Sunday, April 8, 2012

learn to speak "academic". write a formal essay.

D - first of all, I'd like to warn you against learning the following words unless you need to. Using a word that is too advanced for your audience is a good way confuse and offend them.

My room-mate is in love with the word "penultimate", which means second last.
It takes longer to say than the latter. Almost no normal human being alive knows it. (I do cuz the 3rd last stressed syllable is called the "antepenult" - there!)
He used it conversationally with a Japanese fellow who can barely speak English. And everybody else. DON'T do this.

Perhaps you should learn this academic word list if you deal with academics in the Ivory Tower. They are likely less able to realize an appropriate level of vocabulary to use off their university campus.
Or if you are a new university student with poor English skills, particulary if you are enrolled in the a department that will require formal essay writing.

Headwords Other words in the family. Definition*

abandon abandoned, abandoning, abandonment, abandons, e.g. abandon
abstract abstraction, abstractions, abstractly, abstracts, e.g. abstract
academy academia, academic, academically, academics, academies, e.g. academy
access accessed, accesses, accessibility, accessible, accessing, inaccessible access
accommodate accommodated, accommodates, accommodating, accommodation accommodate
accompany accompanied, accompanies, accompaniment, accompanying, unaccompanied
accumulate accumulated, accumulating, accumulation, accumulates accumulate
accurate accuracy, accurately, inaccuracy, inaccuracies, inaccurate accurate


(D - great list of very basic tips on how to write an essay.)

1. Do NOT plagiarize.
(D - no, go ahead. It's rampant on campus - about 1/3 of essays are. A UW prof I know of even had a student hand in a copied essay... by that prof!!! Wow.)
(D- note that you must carefully cite ALL references.)
2) Always have a friend check your paper before giving it to the teacher.
3) Always put a space between lines so the teacher or a friend can make corrections.
4) Avoid personal "I", "you", and "we".
5) Avoid asking questions. Readers want answers!
6) Do NOT use contractions "it'll", "he's", "they've" etc.
7) Do NOT begin a sentence with numerals.
8) Always write out numerals under 10.
9) The word "recently" usually requires present perfect tense.
10) Write "most people, instead of the incorrect "most of people"
11) Avoid beginning a sentence with "because", "and" or "or."
12) Avoid the grammar "came to (be, understand, etc.) Use present perfect tense.
13) Use non-sexist language.(D - see the link for details.)
14) Do NOT use dialog (conversation) in a formal essay!
15) Do NOT use the expressions and so on or etc, Instead use such as.
16) Note that cannot is one word.
17) Do NOT write "Students are increasing." Instead, write "The number of students is increasing."
18) Indent every paragraph 5 spaces. (D - use tab.)


D - maybe you could simply learn to avoid making various rookie mistakes to avoid the embarrassment that results. I correct major publications all the time on this stuff.


Common Homophones List
The following list of 70 groups of homophones contains only the most common homophones, using relatively well-known words. These are headwords only. No inflections (such as third person singular "s" or noun plurals) are included.

air heir
aisle isle
ante- anti-
eye I
bare bear bear
be bee
brake break ...


The Most Common Errors
1. Affect vs. effect
2. Than vs. then
3. There vs. their vs. they're
4. Your vs. You're
5. Singular subjects perceived as plural - Agreement in number of subject and verb
6. The articles of speech - a, an and the.

(D - the no-brainer way to avoid many common errors is not to use apostrophes. For example, type "they ARE" instead of "they'RE". You ought to do so in a formal essay regardless!)


D - there are handful of dead giveaways of what I call "breeding" - by that I mean a blue or white collar past.

Good or Well

Good is an adjective and well is an adverb. Many people, including many native speakers, incorrectly use the adjective form good, rather than the adverb well.


I did good on the test. INCORRECT! - Correct form: I did well on the test.


D - another very common "breeding" mistake involves Anglo-Saxon derived strong and weak verbs. The single most obvious mistake involves "seen" versus "saw".
Very simply, if you use "have" in front, then you use "seen" after. "Saw" is simply past tense, as in "did see".

P.S.: Do NOT use punctuation like I do! I KNOW the period in the above sentence ought to be inside the second quotation mark, but I just DON'T like how it looks!


A verb that does not follow the usual rules for verb forms. Also known as a strong verb.

Verbs in English are irregular if they don't have a conventional -ed form (like asked or ended). Contrast with Regular Verb.

Carefully examine the main tenses of the following verbs:

Post (present), posted (past), posted (past participle)
Flee, fled, fled
Feel, felt, felt

In the first set, the vowel sound remains unchanged. You will have also noticed that the past and past participle forms are made by the addition of –ed to the present.

In the second set, the vowel sound changes, and –d is added. A verb which forms its past tense by adding –ed, -d or –t to the present tense, either with or without a change in the vowel sound, is called a weak verb.

Now look at the following examples:

Give (present), gave, (past), given (past participle)
Sit (present), sat (past), sat (past participle)

In the sets of examples given above, the vowel sound changes in the past tense, but no ending (like t, d, or ed) is added to the present as in the case of weak verbs.

A verb which forms its past tense by a change in the main vowel of the present tense and without the addition of any ending is called a strong verb


"If I had known about the party, I would have gone."(NOT "would have"!)

"He doesn’t care about me anymore." (NOT "He don't"!)

When you are viewing the movement of something from the point of arrival, use “bring”:
* "When you come to the party, please bring a bottle of wine."
When you are viewing the movement of something from the point of departure, use “take”:
* "When we go to the party, let’s take a bottle of wine."
(D - Okay, I didn't know that.)

These nouns are countable.
* "Ten items or fewer."
These nouns are uncountable.
* "You should eat less meat."
(D - I blame math class and that darn "<" "less than" symbol!)

A semicolon, rather than a comma, should be used to link these two complete sentences:
* "We were supposed to go to the dance last night; however, it was cancelled because of lack of interest."
It should be noted that there ARE situations in which you can use a comma instead of a semi-colon:
* "The match at Wimbledon, however, continued despite the bad weather."

* "I never would have/would’ve thought that he’d behave like that."
NOT: "He should of come with me."

Since 'not' is a negative, you cannot use 'nobody' in this sentence:
* "I'm not speaking to anybody in this class."
(D - this is another key sign of "breeding" - I think of it like math. Imagine cancelling out fractions or reducing math to simpler math by cancelling out prime #s.)

* "He has taken the train." (NOT: "has took"!)

* "I should have gone to school yesterday." (NOT: "should have went"! OK, I screw this up too.)

It’s is the contraction of It is:
* "It’s going to be sunny tomorrow." (D - again, just avoid apostrophes when possible.)


D - England versus America.

(D - being Canadian sucks at times like this. I see a mixture of American and British "proper" forms, and just end up confused as hell!)

British English (BrE) is the form of English used in the United Kingdom. It includes all English dialects used within the United Kingdom.
American English (AmE) is the form of English used in the United States. It includes all English dialects used within the United States.
Written forms of British and American English as found in newspapers and textbooks vary little in their essential features, with only occasional noticeable differences in comparable media[1] (comparing American newspapers with British newspapers, for example). This kind of formal English, particularly written English, is often called "standard English".
(D - plenty more!)


D - this one is more useful for fiction writing, but is a gold mine!

Commas and Periods
Question Marks and Exclamation Marks
Dashes and Ellipses
More Than One Paragraph of Dialogue
Punctuate Dialogue: Final tips

I will return to this website when I have more rest. This is terrific! I wish to begin writing fiction soon. This website will save me so many mistakes that editors would need to correct!

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