The Passive Voice

Let’s imagine you’re writing an essay about your favourite writer. You might decide to begin by mentioning your favourite of his books, like so:

George Orwell wrote Nineteen Eighty-Four in 1949.

Now, let’s imagine you’re writing an essay about your favourite novel. A logical start would be to mention who wrote it, like so:

Nineteen Eighty-Four was written by George Orwell in 1949.

What’s the difference between these two sentences? I’m sure you’ll agree that both contain the same information. But the focus is different, isn’t it? In the first we’re focussing on the writer, and in the second, on the novel. And we change focus by changing focus – between the active voice and the passive voice.

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A Blogger’s Style Guide

Following on logically from yesterday, I thought it’d make sense to provide a general style guide for writing blog posts. As I said yesterday, you can feel free to do your own thing, especially as there are different conventions for doing certain things. I just want to write about what works for me, and should produce writing that’s easy to read and intelligible. If you want something more detailed, have a look at the many respected style guides online such as APA, MLA, Chicago, and Oxford (which I think is the one that’s accessible and logical for most people). If you’ve already got used to a particular style guide from university, then of course feel free to stick to that. Continue reading

How to Write a Title for Your Blog Post

This is something that occurs to me now and then: what are the conventions for writing a title, specifically a blog title, which will be most relevant for most of you reading this. It mainly occurs to me while I’m writing my own titles and thinking about whether I should capitalise a word or not.

The first thing to be aware of is that these are just guidelines. If you’re writing an academic work, then you have to respect the style guide of the institution where you’re studying. But for blog posts, there’s no body issuing guidelines, so you can do what you want. That being said, I find following the general rules for writing titles of essays, articles etc. works well for blog posts too. So let’s get into it. Continue reading

Way Cool!

There are two quite contrasting, yet equally fascinating aspects of the English language. One, is the sheer variety of words and phrases one can use to refer to the same thing, each adding a slight difference in meaning or tone. And the other is the sheer utility of some words, which can be used with a variety of meanings. Some of these words are so common that we don’t even think of how many ways in which we use them.

Take the word way, for example. Continue reading

Me Fail English? That’s Unpossible!

In recent years, some news stories have emerged from Australia of would-be Irish immigrants failing the English test required for entrance, the IELTS General-Training exam.

One of the most common responses to such stories is to laugh: Ha, serves them right, how can they not even pass a basic English test if they’re English speakers!

But the situation is a little more complex than that.

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