Monday, June 13, 2016

Switching Sentence Parts Around to Improve Your Writing Style

One of the keys to good writing is sentence variety and one easy way to achieve greater variety in your writing is to switch sentence parts around.

English sentences, as you may have noticed, are made up of blocks.

Or we could say: English sentences are made up of blocks, as you may have noticed.

Or we could say: As you may have noticed, English sentences are made up of blocks.

Let’s look at this sentence structure:

                Pete went to Japan to learn Judo.

The clause ‘to learn Judo’ explains why Pete went to Japan. We can move it to the front of the sentence:

                To learn Judo, Pete went to Japan.

Now we have a more sophisticated sentence structure! Let’s see a couple more examples:

                I need more eggs to make this cake.
                To make this cake, I need more eggs.

                They offered discounts to attract customers.
                To attract customers, they offered discounts.

We can use the same trick with ‘in order to’:

                They offered discounts in order to attract more customers.
                In order to attract more customers, they offered discounts.

We can also use this technique with certain sentences with FOR:

                Pete went to the Bahamas for a break from his work.
                For a break from his work, Pete went to the Bahamas.

                Jennifer bought some mackerel for her fish pie.
                For her fish pie, Jennifer bought some mackerel.

Finally, we can do this with prepositional phrases:

The birds were singing in the trees.
In the trees, the birds were singing.

There was a fight at the stadium.
At the stadium, there was a fight. 

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Exercise: Avoiding repetition

In English writing, repetition is considered to be a bad style. Look at the following example:

Bad:  We look forward to your participation when you participate in the event.
Good:   We look forward to having you participate in the event.

Can you improve on these sentences?

1 Janice went to the beach, but the beach was cold and windy.
2 I like my job because it is an easy job.
3 Fish is not only tasty, but fish also helps your brain.
4 The dust made the air really dusty.
5 I like chocolate because the taste is really tasty.
6 The teacher teaches us many things.
7 On my travels I traveled to Rome, Milan and Palermo.
8 I have not yet decided on my decision.
9 I spent my holiday in Timbuktu. Timbuktu is a city in Mali.
10 I signed up for a Spanish course. The Spanish course lasts three weeks.

Monday, June 06, 2016

Conversation Worksheet: Talking Money

Teachers, here is a great conversation worksheet for introducing the topic of money.

It includes vocab, reading of people's opinions and a long discussion section. There is also a follow-up on some of the grammar points.

Download it here:

Thursday, June 02, 2016

Practise IELTS Vocabulary

Getting ready for the IELTS exam?

Here is an activity where learners can practise 570 words that have been identified as important for the IELTS exam. You need to recognise them in the listening and reading sections and it is good to use them in the speaking and writing sections.

In this activity, you'll be tested on 10 words at a time and you'll have the chance to review the definitions after each set of ten.

Try it here:

New Quiz: YOUR and YOU'RE

There is another new quiz on Road to Grammar on the topic YOUR and YOU'RE - many learners - and even native speakers - mix up these two ...