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Concise explanations for writing and communicating in the English language. No advertising. Mobile-friendly. Feedback welcome! Enjoy!

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Interrogative Adjectives

Interrogative adjectives are words that are used to ask questions about a noun. These words are used to gather information about a person or thing, and they help us understand more about the noun in question. Types of Interrogative Adjectives There are several types...

How to Fix Comma Splices

You cannot link two independent clauses (which can stand on their own as sentences) with a comma. Fixing a splice is easy and these examples will show you the way.

Article Use (a, an, the…)

Using articles appropriately is one of the most difficult grammatical points in English to master. It is not necessarily essential in speech, but it’s something that should be checked for when writing.

Descriptive Adjectives

Descriptive adjectives are words that are used to describe or provide more information about a noun or pronoun. They can be used to describe the appearance, size, shape, age, color, or other qualities of a person, place, or thing. The Basics There are many descriptive...

Past Tense Verbs for ESL Learners

Past verb tenses are verb tenses that describe events that have already happened. There are three main past verb tenses in English: past simple, past continuous, and past perfect. Past Simple The past simple is used to describe events that started and finished in the...

Learning Disabilities and Library Web Design: Challenges and Opportunities

  Universities today recognize the importance of responding to their students' many different learning styles and aptitudes. So they keep an eye out for research like the survey conducted at a highly competitive public university that  "found significant...

Guide to Pronouncing the /th/ Sound for ESL Learners

The /th/ sound is one of the most difficult sounds to master for English language learners. Even many native speakers struggle to learn to pronounce it correctly. The /th/ sound is made by placing the tip of your tongue between your teeth and blowing out a small...

Proofreading: Your Honor on the Line!

Short discussion of the importance of proofreading with a little motivation thrown in alongside some easy wins that will help bring your game up.

Punctuation: The Basics

Punctuation doesn’t have to be complicated. If you can put periods at the ends of declarative sentences, question marks at the ends of questions, and the occasional comma between dependent and independent clauses, then you’ll be fine. If you’re a professional writer...

Prepositions of Place – A Guide for ESL Learners

Prepositions are words that show the relationship between two things in a sentence. In English, prepositions of place show the location of something. The five most common prepositions of place in English are: "in," "on," "at," "by," and "near." In this article we will...

Choosing the Right Words

Choosing the right word is often more complicated than translating, which often leads to issues of appropriacy. Translating without a clear understanding of vocabulary can lead to the use of words that are rare, obsolete, or belong to an inappropriate genre or register.

Adverbs of Degree

Adverbs of degree are words that modify adjectives, verbs, and other adverbs. Adverbs of degree can be used to show the degree of intensity of something, such as how much, how little, how well, or how badly something is done. There are several different types of...

Sentence Structure: Tag Questions

Tag questions are statements with questions attached at the end of them. Tag questions can be either real questions or confirmations of known information. These questions are used more frequently in spoken English, but they can be effective in writing as well.

Creating IN-TEXT citations MLA Style

Bibliographies are one thing, but how do you get quotes or evidence into your writing and cite them properly?

Verb Usage: Present simple vs. present progressive

In English, we use the present perfect to describe things that are happening currently. We use the present simple for habits and actions that are repeated frequently, and for states. These two tenses can be used together.

Silver Linings Playbook – Credit for the Original Author?

Silver Linings Playbook is a huge cultural event. Are your students fans? Do they know it is based on a novel by the same name? Activity Summary: Set up a discussion of attribution; should Bradley Cooper and David O. Russell give more credit to Matthew...

Pronunciation Differences Between the Letters S and Z

One of the main differences between the pronunciation of 'z' and 's' is that 'z' is pronounced as a voiced consonant, while 's' is pronounced as a voiceless consonant. This means that when you pronounce 'z', you use your vocal cords to produce the sound, while when...

Adverbs – Overview for ESL Learners

Adverbs are words that modify verbs, adjectives, or other adverbs. They tell us how, when, where, or to what extent something is done. Adverbs can be single words or phrases, and they usually appear before or after the word they modify. Here are some common adverbs...

Demonstrative Adjectives

Demonstrative adjectives are words that are used to point out or refer to a specific noun or pronoun. In English, there are four demonstrative adjectives: "this," "that," "these," and "those." This - Singular, Near "This" is used to refer to a noun or pronoun that is...

Preposition Problems: Prepositions of Time

The three prepositions used to talk about time are “at,” “on,” and “in.”Remember that things happen at 10:00 in the morning on Tuesday in June in 2013, for example.



One of the largest challenges to moving from high school writing to more advanced work is the challenge to write something original. This doesn’t mean you have to invent some whole new theory of life, the universe, and everything. Rather, it means you have to make your reader think.

You can’t just regurgitate a bunch of facts from the internet or your class notes. So how do you turn the general idea of “Holden Caulfield is alienated from his community” into something original? Something that hasn’t been written about hundreds of times already?

Read on Macduff…


Using Evidence to Win the Day

After developing an original, argumentative thesis, using evidence well is the key to academic writing. Dirty secret: many readers (yes, including teachers) will forgive grammatical errors if you’ve got a compelling argument, have thought deeply about the right evidence to use, and analyze that evidence.

The two are inseparable, really. If you think deeply about evidence – whether key quotes from the novel you are reading or statistics on the subject of your research paper – chances are an interesting, original angle will dawn on you…


Write with Style

What does it mean to write with style? Particularly in an academic environment?

It doesn’t mean:

  • Using big words
  • Padding your writing to reach word/page minimums
  • Picking the right font

Writing teachers joke that “flow” is the “other four-letter ‘F’ word” because students use it as such a grab bag catch-all…

Writing style is difficult to articulate. If you’ve ever listened to a master comedian parse what makes something funny you’re in the right ball park.

The good news? Style in academic writing has some pretty concrete and, honestly, low barriers to entry.

Research & documentation

MLA, APA, Rules Rules Rules...

Presentation Skills

Presentation Skills

Presentation skills are crucial to success in today’s business world. While details change a lot from company to company and culture to culture, many skills are consistent: eye contact, slide design, handling questions.

Resumes & Cover Letters

Get a great gig with a differentiated resume

Fantastic tips and insights on writing modern, relevant resumes from 11trees’ partner Let’s Eat, Grandma – a resume writing and career coaching startup based in Austin, TX.