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5 Simple Ways to Make Your English Writing Flow

For students who don’t do a lot of writing, trying to craft a paper with a natural-sounding voice can be a challenge. Even if you’re in an academic program that requires regular essay assignments, students can often fall into the trap of using big words and excessively flowery language to try and add bulk to their papers and make themselves sound more intelligent.

However, this can often have the opposite effect. To make your English writing sound more natural, there are still some tips you can keep in mind. Think about these tricks the next time you’re working on a writing assignment to ensure that your paper conveys information in a clear, concise way.

  1. Draft an outline.
  2. A good way to make sure you stay on topic and maintain a natural tone is to come up with a solid outline before you embark on the actual writing of your paper. With a guide in mind, you’ll be less likely to start rambling with no purpose – you’ll know exactly what you need to cover and where it needs to go.

    Use the requirements provided by your instructor to determine the structure of your paper, and fill it in with the information you plan to include as evidence to support your essay’s point of view. If you feel yourself hitting a wall or start struggling with writer’s block, refer to this outline to get inspiration for the next step.

  3. Use specific language.
  4. Instead of turning to a thesaurus to find bigger, better words, stick to simple, specific words that accurately explain exactly what you’re trying to communicate. Using fancy language won’t make you sound smarter – in fact, it may even give readers the impression that you don’t know what you’re talking about and you’re relying on intelligent-sounding words to cover it up.

    You want readers to clearly visualize the concepts you’re discussing in your paper, so it’s important to use the right language to give them that opportunity. The language you use should be carefully selected to paint that picture.

  5. Keep it short.
  6. While there is likely a word count requirement on your essay, your sentences and paragraphs should be short and concise so that they are easier for your readers to understand. Include only one thought per sentence, to let readers process that information before you introduce the next idea. Follow this rule with your paragraph structure, as well.

  7. Avoid overwriting.
  8. Again, even if you’re shooting for a specific word count, don’t add a bunch of “fluff” words to your writing to bulk it out. Words like “very,” “little,” “a lot,” or “rather,” likely don’t add much to your writing – and can even make your writing distracting and difficult to follow. For a more natural voice, stick to the specific language mentioned above, and don’t spend too long on an idea if you don’t have much to say about it. Either do more research or avoid the topic entirely – trying to over-explain by using unclear language only makes your paper sound uninformed.

  9. Leave time for revision.
  10. One of the best things you can do to ensure that your writing sounds natural is to read it out loud. If you can read it and understand it easily, it probably has a clean, concise voice and doesn’t need much editing. Cut out anything that doesn’t add to the meaning of your paper, and add information if something doesn’t seem clear enough.

It’s helpful to do this a few days after you’ve completed your draft, so you can come back and look at your paper with fresh eyes. Instead of procrastinating, try to get a first draft written soon after receiving the assignment - and leave yourself plenty of time to revise and ensure your voice sounds natural.