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English Language Support: Academic Writing - Sentences

Academic Writing - Sentences

Ideally you have already taken our short course which provided many opportunities to practise speaking and writing using accurate and natural English syntax, but hopefully you will also be motivated to extend and develop your independent and personal learning strategies. To help you to do this, we have put together some simple tips you might like to try and some resources you may find useful, too. 

Tips and techniques

Whatever you are trying to learn, it’s useful to: (i) find good models to base your own language on 

(ii) repeatedly practise producing your own original language 

(iii) get feedback on the language you produce 

Here are some suggestions about how you can ensure that you are constantly working on your sentence construction: 

  • Exploit your environment!   Living, studying and perhaps working in the UK means you are exposed to English all the time so be curious about the sentences you see and hear and constantly ask yourself how they are different from your own language. 

  • Read, read, read!  Set aside 20 minutes every day to read (absolutely anything!!) for the sole purpose of analysing how each sentence is constructed. This principle of ‘little but often’ really works! 

  • Use an App!  Use translation technology applications to test your ability to write an accurate sentence. Try to write a sentence without any help and only then use your app to check what it generates and compare this with your attempt. Again, use the little but often principle. 

  • Reference books are our friends!  Use a good grammar reference book (see recommended books) for extra practice in the areas you struggle with. 

  • Practice with a friend!  Organise your own English study groups with friends to provide greater motivation. 

  • Use the University!  Make full use of the excellent language learning support the university offers to answer any questions you need professional help with. 

Recommended books in the library

There are no specifically relevant books on English sentence structure (more correctly known as ‘syntax’) but you will find a standard grammar book very useful, such as: 


The book below*, although not in the library, is widely available and an excellent resource for anyone who is serious about consolidating and extending their ability to use increasingly complex grammar to communicate academic ideas: 

*English for Academic Study: Grammar for Writing, by Anne Vicary, published by Garnet Education 

ISBN 978-1-78260-070-1 


(*Please ask if you would like to see a tutor’s personal copy before buying) 


Recommended websites

As with all resources, you need to make sure that they are reliable and trustworthy. To a certain extent, it’s a question of what works for you and you may well have your own favourites (and please share these!) but here are a couple of good ones to start with. 

For those of you who prefer the audio-visual approach, this is a clear guide to English sentence structure.  Click here to watch  


If you find this useful, why not watch other videos in the same series? 


EAP resource bank ( 

As it says, this is a bank of resources so provides links to a huge number of relevant sites dealing with all aspects of English language learning, not just sentence structure/grammar. 

Languages for All

Sign up for Languages for All and get free extra English practice with the language learning application, Rosetta Stone. 

Click here to start.