English Writing Questions and Answers
Work through these writing questions and answers to learn about writing sentences and the parts of sentences such as nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs.
Put all this together and present you written work well with software such as Microsoft Word and Apple Pages.
What is a sentence?
A sentence is a group of words that express something completely. This is the building block of your writing.
At a minimum – sentences should have a noun (names a place or thing) and verb (tells what the place or thing will do- a doing word).
Grammar is the way sentences are put together.
Sentences should be kept clear and fairly short when you are learning to write in English.
The following points are rules for constructing a sentence:
- ♦ Start it with a capital letter,
- ♦ Have spaces between each word,
- ♦ Have a punctuation mark at the end (. ! ?), and
- ♦ Make sure it is a complete thought (it doesn’t stop without finishing) and makes sense.
When writing using Microsoft Word or Pages, you can check your spelling and grammar from the Review menu options for any text you highlight with the computer mouse.
Make sure there are no green underlines (grammatical mistakes) or red underlines (spelling mistakes) showing on your screen.
What is a paragraph?
Paragraphs are groups of sentences that contain a similar idea, topic or concept. If you move on to another topic, begin a new paragraph.
A space separates paragraphs in your writing.In Microsoft Word and Apple Pages software, a new paragraph begins when you press the enter or return key.
In Word and Pages you can set the paragraphs to have a set amount of spacing before and after. Select the paragraph dropdown menu on the Home toolbar.
What is the difference between a noun and verb?
A noun is a place, thing or person. A verb is a ‘doing’ word.
Sentences have at least a noun and a verb.
What is the difference between an adjective and an adverb?
Adjectives and adverbs are called modifying verbs. Basically adjectives modify nouns and adverbs modify verbs.
How do you put the noun and verb in the sentence together?
The sentence needs at least a subject and an action. Then the modifying words can add some descriptions and make the sentence more complex.
How do you write a more complex sentence?
A sentence must have a subject (noun) and a verb. Usually the subject (noun) will come first but there are exceptions.
A more complex sentence will also have an object (also a noun) and some descriptions.
What is a determiner?
Determiners specify information about nouns – for example which, where or how many.
What is a connecting word?
Connecting words join the parts of a sentence together.
What are English slang words?
English Slang Words
English slang words come from many sources. These are a few, but there are many more, perhaps coming from regional areas and cultures.
Slang words have developed over time in different cultures and are difficult to understand for those learning English.
These words are not used in formal writing. They are informal words.
Here are some you might hear.
English and American Slang Words
- Ace – brilliant
- Bail – leave quickly
- Bees knees – the best
- Blue – feel down
- Buck – money
- Cheers – thank-you or a drinking toast
- Cram – to study at the last minute
- Crash – spend the night
- Creep – weird person
- Dodgy – wrong or illegal
- Drive up the wall – annoy
- Fancy that – surprise
- For real – truly
- Gobsmacked – surprised
- Gutted – devastated
English and American Slang Words
- Hangout – be with
- Hyped – agitated
- Lighten up – relax
- Loosen up – relax
- Lost the plot – acting strangely
- Nice one – good
- Pass the buck – pass on responsibility
- Piece of cake – easy
- Pig out – eat lots
- Scrummy – nice
- Skin of you teeth – only just
- Sweet – good
- Tight – close
- Uptight – not relaxed
- Wrap – finished
- Ace – excellent
- Blow-in – a surprise guest
- Blue – argument
- Bonzer – great
- Buckley’s chance – no chance
- Bull dust – rubbish
- Cark it – die
- Crikey – gee or exclamation
- Deadset – truth
- Fair dinkum – true
- Fair go – give a chance
- Going off – having a good time
- Knock back – refuse
- Mates rates – a good deal
- Rack off – go away
- Ripper – great
- She’ll be apples – she’ll be right
- Sheila – girl
- Stoked – pleased or happy
- Strewth – gee or exclamation
What are some rules about punctuation?
There are many complicated rules to punctuation in English writing.
These are some very basic rules. English writing is very complicated, so this is just a survival guide!
A Survival Guide to enable you to write professional documents.
There are many resources on the internet.
