For ESL students, grammar and vocabulary seem challenging to convey ideas and arguments in essay writing.

Strong language skills enhance clarity and coherence and elevate the overall quality of your writing, making your final grades in high school or college depend on it. In this article, I'll share several strategies that will help improve your grammar and expand your vocabulary. Think of them as practical tools to craft stronger essays in your educational institution.

Understanding Grammar

Grammar is the structural foundation of any writing, ensuring clear communication and thought expression. It encompasses the rules and principles that govern the formation of sentences, the proper use of punctuation, and the arrangement of words to convey meaning. A solid understanding of grammar is essential for essay writing: It enables writers to construct coherent and logical arguments.

One of the common grammar mistakes to avoid is subject-verb agreement. This rule dictates that the subject and verb in a sentence must agree in number. For example, "The cat purrs" is correct because the singular subject "cat" matches the singular verb "purrs." In contrast, "The cat purr" would be incorrect due to the mismatch between the single form of a subject and the plural form of a verb.

Another crucial aspect of grammar is maintaining verb tense consistency. Shifting between past, present, and future tenses can confuse readers and disrupt the flow of ideas. Consistency in verb tense helps create a smooth narrative and allows readers to follow the timeline of events or arguments.

Proper use of punctuation is another vital component of grammar. Misplaced or missing punctuation can alter the intended message or lead to ambiguity. For example, consider the difference between "Let's eat, Grandma!" and "Let's eat Grandma!" The comma changes the meaning:

The first sentence invites Grandma to join us for a meal. The second sentence suggests to us that Grandma herself is a meal. (Oops...)

Various resources are available to improve your grammar skills:

  • Books and guides explain grammatical rules and offer exercises to practice applying them.
  • Online grammar courses and exercises allow for interactive learning, enabling learners to test their understanding and receive immediate feedback.
  • Grammar-checking software and tools can assist in identifying and correcting grammar errors in essays.

Expanding Vocabulary

Developing a rich vocabulary is valuable for essay writers, empowering them to express their ideas with precision, eloquence, and nuance. It allows for greater creativity, depth of analysis, and effective communication with readers. Building vocabulary involves a combination of active learning, exposure to diverse language sources, and consistent practice.

One of the most effective ways to expand vocabulary is through extensive reading. Engaging with different literary genres, including fiction and non-fiction books, exposes writers to different writing styles, perspectives, and word choices.

To enhance vocabulary, make use of dictionaries and thesauri effectively:

  • Dictionaries provide definitions, examples, and usage guidance for words, enabling writers to grasp their meanings accurately.
  • Thesauri offers a treasure trove of synonyms and antonyms, allowing writers to discover alternative words that convey similar or contrasting shades of meaning.

Using these resources, writers can elevate their language choices, avoid repetitive phrasing, and convey their thoughts with greater precision and sophistication.

Word games and vocabulary-building exercises can make the process more enjoyable and interactive. Crossword puzzles, word association activities, and quizzes challenge writers to recall and apply words in different contexts, enhancing their retention and fluency. These activities stimulate creativity, promote word exploration, and reinforce the connections between words and their meanings.

In the digital age, online tools and resources can facilitate vocabulary expansion. Vocabulary-building websites, apps, and language-learning platforms offer interactive exercises, word games, and personalized word lists to cater to individual learning needs.

A broad vocabulary enhances your writing's quality and equips you with the tools to communicate effectively across various professional and academic domains. Embracing the journey of vocabulary expansion through reading, utilizing reference materials, participating in vocabulary-building activities, and leveraging online resources, you'll develop a linguistic arsenal that adds depth, impact, and sophistication to your essays.

Using Grammar and Vocabulary in Essays

Applying grammar and vocabulary in essays requires a balance between complexity and clarity. Choose an appropriate and precise language to convey your ideas accurately. Employ varied sentence structures and word choices to maintain reader engagement and interest.


Do not overload your essay with excessive jargon or overly complex vocabulary, which may hinder understanding and alienate your audience. Finally, proofread and edit your writings, addressing any grammar and vocabulary errors that may compromise the overall quality of your work.

Long Story Short:

Mastering grammar and expanding vocabulary are indispensable endeavors for any aspiring essay writer. These language skills empower you to articulate your ideas with precision and impact. By familiarizing yourself with grammar rules, actively expanding your vocabulary, and utilizing these skills effectively in your writing, you can elevate your essays to new heights.

Continuous practice, exploration, and refinement of grammar and vocabulary ensure a strong foundation for your writing prowess. Embrace the journey of language mastery, and watch how your essays transform into powerful and captivating works of art.

Author's Bio: 

Lesley J. Vos is a writing coach and a private educator of the French language from Chicago.