You are on page 1of 36

MANUAL FOR WRITING BETTER

Carlos Snchez Garrido


Manual for Writing Better

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Page
1. SENTENCE LENGTH. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
2. PREFERRING PLAIN WORDS. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
3. DESCRIBING PEOPLE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
4. DESCRIBING OBJECTS. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
5. DESCRIBING PLACES/BUILDINGS. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
6. USING GOOD PUNCTUATION. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
6. 1
COMMAS. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
6. 2
SEMI-COLONS. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
6. 3
COLONS. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
7. DISTINGUISHING THE COMMA, THE SEMICOLON, AND THE
COLONS. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
8. CAPITALIZATION. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
9. FORMAL LETTERS. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
10. LETTERS OF APPLICATION. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
11. LETTERS OF COMPLAINT. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
12. SOME USEFUL PHRASES TO INCLUDE IN LETTERS. . . . . . . . . .
13. LINKING WORDS AND PHRASES. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

3
4
4
9
9
12
13
18
21
23
24
26
27
28
29
31

Carlos Snchez Garrido


Manual for Writing Better
1. SENTENCE LENGTH
-

Over the whole document, make the average sentence length 15 to 20 words, no
more than that.
Not all sentences need to be in this range, there should be plenty of variety.
Sometimes, it is better several short sentences than a bigger one full of
subordination and coordination.
Occasional short sentences will highlight an important point effectively, but too
many will make your writing dull.
If you find yourself writing long sentences, there are different ways of clarifying
them:

a) SPLIT AND DISCONNECT Cut and take out a linker and put some
punctuation mark.
Example:
I understand that some doctors making night calls have been attacked in recent months
on the expectation that they were carrying drugs and their caution when visiting
certain areas in the south of the city
-

I understand that some doctors making night calls have been attacked in recent
months on the expectation that they were carrying drugs. Their caution when
visiting

I understand that some doctors, making night calls, have been attacked in
recent months. On the expectation they were thought to be carrying drugs.
Their caution when visiting certain areas in the south of the city
b) SPLIT AND CONNECT This means putting in a full stop and
restarting the sentence with a connecting word like however, but,
also, yet, Further
c) SAY LESS Take out everything that is repeated. Sometimes a sentence
is lengthened by needless repetition.
d) USE A LIST Vertical lists break up long sentences into manageable
chunks. They are particularly useful when describing a procedure.
Something important is if we start the enumeration with one substantive,
we will carry on starting with a substantive in the rest too.

Example:
The attachment of the warmer assembly system must be checked to ensure that it is
adequately lubricated, its securing screws are tight and that the warmer head can be
easily repositioned without the support bearing sticking.
The attachment of the warmer assembly system must be checked to ensure that:
a) it is adequately lubricated,
b) its securing screws are tight,
c) the warmer head can be easily repositioned without the support bearing sticking.
3

Carlos Snchez Garrido


Manual for Writing Better
2. PREFERRING PLAIN WORDS
-

Use words your readers are likely to understand.


Is there no place for unusual words?

Sometimes an unusual word is exactly right, expressing just what you want
to say.
In a technical document, there is a place for technical words, which will be
plain enough to technical people.
Generally, therefore, the place for unusual words is in literature and
journalism.

3. DESCRIBING PEOPLE
A descriptive essay about a person should consist of:
a) An introduction in which you give general information about the person, saying
when, where and how you first met them.
Note: Aspectos generales de la persona que vamos a describir. Cundo la conocimos.
b) A main body in which you describe their physical appearance, personal qualities
and hobbies/interests. You start a new paragraph for each topic.
Note: Descripcin fsica y rasgos personales hobbies de esa persona que vamos a
describir. Intereses y aficiones.
c) A conclusion in which you write your comments and/or feelings about the
person.
Note: Comentarios y sentimientos sobre esa persona.
When describing someone you know well or see often (i.e. a friend, a neighbour,
etc), you should use present tenses. When describing someone who is no longer
alive, or someone you knew a long time ago and you do not see any more, you should
use past tenses.
Descriptions of people can be found in articles, letters, narratives, etc. The writing
style you use depends on the situation and the intended reader. For example, if you are
writing an article for a magazine, you should use semi-formal style and a polite,
respectful tone.

INTRODUCTION

(Paragraph 1)
Name of the person
when, where and
how you first met
him/her

MAIN BODY
(Paragraph 2)

Physical appearance (Facial features & Clothes)


(Paragraph 3)

Personal qualities and justification(s)/examples


(Paragraph 4)

Hobbies/interests

CONCLUSION
(Paragraph 5)
Comments &
feelings about the
person

Carlos Snchez Garrido


Manual for Writing Better
When you describe someones Physical appearance you start with the general
features (i.e. height, build, age) and move on to the more specific ones, such as hair,
eyes, nose, etc. You can also add a description of the clothes the person likes to wear.
Example: Laura is a tall, slim woman in her early twenties. She has got red hair,
green eyes and freckles. She usually wears smart suits.
When you describe someones Personal qualities you should support your
description with examples and/or justifications.
Example: Wayne is very shy. For example, he finds it difficult to make new friends.
You can also describe someones personality through their mannerisms by:
a) Referring to the way they speak.
Example: He speaks in a soft voice as if he were whispering.
b) Describing the gestures they use.
Example: She constantly uses her hands when she speaks.
c) Mentioning a particular habit they have.
Example: Jason always bites his nails when he is nervous.
Note: When you mention someones negative qualities you should use mild language
(seems to, can be rather). For example:
Paul is lazy Paul can be rather lazy at times

VOCABULARY FOR DESCRIBING PEOPLE


Fantastic sense of humour, sailing, painting, good-looking, immature,
great sense of style, scuba diving, outgoing, olive skin (color cetrino se te
queda cuando pierdes el moreno), curly dark hair, casual clothes, friendly,
wavy hair (pelo ondulado), pale complexion, rude, lazy, pointed nose,
shoulder-length hair (pelo por los hombros), tall, slim, of medium height,
generous, popular, skiing, bossy (mandn), attractive, plump,
dimples (hoyuelos de la cara), tanned (bronceado), Scar (cicatriz).
Knowledge: intellectual, genius, whiz-kid (lince, prodigio), higly
gifted (superdotado), egghead (empolln), a (computer) buff (aficionado
a los ordenadores), bookworm (ratn de biblioteca).
Humour: Comic, a laugh, buffoon, clown, joker, a giggle (un
risita).
Experts: connoisseur (entendido), artist, gourmet, guru, expert,
educated (culto, educado), learned (doctor, erudito, sabio).

