Basic Essay Writing Tips for Better Writing

Grammar, Sentence Structure and Word Choice

Woman with writer's block in an office with letters.
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Essay Writing

Essay writing can be tricky, particularly at the undergraduate and graduate level. At this point in your academic career, you are expected to know the rules of punctuation and grammar and be able to craft clear, engaging essays that employ solid sentence structure, smart word choices, strong arguments, and real supporting statements. 

Let's take a look at each of these topics and go over some basic essay writing tips that will make your writing better.

Grammar and Punctuation

Bad grammar and misplaced punctuation can ruin any type of essay. Here are a few other general tips that might help your grammar and writing mechanics:

  • If you are unsure about subject-verb agreement or comma placement, you need to review the associated grammar or punctuation rule to ensure that you're doing things right.
  • Beware of commonly confused words that can create grammatical errors in your essay. Examples of commonly confused words include there, their, and they're; your and you're; and it's and its.
  • Read your essay aloud and proofread as you write. Listen carefully to how it sounds. If something doesn't sound right, then there is probably a problem. 

Sentence Structure

Understanding the parts of sentences (subjects, verbs, objects) will make it easier to understand what good sentence structure should look like in an essay. These other sentence structure tips may help as well:

  • Do not use run-on sentences or fragments. They are distracting and make essays difficult to read.
  • Vary your sentence structure. Use simple, complex, and compound sentences to pace your writing and make it more exciting.
  • Use the right words in the right places. For example, putting a modifier in the wrong place in a sentence can cause confusion for the reader.

    Word Choice

    Word choice can affect tone, mood, and effect in essay writing. Using the right words is the only way to make the right impression. Consider the following tips when choosing language for your essay.

    • Avoid using the same words repeatedly. If necessary, use a thesaurus to find synonyms.
    • Make sure you fully understand every word used in your essay. A large vocabulary is impressive, but when words are used in the wrong context they have a negative effect on your writing.
    • Use transitions sentences and transition words (furthermore, like, also, additionally) between paragraphs to tie them together. Transitions will help your writing flow.
    • Learn the difference between connotation and denotation. Denotation is the meaning of a word; connotation is the feeling or mood that word might invoke. Think of words like thin vs. skinny; overweight vs. fat; handicapped vs. crippled. The words mean the same things but can evoke positive vs. negative feelings in the reader.

    Supporting Details

    Supporting details (facts, examples, quotes) are really important in essays. They give your essay substance by supporting claims, illustrating points, and explaining thoughts, actions or ideas. Here are some tips that will ensure your essay contains plenty of supporting details:

    • Stay away from empty sentences. Every sentence should be well thought out and packed with new details.
    • Use facts and evidence to persuade your readers. Examples of evidence might include statistics or testimony.
    • Compare and contrast claims and provide details that support or hurt each claim.
    • Connect your supporting details to the topic sentence to ensure that every detail matters.


     

     

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    Schweitzer, Karen. "Basic Essay Writing Tips for Better Writing." ThoughtCo, Feb. 27, 2016, thoughtco.com/basic-essay-writing-tips-466052. Schweitzer, Karen. (2016, February 27). Basic Essay Writing Tips for Better Writing. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/basic-essay-writing-tips-466052 Schweitzer, Karen. "Basic Essay Writing Tips for Better Writing." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/basic-essay-writing-tips-466052 (accessed November 19, 2017).