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Language Skills

What is a Dangling Participle and How to Avoid It?

‘A dangling modifier is a phrase (or clause) out of place, as a weed is a plant out of place, making a mess of the garden.’ This is one of the most commonly encountered errors in editing: the dangling modifier. As Treddinick suggests, it truly does make a mess of writing. This article explores the […]

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What are conventions?

A helpful definition for those wanting to know what Language conventions are: Language conventions are basically different ways the writer uses and manipulates language to encourage the audience to view something in a certain way. Descriptive language conventions Imagery When the writer creates a very clear picture of something in your head, to make the […]

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Verb Forms: Nuanced Explanation

Did you know that ‘swum’ and ‘swam’ are both correct forms of the verb ‘swim’? This article explains how to use irregular verbs, such as ‘swim’, correctly as their role in a sentence changes. This article explores the tricky transformations of verbs as they move from plain form, to past tense form, to past participle […]

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The Difference Between “Practice” and “Practise”

The number of homophones in the English language is one of the reasons English is such a complex language. Homophones are words that sound the same but have different meanings. This series aims to explain the difference between a few of the most commonly confused words in academic writing. We’ll even share some of our […]

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Proper Apostrophes Usage Rules

This article will outline the use for this mark of punctuation: indicating possession or ownership. The second use of an apostrophe is to denote ownership or possession. This one becomes a bit trickier, especially where plurals are involved. After you read the article, you might also wish to watch a video in which Dr. Lines […]

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How to Avoid Common Language in Academic Writing

Academic writing demands a formal tone characterized by careful language choices to convey ideas to readers as precisely and unambiguously as possible. Colloquial language, defined as language that is “normally restricted to informal (especially spoken) English” (Burchfield, 2004), does not satisfy this need for exactness of expression. Instead, as Pam Peters (2007) says of colloquialisms, […]

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How Not To Confuse “Affect” And “Effect” Words

This next instalment in our “Commonly Confused Words” series aims to demystify “affect” and “effect”. Often used interchangeably, “affect” and “effect” are widely misunderstood and misused. As always, we will provide definitions and helpful examples to clarify these terms. For our definitions, we use the Macquarie Dictionary — the authority on Australian English spelling. “Affect” […]

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