Carlos Snchez Garrido


Manual for Writing Better
Politics: activist, chauvinist (patriotero, machista), nationalist,
revolutionary, liberal, socialist, conservative, democrat,
conservative with a small C (con la boca chica).
Personality: invidualist, worrier (se preocupa mucho), devious (taimada,
artero), gracious (gentil, corts), polite, M. C. P. (male chauvinist pig:
machista), feminist, boor (zafio, grosero), loutish (patn), uncouth
(burdo, ordinario, zafio), a real gentleman/lady.
Types: flirt, womanizer (mujeriego, donjun), wolf (mujeriego, donjun
colloq.), Casanova, clock-watcher (que mira el reloj mucho), tramp
(vagabundo, fulana AmE ), down and out (sin blanca, - to be down and out
= estar en la miseria), hippie, bully (matn de colegio), slave driver
(negrero).
Negative Words:
gossip (chismoso, cotilla), nitwit (bobo), coward (cobarde),
loudmouth (gritn, escandaloso), blockhead (burro, zopenco), chicken
(miedoso), windbag (cotorra, charlatan), thick (grueso, espeso),
wallflower (alhel), bore, stupid, sissy (mariquita, afeminado),
indiscreet, idiot, hypochondriac, snob, hypocrite, drunkard
(borracho, beodo), smart alec/aleck (BrE) (sabelotodo, sabihondo),
charlatan, glutton (-noun- glotn), egoist, quack (curandero,
charlatan), lecher (libidinoso), prima donna (diva), liar, sex-maniac,
creep (adulador, pelota, asqueroso), do-gooder (hacedor, de buenas obras),
grumbler (grun), drip (soso), go-getter (consigue lo que se propone),
whinger (quejica), twit (imbecile BrE), show-off (fanfaron, fantasma),
pain in the neck/ass (latazo).
Facial features:
- Eyes: blue, brown, green, dark, grey
- Complexion: light, fair, pale, tanned
- Nose: long, narrow (estrecha), flat (chata), wide (ancha), hooked (de gancho),
upturned (respingona)
- Eyebrows: thick, thin
- Glasses: heavy, frames (montura), metal frames, large round
- Moustache: bushy (poblado, espeso), thin, small
- Ears: large, small, pointed / sticking-out (puntiagudas), pierced (agujereada)
- Mouth: tight-lipped (boca de pin), large lips
- Hair: short, curly, long, straight, straggly (alborotado), dirty, styled, blond,
brown, black, grey, auburn (castao rojizo, caoba)
- Other Features: beard, sideburns (patillas), freckles, mole (lunar), unshaven,
scar

Carlos Snchez Garrido


Manual for Writing Better

( http://www.castimonia.com/tt/563 )
7

Carlos Snchez Garrido


Manual for Writing Better
PERSONALITY TRAITS

Outgoing (extrovertido) shy (tmido) / timid / reserved


Selfish (egoista) generous
Humble proud (orgulloso) / haughty (altivo, altanero) / arrogant
Conceited (presumido) / stuck-up (engredo, presumido) / snobbish
Hard-working (trabajador) lazy (perezoso)
Nice / pleasant (agradable, simptico) / kind disagreeable /
unpleasant (desagradable)
Talkative parsimonious (mezquino) / moderate
Polite(educado) impolite (maleducado) / rude
Helpful (servicial, amable) / obliging (atento, servicial)
Stubborn (terco, testarudo) / opinionated (dogmtico, aferrado a sus ideas)
tolerant / compromising (comprometido)
Affectionate (carioso, afectuoso) / loving cold / dry
Intelligent slow-witted (torpe) / dim (lerdo) / dumb (mudo, tonto)
Submissive (sumiso) / docile rebellious (rebelled, revoltoso)
Responsible irresponsible
Self-confident / self-assured (seguro de s mismo) insecure (inseguro)
Prejudiced (prejuiciado, lleno de prejuicios)
Racist / sexist / MCP (male chauvinist pig)
PROFESSIONS

Anchorman (presentador TV, ltima persona de un equipo en las carreras de


relevos), Anchorwoman (presentadora TV), Journalist (periodista), Doctor,
Nurse, Lawyer (abogado), Judge, Chemist (farmacetico), Architect,
Engineer (ingeniero), Social worker (trabajador social), Civil servant
(funcionario), Politician, Mayor (alcalde), Mayoress (alcaldesa), Farmer,
Shepherd (pastor), Fireman (bombero), Dustman (basurero), Garbage man
(basurero), Plumber (fontanero), Electrician (electricista), Baker (panadero),
Butcher (carnicero), Bricklayer (albail), Mason (albail, mampostero),
Construction worker, Mechanic, Blacksmith (herrero), Salesperson
(vendedor, dependiente), Banker (banquero), Priest (sacerdote, cura), Priestess
(sacerdotisa), Nun (monja, religiosa), Monk (monje), Hairdresser (peluquero),
Cook (cocinero), Waiter (camarero), Waitress (camarera), Steward (auxiliary
de vuelo, camarero), Stewardess (azafata), Air hostess (azafata), Actor,
Actress, Public relations, Painter, Writer, Soldier, Doorman (portero),
Janitor (conserje, portero).

NOTE: HAVE A LOOK ON PAGE 31, LINKING WORDS AND PHRASES.

Carlos Snchez Garrido


Manual for Writing Better
4. DESCRIBING OBJECTS1
Descriptions of objects can be found in leaflets (folletos de trptico),
brochure (folleto), catalogues, advertisements or parts of letters, stories,
reports or articles.
When you describe an object, you should give an accurate or detailed picture of it.
Your description should include information about size, weight (i.e. tiny, big, heavy,
long, etc), shape (i.e. circular, oval, etc), pattern or decoration (i.e. plain, ckecked,
etc), colour (i.e. brown, multi-coloured, etc), origin (i.e. African, Japanese, etc) and
material (i.e. leather, plastic, nylon, etc), as well as any information concerning special
features (i.e. lock, stickers, etc).
To describe objects you should use a variety of adjectives. Always list opinion
adjectives (i.e. beautiful, inexpensive, unusual, etc) first, followed by fact adjectives.
These are normally listed in the following order: size/weight, age, shape, pattern,
colour, origin or material (i.e. large, rectangular, silver, etc).
Determ. + Opinin + Dimensin + Edad + Forma + Color + Origen + Diseo + Material + Propsito + Objeto
Avoid using all of them one after the other, as this will make your description sound
unnatural, for example: Its a lovely, heavy, old, oval mirror with a carved wooden
frame vs. Its a lovely, heavy, old mirror. Its oval, with a carved frame made of
wood.
VOCABULARY FOR DESCRIBING OBJECTS
Fabulous, plastic, long, elegant, straps (cinta o banda, asa de bolso),
round, green, Chinese, striped (a rayas), heavy, 20th century, crystal,
light, paper, extraordinary, rectangular, ancient, purple, Irish,
square, carved (tallado), stickers (pieza que se adhiere a algo), modern,
red, Indian, polka-dot (hecho de punto), handmade, tiny (ligero
tamao), Venetian, beautiful, ceramic, old-fashioned, wooden, carved,
hand-woven (tejido a mano), fantastic, multi-coloured, late 19th century,
oak (roble), brand-new (flamante, totalmente nuevo), zip (cremallera)
5. DESCRIBING PLACES/BULDINGS
A descriptive composition about a place or building should consist of:
a) An introduction in which you give the name and location of the place or building
and/or the reason for choosing it.
b) A main body in which you describe the main aspects of the place or buildings in
detail for example, when you describe a place you should describe what you
can see and do there; when you describe a building you should describe its
exterior and interior, as well as give historical facts about it.
c) A conclusion which includes your comments/feelings and/or a recommendation.
Descriptions of places or buildings can be found in tourist magazines, travel
brochures, stories, letters, etc. The style you use depends on the situation and the
1

In this part is essential to have a look to the notes of Adjectives order.

Carlos Snchez Garrido


Manual for Writing Better
intended reader. For example, in an article for a magazine you should use semi-formal
style and a polite, respectful tone. You normally use Present tenses to describe a
place or a building. You use Past tenses to write about the historical facts.
INTRODUCTION
(Paragraph 1)

MAIN BODY
(Paragraph 2 4*)

CONCLUSION
(Final Paragraph)

Name, location
and/or reason for
choosing it

Main aspects in detail


(Place: things to see/do, shopping,
nightlife, restaurants, etc.
Building: historical facts, exterior,
interior)

Comments/feelings
and/or recommendations.
The number of main
body paragraphs may
vary depending on the
rubric.

Some useful sentences to describe places are:


-

The most fascinating/lively/interesting/etc part of the city is


The town centre has
The most famous attraction is
The nightlife in is exciting, with
There is plenty of
The town is well-known for its

To give the reader a more vivid picture of the place or building you are describing,
you can refer to the senses (i.e. sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch).
Examples:
-

Visitors can dine watching the moon rise over the mountains (sight).
You can hear the sound of church bells ringing (hearing).
I remember the Far East with its aromas of exotic herbs and spices (smell).
Enjoy a cup of freshly-ground2 Italian coffee (taste).
Relax in the soothing warm waters3 of the Roman Baths (touch).

