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Writing Clearly

by Ron Kurtus (23 June 2012)

It is important that you write clearly and correctly in your homework and exams, so that your teacher will understand what you have written. Another big reason is so that other readers will understand what you meant in your writing.

Unfortunately, many students—and adults—have become very careless in how they communicate in writing.

Poor punctuation is the worst offense, because it can make reading the material difficult and can create misunderstandings. Correct spelling and grammar are helpful in clear writing, while poor spelling and incorrect grammar are often an indication of a lack of intelligence and education.

Questions you may have include:

This lesson will answer those questions.



Write clearly for understanding

You need to make sure your teachers and friends understand what you write.

Teachers

It is important that your teacher understands what you have written in your homework assignments and especially on your exam papers. Poor punctuation, spelling, or grammar could result in the teacher misunderstanding what you had written, resulting in a lower grade.

Also, some teachers will simply lower your grade, if the material is poorly written.

Other readers

It should be important to you that your friends and other readers understand what you have written. (If you don't care, then you are just writing to amuse yourself.)

You need to know your audience and what they understand. How you punctuate and spell are important to their understanding.

Also, you don’t want to use words to complex for your audience or use incorrect words.

Texting shorthand

When you are texting to a friend, you typically use a form of shorthand to abbreviate words and even phrases as a way to provide information on the tiny keyboard, often just with your thumbs.

This is a language in itself.

Assuming the other person understands the expressions you use, this is an acceptable way to communicate. However, texting shorthand should be kept in its place. You do not want to use "4" for "for", "wanna" for "want to", and "sum1" for "someone" in a homework essay.

But even in texting, you need to make sure you are speaking the same language. For example, some people may think that LOL means "leaving out letters".

Punctuation

Many students don't bother to start sentences with a capital letter nor do they end sentences with a period.

Problem

Not starting with a capital letter and ending a sentence in a period presents a problem where the reader can't tell when a sentence or a thought ends and another one starts. This can result in confusion and even misunderstandings.

For example:

"are you guys coming over tonight with john leaving for camp im not sure when ill see him again"

This could mean:

"Are you guys coming over tonight with John? Leaving for camp. I'm not sure when I'll see him again."

Or:

"Are you guys coming over tonight? With John leaving for camp, I'm not sure when I'll see him again."

As you can see, adding a period or question mark at the end of a sentence is important to the meaning of the sentence and what you are trying to communicate to the reader.

Likewise, starting a sentence with a capital letter helps the reader know when a new thought is started.

Reasons students skip punctuation

One reason so many students do not bother with punctuation and capital letters is because, since they do not use them in texting, omitting them seems the natural thing to do.

Also, punctuation takes extra time and effort. Everyone is in such a hurry to write what they want that they don't care if the reader understands it.

Finally, another reason for the lack of punctuation is that it is a fad. Since everyone else is doing it, you don't want to seem different.

A place for everything

Since lack of punctuation makes you seem to fit in when you text or email, many students want to continue the practice. Unfortunately, it becomes a bad habit, such that you start to write poorly everywhere.

Teachers do not like essays written in poor form. Even worse, is poor writing in tests and exams. Students who do that are just asking for a poor grade.

Spelling and grammar

You should spell words correctly and use proper grammar in your writing.

Spelling

When you are typing an essay or other school material on your computer, there is no excuse for having misspellings.

Your word processor has a spell-checker that will point out incorrectly spelled words. Likewise, your email reader usually has a spell-checker. Even Google checks the spelling of words you enter.

When you check your spelling with your word processor, it also helps you learn the correct spelling of words you miss.

Grammar

It is easy to make grammatical errors. English—as well as other languages—have so many grammar rules to remember, that mistakes are often seen.

However, you should make an effort to use correct grammar in your writing, as well as in your speaking. Being able to speak and write with good grammar gives the positive impression of being somewhat intelligent.

Which expression sounds like it was written by someone with less education?

"I were happy to go over their."

"I was happy to go over there."

(The first sentence has poor grammar and incorrect word usage.)

Summary

It is important that you write clearly and correctly.

You want your teacher to understand what you have written on your homework and tests. Otherwise, your grades could be lowered. You also want others to understand what you are communicating.

Poor punctuation causes the most misunderstandings. One reason for the lack of capital letters and periods is that the student is too much of a hurry to care about the reader. Poor spelling and incorrect grammar are often an indication of a lack of intelligence and education.


Your writing indicates your intelligence


Resources and references

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Questions and comments

Do you have any questions, comments, or opinions on this subject? If so, send an email with your feedback. I will try to get back to you as soon as possible.


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