India is a home for multilingual, multicultural, and pluralistic habitat. Apart from Hindi, English is the second language used for academic writing, interaction, and documentation. Although being a foreign language, English holds a unique position in academic writing. India is the second country after the US with the highest online users writing in English. My today's post is mainly focusing on Academic Writing for millennial India who are highly interactive on the internet in English language.
Before digging deep into the writing rules in English language, I want to tell you a short story. I belong to a non-artistic family. My grandfather was in the clothing business, my father is a government official and my brother is doing something in Flipkart. My mother is a domestic entrepreneur (of our home and our lives). You see, my brown family has nothing to do with writing as art or career in writing. And here I am, the spoiled brat who left her rich IT life to crumpy papers and inked pens. I blame it on my mother.
Why? Well, I am seeing her from my childhood reading literature, magazines, and novels. She has this giant storage box full of her 25 years old books. Watching my mother lying on the bed with a book in hand and lifting crossed legs upwards was an inspiration. I copied her state on the very first moment of my reading habit. I was so inspired y the first book that I thought of writing one by myself. It never happened (till now). But what happened was worth it. I transformed reading into writing.
Cutting it short, I started writing in English and Hindi. I usually follow Hindi for Poetry, Stories, and Prose. English is my primary language for the internet. From writing for clients to social media content, English is my emotional language. That's why I felt it worth sharing with you how you can make your way with all the rules and principles of writing in English.
What is Academic Writing?
The increasing use of English for creative expression and the adoption of it by writers has given rise to the notion of Indian English.
Braj Kachru, an Indian Linguist has made a study of Indian English, in his pager 'Indian English A study in Contextualization' back in 1986.
It says "In the spoken medium, Indian English by now established itself as an Indian variety of English. The Indian English writers have expressed their national identity and consciousness through their writings because of their incredible originality of the English language. "Their English is a trans-creation of the native speech of the characters who inhabit their imaginary world and breathe life into it."
To quote Prof. V K Gokak,
"English will continue to be the language of all-important trade and industry in the country for many years to come. It will take many years before it ceases to be the language of administration at higher levels".
So it is necessary to design our syllabus with an understanding of the four basic skills, listening, speaking, reading, and writing. These basic rules of writing are your way to go if you don't want to spend hours learning the ground rules of writing.
Expression of title in academic writing: Big Part & Small Part
Big Parts: titles of books, websites, encyclopedia volumes, newspapers, collections…
Small Parts: titles within a collection or book, chapter, poems, songs, articles…
Use of consistent verb tense: past, present, future
Read your prompt twice before submission and be sure you are following the proper tense. Switching tenses confuses the reader and the reading flow.
Use of transition words: At the beginning of the paragraph or sentence.
First, Afterwards, Then, Sometimes, Next, Even so, Finally, Usually, Now, Of course, So, etc.
Always use a comma after the transition word*
NEVER means NEVER- ever begin a sentence with And, But or Because.
The new line and indent: Begin your paragraph in the new line and indent.
4 most cliche and effective attention-getters:
Ask a question
Tell a story
Tell a joke
These are a part of introductions. Carry them in the very beginning of your sentence or paragraph.
Be your own reader: Read out loud your own writing to make sure you did not leave any word or idea behind.
Use of commas, colon, and semi-colons.
Apple, banana, and mangoes
My roommate gave me the things I needed most: companionship and quiet.
I bought shiny, ripe apples; small, sweet, juicy grapes;and firm pears.
Re-check punctuation( a small punctuation error changes the whole context).
For e.g. okay.
Do not repeat words and phrases.
Never use text codes or abbreviations – example: LOL; ; capt. NY NJ & If you're doing this lately, don't.
Rule of Clause: A clause is a group of words that contains both a subject and a verb.
I need a coffee.
When a dependent clause is the head of a complex sentence, always use a comma after the dependent clause.
When it is raining.
Use a comma before the coordinating conjunction in an independent clause.
RUN ON sentences and FRAGMENTS:
Run-on Sentence: when two or more independent clauses connects each other.
Ex: I love to write poems I would write one every day during bedtime
S-1: I love to write poems
S-2 I would write one every day during bedtime.
