My TOP 5 Writing Tips (for all levels)

{“en”:”Hello. My name is Emma, and in today’s video I am going to teach you some great writing tips. These tips are for both academic writing and non-academic writing. Okay? So it’s for writing in general. Now, this video is going to be in two parts, because I have so many tips, so I’m going to give five tips in this video and five tips in the next video. Okay, so let’s get started. So, there are so many different ways… Or so many different types of writing we do in our lives; we write emails, we write essays if we’re a student, we might write a Facebook post, or we might write a resume or a cover letter.

So it’s very important to develop your writing skills because you will be writing throughout your life a lot. So let’s look at my first tip. My first tip is: It’s very important to think about the genre of what you’re writing. “Genre” is a very fancy word that pretty much means type. So, a genre of writing might be an essay, or it might be a cover letter, or an email, or a tweet. These are all different genres, and each one of these has a different expectation on what you should include and how you should write it. So it’s very important, first step is: Know the genre or know the type, and know what is expected of you.

Also important in this is knowing your audience, or thinking about your audience. So, for example, if you write an email, the language you’re going to use and the way you’re going to write will be different if you write an email to your friend versus an email to your boss. So it’s important to think about: “Who are you writing to?” because this is going to help you decide what to write and how to write it.

Same with, you know, if you are on Twitter and you write a tweet, or on Facebook a Facebook post, you know, it’s important to think about your audience. You know, are you writing this post for friends to see, or is this a post your boss might see, or members of the public? You know, and that could be a problem. So it’s important to think about, especially with this and on other social media, too: Audience. Who will see this and what will they think about it, and what are their expectations? You know, some people work for companies where they’re responsible for social media, so it’s important, too, the type of wording they use when they’re writing on Facebook. If you work at a company and you’re writing for your company, it’s going to be different than if you’re writing for your friends. Same with an essay. An essay has a certain structure, you know, it’s supposed to be a certain amount of pages, it has a certain organization to it, and so knowing what’s expected of you when you write an essay will help you because it’s going to be very different than, for example, a Facebook post.

Same with in business, business reports. Understanding the format of a business report is important if this is something you’re going to be writing, and thinking about your audience. Same with executive summaries, which is a type of thing businesspeople write. If you’re not in business you might not ever write one of these, but if you are in business you need to realize that audience is important because professionals are going to be reading this, and these people are busy, so, you know, knowing your audience and knowing what is expected of you is the very first step to good writing. Let’s look at some other tips. Okay, so we’ve talked about genre or the type of writing you’re doing, and part of this is knowing the expectations for how long what you write should be.

Okay? So you want to know a bit about length expectations before you start writing. This is really important, especially in university where you often have a number of pages you’re allowed to write. It’s important, you know, in the workplace because sometimes, you know, you can’t write a lot. And it’s important, you know, on Twitter because you have a certain number of characters you can use. So length is very important because that’s going to help you decide what to include in your writing. Okay, so let’s look at this a bit more.

When I was younger I used to think long, meaning a lot of writing, was always better, but this is not the case. You know, the more you write, maybe you can include more detail, but a lot of the times the person or your audience who’s reading what you write does not have a lot of time, and so they don’t want to read long pieces of work. Okay? So it’s important to know expectations.

So, for example, I have here the word “short” and “long”, and so this is kind of like the scale. If you write a tweet it’s going to be something short; a Facebook post might be a little bit longer; a paragraph, you might write something like five sentences if in school you have to write a paragraph on something; an email might be a little bit longer than this; a cover letter you might use a full page; a resume maybe you might use two pages but nothing more; and then you might write an essay which might be 5 pages, 10 pages, depending; and then maybe a report which might be 50 pages-who knows?-depending on what’s expected.

So my main point here is that different types of writing have different expectations with length, and it’s really important to follow those expectations. For students who are writing the TOEFL or the IELTS, you only can use a certain number of words, so this is very important for you to know and to really think about. How are you going to get your message across using the right amount of words? This is a key word we often talk about in good writing, and that’s “concise”.

