Basic Tips about Writing

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Writing is not just about vocabulary and grammar. Writing, just like speaking, is about communicating with people. When we write we have a:

  • purpose: the reason why we are writing,
  • content:, or message we want to convey
  • specific target: audience

The purpose of a piece of writing determines its function, which in turn determines the order in which we express ideas and the way in which we present them, or layout.

Some examples of different functions are

  • A letter of complaint: To express the writer’s dissatisfaction and to suggest some kind of action in order to solve the problem.<
  • A holiday review:to present a book, a holiday resort film or a theatre performance to the reader, to evaluate it and maybe to recommend it.
  • Article: informative and interesting text that should include examples and justified recommendations.

Some examples of different layouts

  • A recipe: The name of the type of food functions as a title; it is followed by the list of ingredients with the required amounts specified, and the main part of the text describes what is to be done with the ingredients in order to prepare the food. Recipes usually end with suggestions on how the food is to be served.
  • [letter]: It does not have a title but a salutation (for example, Dear Jennie), and it usually includes at least the sender’s address and the date when it was written.

Different situations require different information or content = The audience we address also determines the content and style of a piece of writing. If you are writing a note to your mother/wife about where she can find a book you need her to bring you to school/work, you will not have to clarify how to get to your studio, however, if you are asking that to a delivery boy, then this information may be needed.

Different audiences require different styles

As for your style, you do not address in the same way your boss and your brother.

Some basics about Informal style:

  • Short sentences
  • Personal and friendly tone
  • Colloquial vocabulary
  • Carefully selected vocabulary
  • Politeness formulas ( i. e. "Please tell me" as opposed to "tell me")

Stages om the writing process


  • The amount of time needed for planning varies depending on the type of text and the writing situation. In an exam, you should spend very little time in planning, but if you do, your writing will be more efficient:
    • You will make sure that you are following task instructions
    • You will avoid irrelevant information
    • It will help you to group ideas
    • Brainstorm
    • Organise ideas


  • Transform the outline into a text
    • Do not get blocked because you do not remember how to say a word in English
    • Keep your audience in mind. Remember formal styles are more demanding than informal styles. Try not to mix them!
    • Keep grammar in mind.
    • Do not make all your sentences long or short.
    • Even if you try to be very simple because you fear your grammar is not good, try to write at least a complex sentence.
    • In any case, remember short sentences are more acceptable in English than in Catalan or Spanish.
    • Linkers make all the difference between fluent or choppy styles.
    • Remember: One idea = one paragraph


Try to find time for a final reading.