When you write about a building, the main body of the essay should include:
a) A paragraph on historical facts about the building (when/why it was built,
etc) using Past tenses.
b) A separate paragraph on the exterior (what it is made of, appearance,
grounds/gardens, etc) using Present tenses.
c) A paragraph on the interior (rooms, furniture, pictures, etc) using Present
tenses.
To give factual and/or historical information about the exterior and interior of a
building you can also use the passive or prepositional phrases (i.e. all around, to the left,
etc).
2
3

Freshly-ground = Recin molido.


Soothing warm waters = Aguas medicinales templadas.

10

Carlos Snchez Garrido


Manual for Writing Better
Examples:
-

The palace is surrounded by high walls.


To the left of the entrance there is a marble statue.

Example of a description of a place:


An Ideal Seaside Resort by Sally Fulton

Introduction

Main Body

Conclusion

Brighton is a large town on the south-east coast of England. Located only an


hour from London, it is a charming seaside resort and the perfect destination for
a peaceful weekend.
Brighton has several tourist attractions which are worth visiting. Among
these is the Royal Pavilion, a beautiful Indian-style palace which was built in
the early nineteenth century. Brightons most famous attraction is the lively
Palace Pier, with its fantastic funfair and amusement arcades. Both young and
old can have fun while admiring the spectacular view of Brightons seafront.
There are plenty of places to go shopping in Brighton. The town centre has a
large modern shopping centre. There are also narrow lanes4 full of lovely
antique shops that are always bustling5 with tourists.
The nightlife in Brighton is exciting. There are a lot of music and dance
clubs which are extremely popular with younger people. The area is also wellknown for its fashionable restaurants, which offer a variety of international
cuisines.
Brighton is a town that has something to offer everyone. Whether you want
to spend your time shopping and seeing the sights, or simply relaxing and
enjoying the fresh sea air, Brighton is the ideal choice for a few days away from
the city.
VOCABULARY OF TERMS & EXPRESSIONS

Museum, boutique, nightclub, ancient theatre, open-air market,


zoo, caf (also cafe), bazaar, temple, art gallery, restaurant, music
hall, palace, botanical gardens, fair, theatre, souvenir shop,
monument, statue, antique shop, shopping centre, amusement arcade (sala
de juegos recreativos), multi-screen cinema, funfair, amusement park
Red-brick walls (ladrillo), tiled floor (suelo embaldosado), colourful rug
(alfombra), well-kept garden, tall chimneys, staircase, bookshelves, wooden
coffee table, little pond (estanque pequeo), large windows, leather sofas,
unusual lamps, flowerbeds6 full of beautiful flowers, modern paintings,
gloomy (lbrego, tenebroso), grand (magnfico, esplndido)
Some adjectives and its antonyms:
Charming (encantador, precioso) Unattractive (poco atractivo)
Peaceful (pacific, tranquilo) Hectic (ajetreadi, agitado)
Beautiful (hermoso) Plain (feo)
4

Lanes = Callejones.
Bustling = Sitio bullicioso.
6
Flowerbed = Parterre (Jardn o parte de l / Macizo o cuadro de flores de un jardn).
5

11

Carlos Snchez Garrido


Manual for Writing Better
Famous (famoso) Unknown (desconocido)
Modern (moderno) Old-fashioned (anticuado, pasado de moda)
Narrow (estrecho) Wide (amplio)
Exciting (emocionante, apasionante) Boring (aburrido)
Popular (popular) Unpopular (poco popular, que gusta poco)

NOTE: HAVE A LOOK ON PAGE 32, LINKING WORDS AND PHRASES.

6. USING GOOD PUNCTUATION


A good command of punctuation helps you to say more, say it more interestingly
and be understood at first reading. Punctuation is an essential part of the tool-kit as
important as choosing the right words. The main purpose of punctuation should be to
help the reader understand the construction of a sentence. A lesser purpose is to act as a
substitute for the devices we all use in speech, such as pausing and altering pitch. You
might want to read a sentence aloud to help you decide how to punctuate it.
Full Stop (.) The main aim of a full stop is to show where a sentence ends. For this
reason, full stops should be the most common mark on the page. There is no
need to use full stops in peoples names or in abbreviations or acronyms, for
example: EEUU, BBC, US, J C Bennet
Note: El punto separa unidades conceptuales (oraciones = Sujeto, Verbo y
Complementos).
Comma (,) Single commas act as separators between parts of a sentence. Commas
are helpful in separating listed items and in creating special effects, such as
suspense.
Note: Siempre se pone coma al enumerar ms de dos cosas y antes de and. Si
se decide poner coma delante de and, siempre habr que hacerlo.
Example: A goose, a duck, and a sparrow drank from that pond.
Colons (:) Colons have three main purposes:
1) To introduce a vertical list or a running-text list.
Example: She has several positive characteristics: charm, dignity, and stickability7.
2) To act as a why-because marker which leads the reader from one idea to its
consequence or logical continuation.
Example: There is one big problem with tennis on radio: you cant see it.

Stickability = Fiabilidad (Alguien de quien te puedes fiar porque cumple su palabra).

12

Carlos Snchez Garrido


Manual for Writing Better
3) To separate two sharply contrasting and parallel statements.
Example: During Wimbledon, television is like someone with a reserved ticket:
radio is the enthusiast who has queued all night to get in.
A weaker contrast might be signified by a semicolon (;). There is some overlap in
meaning between the two marks.
In all these uses, the colon will usually follow a statement that could be a complete
sentence. After the colon the sentence will usually continue with a lower-case letter.
1. COMMAS (,)
Commas to set off8 nouns of address
Sometimes in a sentence we name the person we are speaking to, or addressing.
Examples:
-

Mother, the food here is good but not as good as yours.


Dont forget to bring the can opener, Irene.
Your son, Mrs. Jacobs, is a troublemaker.

Whenever names are used in this way as nouns of address they are fenced off9
from the rest of the sentence by commas. Only one comma is used when the name
comes at the beginning or at the end of the sentence. But two commas are needed when
the name comes somewhere in the middle.
Commas used for this purpose make for easier reading.
Examples:
PUZZLING

CLEAR AT A GLANCE

Marvin the mailman is here.

Marvin, the mailman is here.

Try to remember Harry to take the


garbage out.

Try to remember, Harry, to take the


garbage out.

Tell us how the state of Virginia got its


name Elizabeth.

Tell us how the state of Virginia got its


name, Elizabeth.

Occasionally words other than actual names are used in addressing a person. For
example, a grandfather might address his grandson by his name, or he might use
expressions like these:
Now just you listen to me, young man.
What you need, my boy, is a good sound spanking10.

Set off = Enfatizar, dar realce, realzar, resaltar.


Fence off = Separar con una cerca.
10
Sound spanking = Varios azotes.
9

13

Carlos Snchez Garrido


Manual for Writing Better
Such expressions should be set off from the rest of the sentence by commas, just as
a persons name would be.
Commas to set off appositives
Often, after mentioning a particular person or thing in a sentence, we add a few
words by way of explanation.
Examples:
-

Ed Hill, the boy in the red shirt, is a mathematical genius.


The villain in the play was Sylvester, the boss nephew.
Virgilia, a tiny town in the southern part of the state, is nothing but a
crossroads and a high grain11.

An appositive is a noun (usually with modifiers) that comes right after another noun
to explain it. Apposition is an explanation. Appositives are set off from the rest of the
sentence by commas, to help the reader see immediately what is meant.
Examples:
WITHOUT COMMAS

WITH COMMAS

Nick our basset hound howls12 whenever


the baby cries.

