21 alternative verbs to describe speaking

alternative verbs to say

alternative verbs to sayThere are many verbs in English that describe speech. If you want to describe a conversation in a more dynamic way, you can choose verbs with more specific meanings than “to say”, which simply means to speak. This is useful if you want to create a varied narrative, in writing, or if you just want to add more variety and depth to your speech. For example, instead of “He said,” we might say “He exclaimed,”, “He noted,” or “He interjected,” – all to describe something that was said, but in a different manner. Here is a quick list of alternatives you can use, with explanations and examples: Continue reading “21 alternative verbs to describe speaking”

How to use the past perfect to build narratives

past perfect narrative usesFollowing on from my article about using the past perfect to demonstrate sequences, let’s look at how it can build an effective narrative. The past perfect can help create atmosphere, feeding new information into a narrative at more flexible times. Continue reading “How to use the past perfect to build narratives”

Creating past event sequences with the past perfect

past perfect sequencesTo give a little structure to the different examples of past tenses uses I’ve highlighted in some of my narrative articles, here’s a quick explanation of how the past perfect can be used to create past event sequences (adapted from The English Tenses Practical Grammar Guide). Continue reading “Creating past event sequences with the past perfect”

The Past Tenses in Narrative Use – Comparative Examples (1)

past tenses comparative narrative

past tenses comparative narrativeAs the many uses of the different aspects of English can make choosing between the different tenses confusing, it may help to look at specific narrative texts or sections of English dialogue and analyse why the writer or speaker chooses different tenses. To help demonstrate the different uses of the past tense, the following short paragraph has numbered sentences, and a full explanation of why each clause is in that tense: Continue reading “The Past Tenses in Narrative Use – Comparative Examples (1)”

What are simple, compound and complex sentences?

simple compound and complex sentences

simple compound and complex sentencesSimple sentences are formed in English containing an independent clause that forms a grammatically complete action, event or idea. A simple sentence should have a complete noun and verb relationship with any necessary additional information. To make writing more interesting, and lively, English speakers do not onlyuse simple sentences, however. Simple sentences on their own can seem immature, or develop a stop-start rhythm.

We also have combinations of clauses, which can form compound or complex sentences – for longer sentences with more than one verb. These can be used to add variety, and flow, to writing. They can also express more complicated, and connected, ideas.  It is important to develop an understanding for these different types of sentence structure, to write in a more complex, varied, and natural manner. Continue reading “What are simple, compound and complex sentences?”

How to write formal sentences using the passive voice

formal sentences passive voice

formal sentences passive voiceFormal, or polite, sentences often use the passive voice because it sounds more impersonal and neutral. Active sentences, on the other hand, can seem personal, or direct, which can sound too casual or too aggressive. Consider the following active sentences, and how they might be interpreted:

  • You must do something to change this. (Personal threat)
  • We will mark the exams this weekend. (Personal action)

Continue reading “How to write formal sentences using the passive voice”

Writing email subject lines – exercise

email subject exerciseThis exercise will test your use of the tips offered in the previous lesson, . Below, I have given you 9 possible email summaries, explaining the contents of a complete email. These become increasingly complicated. For each email summary, write an email subject line that presents only the important information, in a clear and concise way. Remember to cut out unimportant words and lead with the most important information. Continue reading “Writing email subject lines – exercise”

How to write informative email subject lines

writing email subject linesInformative email subject lines must be short and descriptive. It is a challenge to be noticed in someone’s inbox, so make sure your business and information emails get straight to the point and highlight important information, without being dramatic or appearing like adverts. People are familiar with (and tired of) marketing emails, and “showy” language is often associated with advertising. Your subjects should therefore be frank, lead with important details and be free of unnecessary words or ideas. Continue reading “How to write informative email subject lines”

How to write dates in British and American English

writing dates in EnglishCalendar dates can be written in a wide variety of ways in English, and often depend on formal or informal writing, personal style and whether you are writing British or American English. Whatever the format, in British English, dates are usually written in the order day – month – year , while in American English they are written month – day – year. Here are some common ways to write dates for each: Continue reading “How to write dates in British and American English”

Writing an article: a step-by-step guide

writing an articleArticles can vary in length, and topic, but all should follow a logical structure. Though they may take many forms, the purpose is usually to inform or to entertain (often both), and this means following a similar pattern. Whether you’re writing an essay arguing two sides of a debate, narrating the history of a topic or reporting an event, the following tips can help students of English plan and write an effective article: Continue reading “Writing an article: a step-by-step guide”