So when you are concise, it means you say something with as few words as possible, but still getting the meaning across. So you are communicating your idea, but you’re doing it in a short way, as short as you can while still keeping the idea there. So, in different cultures you have different rules about this. In some cultures longer is better. In English-speaking cultures usually we really want to get to the point, so we want something to be… We want to communicate our idea, but we want it to be in a concise way, so using our words very carefully so we don’t use too many words.

So main point here: Know how long something you’re writing should be, and paying attention to this when you write. All right? Now let’s look at my next tip. Okay, so my third point might be one of the most important points in this lesson, and that is: When you write something, very important to plan or to think about what you will say before you write it. This is something a lot of people don’t do because they’re busy, they feel like they don’t have a lot of time, or you know, they just don’t have any ideas.

And the thing is, though, that this will really help improve your writing. Okay? And it doesn’t matter what you’re writing; planning out an email can be important, just like planning out an essay can be important. So let’s think about some ways we can plan out what we want to write. There are… There are different ways to do this. Some people like to make a plan by brainstorming. So, for example, imagine you were writing a paragraph about cats, so you might have your subject or your key idea here, and then you might think about: “Okay, what’s something about cats? Hmm. They make great pets”, and then you might write some stuff about that. Maybe they’re quiet, so they make a good pet. They’re cheap.

Okay? And so the thing is just getting out your ideas. Okay? And then you can organize your ideas better. Or maybe, you know, you’re thinking: “Okay, cats, they eat food. What kind of food do they eat?” So you can do the same thing with reports. You can think about: “Okay, what’s the main ideas that I need to talk about in this report?” You know, where you just kind of brainstorm in advance. I usually do that when I write reports, and I find it very helpful actually, just to get my ideas down on paper, and then I organize them. So, this is one method. Another thing you can do is you can just write down everything, just like this, with a dash. So, for example, if I was writing about cats in a paragraph, I might just start thinking…

Writing anything I think: “Quiet, cute, Grumpy Cat”, okay? And I might just write down all the ideas I have. Now, of course, you’re probably not writing an essay or a paragraph on cats; you’re probably writing something very different, but the idea is the same. Okay? The idea being it’s important to plan, and these are different, great ways to get out your ideas, and to think about them before you actually write. Sometimes if you’re writing an essay you might think in advance about your thesis or what your…

The main topic and the main argument of your essay is going to be. So, for example, cats are better than dogs. Maybe that’s something I want to argue in an essay. And then I might organize based on ideas, so I might write, you know, my first main idea: “They’re cleaner”, and then I might put some details about that. My second main idea is that they’re great for apartments, and then I might write some examples or some reasons why. So, my main point is all of these can work. Find what’s… What helps you in terms of planning. There’s many different ways to plan what you’re going to write, but the most important thing is to plan and to take some time to think about what you want to say in advance, because it will really help your writing. And it’s very obvious when somebody hasn’t planned what they’re going to write, because everything’s disorganized and it’s hard to follow. Planning makes it easier for the audience to understand you. Now let’s look at another tip for how to write better. Okay, so remember I said that it’s very important to think about the type of writing you’re doing, and your audience or who’s going to read it? One of the reasons why this is important is because depending on the type of writing, you’re going to write either in a formal way or an informal way.

Okay? And I’ll explain why this is important to know and how it affects your writing. So first let’s talk about what that means. Well, when you write something formally, this means that we choose certain words and certain types of sentences, and we write a certain way, and we write this way because our audience or the people who are going to read this are usually people from work so we want to be professional, so we write formally when we’re being professional. We might write this way to strangers or customers.

Okay? If we work somewhere and we need to write an email, we might use this type of language, formal language. And we also use formal language in high school, in university, in college when we’re writing for an assignment or for our homework, or something that our teacher or professor will read. Okay? So we use formal writing mainly in work settings and in academic or school settings. Now, this is different from informal writing. Informal writing is the type of writing you will be doing with your friends, so maybe for example a text message, that’s informal; you might use this type of writing when you’re talking to children or writing something for children; and also on social media, so if you write a tweet or a Facebook post, usually you’ll be using informal language; and also with your family, too, you usually use informal language.

So, I have here some examples of genres or types of writing that you might use the formal version or the informal version. So, under formal we have essays, if you do that at university or high school, it would be formal; a cover letter, if you want to get a job and you have to write a cover letter then this is going to be formal language you use; a report, if you work at a company and you have to write reports, you’ll be using formal language; or emails to customers you’ll be using formal language. And there’s a lot more; this is just some examples. For informal, if you write a postcard to your family you’ll be using informal language; a text message would be informal; an email to your friend you would use informal language; or maybe a birthday card.