Nick, our basset hound, howls whenever


the baby cries.

Without the commas to help him, a reader might think Nick was a boy or a man
the person spoken to. But with the commas, he knows in a split second that Nick is not a
person, but a hound.
Commas to set off parenthetical13 words
In writing, you sometimes detour14 away from the main part of a sentence to make a
side remark or a by the way comment.
Examples:
-

The rent, by the way, must be paid in advance.


Robert, it seemed, had left the tickets at home.
His picture, dont forget, was posted in every post office in the West.

To mark detours like these clearly for a reader, you need two commas. The first one
acts as a slow-down signal15, and the second one lets the reader know that he is back to
the main idea again.

11

High grain = Granero elevado.


Howl = Aullar.
13
Parenthetical = Secundario.
14
Detour = Desviarse.
15
Slow-down signal = Seal de disminucin.
12

14

Carlos Snchez Garrido


Manual for Writing Better
Such side remarks and comments, called parenthetical words, do not always come in
the middle of a sentence. Sometimes they come at the beginning, and sometimes at the
end.
Examples:
-

As a matter of fact, Pete is afraid of snakes.


No one is perfect, after all.

But wherever they come in a sentence, parenthetical words are set off by a comma
or commas.
Single words (h
however, naturally, besides, for example) may be used
parenthetically. When they are, they are fenced off from the rest of the sentence by
commas.
Examples:
-

The thief, however, could find nothing worth stealing.


Their cottage, remember, is small.
Berts poem, moreover, made sense.

Words like yes, no, well, and oh, when used parenthetically at the beginning of a
sentence, should also be set off.
Examples:
-

Yes, Pecos Bill did grow up thinking that he was a coyote.


Well, he thought he was a coyote because he howled like a coyote and has
fleas.

Commas between items in a series


Even without any commas, a sentence like the following is not too hard for you to
figure out:
Bobs car has a scratch on the windshield16 a bump on the right front fender17 no
paint on the hood18 and a broken headlight19.
But look how much easier the sentence seems with commas:
Bobs car has a scratch on the windshield, a bump on the right front fender, no
paint on the hood, and a broken headlight.
Here is a rule made up for the readers comfort:
Rule: Use commas between the items in a series of three or more, to keep the items separate from each other.
16

Windshield = Parabrisas.
Front fender = Parachoques delantero.
18
Hood = Cap.
19
Headlight = Faro.
17

15

Carlos Snchez Garrido


Manual for Writing Better
If there are three items in the series, use two commas. If there are four items in the
series, use three commas. And if there are five items in the series, use four commas.
Everything said previously means that the number of commas to use, then, is the
number of items in the series, minus one.
When all the items in the series are joined by and or or, you do not need to use
any commas. The conjunctions alone will serve to keep the items apart.
Examples:
-

The boys and Grandma and the dog all climbed into the back seat.
Do you think you might have left it in your locker or on the bus or at
Sharons house? asked Bill.

Commas in compound sentences


There were a lot of misspelled words, and the front-page photograph was upside
down.
This comma is used for the readers sake20. It keeps him from running together
words that do not belong together. It keeps him from having to go back to the first word
and start the sentence again.
Examples:
EASY TO MISREAD

CLEAR AT FIRST READING

I lent a dime to Ed and Al gave me a


dollar.

I lent a dime to Ed, and Al gave me a


dollar.

Hell eat almost anything but liver21 and


onions make him sick.

Hell eat almost anything, but liver and


onions make him sick.

In all the writing that you do, keep your reader in mind. Use a comma before the
conjunction (and, but, or) that joins the parts of a compound sentence.
Commas with addresses and dates
An address in your mothers address book might be written like this:
Mrs. Norman Wheeler
52 Palmwood Lane
Miami Beach
Florida 33149
Because each part of the address has been put on separate line, no one would be
puzzled, even for a moment, in reading it.
20
21

Readers sake = Por el bien del lector.


Liver = Hgado.

16

Carlos Snchez Garrido


Manual for Writing Better
When you write an address as part of a sentence, you can get this same unmistakable
clarity by using commas.
Examples:
WITHOUT COMMAS: Send your money to Mrs. Norman Wheeler 52 Palmwood
Lane Miami Beach Florida 33149. [Not so clear]
WITH COMMAS: Send your money to Mrs. Norman Wheeler, 52 Palmwood Lane,
Miami Beach, Florida 33149. [Clear at a glance]
The same thing is also true in writing dates. Commas help to separate the parts, for
example: We bought the car on Wednesday, March 8, 1968.
Whenever you write a sentence containing an address or a date of two or more parts,
put a comma after each of the parts. Unless the address or date comes at the end of the
sentence, the number of commas should be the same as the number of parts.
Examples:
- They have lived in Albany, California, since 1965. [2 parts, 2 commas.]
- On Friday, June 13, 1957, an important person was born. [3 parts, 3
commas.]
Commas for clearness
Some student writers seem to think that if one comma is good, then two must be
better and three or more, even better than that. So they pepper their paragraphs with
commas, turning out sentences that look like this:
At the drugstore, Friday afternoon, Linda and Joanne
got into a discussion, about who should pay for the icecream cones. Linda said, it was her turn to pay. But,
Joanne insisted that Linda had paid the time before. So,
they argued, and argued, and in the end, stopped
speaking to each other, for a week.
None of the ten commas in the paragraph are necessary. Not only are they
unnecessary, but they are undesirable. They give the paragraph a choppy and a brokenup effect. They interrupt the smooth flow of ideas and slow a reader down. Reading
such a paragraph is something like driving along a street that has a traffic signal at every
corner.
A good way to avoid this fault in your own writing is not to use a comma unless you
can give a definite reason for doing so. If, for example, a sentence you write is
compound or contains a noun of address, an appositive, a parenthetical expression, a
series, or an address or date, you would use commas following the six rules you have
studied so far. There will be times, however, when you will strongly feel that a comma
is needed in a sentence, even though none of the six rules applied. Take these sentences,
for example:
-

To Mary Martin was the handsomest boy alive.


17

Carlos Snchez Garrido


Manual for Writing Better
-

The second time he tried skiing seemed much easier.


After that dinner dinner meetings were abolished.

Without commas to help them, most readers would misread the sentences the first
time through and would have to go back and try again. To prevent misreading in
sentences like these, we have another important rule:
Rule: Use commas to keep the meaning clear wherever words that do not belong
together seem to grab.
Examples:
-

To Mary, Martin was the handsomest boy alive. [The comma makes it
immediately clear that two people are meant Mary and Martin.]

The second time he tried, skiing seemed much easier. [To keep the reader
from running together the first six words: The second time he tried skiing]

After that dinner, dinner meetings were abolished. [To keep the reader from
stumbling over22 the second dinner.]

2. SEMI-COLONS (;)
a) Use a semicolon between main clauses not joined by and, but, or
another coordinating conjunction.
Example: The side-effects23 are not minor; some leave the patient quite ill.
b) Use a semicolon between main clauses related by however, thus, or
another conjunctive adverb24.
Example: The Labour Department lawyers will be here in a month; therefore,
the grievance committee should meet as soon as possible.
The position of the semicolon between main clauses never changes, but the
conjunctive adverb may move around within a clause. The adverb is usually
set off with a comma or commas.
Example: Blue jeans have become fashionable all over the world; however, the
American originators still wear more jeans than anyone else.
Commas are optional with thus, then, and some other one-syllable
conjunctive adverbs; and commas are usually omitted when therefore,
instead, and a few other adverbs fall inside or at the ends of clauses.
22

Stumble over = Tropezar con.


