GMAT Verbal Sentence Correction Tips

Verbal

Verbal

Have you taken the GMAT once and felt that you want to raise your verbal score? Did you have difficulty getting through the sentence corrections? If so, consider your recent GMAT as a practice run to familiarize yourself with timing. To improve before your next attempt on GMAT verbal section, get strategies for sentence correction and implement those techniques in your daily studies to advance. Concentrate on content and timing.

Shoot for how much you need your verbal score to improve on your next exam by calculating how long you have to improve your score. Then, come up with a study plan focusing on sentence correction techniques and reading quickly to gain a foot forward. During your time frame for verbal improvement, review challenging questions in practice and dissect these to examine what insight you need to resolve simple concepts.

Analyze a sentence correction question:

  1. What is the verbal trying to test?
    1. Categorize a question by topic and subtopic, by process/technique (i.e. idiomatic expressions, parallel structure, modifiers)
    2. Practice taking apart the structure in a sentence to understand the structural core of the sentence (subject – verb – object…) If you do not see the entire core at once, start with identifying a pattern of where the subject is, and then identify the verb, and so forth.
    3. Understand the content (facts, knowledge)
  2. How well did you answer what was tested?
    1. Did you do the best approach? Or is there a better approach to respond to the problem? How can you remember the better approach the next time you get a similar problem?
    2. Did you use skills to follow through?
      1. Either give up if it’s too hard for the timing (and answer quickly) or give an extra 30 seconds to figure out the core.
    3. Did you make careless errors?
      1. Why did you make each error?
        1. What can you change to minimize the chance of repeating the same future error?
          1. Read the whole sentence using your chosen answer to notice if something is not right
          2. How do you look for traps or “trick questions” that are in the question such as incorrect answers?
          3. What steps do you take to ensure you made an educated guess?
        2. Do you recognize a pattern?
          1. Do you make a connection to the last time you saw a similar question to answer correctly…what was similar with other problems?
            1. What have you done in the past that is similar? How? How could that help you to do the problem more efficiently and effectively?
            2. How can you notice similar problems? What can you do to maximize your chance of remembering?

 

Strategies to enhance your skills to improve sentence correction:

  1. Read through the correct answers
    1. Do not go through and actually do the problems, simply read through the wording of the correct answers. Since GMAT has a set writing style, by reading through the right answers, you will get an idea of the correct answers. In this way, you may be able to learn better how to eliminate choices if any choice appears that does not conform to the GMAT set writing pattern.
    2. Be careful, because you should not use this as your principal technique for doing “process of elimination” of answers. Only guess if you cannot identify other grammatically formal ways to eliminate answers quickly.
  2. Write your own sentences involving the same types of errors
    1. Do not try to include all the same error types that appear in each problem [or you might end up with sentences that are copies of the ones in the problem], but try to include at least a couple.)
  3. Make flash cards of the problems (on one side of the card, color code each split between the answer choices in a different color with a highlighter, and on the back of the card in the same highlighted color write a short explanation.
    1. Colors are an easy way to recognize different explanations, telling them apart, when you put lots of splits on the back of a flashcard.

When the actual test day arrives, actively resolve to identify less perceptible logic and grammatical errors.

 

Caution with timing:

Spending much time on early questions may hurt, not help your score. Otherwise, you may run out of time and leave some questions unanswered at the end of a section. As unanswered questions are counted as incorrect, move at a steady pace to get through the entire section rather than concentrating on any particular subset of questions. Even those with high levels cannot sustain accuracy through the first eight questions. So, give every question you r best shot, but do not let any one group of questions drive your test performance, and avoid spending way too much time on the first eight questions or you may have to race to finish the section, a poor choice.

If you like this blog, check out this post Rules How to Use a Semicolon Accurately in the English Language.

How an Explanation Essay is Easy to Write

8.31.15Have you ever had to write an explanation of an event?Taking the TOEFL exam, the writing section is divided into two tasks, one of which is the independent writing. You may get an explanatory writing question. In this category of topics, you will be required to present a specific viewpoint or perhaps write about a particular situation. Be sure to explain your standpoint or viewpoint of the situation in detail. In an explanation essay, it is different than an argument, since you will analyze. You may give analysis through comparison/contrast or by definition/example. Get to know the explanation topic list below in order to know the topic that you might face come test day.