A comma splice is a common run-on sentence
Ex: I love to write poems, I would write one every day during bedtime
Fragment Sentence: String of words that do not form a complete sentence.
Ex: Shows no improvement in any of the vital signs.
Revised Sentence: The patient shows no improvement in any of the vital signs.
Use of Misspelled words: This is the common writing rule we all ignore.
Ex: Wenesday-Wednesday, mestirious-mysterious, playwrite-playwright, etc.
Use the correct homonym: The biggest annoying thing we see on the internet. People use 'you' and 'you are' like one word. I still don't understand how? Why? What made them do this? De
Form of the contraction: The apostrophe replaces the missing letters.
can’t, don’t, won’t, wasn’t, isn’t, wouldn’t, couldn’t haven’t, let’s, she’ll I’ll you’ll we’ve we’re they’re they’ll you’ve what’s where’s
Capitalize the names of people, places, and things are proper nouns including “I”. Also titles. (I know you know this, but pal! rules are rules)
Don't trip over “me” or “I”.
John and I received an award. He thanked Jen and me.
Type of statement:
Declamation - Statement
Interrogation - Question
Imperative - Command
Final the final copy
Do no use unnecessary words. Be clear with what you are saying.
Common Spelling Rules
S-1. I before e except after c ex. friends, thief, receive, believe, And not when it makes the long a sound ex. eight, neighbor, sleigh, And not when the c makes the sh sound ex. ancient, species And not when the e has a long sound ex. either, neither,
S-2 Plural Nouns Generally add –s.
When a noun ends in –ch –x or –sh, add –es to end of a word.
ex. benches brushes taxes wishes axes When a noun ends in –y and last two letters are cc: drop y; add is
ex. babies berries
When last two letters are vc: add –s
ex. toys days trays
D-1. When you write dialogue, start a new paragraph when the speaker changes.
D-2. When using dialogue, use quotation marks around the spoken words. Use comma (,) to separate the spoken words from the speaker. Be sure to capitalize the first letter of the speaker’s words inside the quotations.
Ex. He said, “We’ll discuss this fable in one hour.”
D-3. In a dialogue, place the punctuation( ? or !) within the quotations to express emotion in the speaker’s words.
Ex. “Don’t be late!”She warned.
D-4. Use quotations to separate the dialogue if the speaker's actions are in the middle of the words.
Ex. “This fable,” our teacher said, “is a twist of an older story.”
D-5. If there is more than one spoken sentence, use only one set of dialogue marks for ALL the spoken words.
Ex. The conductor shouted to the passengers, “we must get off this train. There is a gas leak. We are all in danger!”
D-6. Dialogues confuse the reader. Stop using overuse dialogue or unnecessary dialogues.
Use vivid words and actions to describe what is happening, rather than use dialogue.
D-7. Do not use dialogue for words that are forms of onomatopoeia.
Onomatopoeia - a word that actually looks like the sound it makes.
Ex: Slam, glam, bubble, etc.
Only use dialogue where there are words spoken by a character or speaker in your essay.
It was a horrible guide. I have missed a few things to keep it short. No doubt, I have touched the basics you need to imply in your everyday writings. Writing is almost equaled to painting a canvas. You don't need colors to make it beautiful but you need the vision to use those colors in the right way. We all have bee practicing it from our academics yet it never bothered us. Until a few of us give it a thought of writing for life. I remember writing speeches for seminars, making question papers for the tuitions, writing reports, etc.
So I am going to apply the basic rules in academic writing today. The only reason for choosing academic writing is - important writing type all millennials need to understand. Academic writing involves expressing your own idea and profound knowledge on the given topic. You have choices to write descriptive, analytical, persuasive, or critical. For emerging writers, I would suggest starting practicing academic writing. Let's dive in:
Academic Writing Rule 1
Characteristics of a sentence:
It starts with a capital letter; ends with a full stop, exclamation mark, or question mark; and contains a verb.
Millennials make the mistake of either not writing in full sentences or write very long, rambling sentences. Short and clear sentences are more effective than those which are long and complex.
Whenever in doubt, split up any longer sentences into two or three shorter ones. It will help you avoid grammatical mistakes and make it easy for the reader to follow your line of argument.
Academic Writing Rule 2
Subject and Verb in a sentence must agree with one another
Singular subject - Singular Verb
Ex: The writer writes the book.
