IDIOMS & PHRASES

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We often read the phrase ‘language is a living thing’, but most of us do not stop to think what it really means. Living things grow and change, so does language. Since the general tendencies of present day English are towards more idiomatic usage; it is important that the lesson on idioms should show the learner how the language is developing. Idioms are not a separate part of the language, which one can choose either to use or to omit, but they form an essential part of the vocabulary of English. A description of how the vocabulary of the language is growing and changing will help to place idioms in perspective.

An idiom is a form of expression (or of grammatical usage) peculiar to a particular language and often having a meaning other than the one that it appears to have. All Languages have their own idioms. For example, in English we say that someone is ‘as deaf as a post’, and to blow one’s top (to get angry)


Mastery of any language demands a fluent use of idioms. That is why literal translation from one language into another often results in gibberish. We have to find equivalent idioms when translating.

There are hundreds of idioms in the English language. Here is a selection of the idiomatic expressions that include the word ‘head’”
head and shoulders’ (better than other people)
heads I win, tails you lose; (Deception practiced by the shrewd); to have a head on one’s shoulders; ( to be a sensible person); to lose one’s head; (to get angry); to have one's head turned; to make neither head not tail of it; (unable to understand) ;  to be –off one’s head; over head  and ears; ( completely); to come to a head (bring a situation to a head); to head off; (laugh loudly); to hit the nail on the head; (to explain the truths –to do the right); to keep ones head( keep calm).

Obviously, nobody can sit down to learn all the idioms in the language by heart. You pick up the idioms as you learn to use the language. Idioms have arisen from a multitude of human activities and occupations. From the accumulated experience of generation after generation, until this very moment and they continue to multiply.

The Vocabulary of a language grows continually with new development in knowledge. New ideas need new labels to name them without new labels, communication of these new ideas would be impossible.  Many new words come form the English of special subjects such as computer sciences, sociology, advertising, politics and economics.

Computer technology has given birth to software, diskette, high-tech, on-line, printout, modem, computer-literate, to format, to interface, to logon, to mention  only a few. The technology of nuclear power has given us interesting noun compounds such as meltdown or reactor spent—fuel reprocessing plant. From economics we have wage-freeze, price-freeze, stagflation. The field of advertising has given us soft sell and hard sell (subtle and aggressive sales techniques), ‘hype ‘ (intensive, exaggerated sales promotion/ publicity/ marketing) and the corresponding verb to hype.

Words which already exists can take on an additional meaning in a special context. For example, the field of industrial relations has given new meaning to the verbs to walkout, to lock out, to sit in, to go slow. The noun forms walkout, lock-out, sit-in and go-slow are used almost exclusively in this context. The words leak; spill and waste are typically used in the context of the technology of nuclear power, as well as in everyday contexts. In computer jargon, the verb to hack and the nouns memory, drive and hardware have taken on new meanings. The word  hard as used for example in hard copy has taken on the specialized meaning ‘readable by the eye’ i.e. not only machine- readable output as on magnetic tape.

American English is particularly flexible and creates new words by changing a new word’s grammatical function, e.g. verb to noun, as in a set-up, a buy-out, a trade-off, a work-out, a phone-in, a shoot-out. Nouns are  made into verbs, as in to access, to window (computer jargon) to microwave, to rubber-stamp, to scapegoat, to colour- match, to air-freight, to headline. Adjectives are made into verbs, as in to soundproof, to streamline; to skid proof, to net (i.e., to bring in a net profit), British English quickly adsorbs such American forms. All these changes are short cuts in language, as they make the form of words shorter and more direct, and for that reasons are becoming increasingly popular.

Another popular shortcut  joins words together  to form one adjectives instead of a long phrases. Here are a few typical ones: a round- the- clock service, instead of a service which is offered around the clock (i.e., for 24 hours a day), a some –day service, on-the-job training, low-income group, a non-profit-making organization. New words are made by adding endings such as-ize-ization to adjectives or nouns. This indicates a process: to decimalize, to containerize, to computerize, to departmentalize, computerization etc.

Prefixes such as mini –maxi, super- micro, mega- hyper- indicate the quantity or  quality of something in the shortest possible way. Here are some well established examples: mini- diskette, super chip, micro-teaching, micro-surgery, megastar, mega chip, hypermarket, hypersonic.

New words are made by combining parts of two existing words; smog (smoke+ fog), newscast (news+ broadcast); flextime (flexible + time) stagflation (stagnant + inflation). Here are some typical combinations from American English which uses more than British English:
Brunch (breakfast lunch), Motel (Motorist + hotel) Laundromat (laundry +automat), Medicare (medical+ care), cablegram (cable + telegram), workaholic (work + alcoholic), gasohol (gasoline + alcohol) English language is so peculiar that it cannot use words with similar meanings in the same context. Let us take an example of a synonym. Synonym word which has the same meaning or nearly  the same meaning as another work in the same language. The meanings may not be identical but there will be certain common features. Take for instances home and house. These two are alike in that they refer to where people live. But a house is not a home. There are thousands of houses in a city. But the one you choose to live in with your family becomes your home. The word home has a certain warmth that the word house doesn’t have. You pay house rent and not home rent. Make yourself at home, says the host at parties. A home is more than a house. Synonyms don’t have identical meanings. If you don’t use them with care, you will be in trouble. John Donovan wrote a witty verse on this in 1946 in the Saturday evening post. This will tell you effectively  and humorously  what a synonym is:
Call a woman a kitten, but never a cat: you can call her a mouse, cannot call her a rat: call a woman a chicken, but never a hen! Or you severely will not be her caller again. You can call her a duck, cannot call her a goose, you can call her a deer, but never a moose; you can call her a lamb, but never a sheep; economic she likes, but you can’t call her cheep. You can say she is a vision, can’t say she’s sight. And no woman is skinny, she’s slender and slight. If she should burn you up, say she sets you a fire; and you’ll always be welcome, you tricky old liar. If one has to be careful using a synonym then imagine how careful you should be using an idiom in this language. If someone says ‘he kicked the bucket’ it doesn’t literally mean that he kicked the bucket; it only means he died.

