Writing English is as important as speaking the language. One does not have to become a veteran writer or an intellectual author, but basic English writing skills are required and preferred in almost every office job today. It is often seen that people learn to speak English very easily, but writing simple but grammatically correct English is an ordeal for many. Writing a simple, clear and error free piece in English needs constant practice. Here are some tips to help you with English composition:
1. In the words of George Orwell, ‘Never use a long word when a short one will do.’
2. Keep your sentences short and well-punctuated, not long and convoluted.
3. Omit unnecessary words. There are a number of phrases in the English language that can be replaced with simple words to convey the same meaning; this should be done whenever possible. For example, the clause This is a matter which...can just as easily be written as This matter.
4. Try to stick to the active voice, rather than the passive.
5. The above points can be condensed into one golden rule of writing:keep it simple.Good writing is not about complexity; it is about conveying your message to the reader, which leads us to the next rule:
6. Keep the readership in mind while writing. You need to know the type of people you are targeting. For instance, if you are writing a newsletter for a target audience that is not well read or highly qualified or won’t be able to understand complex English, then you must keep your language simple with small sentences and easy words.
7. Avoid being overly formal. It is impersonal.
8. Avoid multiple negatives. They often invert the intended meaning, and are difficult to untangle.
9. Make the verb agree with the subject, not with a word in between the two. For example, The bus, with all its passengers, were about to overturn is wrong, because here the subject is the singular ‘bus’’, not the plural ‘passengers’. Hence, it should be The bus, with all its passengers, was about to overturn.
10. Use commas to bracket those parts of the sentence that would otherwise obstruct its flow, but do not use commas to join independent clauses. The proper punctuation mark to use in this case is the semicolon.