A good simple one is http://www.thepunctuationguide.com
How do you write your document using Microsoft Word or Pages?
Producing your Word Processed Document
The toolbar of your Microsoft Word or Pages software has a toolbar with menus for editing, formatting and referencing sources in the document. Here you can set the font type, size and alignment.
The paragraphs in your documents are groups of sentences that relate to a similar topic, idea or thought.
If you move on to another topic, press enter or return to start a new paragraph.
If you have the show paragraphs option on, you will see the paragraph symbol
The paragraphs or text, pictures and tables can be aligned to the left, centre and right.
Through the ribbon and menu options in the Word and Pages software you can set up many options:
- the alignment and indentation of text,
- spaces between paragraphs,
- bullet points and numbering for lists,
- borders, and
Single spaced lines are close together. Adjust the line spacing in the paragraph settings to make the lines spaced further apart.
Often assignments and reports are 1 ½ spaced to allow for easier reading. Lecturers prefer this and may set a presentation rule for a font and spacing.
Copy, Cut and Paste in Word
Cut, copy and paste can be carried out using the:
1. Home toolbar
2. Right clicking the mouse
Pages for Apple Mac
In Pages the same formatting options for text can be found on the right sidebar.
Copy, Cut and Paste in Pages
More options are under the File and Edit menus in Pages.
Use the Edit menu to copy, cut and paste.
Remember to use the File menu and save your document in a folder you have set up in your My Documents or on a storage device.
You can also right click the mouse to get options for cut, copy and paste.
Dividing Text on the Page
Do not divide text on the page with:
- only one line of the paragraph at the bottom of the page (an orphan),
- a heading from a paragraph, or
- items in a list of numbers or bullet points.
A hard page break is where you deliberately insert a page break into a document on the Word Page Layout or Pages Insert menu.
A soft page break is where the text written on the page automatically exceeds the limit for the page and spills over onto the next page.
How do you reference your english writing?
Referencing your Document
There are different methods and your university or college will let you know how they want you to do this.
The main message is that you must write in your own words or else plagiarism will be detected in your assignments and essays.
Academics (lecturers and tutors) take academic writing very seriously.
Is the resource or reference an ‘academic source’ or creditable writing source? Newspaper articles, webpage articles, Wikipedia are not credible sources in the eyes of academics.
Consult your university website for information on referencing when you prepare assignments for your business school.
There are several options for how the reference is listed, so make sure you check how this should be done at your university
This is the guide produced by the University of Tasmania
This is a serious topic, so ensure you are careful with the use of written information that is not your own work.
Where the information you have obtained is used without acknowledgement. Universities use software technology to determine levels of plagiarism in student work.
- ♦ This is the method used to provide the information from your research in your own words
- ♦ This is the method used by students to complete their documents
Bibliography or reference list
- ♦ A complete list of all the reference sources you have used in your work or document
- ♦ This list appears at the end of the document
- ♦ It is arranged in alphabetical order
- ♦ Do not quote large pieces of writing in your document, ensure you paraphrase the vast majority.
- ♦ Direct quotation is used where it is not possible to paraphrase or the key message would be lost. This is where you have used exactly the same words as another author in your written work.
- ♦ An example where you might use direct quotation is for the key requirements of a piece of law – Section 121 of the Corporations Act requires that ‘companies must produce financial reports in accordance with Accounting Standards’
- ♦ The parts of the sentence directly quoted are included in ‘quotation’ marks and after the sentence are referenced (Smith 2016, p 34). The full reference of the Smith publication would appear in the Bibliography.
- ♦ Single quotation marks ( ‘ ) are preferred to double quotation (“) marks in the Harvard referencing system used by most universities.
In text citation for a an idea or area of research
- ♦ This means that the reference is included in a sentence in your written work. This is an example where the full reference is in the reference list or bibliography; “Smith (2016) proposed that referencing was a good idea (p 67).”
Online internet webpage resources
- ♦These are referenced with the date the material was accessed, as information is being constantly updated.