It is important to realize that idioms are not only colloquial expressions, as many people believe. They appear in formal style and in slang, in poetry, in the language of Shakespeare and the Bible.

What is  an idiom? An Idiom can be defined as a number of words which, when taken together, have a different meaning from the individual meaning of each word.

Kinds of idioms:
Idioms take many different forms or structures. An idiom can have a regular structure, an irregular or even a grammatically incorrect structure. The clarity of meaning is not dependent on the ‘grammatical correctness’. A few  examples will illustrate this:
1.      Form irregular, meaning clear, as in give someone to understand, do someone proud, do the dirty on someone.
2.      Form regular, meaning unclear, as in have a  bee  in one’s bonnet, (to think and talk about something all the time), cut no ice (have no influence),  bring the house down (to make every one laugh or cheer)
3.      Form irregular, meaning unclear, as in be at large, (as a whole, in general) ( go great guns, ( to be doing something. Quickly & successfully), be at daggers drawn  ( be angry with each other).

We find, in fact, that most idioms belong to the second group, where the form is regular but the meaning unclear. However, even in this group some idioms are clearer than others. For example, the meaning of to give someone the green light can be guessed as ‘to give someone permission to start’ others are too difficult to guess because they have no association with the original meaning of the individual words. Such examples are: to tell someone where to get off, to carry the can, to drop a brick, to call the shots.

Several fixed idioms cannot be changed in any part (except the tense of the verb). For example: to paint the town red, to fight shy of something, to get down to business. Others allow a different number of variants. For example, to know one’s onions/ stuff, a hard/ tough not to crack, to come to a bad/ untimely/ nasty end.

Changing attitudes to language:
Educated usage has become much more flexible and tolerant about what is considered to be correct or acceptable. Such changes of attitudes can be observed in several parts of grammar, including case, number and tense.

The attitude of users towards style has also become more flexible. Several words which were considered to be slang in the past have gradually been up-graded in status and are now often considered informal or colloquial. Much of what was labeled informal in the past is now considered neutral in style. This is partly due to the spread in the use of taboo words by educated speakers. Several such words give much less offence than in the past and are widely used in both American and British television productions.

One of the main difficulties for learners is knowing in which situation it is correct to use an idiom, i.e, the level of style. It is better to avoid using, slang and taboo expressions until then mastery of the language is complete. It is difficult to know whether an idiom is natural or appropriate in a certain situation. Another difficulty is that of fixed idioms and idioms with variants. It is most important to be exact in one’s use of fixed idioms, as an in accurate idiom may mean nothing to a native speaker. Above all, remember that it is extremely unwise to translate idioms into or from one’s native language. One may be lucky that the two languages have the same form and vocabulary, but in most cases the result will be utterly be wildering to the English native speaker – and possibly highly amusing.

The English language belongs to the Indo-European family of languages. English is essentially a Germanic Languages, which has been enriched in its growth by the addition of very considerable Romance or Latin element, and by a small proportion of words from miscellaneous sources. The intermingling of Germanis and Romance elements has given to English a greater power of expressing delicate shade of meaning than could be found in a language altogether Romance or altogether Teutonic. The extent to which English has spread is truly marvelous. No other languages, ancient or modern, has ever been so widely spoken. There is, then, nothing strange in the fact that so many foreign students should wish to learn English; for most books found to be generally useful are written in English, and if any valuable book is written in another language, and English translation of it is sure to be speedily published. The English speaking people want no monopoly of knowledge; and anyone who masters the English tongue acquires a key which will open to him whatever is valuable in the literature of the world.

English has, as we have seen, drawn elements from many sources; hence its copiousness of vocabulary and its great power of expressing distinctions of meaning. It is particularly rich in idiomatic expressions. Under ‘idioms’ we include peculiar uses of particular words, and also particular phrases or turns of expression which, from long usage, have become stereo typed in English.

When we say of a woman that she was a tongue, we seem to say  something that does not give much information. But its common usage in English means that the woman spoken of has a scolding tongue. The sentence, she has a tongue, is commonly equivalent to, she is a scold. Again, on and upon are commonly equivalents and are often interchangeable. Thus we correctly say, either he acted on my advice, or he acted upon my advice; either Madras is on the sea coast, or Madras is  upon the sea coast. But though we can idiomatically say, carry on business, we cannot say, carry upon business this last expression is meaningless.  

