Choosing between Similar Words

Often, when writing an essay, article or thesis, you will need to decide which particular word works best with your text. Sometimes this can be difficult when there are several words with the same, or similar, meaning; these groups of words are called ‘synonyms’. As an example, the word ‘particular’ (used in the first sentence

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5 Fast Facts about Italics

  Students often overuse italics in their essays and theses. Here are some facts about italics that can help improve your writing: Italics can be used for foreign language words. For example, ‘It was a quid pro quo agreement’. However, note that ‘et. al’, ‘ibid’, ‘e.g.’ and other Latin words used in referencing are not

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Three embarrassing typos… and what you can learn from them

Typos, spelling mistakes, bad punctuation. Slip-ups happen to the best of us when we’re rushing, tired, under pressure or a bit confused: which is pretty much the description of a stressed out university student writing an essay that’s due soon. At best, they make you look silly and careless. At worst, they can undermine the

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An apostrophe catastrophe?

Apostrophe’s can be confusing. See? Apostrophes can be confusing. That’s better. Apostrophes in English have several uses: to indicate possession to form plurals to indicate a missing letter or number. While this seems quite straightforward, many people for whom English is their first language still find it difficult to use apostrophes correctly. Perhaps the most

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‘That’ and ‘Which’: Which is Correct, and When?

Knowing when to use ‘that’ and when to use ‘which’ in certain sentences can be confusing—in fact, getting the two mixed up is an error that even experienced and effective writers make. So what’s the difference between the two, and how can you tell which is the correct word to use? It doesn’t have to

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Inclusive Language

Inclusive language has a simple purpose: to ensure that a piece of communication–it may be written or spoken–does not discriminate against groups of people in the community. Discrimination can range from exclusion to derogatory comments and can be based on gender, race, ethnicity, religion, disability, sexual orientation or other perceived differences. Often disparaged as ‘political

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But why can’t I use ‘as such’ instead of ‘therefore’?

It seems to be increasingly common for students, and others, to use ‘as such’ as a replacement for ‘therefore’ only to be corrected without really knowing why. If you think ‘as such’ and ‘therefore’ have the same meaning, read on. ‘Therefore’ is a conjunction (a part of speech that joins words, phrases, clauses or sentences)

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The Semicolon and its Usage

The semicolon is a commonly misunderstood punctuation mark. It may be useful to consider the semicolon as something between a comma and a full stop; it both separates and links the clauses it falls between. Though there are varying opinions about the instances where a semicolon is required, the three usages that follow are widely

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The Clause

Most writing consists almost entirely of clauses. Good writing will connect, relate and contrast these clauses, so that the transition from one to the next appears seamless. Ultimately, however, each clause must, at the very least, name a subject and describe an action performed by or on that subject, and must place this action in

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