The Adventures of Graham

Meet Graham the adventurous cat and his wise teacher, Professor Benson. Join Graham on his journey to learn all there is to know about grammar and writing. Like us on Facebook to be kept up to date on all of Graham’s adventures.                  

The difference between passive and active voice

Verbs are tricky things. At their most basic level, they describe actions, and what or whom those actions affect. The vast majority of sentences contain verbs and at least one noun (though often more than one)—usually the ‘doer’ and the ‘done to’—or to be more technical, the subject and the object. For example: Mikey swept the floor. In this example, Mikey is the subject—he’s the doer. The verb is swept, and the object is the floor—the done to. In this example, the verb is what’s known as active, because the subject of the verb is performing the verb. But what’s going on in this example? The floor was swept by Mikey. The floor is now mentioned at the start of …

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50 linking words to use in academic writing

It’s very common for students to use long words they don’t understand very well in their essays and theses because they have a certain idea of what academic writing should be. Many students believe that academic writing is wordy and convoluted, and uses a lot of jargon. This leads many students to fall into a trap of imagining that the longer the word, the more impressive and intelligent their writing will seem. We often see long sentences and multisyllabic words where shorter sentences and simpler words would do. Some students even use Microsoft Word’s thesaurus function to replace a common word with a more complicated word. This is a risky move, because unless you’re very careful, the new word may …

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5 things to know about IEEE referencing

  If you are studying engineering, it is likely that you will need to know how to use IEEE referencing. We want to help by pointing out the top 5 errors people make when using IEEE referencing, to help you avoid those same problems. In IEEE, citations appear inside punctuation. There should be a space before the citation. ‘this is correct [3].’ ‘This is not correct. [5]’ ‘This is also incorrect[5].’ Grammatically, in-text citation numbers should be used as if they are nouns rather than footnote numbers. As is proposed in [6], [32] and [18], … In [63, Fig. 1], it can be seen … In your references, there should be space between author initials. T. M. Amabile, K. G. …

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Why use styles in Microsoft Word?

  Writing your thesis is taxing as it is; and formatting your thesis to make it look neat and consistent is an essential, but often tedious (and sometimes, confusing) part of the thesis-writing process. Good thing Microsoft Word has Styles—a feature that makes formatting much quicker and less complicated. But what exactly is a style? It is a set of formatting instructions, such as the font size, colour and paragraph spacing to be used, that has been saved, so you don’t have to manually format each section of your document. A style is also what Word uses to identify different parts of your document. This is how you are able to see headings and subheadings on the Navigation Pane. It …

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What are headings and why are they important?

Definition of heading A heading is a short phrase describing what the succeeding section is all about. You can think of it as the title of that particular section. Short documents usually do not require the use of headings. For theses and other complex readings, however, headings are important because they help readers identify the main points of each section in the paper. Why different heading levels are needed All right, now we know a heading is there to tell readers what a section is about. Some points are more important than others, so assigning different heading levels is necessary to indicate their significance. The level of a heading should be based on whether the idea is a main point, …

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