English tools to make your writing richer

The vast majority of students who learn English as a second place emphasis on the spoken language. And this is justified. After all, English is needed as a means of communication: ask for directions on a trip or negotiate with a foreign client.

And many forget to harmoniously develop their written language, limiting themselves to studying abbreviations like LOL or IMHO. In this article, we are going to show you four tools that can help you make your written English much more enjoyable and rich. Go.

Phrasal verbs

Native speakers are very fond of phrasal verbs. Especially the Americans. The reason is quite simple: several dozen words with different prepositions can replace hundreds of tokens and phrases.

With the word get alone, we found 19 phrasal verbs, which have 56 official meanings entered in dictionaries, and 20 more slang verbs, if not more. You can read it here.

If you wish, you can generally communicate only with phrasal verbs and not feel any constraint in expressing thoughts. But with all this, the text with phrasal verbs is perceived by the carriers as more natural.

They tried to come in through the back door, but it was locked.

They tried to enter through the back door, but it was locked.

A very simple example. Both sentences translate as “They tried to enter through the back door, but it was locked.” But the first one sounds more natural. Simply because in everyday life the phrase “come in” is used an order of magnitude more often than the word “enter”.

Phrasal verbs are excellent synonyms for ordinary verbs, with the help of which you can tell about one action in almost a dozen ways. So tautologies will not work.

Passive voice

Not so long ago, we wrote about passiveness and why native speakers don’t respect it too much. If you are interested, read “Passive in English: they don’t like it, but they still use it”

Nevertheless, in the written language, it still remains one of the tools that help make the text more harmonious, and correctly focus on its individual features.

The passive is still widely used in the scientific field and official documents when it is necessary to depersonalize the written. Scientific articles and legal contracts are impossible without it.

But for simple speech, the passive voice has two good advantages:

  1. You can hide the subject of a sentence if it is not important or unknown.

  2. You can shift the focus of a sentence to an action or an object.

The first advantage allows you to add another option for describing reality. Without complications and unnecessary meanings.

Somebody has shut the door. – Someone closed the door.

The door was shut. – The door was closed.

If you don’t know who exactly closed the door, or it doesn’t matter in your story, then passive is the best choice. After all, there is no need to multiply entities where it is not required.

The second advantage allows you to manipulate accents to more fully reveal the meaning of sentences.


Somebody has called me. – Someone called me.

I’ve got a call. – They called me.

A call was made. – A call was made.

Each of these options gives its own nuance of description. “Somebody has called me” – here the emphasis is on the fact that it was an unknown person who called. “I’ve got a call” – that the speaker received the call. “A call was made” – and here the very fact that there was a call is important.

So, passive allows you to focus on facts, events or actions.

But there is a very fine line here when the text turns into creepy clerical. You don’t need to write like this:

To research these issues, a usability and test study was carried out.

Testing and usability research was conducted to clarify these issues.

The most important thing with a liability is not to overdo it. You can use it, but carefully – only in cases where it really makes the sentence more understandable, and does not complicate it.

Infinitives and gerunds

The abundance of prepositions “to”, “of”, “for” and other written sentences is bad manners. They visually clutter up the text.

Gerund is one of the tools that help remove unnecessary prepositions. In our case, “to”.

We have already spoken about the gerund. If you want to know how to use it correctly, read the article. “Gerund in English: simply about the difficult”… In short, a gerund is a form of a verb that behaves like a noun in sentences.

Compare the two sentences:

I like to listen to music.

I like listening to music.

Both translate as “I love listening to music.” But the second on the letter looks more harmonious.

In addition, the gerund allows you to juggle meanings, because sometimes it changes the context of a sentence.

I’m afraid to fly to New York.

I’m afraid of flying to New York.

The first sentence says that a person is afraid to fly to New York – it is the result that scares him. Maybe the director summons him for an “important conversation”? And in the second, the person is afraid of the very process of the flight, and not its purpose.

If you correctly alternate the infinitive and the gerund, then the text will not look boring and monotonous. And you can also cut down on unnecessary prepositions that are annoying and not useful.

Sentences with two or more grammatical stems

In spoken English, native speakers use simple phrases and sentences. So simple that they are almost primitive. But in writing they are very fond of all sorts of complex structures, with additions and epithets.

And here it is very important to use them correctly and not be too clever.

I’m replying to client’s email. I will write up the report today. – I am responding to a customer’s email. I’ll write a report today.

If there are many short sentences in the text, then it looks torn, and the meaning is often lost. Long sentences expand attention.

I’m replying to a client’s email and I will write up the report today.

The meaning is exactly the same, but the complex structure looks advantageous. You can expand the sentence to three or four semantic points – and this will be quite acceptable.

I am replying to a client’s email and I will write up the report today while I eat my lunch. “I’m responding to a client’s email and writing a report today while I’m having lunch.”

One sentence that contains all the information for the boss. It is perceived as holistic and at the same time gives a comprehensive understanding of the situation – precisely because it is one.

Different grammatical foundations, additions, subordinate sentences are used – all this adorns the written language, helps to diversify it. After all, the text should not only be understandable, but also visually pleasing.

But don’t imitate James Joyce and his “Ulysses,” which has a 3687 word sentence. Everything is good in moderation. A sentence with two grammar bases and a couple of additions reads fine, but if you’re writing a hefty four-line passage, it’s very easy to get confused and misspelled grammar.

Therefore, use only those grammatical constructions that you know well. Also, remember that punctuation in English is very different from Russian. And do not try to artificially complicate the sentence – this tool only serves to connect related meanings.

Even semi-formal written English is very different from spoken English. It has slightly different rules. The grammar is the same, but everything sounds very different. We talked only about simple tools that everyone, without exception, study. But in fact there are many more of them. Do you want to know? Sign up for a free trial lesson with a teacher and learn the subtle secrets of the English language now.

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