In this sentence, Writer-Subject, and Write-Verb.
Now, 'the writer' is singular, so the verb will be singular.
Revised: A writer write the book.
But it varies with the circumstances:
1. You may have faced the statement starting with a singular, but drifting into the plural.
Ex: An author needs to know whether they are doing their job properly.
Revised: The Authors need to know whether they are doing their jobs properly.
2. Confused collective nouns are often irritating sometimes.
Ex: The publisher are passing the new rule.
Revised: The publisher is passing the new rule.
Academic Writing Rule 3
The truth is millennials ignore punctuation and I don't understand why? I mean isn't so easy to write down everything with a comma and full stop.
Commas(,): to denote a weak pause in the sentence. If you are writing long sentences using commas, create short sentences out of them. Replace commas with full stops. Easy-pissy.
Dashes(-) and Hyphen(-): You have to take this on a serious note. Try to cut use of dashes in your formal work to avoid a bad impression. Because it looks chatty.
Ex: Each member of the department- from the most junior lectures to the head of the department to the seminar. (Dash)
5-year-olds nowadays know how to access a phone. (Hyphen)
Exclamation Mark(!): Stop using exclamation marks everywhere.
Ex: Okay! As you say.
The full stop(.): You better know when to stop.
Ex: Okay. As you say.
Question Marks(?): Not every statement should be a question.
Ex: Afterall she's a writer no?
Revised: Afterall she's a writer.
Colon(:) and Semicolons(;)
Ex: This is an example of a colon.
Ex: This is an example of a semicolon; after we talked colon.
Academic Writing Rule 4
Millennials often confused these words in their writings (formal or informal)
Verb/Noun: affect/effect; quote/quotation; practise/practic; license/license
Adjective/Noun: alternate and alternative, principal and principle
Words with different meanings.
Less and fewer
Ex: There is less water than before.
Fewer means smaller in number.
Ex: There are fewer people than before.
Academic Writing Rule 5
Write Formal not chatty.
Avoid cliches and journalese and jargon
Academic Writing Rule 6
Sensible use of paragraphs
The recommended organization of a typical paragraph is
1. opening topic sentence, i.e. main point given
2. explanation of the topic sentence
3. supporting sentences that explain its significance
4. discussion of examples or evidence
5. concluding sentence
I am not saying that you have to be careful and neat when you write English, but simplicity harms nothing. For instance, if you want to write about a playful dog you met yesterday. It's a memory. And to break it to you, memories don't come in words, they come in images. Once you interpret that memory with words, all you have to do is - choose the words.
Writing is an alphabetical relationship of memory and thought. Two years ago, I was drafting a script for my friend's music video. All I did was wrote my own heartbreak story in a script format. It was easy. I had an image in the mind of my memory. I look for reasonable words and it worked.
Moreover, I prefer reading in English. Even watching movies and listening to music in English. English is my emotional language to express my brain. One of the reasons I took it on nerves even in Whats'app chats.
While preparing this post, I came across this post on 'The Rules of Writing According to 20 Famous Writer. I took some insights from there to understand the ground rules from the other side:
Ernest Hemingway for Esquire, 1935:
When I was writing, it was necessary for me to read after I had written. If you kept thinking about it, you would lose the thing you were writing before you could go on with it the next day. ... I had learned already never to empty the well of my writing, but always to stop when there was still something there in the deep part of the well, and let it refill at night from the springs that fed it.
John Steinbeck for The Paris Review, 1975:
Abandon the idea that you are ever going to finish. Lose track of the 400 pages and write just one page for each day, it helps. Then when it gets finished, you are always surprised.
Zadie Smith via Brain Pickings:
Work on a computer that is not connected to the internet.
Write it on the paper.
Writing in English is another way to approach to my mind. When personal growth syndrome hit my life, all my guides were in English. I listened to English speaking meditation, hundreds of podcasts in English, music, and TED Talks in English. It will be fair to say that I met my real self while writing in English. Because It helps me to express myself without my ego watching from the corner. In fact, if you go to Facebook and read my Micro Blogs, you will see that I am like a cute white Samoyed when I write in Hindi. In English, I am a black Wolf.
OVER TO YOU