Side-effects = Efectos secundarios.
24
Conjunctive adverbs include consequently, hence, however, indeed, instead,
nonetheless, otherwise, still, then, therefore, thus, and now. When a conjunctive
adverb relates two main clauses, the clauses should be separated by a semicolon. More information on
page 23.
23

18

Carlos Snchez Garrido


Manual for Writing Better
Examples:
-

Springfields population makes an average American town; thus


pollsters25 often flock there for samples.
Being average does not earn anonymity; it earns fame instead.

c) Use a semicolon to separate main clauses if they are long and complex or if
they contain commas, even when a coordinating conjunction joins them.
You would normally use a comma with a coordinating conjunction such as
and or but between main clauses. But placing semicolons between
clauses punctuated with commas or between long and grammatically
complicated clauses makes a sentence easier to read.
Example:
By a conscious effort of the mind, we can stand aloof from actions and their
consequences; and all things, good and bad, go by us like a torrent.
- Henry David Thoreau
Many writers prefer to use a semicolon instead of a comma between main
clauses joined by the coordinating conjunctions so and yet, even when
the clauses are not complicated or internally punctuated.
Examples:
-

The day was rainy and blustery26; so the food vendors kept their
fruits and vegetables indoors.
It seemed an unlikely day for shopping; yet buyers flocked27 to the
market for fresh, inexpensive produce28.

d) Use semicolons to separate items in a series if they are long or contain


commas if they are internally punctuated. The semicolons help the reader
identify the items.
Example: The custody case involved Amy Dalton, the child; Ellen and Mark
Dalton, the parents; and Ruth and Hal Blum, the grandparents.
USE THE SEMICOLON ONLY WHERE IT IS REQUIRED:
Semicolons do not separate unequal sentence elements and should not be overused.
Some points to bear in mind:
a) Delete or replace any semicolon that separates a subordinate clause or a
phrase from a main clause.
The semicolon does not separate subordinate clauses and main clauses, or
phrases and main clauses.
25

Pollsters = Encuestadores.
Blustery = Con mucho viento.
27
Flock = Acudir (en masa).
28
Produce = Productos (alimenticios).
26

19

Carlos Snchez Garrido


Manual for Writing Better
Example:
-

According to African authorities; only about 35,000 Pygmies exist


today. [FAULTY]
According to African authorities only about 35,000 Pygmies exist
today. [REVISED]

b) Delete or replace any semicolon that introduces a series or explanation.


Colons (:) and dashes (-), not semicolons, introduce series, explanations, and
so forth29.
Example:
-

Teachers have heard all sorts of reasons why students do poorly;


psychological problems, family illness, too much work, too little time.
[FAULTY]
Teachers have heard all sorts of reasons why students do poorly:
psychological problems, family illness, too much work, too little time.
[REVISED]
Teachers have heard all sorts of reasons why students do poorly
psychological problems, family illness, too much work, too little time.
[REVISED]

c) Use the semicolon sparingly30. Too many semicolons, even when they are
required by rule, often indicate repetitive sentence structure.
Example:
SEMICOLON OVERUSED
The Make-a-Wish Foundation helps sick children; it grants the wishes of
children who are terminally ill. The foundation learns of a childs wish; the
information usually comes from parents, friends, or hospital staff; the wish
may be for a special toy, perhaps, or a visit to Disneyland. The foundation
grants some wishes with its own funds; for other wishes it appeals to those
who have what the child desires.
REVISED
The Make-a-Wish Foundation helps sick children; it grants the wishes of
children who are terminally ill. From parents, friends, or hospital staff, the
foundation learns of a childs wish for a special toy, perhaps, or a visit to
Disneyland. It grants some wishes with its own funds; for other wishes it
appeals to those who have what the child desires.

29
30

And so forth = [and (so on and) so forth] etcetera, etcetera.


Sparingly = Ocasionalmente, en su justa medida.

20

Carlos Snchez Garrido


Manual for Writing Better
3. COLONS (:)
The colon is mainly a mark of introduction. It signals that the words following will
explain or amplify. The colon also has several conventional uses, such as in expressions
of time.
In its main use as an introducer, a colon is always preceded by a complete main
clause one containing a subject and a predicate and not starting with a subordinating
word. A colon may or may not be followed by a main clause. This is one way the colon
differs from the semicolon. The colon is often interchangeable with the dash, though the
dash is more informal and more abrupt.
Some rules to take into account:
a) Use a colon to introduce a concluding explanation, series, appositive, or long
or formal quotation.
-

EXPLANATION
Example:
Soul food is a varied cuisine: it includes spicy gumbos31, black-eyed
peas32 and collard greens33.
Sometimes a concluding explanation is preceded by the following
or as follows and a colon.
Example:
A more precise definition might be the following: ingredients,
cooking methods, and dishes originating in Africa, brought to the
New World by black slaves, and modified or supplemented in the
Caribbean and the American South.

SERIES
Example:
At least three soul food dishes are familiar to most Americans: fried
chicken, barbecued spareribs34, and sweet potatoes.

APPOSITIVE
Example: Soul food has one disadvantage: fat35.
Namely, That is, and other expressions that introduce
appositives follow the colon.

31

Gumbos = Sopa de quingomb (planta herbcea africana), mariscos o carne (pollo) y verduras.
Black-eyed pea = [Black-eyed vean (BrE)] Juda carilla.
33
Collard green = Col rizada.
34
Sparerib = Costilla (con poca carne).
35
Fat = Grasa.
32

21

Carlos Snchez Garrido


Manual for Writing Better
Example: Soul food has one disadvantage: namely36, fat.
-

LONG OR FORMAL QUOTATION


Example:
One soul food chef has a solution: Soul food doesnt have to be
greasy to taste good Instead of using ham hocks to flavour beans, I
use smoked turkey wings. The soulful, smoky taste remains, but
without all the fat of pork.

Note: Depending on your preference, a complete sentence after the colon may begin
with a capital letter or a small letter. Just be consistent throughout an essay.
b) Use a colon to separate titles and subtitles, the subdivisions of time, and the
parts of biblical citations.
Examples:
-

TITLES AND SUBTITLES


Charles Dickens: An Introduction to His Novels.
Eros and Civilization: A Philosophical Inquiry into Freud.

TIME
12:26 P.M.

BIBLICAL CITATIONS
Isaiah 28:1-6

c) Use the colon only where it is required. Use the colon at the end of a main
clause. Avoid using it between a verb and complement, verb and object, or
preposition and object. Furthermore, do not use it after such as.
Example:
Two entertaining movies directed by Steven Spielberg are: E.T. and Raiders
of the Lost Ark. [FAULTY]
Two entertaining movies directed by Steven Spielberg are E.T. and Raiders
of the Lost Ark. [REVISED]

36

Namely = A saber (frml), concretamente.

22

Carlos Snchez Garrido


Manual for Writing Better
7. DISTINGUISHING THE COMMA, THE SEMICOLON, AND THE
COLON
The comma chiefly separates both equal and unequal sentence elements.
-

It separates main clauses when they are linked by a coordinating


conjunction.
Example: She is happy, because she has won the lottery.

It separates subordinate information that is part of or attached to a main


clause, such as a non-restrictive modifier or an introductory element.
Example: Although the airline campaign failed, many advertising agencies
including some clever ones, copied its underlying message.

The semicolon chiefly separates equal and balanced sentence elements.


-

It separates complementary main clauses that are not linked by a


coordinating conjunction37.
Example: The airline campaign had highlighted only half the story; the other
half was buried in the copy.

It separates complementary main clauses that are related by a conjunctive


adverb38.
Example: The campaign should not have stressed the pilots insecurity;
instead, the campaign should have stressed the improved performance
resulting from that insecurity.

The colon chiefly separates unequal sentence elements.


-

It separates a main clause from a following explanation or summary


which may or may not be a main clause.
Example: Many successful advertising campaigns have used this message:
the anxious seller is harder working and smarter than the competitor.

