When writing formally (an academic paper, a scientific paper, a business letter), there are certain rules that the writer should follow. Note that these are guidelines and some writers will break these rules.

When writing your paper, try to…

  1. Avoid contractions (don’t, can’t, I’m, haven’t)
  • write out the full contraction
  • Example: I cannot speak Russian. He does not know who wants it.
  1. Avoid slang (ain’t, gotta, I got a headache)
  • do not use informal slang; use the formal word
  • Example: I got have a headache. I gotta have to go to school
  1. Avoid idioms (break the ice, on shaky ground, piece of cake)
  • do not use idioms; use the exact word
  • Example: This is a piece of cake = This is easy.
  1. Avoid phrasal verbs (verb + prepositions – put off = postpone, go back = return,
  • instead of using a phrasal verb, use one word verbs
  • Example: My parents brought me up = My parents raised
  • Example: I need to cut down on sugar = I need to reduce
  1. Avoid starting a sentence with conjunctions
  • an easy way to remember this rule is avoid ‘FANBOYS (for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so)
For For I am a high school student, therefore I cannot drink alcohol.

This is an uncommon one, this ‘for’ acts like ‘because’

And And I don’t like beer.
Nor Nor do I like soju.
But But I can work hard when I have time.
Or Or you can come tomorrow if you have free time.
Yet Yet many people still cheat despite the consequences.
So So I will finish work when I complete all my jobs.

 Instead use…

For Since
And Furthermore,        In addition,           Additionally,
Nor Neither
But However,                Despite this,
Or Either,                      Conversely,           On the other hand,
Yet In spite of,              Although                Nevertheless,
So Therefore               As a result,
  1. Avoid incomplete sentences
  • make sure your sentence is a complete idea
  • Ex: Because I am hungry – is an incomplete sentence, change to: I ate early because I am hungry.


What you need to CAPITALIZE when writing

The first letter in a sentence Books are now on sale at the bookstore.
The pronoun “I” She went to the store but I didn’t go
Countries New Zealand is next to Australia but still far away from Korea
Cities, counties, districts I lived in Buk-gu in Gwangju

My parents live in Yongbong-dong in Gwangju

Names of people Many people have heard the name Abraham Lincoln before
Names of people Shakespearian literature, Freudian psychology,
Nationalities Koreans are similar to Chinese like Canadians are similar to Americans
Companies and brand names I would like to get a job at Samsung

My shoes were made by Nike

I worked for 3 years at Kids English Academy

Person’s title Mr. Ms. Dr.

Professor Smith, Vice Principal Lee, President Park

the Queen of England, the Prince of Saudi Arabia

usually the title will be before a name or place

Mom and Dad (when taking the place of mom and dad) Steve says he will meet Mom at the store (Mom replaces her name so capital M)

We all have moms (this can be lower case)

Schools, colleges and universities He graduated from Chonnam Boys Middle School

Next year I expect to graduate from Chonnam National University

Weekdays, Months Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday

January, February, March, April, May, October, November, December

Special events Universiade was in July.  The Olympics will be in 2018.
Mountains, mountain ranges, hills and volcanoes Halla-san and Baek-du san are two of the highest mountains in Korea.

Mount Everest is the highest mountain in the world.

Bodies of water (oceans, lakes, rivers, seas) Lake Ontario, the Nile River, the Han River, the Black Sea, the Pacific Ocean, the Atlantic Ocean, the Indian Ocean
Buildings, monuments, bridges tthe Eiffel Tower, the Golden Gate Bridge, the Titanic,
Name of a street Main Street, Smith Road, Washington Boulevard
Continents and regions New England, the Midwest

North America, South America, Asia, Africa, Europe, Antarctica

Planets Mercury, Venus, the Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune
Historical periods the Second World War, the Korean War, the American Revolution, the Enlightenment, the Dark Ages, the Jurassic Era
God’s name Do you believe in God?

Chonnam National University
not: Chonnam national university OR  University of Chonnam

the Department of English and Language Literature

I’m studying math, science and English language and literature.  The Department of English Language and Literature is closed today.

Formal vs Informal Writing (continued)

  1. Avoid phrasal verbs – take out, go up, leave out, stop by
take out, get rid of remove, delete fill in complete
turn on start cut down on reduce, decrease
stop by visit point out show
leave out omit, delete bring about raise, consider
go up increase hand in submit
go down decrease make up create
set up establish think about consider, contemplate
find out discover show up appear
put off postpone pass away die

 2. If there’s a one-word equivalent, it’s better to use it.

say sorry apologize
get in touch with contact
It’s about… It concerns… It is in regards to…
need to … required…
I think … in my opinion…
Can you send me your resume? I was wondering if you could send me your resume?

3. Formal vs Informal Vocabulary

get obtain, attain good positive
seem appear bad negative
show demonstrate, illustrate, portray smart intelligent
start, begin commence cheap inexpensive
keep retain right correct
block undermine wrong incorrect
call me contact me empty vacant
buy purchase crazy insane
want would like, desire better superior
stop cease enough sufficient
get worse deteriorate whole entire
live reside happy satisfied, delighted
shorten abbreviate sad regretful, distressed
end terminate poor underprivileged
help assist/aid rich wealthy, privileged
  1. Transitions, adverbs, conjunctions
anyway nevertheless lots of many, much, a lot of
plus, also moreover, furthermore,

in addition

totally completely, strongly
but however really, very definitely
so therefore, thus in the end finally, in conclusion
ASAP as soon as possible,

at your earliest convenience

next, later subsequently
ok, okay, all right acceptable at first initially
in the meantime in the interim mostly principally

 5. Expressions

Hi Robert, Dear Sir or Madam,

Dear Mr. Smith

Just wanted to let you know… I am writing to inform you…
Cheers, Love, Sincerely, Regards,
Hope to hear from you soon… I look forward to hearing from you…
You can call me if you need anything… Please do not hesitate to contact me…
Hello there… To whom it may concern…
By the way… In addition…

6. Requests

Request                                                              Answer positively                                  Answer negatively

Can I borrow your eraser? Sure.

Here you go.

Sorry, I don’t have one.

Sorry, I’m using it right now.

Could you give me a ride home? No problem.

For sure.

I can’t.  I’m really busy tonight.
Would you buy me a coffee? Okay.

No worries.

I’m sorry but I’m broke.

I have no money.

May I use your cell phone? Sure, here you go.

Yeah, sure.

Sorry, but I don’t have a cell phone.
Would you like to see a movie with me? Sure, I’d love to.

That sounds great.

I’d like to but…

I’d like to but I have a test tomorrow

Would you mind opening the window? No, not at all.

Of course.

I’d rather not.

Sorry, but not now.

Would you mind giving me a call tonight? Yeah, for sure.

Yeah, that’s no problem.

I can’t.  I’m sorry.

I don’t think I can.  Sorry.


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