Writing Stylistics

Hello!  Happy Hump Day, Writing Stylistics Day and Writing Week! There is so much to celebrate! ♥

It’s crazy to think that we’re already mid-week of the third week of my August Learning Plan. We’ve already covered so much content, improved reading skills, practiced speaking, and got creative with our writing! The fun doesn’t stop there because today’s post is going to cover ways to strengthen your writing, and later this week we still have business-memo writing, and Isadora’s first post about gerunds. Stay tuned for those, you won’t want to miss out.

This writing stylistics post was a request from an Instagram student, and will review some basic techniques to ensure you understand some important writing fundamentals, as well as some devices (ex: figures of speech) to add some imagery to your writing. All of you reading are at different stages of writing skills, and use writing for a variety of areas, so when you are reviewing this information, make notes and imagine the different ways you can use it for personal, professional and/or academic use! If you have any doubts while reading, make sure to comment below or send me an e-mail! Let’s go!

We’ll begin with some basic techniques to ensure your text varies and flows smoothly from sentence to sentence, and paragraph to paragraph.

Varied Sentence Structures
There are 4 types of sentences you can create in English: simple, compound, complex, compound-complex.
*The simple sentence is one independent clause with only one main idea. It has a subject and a verb, and can be as simple as that (EX: I teach.), or can include a completing thought that makes it a bit longer (EX: I teach English to international students.). It’s important to note that compound or more complex subjects/verbs, and/or prepositional phrases can lengthen simple sentences, and make them a bit more complicated (EX: Teaching English to international students across the world is my favorite job in the world.)
*The compound sentence is made of two or more independent clauses, and is connected using coordinating conjunctions or conjunctive adverbs (see below in connectors). Some examples with 1) coordinating conjunctions: I teach English to international students and I run a blog.  2) conjunctive adverbs: I teach English to international students; however, I used to be in sales.
*The complex sentence contains one independent clause and one (or more) dependent claus(es), and is connected with a subordinating conjunction (see below in connectors). Remember dependent sentences cannot stand alone, and must be connected to an independent sentence to be a logical, complete thought. An example is: I love teaching English because I enjoy connecting with students from all over the world.
*The compound-complex sentence contains two (or more) independent clauses and one (or more) dependent clause(es). Although these are quite common, can be a bit difficult to understand and use correctly if you aren’t too sure about the other 3 sentence types. The dependent sentences can be adverb, adjective, or noun clauses/phrases. Let’s review a couple examples with 1)adjective clause: I teach English to students who live internationally and I have family that lives abroad.   2) adverb clause: While I was studying in college, a teacher told me about ESL, and I started volunteering.

Varying your sentences will strengthen your writing because you won’t be using short, choppy sentences all the time, and you’ll avoid sounding repetitive and monotonous (boring because it is always the same).

There are 3 types of connectors, which I mentioned above, coordinating conjunctions, subordinating conjunctions, and conjunctive adverbs. Using these will help your writing flow smoothly between sentences and paragraphs, and can help you express your ideas of similarity, contrast, time, etc..
*coordinating conjunctions: you may have already heard of FANBOYS, an acronym to help you remember: for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so. Use coordinating conjunctions to connect two independent clauses together, as well as words within a sentence (a list) or phrases. You need to use a comma before the coordinating conjunction when connecting 2 independent clauses, unless it is a very short, simple sentence.
*subordinating conjunctions: these conjunctions begin a dependent clause (subordinate clause) and can show time, reason, cause/effect, contrast, place, and condition. When placing the dependent clause before an independent clause, a comma must be used to separate the two.
*conjunctive adverbs: these adverbs are similar to coordinating conjunctions in that they connect 2 independent clauses; however, they need a comma to separate the two. Similar to subordinating conjunctions, they can show contrast, time sequence, cause/effect, as well as similarities, addition, summary, or for emphasis. Conjunctive adverbs must always be followed by a comma. As mentioned, they need a semi colon if connecting 2 independent ideas, and finally separated by commas within 1 independent clause.

Would you like to download a 2-page PDF with detailed explanations and examples of connectors? Download it here:

Next we’ll review some figurative language, to add a bit of ‘color’ and pizzazz(excitement/interest) to your writing.

I am happy to be writing this post on a new computer, because my previous one was a dinosaur.  It’s very obvious that my computer is not really a dinosaur; however, you can see that my sentences describes them as one (the same thing).

Never trust John, he is a snake! (he is a liar/traitor)

Taylor was sick in bed for a few weeks, and felt like her home was a prison. (a place she couldn’t escape)

We’re halfway done with this post, but it’s as long as a novel!  After so much writing, I am going to sleep like a log. You’ll notice in my two examples that I used the words “like” and “as” to make comparisons of two things that are not similar at all. Similes are used to not only add detail and examples, but to create some excitement in some text that may be rather boring. You can use it to “paint a picture” in your writing, to allow the reader to “see” what it is you are saying. Slightly different than a metaphor, remember, a simile will always be comparing with “like” or “as”. Here are some more examples:

Don Sneezel eats like a pig!  (but, he’s a cat! 🙂 )

I am as hungry as a horse!

Luckily I have glasses, because I am as blind as a bat.

I am having so much fun writing this, I could go on forever! 
Well, I couldn’t really go on forever, because, what is forever anyways? I used the word forever to exaggerate this sentence, and to show what a hyperbole is! A hyperbole is a device used to exaggerate a writer’s point, to make what is said seem bigger, greater, or even more intensified. Hyperboles, like most figurative language, cannot be taken literally, so it’s important to know how to use and understand them to avoid confusions with others. Let’s look at some more examples:

I am so happy with my TOEFL score that I could die. (Really? I could?)

I have told my students a million times that homework is important. (I doubt it’s been that many, but it feels like it!)

My backpack weighs a ton. (No way I could carry the weight of half of a car for real.)

I’ve written about onomatopeia before, check out the post and prezi presentation here!


That is a lot of information to cover, and a lot of information to practice, but why wait? Below I challenge you to write some example sentences. If you want to be a real super star, then you can write a sentence example for each of the topics mentioned above. Yes, that is 11 sentences! If you don’t have that much time, or want to take baby steps(smaller/fewer steps) then just choose the topics that are the more difficult and start trying to understand them today! Write your examples in the comment section below, or schedule a lesson to review with a teacher on Skype!

Happy Studying! ♥

Please share this post with another English learner or lover and help support me and English Outside the Box. Thank you! xoxo – Jennifer


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  1. rache7 on August 19, 2015 at 4:58 pm

    Correction: “I have never given much thought to” :/

    • Jennifer on October 22, 2015 at 1:01 pm

      How’s the writing going? 🙂

  2. rache7 on August 19, 2015 at 4:56 pm

    Thanks, Jennifer! I’ve been writing a blog sporadically but I have given much thought to such writing fundamentals! I’ll try to take them in and see how my writing improves! 😀

    • Jennifer on August 19, 2015 at 4:57 pm

      Great! Let me know how it goes! I’ll be sure to read your posts, too! 😉

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