Essays, biographies, reflections, memoirs, compositions, reactions, articles, researches — writing papers for school is something we can never seem to escape. The strange thing however, is that no matter how many times you have written papers for school, you still seem to be getting those red marks with circles and strikethroughs every now and then. There seems to be certain words and phrases that English teachers just do not like seeing. Avoiding these things may not ensure you that A+ mark for your paper, but it will definitely improve your writing skills and lessen your red-marked mistakes. Here are a few of them:
REDUNDANT PHRASES (and also, actual facts, anonymous stranger, desirable benefit, merge together)
Although it is sometimes your final plea to reach that word count or required page number, English teachers do not recommend resorting to redundancy. This includes adding extra words and phrases to your sentences. Professors do notice the difference between lengthy and substantial papers.
IMPROPER USES (its VS it’s; your vs you’re)
This has been taught since grade school but some are still guilty of committing the mistake of interchanging contractions and possessive pronouns. English teachers always ask students to remember that “it’s” is a shortcut for “it is.” Also, “you’re” is a contraction for “you are”. The key is to familiarize yourself with the uses of the words. Always cross-check your work for possible unintended errors.
WEAK ADJECTIVES (short, big, tall, meaningful)
The English language is rich with various adjectives at your disposal. Be wise in picking which adjectives to use at which parts of your paper. It is better to use stronger adjectives especially when you are trying to create an impact or get a point across. For example, instead of using common adjectives like angry, beautiful or worried, you can instead use furious, exquisite or anxious. At the same time however, be cautious of using too much “big” words that you might seem like you are showing off when it is unnecessary.
CONTRACTIONS (don’t, aren’t, should’ve, can’t, I’m, you’re)
For English teachers, this is a big no when you are writing formal papers. Complete the words such as do not, are not, should have, cannot, I am, and you are. For personal or not-so-formal papers however, it might be okay to use these. If you are unsure whether it is preferred or not, the safe choice is to just avoid using contractions in your school papers.
SLANG WORDS (gonna, wanna, kinda, lemme, outta)
The reason why English teachers do not like seeing these words on your paper is simple: these are not real words. Colloquial language is sometimes forgivable when speaking, but never try to put it in writing for school. Always be formal and use words that are actually in the dictionary.
Literally and Ironically
Currently, these words are used too loosely in conversations that their actual meanings are already forgone. Use these terms only if you are sure that you are using them correctly. Literally is used as an adverb for something that did/can happen. “I can literally touch the stars.” is not a correct statement.
RUN-ON EXPRESSION (and so on, etc)
Using run-on expressions on your school papers gives the impression that you got lazy or are not capable of thinking of more. What you can do instead, is provide one more example and end the sentence with that. (Ex: Businesses today use more communication channels like the radio, television, newspaper, etc. à Businesses today make use of more communication channels such as the radio, television, newspapers, and the internet.)
Firstly, Secondly, Thirdly
When trying to make multiple statements, number your points with “first, second, third…”, and not with these adverbial forms. You can also explore other ways of saying it by using transitional words like furthermore, besides, moreover, and similarly.
Suppose to, Use to
Although the “d” sound is at times omitted when these phrases are spoken, you should not forget that the correct terms are “supposed to” and “used to”. It is a very simple yet common mistake to commit.
These are just some of the things that you should avoid or limit when writing your school papers. Other tips include expanding your vocabulary, improving your grammar, revising your drafts, and developing skills to make your output more concise and substantial. As a student, you are bound to write more essays, so just remember to keep these tips in mind and remember to listen to your favorite English teacher this Teacher’s Month.