Further, many English verbs derived from Latin are compounded of a Latin prefix and a Latin verb. Some of these verbs in English take a preposition after them in composition, while others do not. For example the word abstain has to be used along with from. Abstain from all appearance of evil. But you say, this book contains much valuable information contain takes no preposition after it. English idiom established by usage requires that some of these verbs from Latin should be followed by a preposition and others not, but no rule can be given showing which usage should be followed in regard to any particular verb.

Again it is not easy to explain why we can say make a journey, and not make a walk, but must say, take a walk, or why we can say of one statue that it is a dead letter, but cannot say of another statute that is a living letter; or why we speak of a bird flying as a bird on the wing, and yet must speak of a man walking as on foot and not on the foot; or why we say take in hand, and not take in hands or take into hands or why we must say live from hand to mouth  and not live from the hand to the mouth. But long usage has fixed the idiomatic expression in each case, and from the idiom we may not swerve.

Let us look at some idioms & phrases.

1.      Act with dispatch – to act with dispatch means to act swiftly. The order was carried out with greet dispatch.
2.      Attend, attend to – you attend a meeting. You attend a wedding. You attend a conference. When you attend any of these, you are present there.  Attend to means, to look after, deal with, pay attention to – please don’t worry about your son’s admission. I will attend to it.
3.      Bank on or to bank upon means to relay on, to depend on. I am banking on you to help me in this.
4.      Blow one’s own trumpet: He blows his own trumpet. This means that he is boastful. He talks about himself and his achievements all the time.
5.      It is board and lodging and not boarding and lodging. I pay Rs.500 for board and lodging
6.      Call on, Call in
Call on means to make a short visit to. He called on me Yesterday.
Call in has several meanings. One is to order or request the return of something. The librarian called in all books for stock-taking. When you all in someone, you ask them to come  and see you or to take action of some kind. Often because you need help: the police were called in to deal with the strikers. Call in is also used to mean to make a telephone call to your office to report where you are and what you are doing – she called in the this afternoon to say that she was ill.

7.      Carry on – Carry out
Carry on has several meanings. One of the meanings is to continue one’s work or duty please do not get up, carry on with your work. Despite all the difficulties, he is carrying on
Carry out means to perform, to put into practice, to give effect to. Whether I like it or not, I have to carry out his instructions.

8.      Cope with: I can’t cope with my work but it is incorrect to say I can’t cope up with my work.

9.      Deal in and deal with
You deal in goods. He deals in electrical goods. Deal in means to trade in
Deal with means to manage to treat I don’t know how to deal with him. This book deals with Indian politics.

10. Despite, inspite of: Both these words mean the same. But despite is not followed by of. Despite his hard work, he was not promoted. Inspite of is used in all contexts, formal and informal. Inspite of my warning, he attended the meeting.

11. Differ from, differ with: When two things are not the same, you say they are different from each other. Chalk is different from cheese. When it is used in the sense of disagree, you can use either from or with. Both are correct. I differ with him on this question.

12. Drop a brick: when you are in company and say something or do something that causes embarrassment to others it would be said that you dropped a brick.
She dropped a brick when she talked about her divorce at his wedding reception.

13. Enough, enough of- I’ve had enough coffee means I’ve had sufficient quantity of coffee. When you say enough of, there is a suggestion that you don’t want any more of it and you are fed up with it, you are sick of it. I’ve had enough of him.

14. Face, Face upto- to face means to oppose firmly and not try to avoid. He faced the situation with great courage .
To face upto means to confront. You face up to the emergency.

15. Figure on, Figure out: Figure on means to count on, to expect, I figured on his attending the meeting today. Figure out means to estimate, to understand. I am not able to figure out why he is so silent these days.

16. Get on like a house on fire: This means vigorously, fast, excellently. She is getting on with her work like a house on fire. You don’t have to worry about him at all. He’s getting on with his boss like a house a fire.

17. High time: The sentence: it is high time that I go, is not correct. High time means time beyond the proper time but before it is too late.
It should be: it is high time that I went. The verb should be in the past tense.

18. Look for, means to search for. I am looking for my glasses.
Look after means to take care of: who will look after the children during youf absence?
19. To make a clean breast of – you tell the truth about something bad you have done, you don’t hide anything.

20. To make ends meet – the idiom is to make ends meet or to make both ends meet and not to make both my ends meet. The ends are income or expenditure.

21. To nip in the bud: is an idiom. To nip means to squeeze sharply. When a bud is nipped, it will not develop into a flower when something is nipped in the bud; it is destroyed in its early stages. Bad habits must be nipped in the bud.

22. On the sly: means in secret. It is used when something is done unlawfully or dishonestly. He says he has given up drinking. But I know he drinks on the sly.

23. To stick to one’s guns- when you hold on to you opinion or  belief despite what others say or do, people would say that you stick to your guns.

24. Up and about – when a person falls ill, he is down in bed. He is not able to move about in the usual way. When he is all right, he gets up and moves about. This is what is meant by: He is up and about.

25. Wet behind the cars: means immature, inexperienced naïve and innocent. You can’t  expect him to do this; he is wet behind the ears.

26. Cannot make head or tail of cannot understand. I cannot make head or trail of your letter.

27. Heads I win, tails you lose – this means deception practiced by the shrewd.
You are bound to do as I say – heads I win tails you lose. I stand to gain both ways.

