can try to separate it into three sort of categories: introduction, body, conclusion. So introduce idea, explain idea, summarize idea. This can be very helpful in writing.
7. Avoid use of second person.
Okay, the next hint is avoid use of second person. Second person, this is going to take a little explanation. So in English writing, we have three sort of ways that we can write. We can write in first person which means, for example; I went to the store, I wanted to buy something, I met a friend. So first person, I am the person sharing the story, sharing the information.
In second person which is kind of rare actually except in very casual styles of writing, the subject of the sentence is you like you go to the store, you buy some milk, you call your friend. This is kind of rare. We see this in children's books and like I say, in sort of informal articles online.
Third-person style of writing is using he/she and character names like he went to the store, she called her mother, they needed to see a doctor.
So there are these three types of writing in English language so first person, second person, third person. Generally when you are writing especially an academic paper, you will use first person or third person to do that. If you're writing something formal, you should probably not use second person. Sometimes you'll see like a person describing an experiment for example like you should submerge the item in water or you should bake this at 350 degrees. Using "you" is fine in casual situations, when you're giving instructions for example. If you find it in a recipe, fine. It sounds a bit more casual, it's very informal, not so important. However, if you find that you are using you, you, you in an academic paper, it sounds a bit too casual, too informal. So please avoid use of second person. So reminder, second person is the subject of the sentence is you, you. So it sounds like you're kind of commanding the other person, commanding the reader or giving advice to the reader or telling the reader what to do. It sounds very odd. So avoid use of second person in your writing.
8. Consider the tense you're using.
The next tip is to consider the tense you're using, consider the tense you're using. So I'm just going to talk about two tenses here really, present tense and past tense. So we can use the present tense and the present continuous tense really to explain a story or to tell a story like it's actually happening. So if I say like, I go to the store, I see a friend of mine, she's buying milk, for example, if I use the present tense and I use the present continuous tense, it sounds like the listener or if it's in writing, it sounds like that's actually happening. It's easier for the listener or the reader to kind of experience the story in that moment. So if you want to create some tension in your writing, if you want to create some excitement, you can use the present tense and its associated tenses to kind of heighten the energy level.
If you use past tense however, you might create more of a rapport nuance. So for example, when you watch the evening news or you read the newspaper, you might find that it's written in past tense. It's just reporting information, what happened. So simple past tense is used. Past tense and the other associated tenses in past tense are used.
So when you're writing, consider what do you want the reader to feel or what do you want the reader to experience. Are you writing a report? Maybe you should just use past tense. Are you writing about general facts? Then if you're writing about a general fact, you should probably use present tense, but if you want to create like a fiction story for example and you want your reader to experience the story and kind of feel enthusiastic or energetic about your story, present tense and maybe continuous tense with present would be a better choice. So just think about which tense you're using for your writing.
9. Consider appropriate vocabulary.
The next tip is to consider appropriate vocabulary, consider appropriate vocabulary. So depending on the type of thing you're writing, there are words that are good to use and there are words that are not so good to use. If you're writing an academic paper for example, don't use casual words, don't use curse words in your paper, don't use anything that could be interpreted or could be understood as informal.
If you're writing something very casual on the other hand, it's fine to use casual words. It's fine to be informal, to be a little bit funny and it might sound strange if you do use informal words or extremely polite words. So consider the appropriate kinds of vocabulary words to be using depending on what you're writing.
10. Learn to use references.
Okay, the last tip is maybe the most difficult tip, the last tip is learn to use references, learn to use references. This is especially important if you are writing academic papers or if you are writing something you're going to publish in a journal or maybe even a magazine. Using references means you are using references, reading references and writing about them and including what's called a citation in your writing. So you're taking a piece of something that someone else has written, putting it in quotation marks perhaps depending on the way you choose to cite it and then adding a reference list at the end of your document to show which documents you referenced, which documents were important to you in making your argument. So if you can use references in your writing to support your argument, it can be a very, very good tool.
So if you have just kind of an opinion piece, you want to write an article even for the internet for example, it can be very, very helpful to support your argument with links to other references, with links to other information about your opinion. So yes, it's most important, it's most focused on in academics, in academia really, but if you're writing even for the internet, learning how to reference properly, learning how to include others' works properly in your work, can be extremely valuable. So try that out. It's a big topic, it's a difficult topic, but learning how to use references can really help you improve your writing.
So those are 10 ways to help you improve your writing. I hope that there were some useful tips in there for you. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to let us know in the description. No! Not the description. Okay, I'll try that again. Okay, so those are 10 ways that you can hopefully improve your writing. I hope that those were useful for you. If you have any questions or comments, please let us know in the comment section below this video. Thanks very much for watching this episode of Top Words and I will see you again soon. Bye!