Hi All

I'm a native English speaker who is studying English grammar. I like to ask some questions and also to answer some that are within my abilities.

At times I get a bit frustrated with some of the questions, so I thought I'd offer a few hints for ESL students.

These are are my own personal opinions and are not necessarily shared by the management of the board.

1. Please try to indicate the nature of your request in your subject line. "Help" is not very informative. My eye will just glide further down the page to find someone who's prepared to tell me what he wants.
2. "Please" and "Thank you" are always good incentives for me to help.
3. I'm much more likely to help you if I think you've already worked hard on it. There's no point in telling me you want to know how to write such-and-such a letter. Try doing it yourself first, then I'll help you out.
4. Sentences without capitalisation or punctuation or using "chat" abbreviations are a real turn-off for me.
5. It's very rewarding when people post back their thanks - besides, that way I know you've seen my answer. It doesn't have to be every time, but once in a while is nice.

The more of these things you are willing to do, the more likely I'll be to invest time in your post.


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A long overdue post; thanks John. (I've linked to it in the Students: Commonly faced problems)
John C, may I say a deep and sincere "amen."

It ought to be posted widely. I do hope many people will read it.
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I am a student from China, who learns English as a second language.
I have a question: how to improve my comprehension of English article,especially the long sentence , though I have known many words and phrases

My email address Email Removed
wait for your replying
I TOTALLY agree about using headers that give a clue about content, both to encourage me to look in, in the first place, and to help me follow a thread's progress later.

I dont mind about chat-speak tho' - we are in an electronic context, and it is part of the convention, for me! I certainly use it myself sometimes.
Dear Mr. John,

Thank you very much for your tips and advice.

I am a new comer and now I am learning English. Could you please explain to me how to write a reply to one of my close relatives on his letter?

Also, when I am writing letter to anyone, it is taking more than an hour (sometime more than two) to complete the letter. It is because of fear of mistakes and I used to correct it for perfection. What shall I do to reduce the time for writing letters without mistakes.

Thank you and best regards,


(If any mistake found in my letter please forgive me and correct it.)
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Hello John
I have a problem with some papers I am correcting for my work, don't ask what I do!
-he was arrested by the army in 1990 or he has been arrested by the army in 1990?
- Blackpool Army Camp or Blackpool army camp? same for police station.
-He was arrested in his home in Blackpool or he was arrested from his home in Blackpool?
I know I should be able to sort this out but the papers are written by people who have English as second languge and I need support to back up my gut feelings of what is correct.
Thnaks so much for your help.
I have a few problems with some papers I am correcting in relation to my work, don't ask what I do, it is weird. A group of people are writing an extensive paper and most of them are not first language English speakers but with a high level of fluency. I need some advice to support my gut feelings regarding what is correct.
- he was arrested by the army in 1990 or he has been arrested by the army in 1990.?
- he was taken to Blackpool Army Camp or Blackpool army camp, same for police station,. If we are writing about an army camp or police staton without a specified place should it have capitals?
- he was arrested from his home in Blackpool or he was arrested in his home in Blackpool?
I would be very grateful for your advice.
Thanks a lot for your help.
Hi John , you' re right, I'm a new user here, but I get very confused for one speciific thing: The subject of the questions, it's not always very clear what it's about, I've posted just once, but in the future I'll always try to write the subject as clear as possible, so that I could help others to find what they really need. So far I lose time clicking on subjects that I think they are interesting, but then I realize they are not what I'm looking for. So I hope all people could write a "GOOD" subject easy to identify. Thanks....
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