Damn this language! Why does every grammar rule have so many exceptions and special cases? And which idiot decided the way words are written and how they are pronounced should have so little in common?
English – as so many people have said before me – is easy to learn but hard to master. The thing is, if you’re working or learning in this language and it is not your own, that’s really annoying. Your texts will often be left sprinkled with problems and mistakes. What to do?
Well, there is one big advantage to the English language. Since it is the language of both science and business, a lot of people who speak it regularly didn’t grow up with it. This has left a really big market for companies to offer products to help these people write better.
Here are some of the tools we personally like to use
Yup. Right at the top. That’s generally where you’ll find Grammarly on most lists. And with reason. It is possibly one of the best tools out there. It easily rivals the spelling and grammar checker that comes built into Microsoft Office.
But where you have to pay a huge gob of money to use Microsoft Office, the basic version of Grammarly is absolutely free. Do note, the upgrade is worth it as it will point out a lot of little things that aren’t exactly grammatical mistakes, but will still make your writing better.
One downside of Grammarly: It does not load onto Google Docs. You’ll have to manually move documents into Grammarly to see what you’ll need to edit.
It isn’t just spelling and grammar mistakes that sink a non-native English speaker. What also happens a lot is that they write sentences to long and so obtuse that even if the grammar is correct, readers don’t know what to make of it.
To help simplify your language and make it more accessible, use the Hemingway App. Copy and paste your documents into the tool and it will point out long sentences, passive voice, overcomplicated constructions and the overuse of adverbs.
Apps like those outlined above are great. The only problem is that they’re both fully automated. No human is involved. As a result, they will struggle with difficult constructions that they don’t come across that often. In nearly every document, I’ll disagree with one of these two programs about something they’ve told me I should fix.
To solve that, you need a human touch. There are a lot of options out there, but one of my favorites is SupremeDissertations. They’re affordable and yet deliver high-quality texts that you can actually use for classes as well as business.
Tired of using the same word over and over again? Then, the tool you need is a thesaurus. Probably the best known online is Thesaurus.com. It offers huge lists of similar words, categorizing them according to how similar they are.
What I really like about the software is that they’re tied up with the equally useful dictionary.com. In this way, after you’ve found a word you like the sound of, you can immediately check what it actually means. That’s important because though many words say almost the same thing, it is rare in English that two words mean exactly the same.
And so, you’ll want to make sure you’ve got the meaning down before you confuse your reader by using something that doesn’t mean what you think it does.
Google Translate is the best machine translating tool out there. And it’s free! It’s great because it doesn’t just translate individual words but sentences, paragraphs, and entire pages. That matters, because often translating the word alone will give you different results than translating the whole sentence. In this way, you’re more likely to actually get close to what the words mean.
Do note, this is still machine translation. That means that it will give you the right answer most of the time, but it will get it wrong occasionally. That means this isn’t a substitute for a human translator. You can’t just throw your original language text in there and then copy and paste the result into your website. That is almost certain to embarrass you.
At the same time, it will most definitely give you a good idea of what is being said and how things should be translated. In this way, you’re going to spare yourself a lot of work (and leafing through dictionaries).
Practice, practice, practice
Ultimately, the only way that you can actually stop making mistakes is to practice. These tools will certainly help with that. At the same time, you do need to pay attention so that you internalize their lessons.
Don’t stop there. If a text is important then get people to give you feedback. Often native English speakers will gladly take a look for you. Do note, if they’re not professionals then there is a big chance they’ll still make the occasional mistakes. There are famous lists of mistakes that native speakers still often make. So don’t take what they’re saying as gospel truth. That will just lead to embarrassment (for them and for you).
Author's Bio: Charles Ebert is a career mentor, motivational speaker & human resources consultant with over 10 years of experience in HR sector. Apart from career mentoring, he loves photography and football. Find him on Linkedin, Twitter, Facebook & Google+.