Here are some tips to help you with English composition:
- In the words of George Orwell, ‘Never use a long word when a short one will do.’
- Keep your sentences short and well-punctuated, not long and convoluted.
- Omit unnecessary words. There are a number of phrases in the English language that can be replaced with simple words to convey the same meaning; this should be done whenever possible. For example, the clause This is a matter which... can just as easily be written as This matter.
- Try to stick to the active voice, rather than the passive.
The above points can be condensed into one golden rule of writing: keep it simple.Good writing is not about complexity; it is about conveying your message to the reader. Which leads us to the next rule:
- Keep the readership in mind while writing.
- Avoid being overly formal. It is impersonal.
- Avoid multiple negatives. They often invert the intended meaning, and are difficult to untangle.
- Make the verb agree with the subject, not with a word in between the two.
For example, The bus, with all its passengers, were about to overturn is wrong, because here the subject is the singular ‘cart’, not the plural ‘passengers’. Hence, it should be The bus, with all its passengers, was about to overturn.
- Use commas to bracket those parts of the sentence that would otherwise obstruct its flow, but do not use commas to join independent clauses. The proper punctuation mark to use in this case is the semicolon.