Explanation Prompts:

164 People attend college or universities for many different reasons. Why do you think people attend college or universities? Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.

165 Nowadays food has become easier to prepare. Has this change improved the way people live? Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.

166 How do movies or television influence people’s behavior? Use reasons and specific examples to support your answer.

167 Many people visit museums when they travel to new places. Why do you think people visit museums? Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.

168 A person you know is planning to move to your town or city. What do you think that person would like and dislike about living in your town or city? Use specific reasons and details to develop your essay.

169 Choose one of the following transportation vehicles and explain why you think it has changed people’s lives. Automobiles. Bicycles. Airplanes. Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.

170 What are the important qualities of a good son or daughter? Have these qualities changed or remained the same over time in your culture? Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.

171 People work because they need money to live. What are some other reasons that people work? Discuss one or more of these reasons. Use specific examples and details to support your answer.

172 Some people believe that success in life comes from taking risks or chances. Others believe that success results from careful planning. In your opinion, what does success come from? Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.

173 Your city has decided to build a statue or monument to honor a famous person in your country. Who would you choose? Use reasons and specific examples to support your choice.

174 Describe a custom from your country that you would like people in other countries to adopt. Explain your choice using specific reasons and examples.

175 If you could ask a famous person one question, what would you ask? Why? Use specific reasons and details to support your answer.

176 It is generally agreed that society benefits from the work of its members. Compare the contributions of artists to society with the contributions of scientists to society. Which type of contribution do you think is more valued by your society? Give specific reasons to support your answer.

177 You need to travel from your home to a place 40 miles (64 kilometers) away. Compare the different kinds of transportation you could use. Tell which method of travel you would choose. Give specific reasons for your choice.

178 If you could invent something new, what product would you develop? Use specific details to explain why this invention is needed.

179 What do you consider to be the most important room in a house? Why is this room more important to you than any other room? Use specific reasons and examples to support your opinion.

180 You have the opportunity to visit a foreign country for two weeks. Which country would you like to visit? Use specific reasons and details to explain your choice.

181 People remember special gifts or presents they have received. Why? Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.

182 People do many different things to stay healthy. What do you do for good health? Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.

183 You have decided to give several hours of your time each month to improve the community where you live. Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.

184 You have decided to give several hours of your time each month to improve the community where you live. What is one thing you will do to improve your community? Why? Use specific reasons and details to explain your choice.

185 Many students choose to attend schools or universities outside their home countries. Why do some students study abroad? Use specific reasons and details to explain your answer.

186 People listen to music for different reasons and at different times. Why is music important to many people? Use specific reasons and examples to support your choice.

187 Groups or organizations are an important part of some people’s lives. Why are groups or organizations important to people? Use specific reasons and examples to explain your answer.

188 When students move to a new school, they sometimes face problems. How can schools help these students with their problems? Use specific reasons and examples to explain your answer.

189 Every generation of people is different in important ways. How is your generation different from your parents’ generation? Use specific reasons and examples to explain your answer.

190 Holidays honor people or events. If you could create a new holiday, what person or event would it honor and how would you want people to celebrate it? Use specific reasons and details to support your answer.

191 The 21st Century has begun. What changes do you think this new century will bring? Use examples and details in your answers.

192 What are some of the qualities of a good parent? Use specific details and examples to explain your answer.

193 Movies are popular all over the world. Explain why movies are so popular. Use reasons and specific examples to support your answer.

194 Films can tell us a lot about the country where they were made. What have you learned about a country from watching its movies? Use specific examples and details to support your response.

195 If you could change one important thing about your country, what would you change? Use reasons and specific examples to support your answer.

196 What are some important qualities of a good school teacher? Use specific details and examples to explain why these qualities are important.

213 Which is the best way for students to make new friends: playing sports, traveling, or joining a volunteer group?

If you like this blog, you will enjoy TOEFL Writing Independent Task: Preference Essay.

How to Make a Strong Argument Essay

essay tip fiveHave you ever needed to write an argument essay on the TOEFL writing section, the independent task? Various categories of topics exist on the independent writing, one being make an argument. Clearly, it is important to know each category of the topics in order to address the question more readily in a particular writing. Becoming familiar with the make an argument list of topics below will help you become prepared for a potential topic you may receive on the day of the exam. Once you know these argument topics, you will be apt to tackle the argumentative essay.

