Writing Style Tips

Teaching ESL students how to write English stories and essays with style can be a challenge. What is style, anyway?


Here are a few examples of how to write English with style. These come from Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer. This style tip encourages writers to use four numbers to improve their style.


A single idea in a short sentence can make a great impact. For example:

  • I have a dream.
  • Just do it.
  • “It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.”


When you use two characteristics to describe an object, you create balance and rhythm. Balance and rhythm create a memorable and lasting image. For example:

  • “Life is divided into the horrible and the miserable.”
  • Rice and kimchi.
  • Sweet and sour pork.

Three (Rule of Three)

It is the magic number in English. Three examples create a sense of completeness. For example:

  • Veni, vidi, vici.
  • Location. Location. Location.
  • “Death doesn’t really worry me that much. I’m not frightened about it. I just don’t want to be there when it happens.”


Use four examples or characteristics to create a sense of completeness. For example:

  • There are four types of sentences: declarative imperative, exclamatory and interrogative.
  • “Join the army, see the world, meet interesting people – and kill ’em.”
  • From Woody Allen:

Doris: You have no values. With you it’s all nihilism, cynicism, sarcasm, and orgasm.
Harry: Hey, in France I could run for office with that slogan, and win.



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