- ♦ The author or issuing body, the page title and the web address must be quoted in the reference list
Harvard referencing examples
- ♦ Online resource
Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) 2016, 5676.0 Business Indicators Australia, Sep 2016, viewed 12 December 2016, http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/0/77EDC9DB1157AB98CA2578FF0016D19D?Opendocument
- ♦ Legislation (reference list or bibliography)
Corporations Act 2001 (Cth)
- ♦ Legislation (in the text of your work)
Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) S 124
- ♦ Book reference in your bibliography
Author name, author initials, edition date, ‘Title’, edition number, publisher, publisher city
Fraser I., Gionea J., Fraser S., 2011, ‘Economics for Business’, 4th Edition, McGraw-Hill, Sydney, Australia
Using the Referencing functions of Word or Pages
On the Microsoft Word References ribbon, use the Insert Footnote to quote in text sources and direct quotes. Use the Bibliography to complete your end reference list.
In Apple Pages use the Insert menu to insert a footnote.
How do you set up page breaks and sections in your document?
Sections and Page Breaks
Now you have your document formatted, you may want a cover page, table of contents and the body of your report presented so that page numbers, headers and footers appear on some sections and not others.
You can quickly insert a ‘Page Break’ from the Insert toolbar on the File Menu, but if you want more advance options, such as section breaks, you need to use the ‘Page Layout’ option
Section breaks allow you to create different page layouts (portrait, landscape) different headings and footers across sections- all in the same document.
Page layout options:
♦ Orientation, portrait or landscape
♦ Different headings and footers
How do you set headings, styles and a table of contents?
Heading and Sub-headings
Main headings appear at the top of the document and are usually centred and in bold.
Subheadings have a smaller font, are bold and may be centred if the main heading is centred.
Side headings are larger than the normal text, bold and blocked at the left margin.
Level of headings
Headings range from the main categories down to sub categories.
Planning the document requires you to sort (or collate) all the information into main points or sections, then sort the main sections into subsections.
- ♦ 1- Main heading
- ♦ 2 – Sub heading
- ♦ 3 – Side heading
Word-processing packages have the ability to set styles for normal text and headings.
The Styles options can set up your preferences for headings and text throughout your documents ensuring they are consistent or conform to organisational practices. You can adjust these styles using the Styles option on the Home ribbon.
Type all your text in Normal style and then highlight the text you want formatted as a heading.
- ♦ Input text as Normal text and headings and then highlight and select as a Heading 1,2,3,4,5… later.
- ♦ Modify the Style text font can be through the Home toolbar by clicking on the style and right clicking to modify that Style(Word).
- ♦ Use the normal style as a base to adjust to create other styles such as a numbering format (you will use this in the next task). Right click on the Normal style to get the screen below.
Insert a Table of Contents
Now you have created Headings and Sub-headings you can format a longer document by using these in your layout. All other text is ‘Normal’.
It is now simple to create a ‘Table of Contents’ at the beginning of your document.
In the ‘References toolbar’ in the File menu, select ‘Table of Contents’.
You will find various options for this and you will need to decide what level of headings you want, for example only Heading 1 and Heading 2 in the index, or in addition going to Heading 3.
You can format (font, spacing) this Table of Contents later and update it by right clicking the mouse on it.
When you make changes to the document, right click on the Table of Contents to update the field.
How do you insert a header and footer into a document?
Headers and Footers
There are no real rules for the header and footers, they may contain your name, the date, the page number, the document subject, your subject unit name and code, the file name and storage location (file path).
Lecturers at your university will advise you how to format your documents with headers and footers.
Use a smaller font for the header and footer of the document. You can also use a line to divide the document text and the header or footer.
Select the ‘Insert’ toolbar on the Word ribbon. Here you find the headers, footers and page numbering options. Click on ‘Header’ and then ‘Edit Header’ if you need to amend your header. When finished close the header and footer tools.
The title page of a document and/or the table of contents page may not have a header and footer. However you can achieve this by selecting the different first page option.
Different sections can have different headers and footers in your document.
Set up the document to have different headers and footers by creating sections of the document.
Move between sections of the document to check headers and footers in this toolbar with the Previous and Next options.
Select- or de-select the ‘Link to Previous’ optionIf you do not want to continue a header or footer from a previous section (or want something different).