  1. If you could change one important thing about your hometown, what would you change? Use reasons and specific examples to support your answer.
  2. Some people believe that university students should be required to attend classes. Others believe that going to classes should be optional for students. Which point of view do you agree with? Use specific reasons and details to support your answer.
  3. Neighbors are the people who live near us. In your opinion, what are the qualities of a good neighbor? Use specific details and examples in your answer.
  4. What are some important qualities of a good supervisor (boss)? Use specific details and examples to explain why these qualities are important.
  5. Should governments spend more money on improving roads and highways, or should governments spend more money on improving public transportation (buses, trains, subways)? Why? Use specific reasons and details to develop your essay.
  6. In general, people living longer now. Discuss the causes of this phenomenon. Use specific reasons and details to develop your essay.
  7. We all work or will work in jobs with many different kinds of people. In your opinion, what are some important of a good co-worker (someone you work closely with)? Use reasons and specific examples to explain why these characteristics are important.
  8. In some countries, teenagers have jobs while they are still students. Do you think this is a good idea? Support your opinion by using specific reasons and details.
  9. Some people believe that the Earth is being harmed (damaged) by human activity. Others feel that human activity makes the Earth a better place to live. What is your opinion? Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.
  10. Is it better to enjoy your money when you earn it, or is it better to save your money for some time in the future? Use specific reasons and examples to support your opinion.
  11. What is a very important skill a person should learn in order to be successful in the world today? Choose one skill and use specific reasons and examples to support your choice.
  12. Why do you think some people are attracted to dangerous sports or other dangerous activities? Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.
  13. What change would make your hometown more appealing to people your age? Use specific reasons and examples to support your opinion.
  14. A company is going to give some money either to support the arts or to protect the environment. Which do you think the company should choose? Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.
  15. What do you want most in a friend–someone who is intelligent, or someone who has a sense of humor, or someone who is reliable? Which one of these characteristics is most important to you? Use reasons and specific examples to explain your choice.
  16. Should a city try to preserve its old, historic buildings or destroy them and replace them with modern buildings? Use specific reasons and examples to support your opinion.
  17. Many teachers assign homework to students every day. Do you think that daily homework is necessary for students? Use specific reasons and details to support your answer.
  18. If you could study a subject that you have never had the opportunity to study, what would you choose? Explain your choice, using specific reasons and details.
  19. Some people think that the automobile has improved modern life. Others think that the automobile has caused serious problems. What is your opinion? Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.
  20. Which would you choose–a high-paying job with long hours that would give you little time with family and friends or a lower-paying job with shorter hours that would give you more time with family and friends? Explain your choice, using specific reasons and details.
  21. Some people say that computers have made life easier and more convenient. Other people say that computers have made life more complex and stressful. What is your opinion? Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.
  22. Some universities require students to take classes in many subjects. Other universities require students to specialize in one subject. Which is better? Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.
  23. Is it more important to be able to work with a group of people on a team or to work independently? Use specific reasons and specific examples to support your answer.
  24. Some people think the Internet provides people with a lot of valuable information. Others think access to so much information creaste problems. Which view do you agree with? Use specific reasons and examples to support your opinion.
  25. A foreign visitor has only one day to spend in your country. Where should this visitor go on that day? Why? Use specific reasons and details to support your choice.
  26. If you could go back to some time and place in the past, when and where would you go? Why? Use specific reasons and details to support your choice.
  27. What discovery in the last 100 years has been most beneficial for people in your country? Use specific reasons and examples to support your choice.
  28. If you could travel back in time to meet a famous person from history, what person would you like to meet? Use specific reasons and examples to support your choice.
  29. If you could meet a famous entertainer or athlete, who would that be, and why? Use specific reasons and examples to support your choice.
  30. Many students have to live with a roommate while going to school or university. What are some of the important qualities of a good roommate? Use specific reasons and examples to explain why these qualities are important.
  31. People have different ways of escaping the stress of modern life. Some read, some exercise, others work in their gardens. What do you think are the best ways of reducing stress? Use specific details and examples in your answer.
  32. If you were asked to send one thing representing your country to an international exhibition, what would you choose? Why? Use specific reasons and details to explain your choice.
  33. In your opinion, what is the most important characteristic (for example, honesty, intelligence, a sense of humor) that a person can have to be successful in life? Use specific reasons and examples from your experience to explain your answer. When you write your answer, you are not limited to the examples listed in the question. Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.