37

Coordinating Conjunctions: and, but, for, nor, or, so, and yet.
Conjunctive Adverbs: accordingly, furthermore, moreover, similarly, also, hence,
namely, still, anyway, however, nevertheless, then, besides, incidentally, next,
thereafter, certainly, indeed, nonetheless, therefore, consequently, instead, now,
thus, finally, likewise, otherwise, undoubtedly, further, meanwhile.
38

23

Carlos Snchez Garrido


Manual for Writing Better
8. CAPITALIZATION
School subjects
Do not capitalize the names of subjects you study in school unless they are the
names of languages (English, Latin, Spanish, German).
Example: In the morning, we have spelling, geography, English, and gym.
Directions
When words like south, east, northwest, and so on, are used to tell in what direction
to go or in what direction something is located, they are not capitalized.
Example: To get to the stadium, go west on Central Avenue for six blocks and then
turn north on Adams Street.
These words are capitalized, however, when they are used to mean geographical
regions of the country or of the world.
Example: Jack lived out West until he was nine years old.
Seasons
Strange as it may seem, the names of the seasons are not capitalized. The words
winter, spring, summer, fall, and autumn should be written with a small
letter.
Example: Next winter I am going to take skiing lessons.
Family relationships
A noun that is used to show a family relationship (like mother, aunt, uncle,
grandpa) is not usually capitalized when it is preceded by a word like a or the
or this or by a possessive form (like my, your, her, Toms).
Example: Lori gets her sense of humour from her father.
Note: Jim gets his good looks from Mother. [Here Mother is capitalized because it is
not preceded by a word like a or his]
A noun showing family relationship is also capitalized if it is used with a persons
name as a part of a proper noun.
Example: I like visiting Aunt Harriet and Uncle Steve.
A noun showing family relationship is also capitalized if it is used alone as the name
of the person spoken to.
Example: The Holly said, How can you think thats funny, Mother?
24

Carlos Snchez Garrido


Manual for Writing Better
Personal titles
We often use nouns like captain, general, mayor, judge, professor,
governor, and senator to show a persons rank or office or work. Such nouns are
capitalized if they are used with a persons name as a part of a proper noun.
Example: The reporter had several questions to ask Mayor Holden.
They are also capitalized if used alone as the name of the person spoken to.
Example: Is that a promise, Mayor? he asked.
In other cases, these title-showing nouns are not capitalized.
Example: Everyone expected that the mayor would be at the banquet.
Proper adjectives
The italicized39 adjectives in the following sentences are called proper adjectives,
because each is formed from a proper noun.
Examples:
-

All Shakespearian plays have large casts. [Formed from proper noun
William Shakespeare]
Helga carried the Swedish flag. [From proper noun Sweden]

A proper adjective is always capitalized. But the noun that follows it is not
capitalized, unless it is a proper noun.
Examples:
-

There is an exhibit of Peruvian art at the library.


We spent the afternoon colouring Easter eggs.

Similarly, the name that identifies the brand or maker of a product is capitalized, but
not the name of the product itself.
Examples:
-

He gave us a sample of Colgate toothpaste.


They made their getaway in a blue Ford sedam.

A handy reference
From time to time during the school year, questions about capitalization are bound
to crop up40. In general, we capitalize the names of:
39
40

Italicized = En cursiva.
Crop up = Aflorar, surgir (colloq).

25

Carlos Snchez Garrido


Manual for Writing Better
-

PEOPLE: Helen Hayes, John P. Otoole, Dr. Soter


ANIMALS: Smokey Bear, Flipper, Winnie-the-Pooh, Dobbin
GEOGRAPHICAL PLACES: Europe, Nicaragua, Vermont, Central Park
TRIBES, NATIONALITIES, LANGUAGES: Ojibway, a Dane, Japanese
GOVERNMENT BODIES, AGENCIES: Congress, US Patent Office
POLITICAL PARTIES AND MEMBERS: The Republican Party, a
Democrat, Socialists
ORGANIZATIONS: National Geographic Society, ONU
RELIGIONS, CHURCHES: Buddhism, the Fourth Presbyterian Church, a
Catholic
SACRED FIGURES AND BOOKS: God, the Holy Spirit, the Bible, the New
Testament, the Torah, the Koran
INSTITUTIONS: Taft Elementary School, Childrens Memorial Hospital,
Newberry Library
BUILDINGS, STRUCTURES: Pittsburgh Civic Arena, Blackstone Theater,
Golden Gate Bridge
BUSINESS FIRMS: Avon Products, Inc., Nunn-Bush Shoe Company
BRAND NAMES: Rice Krispies, Ideal dog food, a Boeing 707
HISTORICAL EVENTS, PERIODS: World War II, the Middle Ages
HISTORICAL DOCUMENTS: the Treaty of Ghent, the Stamp Act
MONTHS, DAYS, HOLIDAYS: March, Friday, Christmas
SPECIAL EVENTS: the World Series, the Olympics
PUBLICATIONS: Detroit Free Press, the Ladies Home Journal, El Pas
SHIPS, TRAINS: the N.S. Savannah, the Broadway Limited
TITLES: A Long Way Down, To the Starts and Beyond

9. FORMAL LETTERS
Formal letters are normally sent to people in an official position or people you dont
know well (i.e. Director of Studies, Personnel Manager41, etc). They are written in a
formal style with a polite, impersonal tone.
You can write a formal letter to apply for a job/course, make a complaint,
give/request official information, etc.
A formal letter should consist of:
a) A formal greeting (i.e. Dear Sir/Madam when you do not know the
persons name; Dear Ms42 Green when you know the persons name).
b) An introduction in which you write your opening remarks and mention
your reason(s) for writing (i.e. I am writing to apply for the position of).
c) A main body in which you write about the main subject(s) of the letter in
detail, starting a new paragraph for each topic.
d) A conclusion in which you write your closing remarks (i.e. I look forward
to hearing from you as soon as possible).
41

Personnel Manager = Jefe de personal.


When we refer to a person we have to put: Mr (Seor), Miss (seorita), Ms (mujer que no
quiere desvelar su estado civil), and Mrs (seora casada).

42

26

Carlos Snchez Garrido


Manual for Writing Better
e) A formal ending (i.e. Yours faithfully when you do not know the
persons name; Yours sincerely when you know the persons name; + your
full name).

INTRODUCTION
---------------------------------------------------

NOTE

Paragraph 1

Opening remarks/reason(s) for writing

Si al principio pones:
Dear Sir/ Madam (no sabes el
nombre del destinatario)

MAIN BODY
--------------------------------------------------

Paragraph 2 3 4 *

Al final pones:
Yours faithfully.

Development of subject(s)

Si al principio pones:
CONCLUSION
---------------------------------------------------

Dear Mr Gonzlez (sabes el


nombre del destinatario).

Final Paragraph

Al final pones:

Closing remarks

Yours sincerely.

* The number of main body paragraphs


may vary, depending on the rubric.

Do not forget to include in that formal letter the Addresser (remitente) and the
Addressee (destinatario).
10. LETTERS OF APPLICATION
When you write a letter applying for a job or a course, you should include the
following information:
a) In the opening remarks/reason(s) for writing the name of the job/course,
where and when you saw it advertised (i.e. the position of manager
advertised in yesterdays Herald).
b) In the main body paragraphs (2 3 4):
-

Age, present job and/or studies (i.e. I am a nineteen years-old


university student).

Qualifications (i.e. I have a BA in French).


27

Carlos Snchez Garrido


Manual for Writing Better
-

Experience (i.e. I have been working as a waiter for the last two
years).

