How to Avoid Comma Errors

6 Nov

I’m sure you’ve had the experience of talking to a person who talks a mile a minute without pausing taking a break or allowing you to interject and they can be very very hard to understand. On the other hand, you’ve probably also noticed, that some people, speak so slowly, and with so many pauses, […] read more »

When Do I Cite in APA?

29 Oct

We’ve talked about how to cite references in APA, but how about when to cite? If you’re not used to citing with APA, it can feel . . . kinda weird. Sure, you remember from English class that you’re supposed to cite your source whenever you quote something, or even specifically paraphrase a passage. You […] read more »

US vs. UK English Grammar

29 Oct

We know there are many word differences between American and British English (truck = lorry, toilet = loo, rubber = condom or eraser—how do the Brits know which is which?!), but less well known is that there are a few key grammatical and spelling differences between US and UK English. When writing in one dialect […] read more »

Fanfic Fairness 101

29 Oct

By now, nearly everyone knows what fanfic is. What was once the realm of only the most devoted followers of certain books, shows, or movies is now public knowledge, thanks in large part to the success of 50 Shades of Grey, by E.L. James, which was originally fan fiction based on the immensely popular Twilight […] read more »

Run-on Sentence or Long Sentence?

1 Oct

What’s the difference between a run-on sentence and a long sentence? Why are sentences in old books often much longer than sentences today? Just how long should sentences be? Run-on Sentences Sentences are pretty simple things. With a very few exceptions, sentences have to have a subject (a thing) and a verb (an action taken […] read more »

How and When to Write Complaint Letters

26 Sep

 At some point, you will have a bad experience with customer service. Some employee in a restaurant, airport, or retail store will botch a simple task, causing you no end of inconvenience and embarrassment. You will be moved to write to upper management to express your displeasure. But before you write that letter and send […] read more »

What Is Passive Voice and How Do I Use It?

25 Sep

One writing-related question I’ve thought about a lot is why the passive voice is so commonly (over)used. People don’t tend to speak in the passive voice nearly as much as they write in it, after all. For those of you not lucky enough to be a grammar nerd like I am, here’s a quick terminology […] read more »

Should I Use First, Second, or Third Person?

3 Sep

 A Definitive Guide to Using Perspective in Academic, Business, and Fiction Is it OK to use first person (I/my/we/our) in a research paper or job application? Is all formal writing done in third person (he/she/they/one)? Why does the teacher keep crossing out second person (you/your) in student essays? The issue here is perspective. First person […] read more »

What Is Fair Use?

3 Sep

We’ve all had it drilled into our heads that we have to cite and reference everything in academic papers to avoid plagiarism. But fiction is different, isn’t it? Because it’s all made up, we can quote, cite, paraphrase, name-check, and reference rampantly, right? Wrong. When we put word to page, our text immediately goes under […] read more »

How to Write without Clichés: Part 2

22 Aug

In Part 1, we talked about what clichés are, why they’re bad, and what they’re not. This time, we’re looking at why people keep using them anyway and just where the tired, stale things like to hide. Why Are Clichés So Irresistible? Clichés serve many purposes. Unfortunately, they’re all bad. Clichés Are Easy Writers are […] read more »

Master Resume: Activate Your Interviews

22 Aug

It’s easy to open an article with an arresting image or statistic, but transitioning from an entertaining intro to the informative body of the article is sometimes awkward. A good trick is to engage the reader directly with a call action within the first hundred or so words. If the article is about a hobby, […] read more »

How to Show Emphasis in Writing

19 Aug

I often remind my six- and nine-year-old children that communication is not just what you say, but how you say it (frequently after one of them asks the other, “Will you please stop?” in a bloody-murder scream). The same is true in writing, both academic and nonacademic, with many subtle ways we can add to […] read more »

Traditional and New Resume Formats

3 Aug

Which organizational format is appropriate for your resume? You may not have even realized you had a choice. The vast majority of resumes still use the familiar reverse chronological format. In this setup, the focus is on the particulars of the applicant’s work experience. The centerpiece of the resume is a list of your last […] read more »

What Tense Should I Use in Writing?

3 Aug

When writing, people are often confused about what tense they should use. Should I write this MLA history paper in past tense? Should I write my short story in present or past tense? How about a resume: should I write my job entries in present or past? And these people are right to be confused […] read more »

How to Write without Clichés: Part 1

23 Jul

We’re told to avoid clichés in our writing, but just what is a cliché, why is it bad, and how do we write without using one? Well, first, don’t try to memorize some list of clichés. There are thousands of them. But also don’t worry that every single phrase you write has to be completely […] read more »

Pitching Articles

16 Jul

Writers gotta eat, too. And if you’re a writer without a day job in another field, that means selling whatever writing you can produce, wherever you can. Yes, you may be writing the Great American Novel or putting the final touches on the most mind-blowing short fiction ever created, but for some reason, bill collectors […] read more »

ESL/EFL Guide to English Writing Pt 2

16 Jul

In a Part 1 of this post, I wrote about the basics of writing in English for non-native speakers: understanding the parts of English composition, getting your thesis and supporting arguments mapped out, and drafting your paper. Many people struggle with the larger process, and many also struggle with more detailed grammar and style issues. […] read more »

Fiction Writing and Changing Narrators

3 Jul

In the world of fiction, the narrator is not king, it’s God, and it rules over everything, even the author. When we write, we act as God in the universes of our stories: creating and destroying our characters at will, judging and accepting, choosing cruelty and mercy. It’s quite the ego trip, really. And so […] read more »

ESL/EFL Guide to English Essay Writing

1 Jul

Expressing yourself effectively in writing is a challenge for most people, but for non-native speakers of English, the task can be much harder. If you have a rapidly approaching due date for an essay in English and are thinking of running the other way, take a minute to let ProofreadingPal show you some of our […] read more »

Simple Secret to Writing a Great Story

30 Jun

What makes a great story is up for debate, whether you’re writing for the general public or just yourself. After all, stories can be about anything, and stories are all around us: on TV, on our news apps, in our comic books, and on the lips of our friends. But there is a secret to […] read more »

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