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Advanced Composition 

Showing versus Telling
March 9, 2000

Many writers will say that there is really only one rule for good writing: Show, don't tell. In tonight's class we will learn more about this most important rule.

Showing Versus Telling:

    To "show" means to demonstrate. To "tell" means to assert.
    For example, we may say, "He is sloppy." This is telling.
    For example, we may say, "His shoelaces are untied, his socks are mismatched, his shirt untucked, and his face unwashed." This is showing. 

    In order to truly convince your readers, make sure to show with details exactly what you mean. Save your assertions for the topic and controlling sentences.


Canadians behave in interesting and different ways from the people who live in other countries. Show, using examples from your own experiences in Canada, some of these unique behaviours. For example, in Canada when a person bumps into another person, often both of them will say, "Excuse me" or "I'm sorry!" We may then assert that Canadians are quite polite (or maybe just strange!). 

See a sample of teacher writing on this topic.

Please also visit your Advanced Composition Class Page where you can access current and past lessons.

More Lessons (index of past lesson worksheets)