The following notes come from a student
practice session on writing improvement. Includes samples of student
writing and teacher comments (in italics).
The Best Gifts
The first and the best gift I have ever received was a hot water bottle given by my husband.
We corrected the tense to the present perfect. Study your grammar book and learn it well. It’s very useful to know it.
took out the commas after “gift” and after “received” as unnecessary.
There was a “which was” before “given” and we took that out because it
doesn’t help us with meaning.
The present I receive from or give to someone always makes me happy.
it is a fact or habit, use the present tense. Again, review the basic
English tenses regularly. Don’t assume you know something if you
studied it once or even twice before.
A pack of crayons
that I received from the International Red Cross at my elementary
school was the best present until now. All Koreans were poor. It was
just one year after the Korean War ceasefire. There were no good
pencils, notebooks or even crayons for the schoolboys.
list in the final sentence emphasizes the word “crayons” because it is
last in the list. Use the last position in this way to emphasize your
most important item.
The best gift in my life was a gift/one I received on my wedding day. It was a very interesting present.
definite article “the” is tricky. Articles give lots of trouble to many
language speakers. We changed “the gift” to “a gift” because we haven’t
identified it yet. The second sentence makes us more curious. Just
because you have a good topic sentence does not mean you don’t need to
go on and be clear.
A Teacher’s Gift
When I was in the seventh grade, a teacher gave me a wonderful gift. It
wasn’t something material at all, but I still remember it fondly now,
38 years later. I enjoyed writing as a boy and worked hard on my
assignments. My Grade 7 teacher wasn’t a sentimental man, however, and
didn’t encourage me very much. It was my science teacher who gave me
his kind words. He stopped me one day outside the school office at
lunchtime and said that he had read something I’d written. He told me
that he thought I was a good writer and that he had enjoyed reading it.
But the most important thing he told me was that he believed I would be
successful in the future and that my writing would be an important part
of that future. How true! His name was Peter K. Snidal and I’ve never
forgotten him. Once, I even tried to find him via the Internet to thank
him, but he’s lost to me now. Truly, he gave me the greatest gift in my
life. (179 words; first draft by Brad Hyde on March 9, 2005)
Idiomatic Adjective and Preposition Combinations
Idiomatic Verb and Preposition Combinations
The Best Gifts
Our Earliest Memories
What We're Reading Now
Simple Sentences (Noun and Verb)
Writing about a Favourite Place
Making Sentences Longer 2
Writing about the Rain
Writing about a Person
Writing about Lunch
Writing about Snow
Making Sentences Longer