  34. Some people believe that a college or university education should be available to all students. Others believe that higher education should be available to only good students. Discuss these views. Which view do you agree with? Explain why?
  35. The government has announced that it plans to build a new university. Some people think that your community should be a good place to locate the university. Compare the advantages and disadvantages of establishing a new university in your community. Use specific details in your discussion. (Discuss both.)
  36. Some people trust their first impressions about a person’s character because they believe these judgments are generally correct. Other people do not judge a person’s character quickly because they believe first impressions are often wrong. Compare these two attitudes. Which attitude do you agree with? Support your choice with specific examples. (Discuss BOTH ATTITUDES in the essay.)
  37. Some people say that physical exercise should be a required part of every school day. Other people believe that students should spend the whole school day on academic studies. Which opinion do you agree with? Give specific reasons and details to support your answer.
  38. A university plans to develop a new research center in your country. Some people want a center for business research. Other people want a center for research in agriculture (farming). Which of these two kinds of research centers do you recommend for your country? Use specific reasons in your recommendation.
  39. Some young children spend a great amount of their time practicing sports. Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of this. Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer. (Discuss both.)
  40. Some high schools required all students to wear school uniforms. Other high schools permit students to decide what to wear to school. Which of these two school policies do you think is better? Use specific reasons and examples to support your opinion.
  41. If you could make one important change in a school that you attended, what change would you make? Use reasons and examples to support your answer.
  42. A gift (such as a camera, soccer ball, or an animal) can contribute to a child’s development. What gift would you five to help a child develop? Why? Use reasons and specific examples to support your choice.
  43. Some people believe that students should be given one long vacation each year. Others believe that students should have several short vacations throughout the year. Which viewpoint do you agree with? Use specific reasons and examples to support your choice.
  44. Some people say that advertising encourages us to buy things that we really do not need. Others say that advertisements tell us about new products that may improve our lives. Which viewpoint do you agree with? Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.
  45. You school has received a gift of money. What do you think is the best way for your school to spend this money? Use specific reasons and details to support your choice.
  46. Imagine that you have received some land to use as you wish. How would you use this land? Use specific details to explain your answer.
  47. What is the most important animal in your country? Why is this animal important? Use reasons and specific details to explain your answer.
  48. Many parts of the world are losing important natural resources, such as forests, animals, or clean water. Choose one resource that is disappearing and explain why it needs to be saved. Use specific reasons and examples to support your opinion.
  49. In some countries people are no longer allowed to smoke in many public places and office buildings. Do you think this is a good rule or a bad rule? Use specific reasons and details to support your opinion.
  50. Plants can provide food, shelter, clothing, or medicine. What is one kind of plant that is important to you or the people in your country? Use specific reasons and details to support your choice.
  51. When famous people such as actors, athletes, and rock stars give their opinions, many people listen. Do you think we should pay attention to these opinions? Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.
  52. The twentieth century saw great change. In your opinion, what is one change that should be remembered about the twentieth century? Use specific reasons and details to explain your choice.
  53. Some famous athletes and entertainers earn millions of dollars every year. Do you think these people deserve such high salaries? Use specific reasons and examples to support your opinion.
  54. Is the ability to read and write more important today than in the past? Why or why not? Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.
  55. People recognize a difference between children and adults. What events (experience or ceremonies) make a person an adult? Use specific reasons and examples to explain your answer.
  56. Your school has enough money to purchase either computers for students or books for the library. Which should your school choose to buy–computers or books? Use specific reasons and examples to support your recommendation.
  57. Imagine you are preparing for a trip. You plan to be away from your home for a year. In addition to clothing and personal care items, you can take one additional thing. What would you take and why? Use specific reasons and details to support your choice.
  58. A friend of yours has received some money and plans to use all of it either to go on a vacation/to buy a car. Your friend has asked you for advice. Compare your friend’s two choices and explain which one you think your friend should choose. Use specific reasons and details to support your choice.
  59. In your country, is there more need for land to be left in its natural condition or is there more for land to be developed for housing and industry? Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.
  60. Many people have a close relationship with their pets. These people treat their birds, cats, or other animals as members of their family. In your opinion, are such relationships good? Why or why not? Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.
  61. You have enough money to purchase either a house or a business. Which would you choose to buy? Give specific reasons to explain your choice.
  62. Of three government environmental policies–protect nature’s forests, protect clean air, and protect clean water–which is the best policy? What should the government do in those three cases?