Okay? So it’s important to think in advance what kind of language you’re going to use. Okay, so how can we make something formal or informal with our language? There’s a couple of ways to do this. The first thing you need to think about is the words you’re going to use or your vocabulary. So, different words either fit into the formal category or informal category. So, for example, if we were talking about a lot of something and we want to be informal, we might use the word “lots”. So this is an example of an informal word: “lots”; we’d use this with our friends. If we want to be a bit more formal, we’re writing, you know, at the university level, we might use the word “many”; this word is formal, whereas “lots” is more informal. Okay? Or same with if we’re writing an email and at the very end of the email we sign our name, we usually say something like “From”, but we don’t use the word “From”.

We can say “Cheers” if we’re writing an email, we can say, you know: “Cheers. Emma”, this would be informal. Or if, you know, we’re in a business and we need to be more serious and formal, we might say something like: “Regards” or “Kind regards”. Same with different words, like: “Sorry”. “Sorry” is a little bit more informal, whereas the word “apologize” is more formal. So, it’s very important when you’re choosing your words because a lot of words fit either into this category or this category, and some words fit into both. It’s good to know the level of formality for the words you’re using. Now, if you’re having a lot of trouble with this and you’re thinking: “How am I going to know if the word is formal or informal?” There’s a quick tip you can try; it doesn’t always work, but in general, longer words in English are often more formal.

So, the longer words are usually in this category. It’s not always the case, but just if you really don’t know, it’s a good way to guess. And they’re usually… They come from Latin. So, for anyone who’s watching who’s from France, from Spain, or South America, or Italy, or who speaks a Latin-based language, if you have a word that’s similar in your language, it probably is a formal word in English or it’s probably something you can use in a formal setting. Okay? So usually the shorter words are the more informal words. So now let’s look at some other ways we can look at formality; formal versus informal. Okay, so when we’re talking about formal and informal writing, another thing to think about is contractions. So, what’s a contraction? A contraction is a short form of a pronoun, like: “I”, “you”, “he”, “she”, “we”; and usually part of a verb, like: “am”, “would”, “will”. So, the short form is, in this example: “I am” becomes “I’m”. “I’m” is a contraction. Or: “you would” can become “you’d”, and that’s a contraction.

“We will” becomes “we’ll” for short, and that’s a contraction. So, contractions have an apostrophe here, and it’s where some of the parts of this word we just remove and so it becomes “will”. So, these contractions, and there’s many in English, we use them in informal writing. So if you’re texting someone, if you’re writing an email to a friend – this will make you sound more informal. Now, compare this to if you’re writing an essay or a thesis at university, or you’re writing a report – we don’t want to use contractions because these are informal. So, if we’re writing something formal, we would use something more like this; we do not use contractions for formal writing. Okay? So that’s another reason why we need to know what we’re writing in advance, because we want to decide if we’ll use contractions or not. My next point is about sentence types and sentence lengths. When we’re talking about formal versus informal, you’ll find things that are usually informal are short.

We usually use shorter sentences. And in formal writing, you’ll find sentences tends to be longer. Okay? So, we can call this… For informal we can talk about simple sentences, for example, a simple sentence: “Students are stressed.” It’s a short sentence that if you know about clauses, it only has one clause; if you don’t know about clauses, don’t worry. The point is it’s shorter. Now, compare this to something more complex. “When a student begins university, they often report feeling stressed.” This is more of a complex sentence, it’s longer, and you’ll notice there’s a comma in the middle of it breaking it up into two clauses; and again, if you don’t understand clauses, that’s okay. The main point here is this, complex or longer is usually in formal writing, whereas simple structures or simple sentences are more informal. And again, you know, it’s not always the case, but in general you’ll find longer sentences or more complex sentences are more formal.

