Four little tips this week (skip to number four if you’re in a hurry and about to write a test):
1) Changing the tried-and-true word order adds life to your prose.
If you (as many students do) write “however” several times in your essays, switch it occasionally to the second position:
“However, I do not use the word too often.”
“My brother, however, has serious issues with ‘however.'”
Similarly, instead of writing “such as” all the time, try something like this:
“In my spare time I watch such cartoons as ‘Tom and Jerry,’ ‘The Smurfs,’ and ‘South Park.'”
2) Here’s one that you all know but that native speakers are forgetting. (Taken from a Toronto Star article.)
“The Canadians sleepwalked through the first period and trailed by two goals against the Slovenians who came ready to compete.”
Hmmm. Was the Canadian hockey team somehow leading against a second Slovenian team that did not come “ready to compete”? Were there two Slovenian teams on the ice?
3) Put your name on your essays. Half – got that? HALF!!! – of the essays I have received as e-mail attachments over the past two weeks had no name.
4) If you have the option of choosing questions on a test (e.g. “Answer four of the following five questions.”), do not answer more than you have to. If I ask for seven answers, I grade the first seven given. Not more.
A good test-taker might write answers for nine (instead of seven), then cross out the ones that sound weakest.
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