 

If you like this article, you may enjoy The TOEFL Independent Task Five-Paragraph Essay Structure.

Can You Write a Simple Sentence Painlessly?

How to:

You may not know what a complete sentence is. In which case, you might be having trouble with writing proper sentences. No doubt, your writing may have a fragment (an incomplete sentence) or a run-on sentence (a sentence that runs on too long.)

 

So, what is a simple sentence? In the English language, each simple sentence must have both a subject and verb in a complete idea. Well, except for commands (imperatives) such as “Do that.” However, most likely, you will not be writing commands on the TOEFL exam.

 

Subjects and verbs:

 

A subject is a noun (a person, place or thing such as a child, a city, or a cat), pronoun (I, you, he/she, it, we, they) or a gerund (playing, studying, sleeping.) Clearly, your complete sentence will not have just one word, or it would be called a fragment. Most likely, you will have to put an article such as a, an, or the before your subject. Then, your main verb (the action word such as have) will follow the subject, and it may be made up of two words such as have gone.

 

Samples of simple sentences with a main subject and verb:

  • A child sleeps.
  • The city has grown.
  • The cat is meowing.

 

After the main subject and verb, a sentence often has an object: direct or indirect.

Examples:

She (subject) gives (verb) her brother (indirect object) a present (direct object).

The kid (subject) was drinking (verb) milk (direct object).

 

With prepositional phrases, adverbs, and adjectives added, your sentences will expand. A prepositional phrase is a group of words with a preposition followed by an object. Prepositions (short words such as to, of, for, on, above, below) show relations between nouns, and after a preposition comes an “object of the preposition,” often a noun or a gerund.

Examples:

She (subject) gives (verb) her brother (indirect object) a present (direct object) at (preposition) his graduation (object of the preposition).

The kid (subject) was drinking (verb) milk (direct object) with (preposition) strawberries (object of the preposition).

 

An adverb describes non-noun words such as verbs or adjectives, while an adjective is a word that describes a noun.

Examples:

The thirsty (adjective) man (subject) was drinking (verb) quickly (adverb) at (preposition) the dirty (adjective) bar (object of the preposition.)

Incredibly (adverb), he (subject) studied (verb) consistently (adverb) until (preposition) the (article) big (adjective) exam (object of the preposition.)

 

In essence, simple sentences are a piece of cake once you get the basic structure. If you like this article, check out the blog Use Technology for Proficiency in English.

Improve English Writing Skills Easily

imagesIf you need solid writing skills for a university graduate school program or for business, you can improve with practice and determination. Top writers are not born, but bred. Take time, and with practice, you can become a writer with fluent style. What you need to start with is determination.

Though you may need to push yourself at writing to top the TOEFL writing section or to succeed on the AWA of the GRE or the GMAT in order to get accepted into a school program, you can succeed with practice. It’s just like running a marathon. The more you practice, the better you will become.

Some tips you can follow to improve your English writing skills are these:

  1. Keep your writing organized in one place, for example, in computer files if you write on the computer. In that way, you can refer back to your previously writing to go over errors and to notice steps to improve upon. Be sure all the documents are well-ordered so that you can examine how much you are improving over time.
  2. Practice writing English every day. If you make a daily habit of writing, it will become a ritual in your study session. You will see significant improvement when you are dedicated to becoming a better writer. However, if you never take the opportunity to write or even save the writing that you do, you cannot create solid stories. Even writing English five minutes a day will create a pattern that will become as natural as brushing your teeth.
  3. Write on any topic

Avoid getting stuck with writer’s block. Think about what topic to write on by using topics that are easy to have an opinion on. The independent topics on the TOEFL exam are a set list of topics which you can write on to develop your viewpoint on specific themes. If you are studying for GRE, the AWA has Issue essay topics and Argument topics which you can also write about in essay format. If you are planning on taking the GMAT, you will need to be familiar with the AWA. A pdf downloadable list of Analysis of the Argument topics also can help you with practice.