28. Over head and ears: completely. I am over head and ears in debt

29. To keep one’s head- to keep calm keep your head, do not get annoyed.

30. To lose one’s head – to become angry he lost his head with his brother.

31. Fair and square – honest let your actions be fair and square.

32. To turn a deaf ear to – to refuse to listen to – she turned a deaf ear to my advice.

33. Walls have ears – there may be listeners. Be cautious even the walls have ears.
34. To chew the cud – to reflect- Thinkers always chew the cud.

35. From hand to mouth – in poverty- She lives from hand to mouth, in abject poverty.

36. Hard nut to crack – difficult problem to solve – solving the population problem is a hard nut to crack.

37. To turn over a new leaf – to mend one’s ways – Vishnu has turned over a new leaf in his life.

38. In lieu of – instead of
Give me a pencil in lieu of the pen I am giving you.

39. To wash one’s dirty linen in public- not to keep one’s personal problems private. Politicians wash their dirty  line in public.

40. To leave in the lurch – to desert.
Do not leave your friends in the lurch

41. To hit the mail on the head – to give true explanation, to savor do just the right thing

42. As deaf as a post: very deaf , completely deaf.

43. Head and shoulder: Better than other people.

44. To have a head on one’s shoulders – to be a sensible person.

45. To come to a head – bring a situation to a head.

46. To head off- Laugh loudly.

47. To have a bee in one’s bonnet: - to think and talk about something all the time and think it is very important.

48. Cut no ice: have no influence.

49. Bring the house down: to make everyone laugh or cheer

50. Be at large: as a whole, in general

51. Go great guns: to be doing something quickly and successfully
52. Be at dagger drawn: Be angry with each other.

An idiom is a form of expression (or of grammatical usage) peculiar to particular language and often having a meaning other than the one that it appears to have.
Idioms are special words or Phrases that have meaning of their own.

Key words with idiomatic uses
Bad:
1.      Bad language: Swear words or taboo words. No bad language in the classroom! If you must swear, save it until you’re outside!.
2.      A Bad lot: a person with bad personal qualities, someone who is dishonest. I am so glad that Jerry has stopped going about with Mike. I heard that he had been in prison for steeling. In my opinion, he is a bad lot.
3.      Be in Someone’s bad books: be out of favour with someone. If you don’t get the essay finished by tomorrow, you’ll be in your teacher’s bad books again.

Big:
1.      Bid Deal!: terrific! Great! (ironical). Said when one is not impressed/ pleased etc. by something. I got the job! I got the job ! ‘Bog deal! You were the only applicant, weren’t you”’
2.      A big hit: Something/ someone very popular with others. By the way, your new flat is a big hit with your parents. They think its perfect for you.
3.      Give someone a big hand: applaud someone with enthusiasm. He acted very well in a drama. He was given a big hand.

Dead:
1.      Come to a dead halt: come to a complete stop. The lorry come to a dead halt just in front of the fallen man.
2.      Dead drunk: extremely drunk. I’ve never seen him in such a state. He was dead drunk.
3.      Dead Wood: someone/ something that is no longer needed or useful or is out of date. It’s time we brought these files up to date. We’ll start by throwing out all the dead wood.

Work out this Exercise

Rewrite the following sentences without using idiom. Do not change the sense.

I had not planned to take a holiday just then but the offer was so good that I decided to make hay while the sun shone (take advantage of the opportunity)

After a game lasting nearly three hours, Jones lowered his sail (Admitted defeat)
A man on the make ( looking after his won advantage) is not to be trusted.
You cannot have respect for a leader who passes the buck (evades responsibility by passing it to someone else)

They were not enthusiastic about the scheme, but his forceful personality and eloquence roped them in eventually (persuaded them to take part in the scheme)

Find the meanings of the following idiomatic pairs.
1.      Alive and kicking – well & active
2.      Born and bread – born & brought up – having spent one’s early years.
3.      Bright and Breezy – in a  cheerful, bright mood, doing things quickly.
4.      Cut and dried – Settled, decided, final.
5.      Fair and square – in a fair way, honestly, exactly, directly
6.      Free and easy – casual, relaxed, unconcerned about social convention.
7.      Hale and hearty – physically strong & fit.
8.      Home and dry – sure and success
9.      Meek and mild – Quiet , not self –assertive or bold.
10. Rough and ready – only approximate, not exact.
11. Safe and sound – unharmed
12. Short and sweet – brisk, without unnecessary detail
13. Sick and tired – thoroughly bored or annoyed with someone.
14. Slow but sure – slow but good.
15. Spick and span – clean & tidy, in very good order.



ESSAY WRITING

Important points to remember for writing a good essay.

·        Choose the title of your essay very carefully. Never choose a title about which you have no clear ideas.
·        Before you start writing Essay, you must jot down your points or ideas.
·        Always remember that the beginning and the ending of an essay are very important, so give them special attention.
·        You should not give one sided conclusion. Conclusion should always be a balanced one.
·        The points should be developed in a systematic order.
·        Generally you should not go against the title of the essay.
·        Do not fill your essay wholly with quotation or facts and figures. It will only show lack of expression
·        Put each main idea in a separate paragraph.
·        You should not give number to the paragraph
·        The introduction should be direct and to the point. The conclusion should be quite convincing and natural.
·        Avoid the use of difficult words. You should not use a word the meaning of which is not clear to you.
·        There is no hard and fast rule regarding the length. But if the limit of words   is given, you should adhere to it.
·        Avoid the use of slang in your Essay.
·        Write in a beautiful and legible handwriting.
·        You must revise your essay after completion to correct the grammatical mistakes, if any.

