English for Everybody - Writers' corner
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A Practical Guide to Writing Good English

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Introduction

Who is Writers' corner for? Have you ever needed to impress someone with your writing? Do you need to produce good essays for your studies, or good reports for your work? Have you ever written a letter or posted a comment on a forum, and worried that your text did not 'seem right'? Maybe you keep a blog, write reports for your club or class newspaper, or get involved in online discussions. In fact almost everyone needs to be able to write well on occasion, and almost everyone would like to write well even when they don't really need to.

What do you mean by 'good English'? Good written English is mostly invisible. It is the means by which the writer communicates an idea to the reader. If the reader can concentrate completely on the idea and does not need to concentrate on the words, then the text is written in good English. If the writer's words get in the way of the meaning, then the text is not well written.

Why do we need good English? More particularly, why is it important to write in good English? The answer is that good English is not important on many occasions. When writing a quick note to yourself or a friend, you may not need to pay much attention to what you are writing. Nevertheless, there are times when well-written English can make an important difference. In fact is is a good rule that the more important the occasion, the better your written English should be.

Good English makes a good impression, and just as importantly, bad English makes a bad impression. Someone you have never met will judge you by your written English. If your sentences are disorganized, this suggests that you are a disorganized person. If your grammar is poor, this gives the impression that your education has also been poor. If you have bad spelling and punctuation, this tells the reader that you don't care enough to get it right.

How will this course help? Writing well is a skill that can be learned, just like driving a car or learning to paint. This does not mean that every driver becomes an expert, or every painter a Picasso, but you can nevertheless learn to do it well - or at the very least, to avoid embarrassing yourself when you try.

Over the coming weeks we will look at different types of English composition - essays, letters, reports and creative writing. We will also examine how to plan a text and how to organize paragraphs and sentences. We will look at the issue of style, and what vocabulary is appropriate in different situations. Common problems with writing will be discussed. The best way to do this course is to start at the beginning and work through it. However, as we complete each section, it will be listed in the menu so you can jump to a particular part if you need to.

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