Accessibility Version | Skip to content | Change text size

Table of contents

Previous page  | Next page

Grammatical structures

  1. In general, it is best to avoid contractions (note that they are becoming acceptable in some disciplines):

  2. The central bank chairman predicted that a devaluation wouldn't take place. arrow from left to right The central bank chairman predicted that a devaluation would not take place.

  3. Some negative forms are more formal than others (hint: the less formal ones usually occur with contractions):

  4. Informal Formal
    not… any
    The subjects didn't experience any negative effects from the procedure.
    no
    The subjects experienced no negative effects from the procedure.
    not… much
    There hasn't been much research on this topic.
    little
    There has been little research on this topic.
    not… many
    This line of research has not produced many results.
    few
    This line of research has produced few results.

  5. Limit the use of expressions like and so forth, etc. It is better to be explicit.

  6. Analysis involves using summaries, coding etc. to select, focus and simplify data. arrow from left to right Analysis involves using summaries, coding and other techniques to select, focus and simplify data.

  7. Avoid addressing the reader as you.

  8. You can find support for this proposition in several studies. arrow from left to right Support for this proposition can be found in several studies.

  9. It is best to limit the use of direct questions. They are more widely used in some disciplines than in others.

  10. What are the indications of a robust trading strategy? arrow to The indications of a robust trading strategy are:…
    or
    It is important/useful to consider what the indications of a robust trading strategy are.

  11. Place adverbs within the verb.

  12. In this section, first I will discuss how commercial buildings can be built in economical ways arrow to In this section, I will first discuss how commercial buildings can be built in economical ways.
    Then any underlying causes can be identified and adressed. arrow to Any underlying causes can then be identified and adressed.

Adapted from Swales & Feak, 2004 pp. 22-23

See how good you are at identifying 'un-academic' language. Click on the words and phrases in this piece of writing from the Web that you think are informal or idiomatic.

Take a sales person who is really churning out the sales. They have surpassed their all-time best results, and are riding the wave of success. Watch them operate. They don't stop to fool around. They grab that phone and make one more call. Everything they touch turns to success. They can't seem to do a thing wrong.


Click here to see comments

Take a sales person who is really churning out the sales. They have surpassed their all-time best results, and are riding the wave of success. Watch them operate. They don't stop to fool around. They grab that phone and make one more call. Everything they touch turns to success. They can't seem to do a thing wrong.

  1. Take and Watch address the reader directly, as though giving instructions.
  2. really and all-time are often used in informal spoken language making another word sound stronger ('really churning out', 'all-time best').
  3. don't contractions are used in informal writing.
  4. churning out, fool around and grab are slang expressions.
  5. riding the wave, Everything they touch turns to success. and They can't seem to do a thing wrong. are idiomatic expressions.

MACRO Recruitment

Now try rewriting the passage in a more formal, academic style.

Check this version against your own!

This is one possible way of rewriting the passage:

When observing the behaviour of staff who achieve a high volume of sales, it can be seen that they waste no time, but seize every opportunity to make contact with potential customers. All their efforts seem to be rewarded with success.

download a word document Download a printable version of this page.
Problems? Questions? Comments? Please provide us feedback.

Need help? Library frequently asked questions and online inquiries: current students/staff | public users, online chat, or phone +61 3 9905 5054
Something to say? Send us your feedback and suggestions: current students/staff | public users

Monash University logo