‘Essay’, the word comes from the French essay first applied in 1580 by Montaigne to his short writings.

The literary genre allows a great variety of styles: from Bacon’s Pithy erudition, to Lamb’s Chatty and personal ramblings, to the impersonal, formal analysis of Locke’s ‘Essay Concerning the Human understanding’. Today the essay is no longer “a loose sally of the mind, an irregular, indigestible piece”, as averred by Dr. Johnson.

An Essay is a piece of prose composition generally short, on any chosen subject. The word  essay literally means an “attempt”. The essay is, properly speaking, an a attempt at expressing your thoughts, personal experience, opinions or ides on a given topic.

Essay writing is an art. The students should master this art from the very beginning of their educational career.  The important of the essay writing can hardly be exaggerated. Infact essay  is one of the most effective and surest test of the personality and mental development of the students. If the students master the technique of essay writing at an early stage, they can become good essayists later on.

Accordingly to the Random House Dictionary of English language an Essay is a short literacy composition in a particulate  subject, usually in price. The oxford advanced learners dictionary says an  essay is a short piece of writings by a student as part of a course of study: also a short piece of writings on a particular subject written in order to be published. According to Ben Johnson “an Essay is a thing, someone does himself” and the point of the essay is not the subject but  the charm of personality.

An essay is thus a means of literary self-expression on the subject having a vast range from kings to kites. In the examinations the students can be asked to write an essay on a variety of subjects like current affairs, topics of general interest, topics from science, education, films, radio, festivals, excursions, accidents so on. The students generally have a wide choice to choose from. A student should choose only that topic about which he has some clears ideas or with he has already prepared. He should not choose a subject about which he has no knowledge or possesses only vague ideas. You must know your essay subject.  You must learn to write essays from an excess of knowledge. Go to lectures, read up on the subject in the library, look up the latest academic papers and thoroughly immerse yourself in the essay subject before writing. Without this work to find out the information, you cannot write an essay with authority and command of your essay subject matter.

Practice makes a man perfect. The students must practice Essay writing. They can master this art by writing Essay on different topics and remembering them properly. While writing an essay the students must not beat about the bush. They should keep quite close to the subject. The essay should be written in a systematic and logical manner.

You must collect more information than you will use: Although your research will give you a mass of information, you must use only the information that answers the questions set. You will probably collect a hundred facts, read a dozen opinions and review three or four of the most recent academic discussions of the subject. However, to answer the question set, you must cut this information down to the key facts, most pertinent opinions and perhaps refer to only the most relevant discussion papers.

The best and effective style of writing a good essay is the use of simple words. There is no need of using very difficult words. The language used should be simple and idiomatic. The students should write small sentences. In these small sentences there will be less possibility of committing any grammatical mistakes. There is no need of filling and essay with a large number of unnecessary quotations. It shows only the lack of expression on the part of students. It is better if the students can say something original in their own language.

If you were writing an essay on Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, you could not write a good one without first reading the play. Too often, students ignore the primary source of material. If you are writing an essay on Rousseau’s Philosophy, there’s no excuse for not reading the original source social contract rather than a critique of Rousseau’s writings. Studying the primary sources of information let you assess other information written on the subject.
Use a systematic way of taking notes.
Therefore you need to have a method of note taking. No matter how you record the information, cards, notebook or in a computer database, bear the following in mind.
1.      use a one- word or two –word key to each note. This lets you sort them later and group treated information together.
2.      Distinguish between primary and secondary sources: An example of a primary source would be Karl Marx’s Das Kapital. A secondary source would be a Critique of Das Kapital by another author.
3.      Distinguish between facts and opinions: you must base your essay around facts. Without key facts you cannot present your arguments or assess other people’s opinions.
4.      Look out for the ten key facts that are the backbone to your essay: What information documents the subject and develops the ideas and arguments you are going to use?
5.      Look for Quotable Quotes: Too after, lazy students quote chunks of text from documents, rather than selecting the most important thought or view in fewer words.
6.      Don’t write out extracts word for word: Your notes are notes – not a copy of the words in the reference books.
7.      Keep a record of all information sources. A record of each information source.

1.      Lets you find your source research material quickly
2.      Khelps you write up foot notes and reference lists.

Essay writing no doubt is an art and there are no hard and fast rules that be laid down for essay writing. However, we can divide an essay into three main arts. Normally, the essay should have a beginning, a middle and an end- an introduction, the main body of the essay and a conclusion. Every essay needs an introduction. Sometimes the introduction is dispensed with and the writer plunges right into the subject. In any case the essay should have an organic unity. The main theme should be kept in view throughout and nothing that is not relevant to it should be allowed to creep in. the introduction should be direct and to the pint. You should introduce your view or the main theme in the introductory part of the essay.

If an candidate writes a lengthy introduction them then he may deviate too much from the main topics.

In the body of the essay each main idea should be written in a well balanced and logical manner. There should be an orderly development of thought from paragraph to paragraph; a logical sequence of idea, one point leading naturally to another.

