Writing is an important skill to develop, especially if you are going to use English in the workplace or university; making sure your grammar is as accurate as possible is one way to communicate your message clearly and leave a positive impression on the reader. Here are my top 5 tips for improving your use of grammar in your writing:
- Consider the Style
What is the purpose of your writing? Who is the audience?
You need to consider these questions because they will affect the grammatical structures you will use. For example, if you are writing a report for university, you will need an impersonal style that can be achieved through use of the passive voice; the use of tentative language is also a feature of academic English.
It is suggested that the participants in the study may not have been entirely truthful about their experiences.
In an academic context, this sounds better than this:
I don’t think the participants in the study were truthful about their experiences.
It’s a good idea to read model texts online or in a book and observe how the choice of grammar is linked to the style.
- Draft, Review, Edit
The great thing about developing writing is that, unlike with speaking, we usually have time to formulate our ideas, write them down and then re-write.
In your first draft, try to focus on the purpose of your writing rather than the accuracy: if you just focus on the grammar, other important areas such as vocabulary, coherence and cohesion may be neglected.
Review what you’ve written and begin the editing process. It’s always a good idea to take a break and come back to do the final draft another time if possible.
- Get Constructive Feedback
Ask a friend or teacher to check your work. It can be demotivating to get back a piece of work covered in corrections but try to see mistakes as opportunities to learn! Make sure you understand their feedback and ask for clarification if needed: it is important to understand not just what the correct form should be, but also why, so you are less likely to make the mistake again.
- Make a Checklist
Notice any mistakes you keep making in your writing and compile a checklist you can use during the editing process of future texts.
- Subject and verb must agree
- Use contracted forms in informal writing
- Don’t use present perfect with ‘ago’
- Practice, Practice, Practice
Repetition is probably the most effective way of committing new language and skills to the long-term memory. If you always have trouble using the present perfect, for example, do plenty of practice exercises (you could ask a teacher or buy a grammar practice book) and make sure you think about each one carefully. It is also important to get lots of writing practice so you can bring together the grammar with other aspects such as vocabulary, spelling, coherence and cohesion.
Finally, be patient with yourself: writing is a skill like any other that needs time to develop. Getting stressed and worried can create a barrier to learning so try to enjoy the process and celebrate every step forward along the way!