  1. Revise your first written draft

Once you finish writing your essay, take time to look over your writing to correct the grammar errors and revise the ideas for clarity.

  1. Use resources or online links to correct your English grammar

Many resources exist to check your English grammar. For instance, in Word, you can turn on the spell and grammar check or the thesaurus. Online, you could plug in your essay to be grammatically corrected. Review the errors and make a point not to make the same mistakes in the next essay.

  1. Write from different perspectives

It is not interesting to practice writing on the same topic, so write about different topics by shifting your perspective. First, write about one side, and then consider writing on the opposing standpoint. Think about diverse viewpoints that you can argue in an essay. Be creative when presenting your argument.

In addition, you could practice writing by summarizing other viewpoints from written or lecture sources such as in readings or lectures. For example, you may listen to a lecture and write a summary about that listening. Or, you might read an article online that interests you, and then you could summarize the key points in the passage from the author’s perspective.

  1. Have another person edit your writing

A person who knows English fluently can be helpful in editing your essays. If you know one who is capable of the task, ask him/her to check your writing. As well, a teacher who is an expert at English writing can give you insight into how to strengthen your sentences and paragraphs and offer additional ideas how to generate development in your writing.

  1. Locate a quiet study space to write

If you find it difficult to start writing, tidy up your study space to create an ideal study environment: a clean, quiet zone. Be sure that the place where you are sitting down to write is free of noise and comfortable. Avoid being distracted at your desk so you can form tunnel vision and focus in on your topic.

Since writing is a process, the more you do it, the better you will become. If you like this article, try reading: Why Am I Not Improving English?

Rules How to Use a Semicolon Accurately in the English Language

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When you read books, articles in a newspaper or passages online, are you able to recognize the difference between a colon and a semicolon in English? Perhaps, you sometimes struggle using the semicolon punctuation mark correctly in written English.

Often mistaken with colons, semicolons have their distinct functions. Thus, they must be written in sentences according to the grammar rules. Similar to other punctuation marks, a semicolon is unique in the manner in which it is used, so avoid interchanging this punctuation with others unless it has the same rule. Therefore, if you know the rules about when to use a specific punctuation, you will be in a better position to perform well in formal written English on an exam such as the TOEFL writing section or the AWA on the GMAT.

What does a semicolon look like? A comma with a period on top of it. This is no coincidence! A semicolon, like a comma, indicates a spoken pause, a bit longer than a comma’s pause but shorter than the pause of a period at the end of a sentence. When we read  or speak out loud, our voices pause for semicolons in a similar way–but slightly more–than we would pause for a comma. So, when you listen to spoken English, you can actually hear a pause for a semicolon.

In many cases, a semicolon links two thoughts or related ideas. In formal academic written English, each thought or idea is usually in its own sentence. However, the flow of the writing might not be smooth if all the sentences are short or simple. Yet, if you are able to master the art of using semicolons accurately, it can give a smoother flow to your writing and even improve your performance on the written portion of a standardized test.

The functions that semicolons perform are unique, so be sure you avoid the common mistake of using a semicolon to replace a colon. For instance, an example of incorrect usage is as follows: I have one objective; to get a high score. The correct punctuation would be to employ a colon ( : )  in this case. Correct >> I have one objective: to get a high score.

Avoid confusion by practicing to write with semicolons precisely because even though semicolons look a little like a period on top of a comma, they do not have the same uses. Here are some grammar rules of when you can use semicolons in your writing.

  1. Connect two related sentences (independent clauses)–like replacing a period. A semicolon divides the thoughts but also links those ideas.
  • Structure: Sentence #1 + ; + related Sentence #2.

          Examples:

  • Give me a ring on Saturday; we can decide then if we want to go out to the party.
  • Mom still rides her bike; her two back baskets balance her stability when riding.

2. Connect two sentences close in meaning using a transition (moreover, furthermore, namely, nevertheless, for example, however, otherwise, therefore, thus, then, finally, likewise, consequently) such as a conjunctive adverb. Use a comma after the transition.