The style and treatment should be adapted to the subject. A serious or philosophical theme should be treated in a dignified manner. A subject like a picnic or a village fair may be dealt with in a familiar, light-hearted manner. Simple, direct expression should be preferred to pompous or verbose writing. Anecdotes and illustrations may be used to make the essay interesting. The personal approach is what makes an essay distinctive. The essay should reflect not only the opinions and thoughts of the writer but his very personality.

Like the introduction the conclusion in an essay should also b logical, convincing and natural. Without writing a good conclusion the student cannot expect to secure good marks in the examination. The conclusion should be natural and not abrupt; it must be forceful & effective. Thus the students must pay special attention to the instruction as well as the concluding part of an essay. Generally they should not go against the title of the Essay.

To respect the points all over ageing in another way study the subject carefully. Do not start writing the essay straight away but analyze the subject so as the to get a clear and accurate idea of the scope. The wording of the subject is very important.

If the subject is ‘Travel as a Means of Education’ don’t write on traveling in general, the different modes on travel by land and so on  but focus your attention on the knowledge of other countries and people, their customs culture and civilization that can be acquired through traveling. If the subject is ‘ \The limitations of Democracy’ don’t’ expatiate on the history of Democracy, the advantages of democracy over other forms of Government and so on but only on the weaknesses of Democracy as it exists today and how these can be remedied. Keep to the point and avoid all that is not relevant.

As you think over the subject several thoughts will pass through your mind. Jot them down on a piece of paper. Perhaps some examples, illustrations and apt quotations will also occur to you. Write them down immediately lest you should forget them.

Having set down all your idea, try to arrange them under various heads. Order and arrangement of thought is very important. Each main point should be developed in a separate paragraph, and one paragraph should logically lead to another. Thus there should be organic unity and continuity of thought in the essay. You should also  see that no aspect of the subject is unduly stressed or elaborated at the expense of another. There should thus be a certain balance and proportion in the development of ideas.

As I said earlier the introduction should e brief and striking. It should at once catch the interest of the reader. Perhaps the most common opening in essays is with a definition of the subject. But there are more striking ways of beginning an essay: with an anecdote or reminiscence with a quotation, with a question, with a proverb or a striking statement, with a piece of vivid description as so on.

And how to conclude the essay. You can briefly seem up the main arguments or ideas that you have developed in the course of the essay in the last paragraph. You can draw your conclusion on the basis of the arguments. Let it be only one paragraph. You can conclude the essay with a prediction a quotation, witticism or Anecdote, a question or with an abrupt remark.

A good hand writing like a pleasing personality is always an asset. Therefore, the students should try to improve their handwriting before hand. The essay should be written in a legible handwriting. A good handwriting always fetches more marks in the examinations. The students should also revise their essay after writing. In this way they can correct any mistakes which they may have committed regarding spelling, punctuation, construction of sentences etc.

Regarding  the length of an Essay, there is no hard and fast rule. Some writes like Bacon used to write very short Essay. On the other hand William Hazlitt another famous Essayist, wrote very lengthy essays. The examiner is not much impressed by the length by the your essay. He is more influenced by the substance of your essay and the manner in which you have presented or expressed it. The real thing which matter is that the Essay should be systematic and convincing of course, when you are asked to write an essay within  a fixed limit of words, you must adhere to it. Essay writing should be a personal attempt made in a pleasant manner to make it a delightful reading.

However, whatever you known on a subject is expected to be dexterously organized and presented. The pit the thesis – of the essay should be clear to the reader. An essay is not a Shapeless mass of ideas and feeling, facts and figures, incidents and events, but a well-designed piece of pen-manship. To meet these expectations, you will need to develop the skills associated with the different stages of essay writing.

Think about what you need or want to write before you start . this advice may seem obvious, but it is all too easy to rush into a piece of writing without having a clear idea of what you are going to say. There are several considerations to bear in mind – your subject; your purpose your readers; the form of writing that you are using (essay, story, report so on)

Obviously, these circumstances vary from one ‘writing situation’ to another. To be effective, the contents must be relevant and appropriate to the particular situation.

A vital feature of success in structuring ideas effectively concerns the generation of ides. The subjects that comforts you has to be thought about and ideas created in your main before they can be translated into words on paper. Harnessing the power of your brain and applying its energy to the topic in question is something called ‘brain-storming’. Here are some approaches to help you.

Take a single sheet of paper. Make a box in each of the four corners and let them act as ‘sign ports’ bearing the headings:
Subject purpose, form; Readers.
Under each of the headings write notes along the following lines to indicate the direction that you wish to take.
1.      Subject: identify the main topic and, perhaps, major points of your intended piece of work
2.      purpose: to explain , explore or entertain? Indicate which category.
3.      Form: letter, Essay, report, story etc?
4.      Readers: extent and age of intended audience whether the readers known to you or anonymous.

Write the main theme of your essay in the middle of a fresh sheet of paper. Then jot down any and every idea that occurs to you in the next few minutes. Do not worry where they are placed in the paper. Some ideas will follow in sequences. Some will be random and some will start a new train of thought. Where ideas seem irrelevant, do not worry for they may be of use later on.

