General Advice for Non-Native Writers

Never translate: Of course, use your own language to take notes and write outlines. But word-for-word translation into English means that anyone’s mother tongue causes interference. This will damage your English grammar and your vocabulary. Some Finns can rapidly write letters and stories in correct, charming English, but when they write a text first in Finnish and then translate it, the result is awkward, unclear, and full of errors.
Accept total responsibility for being clear: If any sentence of yours requires an intelligent reader to re-read it, the attitude is not to blame the reader, but to blame you, the writer. Only consider: Who has the time to re-read sentences? On a phone while crossing a street? Bad idea! Moreover, careful editing will shorten your texts, making them thus more publishable. One writer wisely said, “If I had had more time, I would have written you a shorter letter.”
The worst sin is ambiguity: Being ambiguous means accidentally expressing more than one meaning in a phrase or line, as in: “Women like chocolate more than men.” Does this mean that, given the choice between a nice Fazer chocolate bar and a man, a woman will prefer the chocolate? Or do you mean that “Women like chocolate more than men do”? Let’s hope, for the survival of humanity, that it’s the latter!”
Trust your ear: English grammar rules include endless exceptions. Your ear will tell you when an odd-looking phrase sounding right is indeed right (“aim to survive,” “aim at success”). Actually, trained ears are trustworthy. Read all your written texts aloud to yourself.
English is not logical: The most logical choice of words is often not what a native speaker would say. (Which is logical: “hang up,” “ring off,” or “close the phone”? How about “For the 20 last years” versus “for the last 20 years”?) In English, the most nearly logical system is punctuation, but even punctuation differs across different languages.

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