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 Help for LPI, IELTS, TOEFL, SAT and Grade 12 Students by Michele Wong
 English Writing and Grammar Services for Grade 8 through University Levels in Vancouver BC

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SAMPLE ESSAYS
LPI
IELTS 1
Expository
Grade 12

SAT

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Essay Writing Guide

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Idiom Guide

     
 

"Non Standard Expressions"

In LPI, a non standard expression or idiom is one which is not acceptable in essay writing or in daily English usage. Some English expressions are hard to comprehend and have a historical basis. For example, "Toe the line" means to conform to a rule. It once referred to a rule where athletes had to keep their foot behind the line before a race started. Some writers still incorrectly write 'tow the line' assuming the expression means to pull the line.

Non-idiomatic expressions can arise from:

  1. confusion over similar ideas

  2. wrong combination of words or word parts

  3. confusion and

  4. misuse of words or phrases

  5. a combination of all the above.

Quite often, a teacher will write the comment "Awkward Sentence" when marking an essay. Awkward sentences can often be non-idiomatic or badly structured sentences or a combination of both.

 

 
 
 
 

Confusion over similar ideas:

 
 

Incorrect:
She has her thoughts set on a new dress.

Correct:
She has her heart set on a new dress.

 
 
 
 

Wrong combination of words:

 
 

Incorrect:
This neighbourhood has a large crime rate.

Correct:
This neighbourhood has a high crime rate.

 
 
 
 

Wrong combination of word parts:

 
 

Incorrect:
People can join this club, irregardless of age or race.

Correct:
People can join this club, regardless of age or race.

People can join this club, irrespective of age or race.

 
 
 
 

Confusion of two closely related words:

 
 

Incorrect:
Trust me and you will never be regretful.

Correct:
Trust me and you will never regret it.

 
 
 
 

Misuse of words:

 
 

Incorrect:
Technology has developed at a fast speed.

Correct:
Technology has developed at a fast pace.

Technology helps machines run at a faster speed.

 
       
 

Incorrect:
Owning a large pet causes many disadvantages.

Correct:
Owning a large pet has many disadvantages.

 
 
 
 

Wordiness and a wrong combination of words
can also lead to non-idiomatic expressions:

 
 

Incorrect:
There are many non-beneficial effects that arise from smoking.

Correct:
Smoking has many harmful effects.

 
       
 

Incorrect:
Peace conferences can bring many students of various races all together.

Correct:
Peace conferences can bring many students of various races together.

 
 
 

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