You’ll also find informal writing we use relative clauses more. So, if you don’t know what a relative clause is, that’s okay. These are, for example, they use the word: “who”, “which”, “that”, “when” within the sentence. So, an example of a relative clause would be: “Jane Goodall, who works with chimpanzees, is a wonderful woman.” So, if you don’t know about relative clauses, I recommend looking this up. In this video we don’t have enough time to talk about them, but they can really help your writing, especially if you’re writing something in a formal situation. All right, now let’s look at some more tips on how to improve our writing. Okay, so the last thing I’m going to say about formal writing versus informal writing, and I’m talking a lot about this because it’s actually a very important part of writing, is I’m going to talk a little bit about slang, swear words, exaggeration words, and text words, and when to use them. So, slang, it’s words we use with our friends, words like: “cool”, I was going to say “groovy” but nobody says that anymore, so, you know, there’s all sorts of different types of slang.

It’s a word that’s very popular or an expression that’s popular, but it’s not a formal expression. So, “cool” is a really good one, or “awesome”: “That’s awesome”. So, slang we use informally. Same with swear words. Okay? So if you say a bad word, you know, sometimes you might say something to your friend, you might use different swear words when you talk to your friends, hopefully not with strangers, but with people you know well, but you would not use swear words in a formal writing situation. So maybe you might use it in a text, but you wouldn’t use it in a formal writing situation. Also exaggeration words.

What’s an exaggeration word? “Very” is a good example. “He is very funny”, “She is very pretty”, “He is really handsome”, “He’s totally hot”, okay? So these types of words: “very”, “really”, “totally”, we usually save these for informal writing. So if you’re in university and you want to say something is “very”, don’t use the word “very”; there are better words, like, you know… There are a lot of other words you can use as opposed to these ones. Another thing I wanted to say is there’s a lot of words we use now, they’re short forms of words, like, for example: “lol” for “laugh out loud”, “b4” for “before”, “LMAO” for “laugh my ass off”, these are words we use informally.

Okay? We do not use these in formal writing, so it’s important in formal writing to always spell out the word correctly, to use proper spelling, and to avoid some of these words you might be seeing a lot on the internet or in text messaging or on Facebook. Okay, so we’ve covered about formal and informal writing. My last tip for this video is about the importance of using variety in what you’re writing. So what do I mean by “variety”? Well, sometimes when people write, they have certain words that they use again and again and again, and so there’s not a lot of variety in their choice of words. Or you might have somebody else who uses the same sentence structure; maybe they learned the present perfect and they love the present perfect because it took them forever to learn it, so now they use the present perfect in each sentence. So this is not good because we really want variety in what we write, because we want it to be interesting. If you use something too much, it makes what you’re writing look boring.

So, let’s look at an example. I have here a sentence: “Sales have increased. They have increased for many reasons. The increase is because people increasingly like spending money.” Can you tell me: Which word did I use too much? If you said “increase”, you’re correct. I used it one, two, three, four. Okay, so that’s too much in a piece of writing. There are a lot of other words we could be using instead of “increase”. We could be using, you know: “go up”, “rise”. There are a lot of other words. And if you’re not sure of another word for “increase”, a good idea is to check a thesaurus. There are a lot of online thesauruses that can help you add variety to your word choice. So if you make this kind of mistake where you reuse the same word again and again and again, try to learn some other words that have the same meaning. This will really help your writing and make it more interesting. The other thing I wanted to say is that we just talked about how you want variety in words. You also want variety in sentence types. So you want to make sure that, you know, sometimes you use long sentences, and sometimes you use short sentence, sometimes you use, you know, maybe words like: “although”, “when”, “despite”, “in spite of”, and sometimes you might have something a bit simpler.

So instead of reusing the same sentence type and the same sentence structure, try to use different tenses and different structures in the sentences you write. Yeah, so different tenses and try to have different sentence lengths. That will make your writing more interesting. So, thank you for watching this video. I know we covered a lot today, and I have a lot more writing tips coming soon. So, we’ve covered a lot and there’s a lot of things you can practice, so I invite you to come visit our website at www.engvid.com, and there, you can practice what you’ve learned today.

I also invite you to subscribe to my channel; there, you will find a whole bunch of other resources on different grammar points, you know, especially if you’re interested in how to add variety, different videos on vocabulary, on writing, on pronunciation, and all sorts of other topics. So I invite you to check that out. Thank you for watching; and until next time, take care.. “}

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