Skills and personal qualities which are suitable for the job/course (i.e.
I am a good and careful driver. I consider myself to be mature and
responsible).

c) In the closing remarks you can add any other important information, for
example, when you are available for interviewing, where and when you can
be contacted, references you can send, a remark that you hope your
application will be considered, etc (i.e. I will be available for interviewing in
September / I enclose references from my last two employers / I look forward
to hearing from you).
You must usually use:
-

The Present Simple to describe skills/personal qualities (i.e. I am a patient


and reliable person).

The Past Simple to talk about past experiences (i.e. I left school in 1994. I
worked for General Motors for four years).

The Present Perfect to talk about recent work/studies (i.e. I have been
working for LTYU for two years / I have recently finished secondary school).

11. LETTERS OF COMPLAINT


In a formal letter making a complaint, you may use a mild43 tone, for complaints
about minor problems, or a strong tone, for complaints about more serious matters,
especially when you are extremely upset44 or annoyed. However, the language you use
should never be rude or insulting.
A letter of complaint should consist of:
a) In the opening remarks, you should state your complaint, including
details of what has happened and where/when the incident took place.
Examples:
(Mild tone)
-

I am writing in connection with / to complain about the terrible


behaviour/attitude/rudeness of
I am writing to draw your attention to which

(Strong tone)
-

I am writing to express my strong dissatisfaction at

43

Mild = Pacfico.
UPset = Trastorno / upSET = Disgustado, alterado, ofendido, desilusionado, alterar, disgustar, volcar,
derramar, trastornar, perturbar.

44

28

Carlos Snchez Garrido


Manual for Writing Better
-

I wish to bring to your attention a problem which arose due to your


staff/inefficiency
I wish to express my dissatisfaction/unhappiness with the
product/treatment I received from on

b) In the main body paragraphs, you present each of the specific points you
are complaining about. You start a new paragraph for each point and justify
these points by giving examples/reasons.
Example: Although you advertise top quality, I felt that the product I
purchased was well below the standard I expected.
c) In the closing remarks, you should explain what you expect to happen, for
example, to be given a refund/replacement/apology/etc.
Examples:
(Mild tone)
-

I hope you will replace


I feel/believe that I am entitled to a replacement/refund
I hope that this matter can be resolved/dealt with promptly.

(Strong tone)
-

I insist on/I demand a full refund/an immediate replacement/etc or I


shall be forced to take legal action/the matter further.
I hope that I will not be forced to take further action.

12. SOME USEFUL PHRASES TO INCLUDE IN LETTERS


This is a list of useful phrases for future references. Furthermore, we can find in this
list, examples for every part of the letter, and also for every type of letter (application,
complaint, formal letter)
Examples:
With reference to your advertisement
Im writing to apply for the position
I am writing to express my dissatisfaction
I look forward to hearing from you as soon as possible.
I must insist on a full refund (total devolucin)
Would you like me to?
You will be pleased to hear that
I am afraid that
Please, find enclosed
Please, do not hesitate to ask
Further to (Lejos de)
Could you possibly?
Please, contact us
29

Carlos Snchez Garrido


Manual for Writing Better

Starting

We are writing to advise you of


We are writing to confirm

Starting a reference

Thank you for your letter of January 23rd.


With reference to our telephone conversation today,
With reference to your fax of June 5th,

Giving good news

I am delighted to tell you that (Me agrada decirle)


You will be pleased to hear that

Giving bad news

We regret to inform you that


Unfortunately,
I am afraid that

Making a request

We could be grateful if you could


I would appreciate it if you could
Could you possibly?
Please,

Offering help

If you wish, we would be happy to


Would you like me to?

Apologizing

I am sorry about the delay in replying.


I would like to apologize for
We are sorry for any inconvenience caused.

Enclosing documents

I am enclosing
Please, find enclosed

If you have any further questions,


If we can help in any way, please contact us again.
Closing remarks (formal ending)
Thank you for your help (Informal).
Please, do not hesitate to ask

Referring to future contact

I look forward to meeting you next week.


Looking forward to receiving your comments in due
course.

30

Carlos Snchez Garrido


Manual for Writing Better
Example of a letter of complaint:
Dear Sir/Madam,
I am writing to express my strong dissatisfaction at the disgraceful
treatment I received at the Walford branch of Stimpsons Electronics
yesterday afternoon.
Firstly, the product I was given was not the model I had asked for. The
new X-401 calculator was demonstrated to me by the sales assistant, and I
agreed to buy it. However, on unpacking my purchase, I saw that I had been
given the smaller X-201 model instead.
Furthermore, this calculator was much cheaper than the model I
requested and paid for. It didnt have many of the features I needed and was
much more basic than the one I was shown to begin with.
To make matters worse, I was deeply offended by the behaviour of the
sales assistant when I went back to the shop to complain. He was not only
impolite, but also unhelpful. He refused to contact the manager when I asked
to speak to him about the incident.
As you can imagine, I am extremely upset. I must insist on a full refund,
in addition to a written apology from the local manager, or else I shall be
forced to take further action. I expect to hear from you as soon as possible.

Introduction

Main Body

Conclusion

Yours faithfully,
(signature)
Caroline Adams.
13. LINKING WORDS AND PHRASES
To make your piece of writing more interesting, you can use a variety of linking
words and phrases to join sentences or ideas together.
Examples:

[A] Joyce has got red hair. Shes got freckles.


[A] Joyce has got red hair and freckles.
[B] David is a tall man. He is in his late forties.
[B] David is a tall man who is in his forties.
[C] Bridget is an attractive woman. Shes got shoulder-length hair.
[C] Bridget is an attractive woman with shoulder-length hair.
[D] She is tall. She is thin.
[D] She is both tall and thin.

You can join descriptions of similar personal qualities by using in addition,


also, and, moreover, etc.
Examples:
[A] She is cheerful. She is always smiling. She always behaves politely.
31

Carlos Snchez Garrido


Manual for Writing Better
[A] She is cheerful and is always smiling. Moreover, she always behaves
politely.
You can join descriptions of contrasting qualities by using but, on the other
hand, however, nevertheless, etc.
Examples:
[A] He is clever and always does well at school. He can be bossy at times.
[A] He is clever and always does well at school. However, he can be bossy
at times.
To join short sentences you can use various linking structures, for example:
[A] You should visit the old part of the city. It is full of ancient temples.
[A] You should visit the old part of the city, which is full of ancient temples.
[B] Young children will enjoy the local funfair. They can go on exciting rides
and eat tasty toffee-apples there.
[B] Young children will enjoy the local funfair, where they can go on
exciting rides and eat tasty toffee-apples there.
[C] Charlies Lobster House is one of the most popular restaurants in the
area. It has delicious lobster dishes.
[C] With its delicious lobster dishes, Charlies Lobster House is one of the
most popular restaurants in the area.
[D] Ranega Airport is on the east coast of the island. It is one of the most
modern airports in the country.
[D] Situated on the east coast of the island, Ranega Airport is one of the
most modern airports in the country.

32

Carlos Snchez Garrido


Manual for Writing Better

LINKERS LIST
CAUSE AND EFFECT

Neutral & Frequent

So / So that (as, tan, as que, para que)


Then (entonces, luego, despus)
Because of this (a causa de esto)
Make something happen
Bringing on (provocando, potenciando)
Causing (causando)
Affecting (afectando)
Producing (produciendo)
More formal
As a result (of this) (como resultado de esto)
As a consequence (como consecuencia)
Consequently (por consiguiente)
Accordingly (en consecuencia, por lo tanto)
For this reason (por este motivo)
Therefore (Por lo tanto, luego)
Thereby (de ese modo, as)

ADD REASONS AND INFORMATION


Regardless (of) (a pesar de)
Also (tambin)
Then too (luego tambin)
Besides (adems adv- / adems de, aparte de - prep)
Too (tambin)
Again (de nuevo)
Once again (una vez ms)
Add to this
What's more (lo que es ms)
As well (tambin) [= in addition]
On top (of this/that)
In my opinion (en mi opinion)
Furthermore (adems)
Moreover (adems)
In addition (to) (adems -de-)
Additionally (adems, an ms)
Bear in mind (tener presente)
Take into account (tomar en consideracin)
As we mentioned before (como mencionamos antes)
According to (segn)
Suffice it to say
In light of the fact that (a la luz del hecho)
All along (desde el primer momento)
While speaking
Id like to comment on that
Sorry, but . . .
Can / May I add something?
Can / May I ask a question?
Excuse me for interrupting, but
Can I add here that
Id like to say something if I may.

