Seven ways to write like a native speaker

In this video, Kerstin Gackle from the Academic Lab at the Universitaet Leipzig presents a fantastic set of tips that will help you improve your ability to write like a native speaker.

Here is a written summary of the video. The seven rules are:

  • 1 Write like you Speak
    • Written German puts more weight into nouns
    • English puts the action in the verb
    • promotion of democracy -> promoting democracy
  • 2 Focus on Subject -Verb -Object
    • Verb should be no father back than the 2nd or 3rd position
    • Move elements “disturbing middle elements” between the subject, verb, and object to the front or the back
  • 3 Put important information at the end of the sentence
    • The Queen, my Lord, is dead. In order of importance 2, 3, 1.
    • Creates correspondance with previous sentence
    • Adverbs go in the middle
  • 4 There are common ways to start academic sentences in German that are not used the same way or with the same frequency in English so avoid using thes as sentence starters: “Due to” (Aufgrund), “Especially” (Besonders), “Only” (nur), “Not only” (nicht nur), “Also”(auch)
    • The same goes for these phrases anywhere in the sentence: “due to” “different”, “more and more”, “nowadays”
    • Look at the frequency of usage in academic texts vs learner texts to judge whether usage is standard or not. source: MacMillenDictionary, Improve Your Writing Skills
    • “Only when a question was answered correctly, I confirmed the choice” -> “I only confirmed their choice when a question was answered correctly.”
    • False friends, God and Bad Translation
  • 5 Remove words that are too informal for academic writing
    • connectors: so, besides, and (in some fields), but (in some fields)
    • Phrasal verbs figure out -> determine, look into -> investigate, put up with -> toleratre, come up with -> develop
    • to sum up, in a nutshell, all in all -> In conclusion, To conclude
    • more and more, bigger and bigger -> increasingly, numerous, an increasing number, a greater amount
    • nowadays -> currently, today, at the present time, recently
    • chance -> opportunity
    • get, got -> obtain, receive, increase
    • good bad, nice, big, huge -> positive, beneficial, negative, deterimental, poor, significan, large, enormous
    • really -> very, highly, truly, an integral part
    • stuff, things, stuff like that -> similar aspects, issues, factors
    • plenty of, a ton of -> enough, sufficient, a considerable amount
    • so far -> to date
    • whole -> entire
    • happen -> occur
  • 6 Use common academic phrasing
  • 7 Use customized google searches
    • “term or phrase” site:edu or
    • “term or phrase” keyword site:edu
    • Use asterisk to find the word you need “in recent years, there has been * interest in ”
  • Bonus tip: Use a dictionary and a style guide

Also check out this paper 10 rules for structuring a research paper:

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