  • Structure: #1 Sentence + ; + transition, + sentence #2 close in meaning.

          Examples:

  • My sister does not agree with my nephew riding around on a motorcycle; however, she used to ride a motorcycle when she was young.
  • My friend thinks that working 80 hours per week is normal; consequently, he has hardly any downtime to spend with his partner.
  • My grandma passed away at a ripe old age; nevertheless, she had filled herself with chocolates, desserts and liquor every day.

3. Use semicolons with a complicated list of items of a series(e.g. with commas within the series) to clarify and prevent confusion

  • Structure: #1 item+, + other + ; + #2 item +, + other + ; + and #3 item +, + other

          Example:

  • On her bike, my sister has traveled to Barcelona, Spain; Toronto, Canada; Vancouver, Canada; and San Francisco, California.

Remember to keep in mind:

  • Avoid using semicolons too much; you shouldn’t write them often in an essay. Focus on using them for that special circumstance, only when necessary.
  • The two main clauses that the semicolon connects must be related.
  • After the semicolon, do not capitalize the beginning letter of the word that follows (like you do following a period) unless that word happens to be a proper noun, such as I, which is always capitalized.

Since these rules are super easy to familiarize yourself with, you should have no trouble using them correctly in your next essay or on an exam such as on the TOEFL writing section or the AWA (GMAT.)

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How to Learn New Vocabulary

Over the course of many years of teaching adults English writing, one of the experiential goals of university courses was to aid students in building vocabulary. If students employ a systematic strategy to increase their knowledge of English words, their level of English, particularly for TOEFL, will go up. You may be asking yourself, “How do I learn new vocabulary?”

First, make a plan to expand your reading, listening, speaking, and writing in order to be exposed to more English vocabulary. You can speak to native speakers and write emails to them to gain knowledge of new words. For both reading and listening, strategize how you can incorporate the time to read English articles and listen to lectures into your day: either at a set time daily, in the early morning before your work schedule, during your commute, or after work in the evening, for instance.  When you are reading, you do not need to identify new words. Only after you have finished the article and understand the main idea and key points can you scan the article once more and look for new words to make note of. The same goes for lectures. If you are listening for note-taking, just focus on the task of taking down effective notes such as the topic, main purpose and key points and details; do not get distracted by writing new vocabulary. Once you have completed the listening once, you can notice if there were many new words that you did not understand. If so, you can review the lecture transcript (or listen again) to take down the new words in your vocabulary notebook. If you see too many new words, focus on just a few for each article or lecture to avoid becoming overwhelmed.

Once you become more exposed to challenging vocabulary, you can start identifying new words and create a vocabulary journal to use daily. A vocabulary journal can be either a traditional paper notebook for English words or an e-vocabulary list in your smartphone. Use whatever is most convenient to study from every day. A vocabulary notebook divided into specific sections will help to have a better outcome in learning more English words. When you start your word notebook, divide the notes into different sections such as by where you discover the new words like from an online newspaper, an English prep book, or Tedxtalks. Then, separate the notebook into categories by unique theme like medical, science, food, idioms, law, finance, business, meetings, etc. Be sure to write the date of when you jot down your new words since you will want to track your vocabulary progress. Going back to a specific date, you can notice what words you remember. If you keep your notebook organized, it will be easier and faster to review and recall words to build your language.

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You might be thinking, “What else do I write down in my vocabulary lists?” If you divide your two open notebook pages into columns, you can have a list of the new words on the left, the definitions in the second column, the examples (in sentences) in the third column, and a few synonyms in the fourth column. So, when you open your notebook, each page would have two columns, but an open-faced book of two pages would have four columns related to just one list of words on the left side. It would be the same structure if you have a digital vocabulary notebook on your smartphone. The advantage to taking notes on 1) the new word, 2) the definition, 3) an example of the word in a sentence, and 4) synonyms is that you can remember the language more easily when you review daily, every other day, or biweekly, depending on when your study sessions are scheduled.

To see language results, reviewing the new vocabulary is essential. Carry your vocabulary notebook with you everywhere you go, and if you have five minutes of downtime, pull it out of your bag to review your word lists.