RETURNING TO TOPIC

CONJUNCTIONS
Neutral & Frequent

Anyway (de todas modos, por lo menos)


As I was saying (como iba diciendo)
In any case (en cualquier caso, de cualquier
modo, de todas maneras/formas)
To get back to what I was saying (volviendo
a lo que estaba diciendo)
Where was I?

And (y)
Neither (tampoco)
Or (o, ni)
Yet (sin embargo)
But (pero)
For (a, para prep- / pues, puesto que conj-)
So (as, as que, de manera que) [asso= as como]
Nor (tampoco)

33

Carlos Snchez Garrido


Manual for Writing Better
SUMMARIZING

COMPARING

Neutral & Frequent

Neutral & Frequent

All in all (en general)


That is (para explicarlo ms claramente)
In other words (en otras palabras)
To sum it up (para resumir)
As a conclusion
Less frequent
In short (en pocas palabras)
By and large (por lo general, en general)

Also (tambin)
In the same way (de la misma forma)
By comparison (en comparacin)
By far (con mucho, de lejos)
Likewise (asimismo, de la misma manera)
So too (tambin) [I should think so too! - era lo menos que
poda hacer!]
As (como)
The same thing (lo mismo)
Even more (an ms)
More formal
In a similar manner (de una forma similar)
Similarly (igualmente, asimismo, del mismo modo)

PURPOSE

SHOWING CERTAINTY

Neutral & Frequent

Neutral & Frequent

In order to (para)
In order for (para)
In order that (para que + subjunctive)
So that (de modo que, para que)

At least (al menos, por lo menos, como mnimo)


Even so (an as)
Even then (an as)
Surely (seguramente, desde luego, por supuesto)
Certainly (desde luego)
No doubt (sin duda)
Conceivably (cabe la posibilidad, evidentemente)
Perhaps (quiz(s), tal vez)
Probably (probablemente + subjunctive)
All along (desde el primer momento)
More formal
At the same time (a la misma vez)
After all (despus de todo)
Apparently (al parecer, segn parece, por lo visto)
Possibly (posiblemente, evidentemente) [= conceivably]
Undoubtedly (indudablemente, sin duda)
Conclusively (de manera concluyente, concluyentemente)
Doubtless (sin duda, indudablemente)
Evidently (claramente, segn parece, obviamente)
Presumably (es de suponer)
The truth be told (para decir la verdad)

34

Carlos Snchez Garrido


Manual for Writing Better
EXPLAINING REASONS

LOGICAL ARGUMENT

Neutral & Frequent

Neutral & Frequent

Certainly (desde luego, por supuesto)


Actually (en realidad)
Really (realmente, verdaderamente)
For example (por ejemplo)
In fact (en realidad, de hecho)
As a matter of fact (en realidad)
For that matter (en realidad, de hecho)
That is to say (es decir)
Of course (claro, naturalmente)
Because (porque)
Since (desde entonces-)
Basically speaking (basicamente hablando)

Not only ... but also (no solo sino tambin)


The more ... the better (cuanto ms major)
Whether ... or (ya sea o )
Either ... or (o o )
For instance (por ejemplo)
This ... that (esto eso)
Neither ... nor (ni ni )
For example (por ejemplo)
Here ... there (aqu y all )
In particular (en particular, en especial)
Since ... then (desde entonces )
If ... then (si entonces )
These ... those (estos aquellos )

More formal
For instance (por ejemplo)
Indeed (es ms, de verdad, en efecto)
Admittedly (hay que reconocer)

More formal
To illustrate (para demostrar)

CONDITIONS

CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER

Neutral & Frequent

Neutral & Frequent

If (si)
Although (aunque)
Even if (incluso si + subjunctive)
In spite of (a pesar)
Otherwise (si no, por lo dems, aparte de eso)
Though (aunque)
Even though (an cuando, a pesar de que)
Unless (aunque)
Depending on (dependiendo de)
At the same time (a la misma vez)
In this case (en este caso)
More formal
Under such circumstances
(bajo tales circunstancias)
Provided that (siempre que + subjunctive)
As long as (mientras)
This (that) being so (siendo esto/eso as)
In this event (en este evento)
Nevertheless (sin embargo, no obstante)
In these circumstances
(en estas circunstancias)
Nonetheless (sin embargo, no obstante)
Despite (a pesar de)

Later (despus, ms tarde)


In the meantime (mientras tanto, entretanto)
Finally (finalmente)
When / While / Already (cuando / mientras / ya)
Then (entonces, despus, luego)
Long before (mucho antes)
After that (despes de eso)
Earlier (antes)
Meanwhile (mientras tanto)
Before that (despus de eso)
At last (por fin, al fin)
Afterwards (despus) [Long Afterwards = mucho despus]
First, second... (primero, segundo)
Now (ahora) [Right Now = ahora mismo]
Shortly () [Shortly Afterwards = poco despus]
Right Then (en ese preciso momento)
By that time (para entonces)
Until / Till (hasta)
More formal
Previously (antes)
Subsequently (posteriormente)
At length (finalmente, por fin, detenidamente)
Simultaneously (al mismo tiempo, a la vez)
Concurrently (simultneamente)
Formerly (antes, anteriormente)
First and foremost (ante todo)
Last, but not least (por ltimo, pero no por eso menos importante)
Beforehand (antes, de antemano, con anticipacin)

35

Carlos Snchez Garrido


Manual for Writing Better
CONCESSION

CONTRAST

Neutral & Frequent

Neutral & Frequent


Instead [adv] (en cambio)
Instead of [prep] (en vez de, en lugar de)
Anyhow (de cualquier manera) [= Anyway]
Rather than (antes que)
But (pero)
On the one hand (por una parte)
On the other hand (por otra parte)
Still (an as, de todos modos)
However (sin embargo)
In spite of that [prep] (a pesar de eso)
Otherwise (si no, por lo dems, a parte de eso)

All the same (en todo caso)


Obviously (obviamente, como es lgico)
Of course (naturalmente, desde luego)
At any rate (por lo menos)
In any case (de cualquier manera)
Anyway (de todos modos/formas)
However (sin embargo)
Still (an as de todos modos)
It goes without saying that
More formal

More formal

To be sure, (para estar seguro, )


Granted (no te lo discuto, de acuerdo)
Admittedly (hay que reconocer)
It is true that (es verda que )
After all (despus de todo)
Nevertheless (sin embargo, no obstante)
In spite of [prep] (a pesar de)

Conversely (a la inversa)
Despite [prep] (a pesar de)
On the contrary (por el contrario)
Yet (sin embargo) [= But / Nevertheless]

INTRODUCING A TOPIC

FREQUENCY AND TIME

As for (en cuanto a, respecto a)


With respect to (con respecto a)
In every respect (en todo sentido)
Concerning (sobre, acerca de, con respecto a )
As regards (en cuanto a, en lo que se refiere a, en
lo que atae a)
With regard to (con respecto a, con relacin a, en
relacin con)
Say, (cambiando de tema, )
By the way (a propsito, por cierto, por el
contrario)

From time to time (de vez en cuando)


Every now and then (de tanto en tanto, cada vez en
cuando)
More often than not (la mayora del tiempo)

OTHER
Both (ambos, tanto como )

36