Writing Guide: the Basics

Good writers use a process to create the right language. They often start with a basic sentence: a subject, a verb, and an object (remember that every sentence must include a verb).

For example:

The treatment cured the patient.

(subject) (verb) (object)

We can make this basic sentence more informative by adding prepositional phrases, adjectives and adverbs.

Prepositional Phrases

Prepositional phrases describe positions in space and time, as well as relationships. For example:

“The treatment cured the patient within three days.”


Adjectives describe nouns. You can use one adjective or several. For example:

“The new herbal treatment cured the patient within three days.”


Adverbs describe verbs or adjectives. For example:

“The new herbal treatment completely cured the patient within three days.”

A Warning

Just because you can make a sentence longer does not mean you always should. Remember that short, clear sentences are better than long, confusing ones. Make every word count when you write.

Consider the two sentences below:

  • “The most recent patient reported strong back pain.”
  • “The patient who arrived most recently reported that he has experienced a pain in his back that was in fact strong.”

These two sentences contain identical information, but the first one reads much better than the second.


Additional External Resources:

University of Essex. (2008). How to improve your academic writing. https://www.essex.ac.uk/-/media/documents/study/outreach/epq-how-to-improve-academic-writing.pdf

University of New South Wales. (2022, March 28). Grammar and style resources. https://www.student.unsw.edu.au/grammar

Learning Development. (2020). Academic writing: Formal writing. University of Wollongong. https://documents.uow.edu.au/content/groups/public/@web/@stsv/@ld/documents/doc/uow195602.pdf

UTS:HELPS. (n.d.). Academic writing: Paragraph level [PDF Guide]. University of Technology Sydney. https://www.uts.edu.au/sites/default/files/article/downloads/paragraph.pdf