Where there is an obvious link between a run of ides, fn them out across the page on a series of lines drawn to resemble the branching the several twigs. It is important to keep going and not to allow ideas to dry up. If you stop will create a blockage in the flow of ideas feeding out from your brain. Use various devices to keep ideas flowing. For example:
1.      Reverse thinking 0 new for old; fast for slow; negative for positive;
2.      Imagine that your are in a time – machine retreating and advancing,
3.      Picture yourself as a part of the scene;
4.      take imaginary slow- motion shots as though a camera;
5.      Look at the problem from other points of view;
6.      See the subjects in terms of Chaos, failure …. Or even solution.
7.      Play the part of a god, devil, a practical joker or a saint.

After you have collected s many ideas as possible, you may want start to organic them. There are three steps in order to do this.

1.      Highlight the Titles: see if you have any words that would summarise a group of ideas. Underline them, highlight them with a marker or box them around so that they stand out visually on the page.
2.      Count the concepts: Give a priority to your various titled concepts. Number them in an order that appeals to you.
3.      Encase the ideas: use a coloured marker to gather together all the various ideas that fit under the various titles you have selected and ring them into a series of ‘balloons’

While ‘brain -storming’ it is important to establish an order in which you are going to present materials. This ability to set out the content in a clear and sensible sequence is one of the basic skills on which all effective writing depends.
It is important to take an overall view of all material that you are intending to use. Try to place the information in the relevant sections: Introduction (beginning): body (middle): Conclusion (end).

Look at the flowing sex sentences that have been placed in random order but which can be sorted out to from a full paragraph with a definite beginning, middle and end. Build the  paragraph to show that you appreciate its construction.

a)     in the days when some horizons, especially in mountains areas, had not been reached by humans, the map-makers had difficulties.
b)     The great travelers of the past and present have been explorers, sometimes in the geographical sense, yet always in the expansion of their mental horizons.
c)     These may have indicated ignorance, but often they promoted curiosity and resolve.
d)     Travel supposedly broadens the mind.
e)     Far from repelling would- be travelers from the unknown, they actually attracted the explorer who wanted  to broaden his view and extend man’s knowledge.
f)       They had to leave blank spaces on their maps.

In a wary you have devised a mental journey for your readers and encouraged them to take a definite route through what could have been a maze or jungle of ideas. Consider the writers to be a guide …….. and therefore your achievement will be to help your reader to reach a satisfactory and informed conclusion.

Coherence:
The frame work just described helps you to present your materials coherently. You should have sorted out the contents so that the items cohere or ‘ Stick together’. Do not allow your reader to be misled by allowing material to appear out-of-place’.

Sequences and conditions:
It is the logical sequence that matters. Connections should be made within a considered structure. In this way there are no ‘loose ends’. Careful planning means that the attention of readers should be directed without fuss. Sometimes it may be useful to give a signal that a turning –pint in the argument or a vital new addition to a description is about to be made. Linking expression such as ‘however’, ‘even so’, on the other hand, ‘yet’, or ‘in addition’, can indicate the beginning of a new stage in the development of your materials while, at the same time, emphasizing its continuity.

One topic at a time.
Your first aim should be to generate sufficient ideas to make the content of your writing worth while. Your second should be to present it in an orderly way. The three –part structure already mentioned earlier- introduction- body- conclusion will help you to do that.

In any of these three parts- and especially when you are dealing with the main structure (the body) of your subject matter you may need to include more than one topic. Each separate topic should be dealt with in a separate paragraph.

·        A paragraph is a distinct section of a passage of writing. It is concerned with one topic – and only one. Help your readers to understand quickly and clearly what each paragraph is about. So not confuse them by including any material that is not strictly relevant to the topic with which the paragraph is concerned.
·        The topic  sentences and paragraph unity
Build each paragraph on a ‘topic sentences’ so called because it announces the topic being dealt with in that paragraph.
·        The topic sentences tells your readers what the paragraph is about. All the other sentences in that paragraph should be seen to have a direct bearing on the subject matter indicated by the topic sentences. That is what is meant by ‘paragraph unity’ .
Think of the topic sentence as a ‘signpost’. It tells your readers where the paragraph is going. Then having indicated the ‘route’ you are taking. Stick to it. Do not wander off into ‘by ways’. Each paragraph corresponds to one particular stage of the ‘journey’. When you have completed it, start on the next stage, in a new paragraph.
·        The position of the topic sentences.
As it acts as a ‘signposts’, it is best to place the topic sentence at the beginning of the paragraph. All the other sentences in the paragraph should then follow on in a sensible sequence.
This method of working will produce a well-made paragraph.

1.      Think hard about the particular point you intend to make in the paragraph. This will be your subject for the complete paragraph. You may have to apply a little ‘brain storming’ here and write a few notes to ensure that your ideas are in place before you start
2.      Work out a topic sentence in which you express the essence of that point.
3.      Check that everything you include in the rest of the paragraph is closely related to the point made in the topic sentence. You will need to expand and develop that point- but do not get away from it.
4.      Use all your material signpost by the topic sentence. Complete it before you move on to the next topic- in the next paragraph.
·        Two well-made paragraph to study
These two paragraph, A & B are examples of thoughtful and disciplined expression. The particular aspect of subject matter being dealt with is clearly stated in a topic sentence at the beginning. All the other sentences are clearly seen to bear on that point, explaining and developing it. Ni irrelevant matters are included.
A.    This is a bleak time to eke a living out of the North sea, whether you areca fish or a fisherman. British fishermen’s  incomes have fallen by 6 percent in real term since 1980, which would not seem too bad if fish were not getting scarcer. The stocks of adult North sea cod  have halved since 1982 and those of haddock have fallen by two-thirds. Pollution may be partly to balance; so may the mysterious and spontaneous variations common among fish populations. But most scientists think that the fish shortage has a single cause – over fishing. Another shortage will result – of fishermen’s income ( Adapted from the Economist)
Put paragraph A to the ‘topic test’. Take the points made in the opening sentence – bleak time for 1) fish 2) fishermen. List under the two groups that are suffering the problems that are affecting then as outlined in the rest of the paragraph.

B.     The difficulties of watching an animal of nocturnal and secretive habits re great. Even now much of the badger’s life remain a mystery. How can we tell what happens in the labyrinth of dark tunnels that constitute is home, known to us as the badger’s set? We known that he makes only rare appearances by day; that be retires to his set at dawn, and emerges at dusk. Since badgers are very much awake by night, we presume that most of their time underground is spent in sleep. We know that they have large retiring chambers into which they take cartloads of bedding comprised of the most handy materials, dry grass, bracken, leaves, herbage of different kinds; anything that is within convenient distance of the set and will make a comfortable bed.
(Eilen A. Soper, When Badgers wake)
The main types topics of paragraph B are to be found in the first sentence. They are: difficulties; nocturnal habits; secretive habits. List beneath each of these topics the points made by the writer in the rest of the paragraph.

·        Keep the paragraph tight and keep moving ahead.
In a well-made paragraph each sentence adds something to the point being dealt with in that paragraph and announced in the topic sentence. It may provide further information. It may expand and explanation or develop and argument. Whatever its particular contribution, it keeps the paragraph moving ahead to complete one stage of the piece of writing of which it is a distinct part.

·        If you lose sight of the paragraph topic you will stray ‘off course’ wandering into ‘by-ways’ or ‘dead-ends’.
A well constructed topic paragraph has been likened to the creation of a bonfire. Think of the ways in which a bonfire is prepared and lit and then develops a fiery life of its own.
See whether you can appreciate the connection with a paragraph.
First, the materials is gathered together from various sources. It is carefully piled to ensure that everything will eventually burn. This is the equivalent of the ‘brain- storming’ technique of bringing ideas together. The intention is that they should ignite a response in the observer or reader. The striking of the match and the initial flare of the flame should attract attention with their sound light. This is the function of the topic sentence- to cause readers to hear something arresting and to have initial light cast upon the subject. Then as the fire burns there are sequences of clouds of smoke and waves of flame. These are the equivalent of individual sentences, with their visible signs of material being displayed coupled with the enlightenment that the reader should receive. As the bonfire smoulders it gives off a glow, a series of crackles and an occasional shower of sparks. Here is the paragraph’s last sentence, which should have a particularly abrasive or penetrating quality.

If the writing has to be effective, first it has to make sense. As ideas flow through our minds we have to control them. As we capreses ourselves in writing, we have to order these ideas in such a way that our reader can understand us without difficulty. Clarity of expression is our major aim. Effective speed in response to others is vital for good communications. So, while writing an essay you should pay attention to:

·        Correctness of grammar, punctuation and spelling.
·        Well –made and varied sentences.
·        A piece of writing that shows management of structure and tidiness.
Lively and imaginative work will always be given extra marks, but it is the candidates ability to write well-organised, clear and accurate English that is the examiners first concern.
Therefore, let me remind you
·        Plan your essay carefully, so that it has unity.
·        Paragraph clearly, so that your material is presented in a logical sequences;
·        Write in a style appropriate to your subject;
·        Be accurate in punctuation, spelling and grammar.
·        Remember that marks are given for quality, not quantity- provided that you write a composition of the minimum length as stipulated.

There are different types of essays.
1.      Narrative essays: A narrative essay consists mainly in the narration of some event or series of events just like as story writing  or historical events. For example a visit to a place of interest. Any journey; a story; historical stories or legends; an accident or natural disaster; incidents like a street fight, a marriage pasty etc.
2.      Descriptive Essays: A descriptive essay is perhaps the simplest type of essay consisting of a description of some place, person or things: Eg: A game sanctuary, a water fall, a village fear, the Taj Mahal etc

3.      Deflective essays: A reflective essay consists of reflections or thoughts some topic, which is generally of an abstract nature like; social, political and domestic topics, as family planning, riches and poverty, democracy etc., philosophical subject religious and theological topics and so on.
4.      Imaginative Essays: Essay on such subjects such as feelings and experiences of the imaginations are called Imaginative essays like. If I were a Millionaire; the autobiography of a coin’. The writer has to place himself in a situation in which he has never been before and describe what he would do in such circumstances.
5.      Expository Essays: These essays consists of an exposition or explanation of some subject, i.e, scientific topics, literary topics an institutions, industries etc., The art of the short story, Literature and life – on Evolution, nature cure, Karma & Rebirth etc., these expound a theory or destructive.
Expository essays are generally objective and impersonal. The personal element appears in varying degrees in the other types of essays. It is better if students adhere to the definite types indicated here.











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