FEATURED: WRITING TIPS & TRICKS
Dear Answers Community,
Many of our Grammarly Answers users would like tips on how to improve their overall writing, especially as it relates to grammar. In response, we have created this featured question where users are encouraged to discuss their favorite writing tips and tricks!
So, we want to know:
-- What are some of your good writing habits?
-- How do you improve your writing?
-- What are special tips for ESL writers?
If you are interested in posting, feel free to post your idea or question as an 'Answer', and the community can provide feedback via the comments linked to each 'Answer'. Sincerely, Kimberly Joki GA Moderator and Administrator
My three tips for writing:
1. Read good stuff. Can't emphasize this enough: choose your "writing hero" and read everything they've written. Then, use websites like these to find similar books.
2. Write in public, even if badly. Good writing will evolve sooner or later - through exposure and criticism. That's how you learned to speak, right? (Seth Godin's article on this)
3. Get rid of distractions. Go offline, shut down your computer, turn off your mobile phone. Focus on this one thing: your piece of paper and pen. Fight the need to look up a word, or check spelling - you can do that later. Write when unplugged; edit when wired.
Sounds hardcore? Hey, who said writing was easy? :)
|link||edited Sep 27 '11 at 14:35 Wiktor Contributor|
-- What are some of your good writing habits?
Good writing is all about editing. After you write something, let it sit for a while and then return to make it perfect.
-- How do you improve your writing?
I love editing. See above. It also helps to have a second pair of eyes to catch things you may have missed. You can learn a great deal from this. No one is perfect!
-- What are special tips for ESL writers?
Read a variety of English writing-- news articles, fiction and non-fiction books, blogs, etc.
Also, read the writing of other ESL students, and edit their grammar and word choices.
|link||answered Sep 17 '11 at 15:25 Shelley Stout Contributor|
I agree that good writing is about editing, but even more important is planning. The more planning you do, the less editing you will need to do later.
When planning, always ask yourself these questions:
- Why am I writing?
- Who is going to read what I write? And are they going to do something with it?
- What does my reader already know?
- What will my reader want to know?
- What do I want my reader to know?
Then, brainstorm! Write down your ideas - that is, answers to these questions.
Then order your ideas logically. Use these questions to organise your ideas:
- What is my text about?
- What are the main ideas? (put these in order of importance)
- What are the supporting ideas? (list these under each of the main ideas)
- What do I want my reader to remember most?
- Do I want my reader to do anything?
All of this may take you 10 minutes - but now you are ready to write.
Follow your plan of ideas. Don't worry about spelling or grammar too much. You can come back and focus on that later. The most important thing is to get your ideas down first.
When you have finished your first DRAFT, leave it for a few hours or a day or two.
Come back and re-read it. Does it make sense?
Make changes to the structure, grammar and spelling.
Then, finally, if you can, get another person to read it. And listen to what they say!
Every text type has a different structure (like letters, reports, instructions, essays) and there may be some extra questions you need to consider and answer.
But, whatever you are writing, planning first will save you a lot of time.
|link||edited Oct 27 '11 at 08:11 Agreeonpurpose Contributor|
It can be hard to ask the right question if you don't know what part of the writing you're struggling with. Here's a checklist of things to consider.
- Vocabulary - this can be helped by reading, reading, reading. Anything and everything. Make a list of words you don't understand and use a good dictionary to check the meaning. You could use a small address book to note down such words for future reference.
- Spelling - If your spell-checker identifies a word which it believes is wrong, find out why - don't automatically change it to the suggested alternative. Sometimes, you're right and it's wrong! Also, find out about...
- Homophones, homographs, homonyms - these are pairs or trios of words which sound and/or spell the same, yet have different meanings. Typical examples are there/their/they're or accept/except. Incidentally, these are the basis of many puns, which can be a lot of fun.
- Roots, suffixes, prefixes - a root word is the basic part of a word, such as help. A suffix sitcks to the end of the root word (helpful) whereas a prefix goes before (unhelpful). Common suffixes are -ing, -ed, -ful, -est, -er, -ment; common prefixes are un-, re-, pre-, de-, mis-, in-. There are some very helpful materials out there to help you learn the spelling rules associated with these.
- Parts of speech - knowing what a noun, verb, adverb, etc is can be helpful when trying to identify which homonym/-graph/-phone to use. Also, familiarise yourself with the abbreviations you'll find in dictionaries (n. for noun, adj. for adjective and so on). An example is passed (verb) versus past (preposition). Also useful are words or terms like clause.
- Punctuation - these are the symbols we use to break sentences up into smaller, more readable chunks. Full stops (US: periods), commas, question marks, semi-colons, colons and hyphens are common examples. Find out what they do and why we need them. Remember, punctuation is to help written words become speech, not the other way around.
- Verb/tense agreement - we say 'I have' not 'I has', for instance. Verbs in English are far more regular than people think; for instance, the third person singular (he, she or it) in the present tense always ends in -s, with only one tiny exception: can.
I'm also a huge proponent of draft-wait-edit-wait-re-edit, as mentioned above. There's nothing like having a bit of breathing space before resuming your work.
Lastly, step lightly through the morass of this language. You can have a lot of fun with it!
|link||answered Feb 05 '12 at 14:36 Elvis Trundle Contributor|
Quotation Marks and other Punctuation - Inside or Outside
Because this question has been raised several times in the past week (5 April 2012), I’ve become curious. After I finished at Bancroft Library this morning, I headed to the Main Stacks to check the various style manuals for myself. I was surprised by what I found:
- •The American and British styles are very different.
- •Each of the major American manuals says there is wide disagreement on what constitutes the American style.
- •With one exception (ACS), the major style manuals all agree on the American style's basics!
APA Style -- Although the APA Publication Manual contains many examples illustrating different, specific conditions, its guidance can be summarized as: “Commas and periods that finish quotes are always placed inside quotation marks. Other marks of punctuation are placed outside quotation marks unless they are part of the quoted material.”
Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 6th ed. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association, 2010 p.98
Last year (11 August 2011), the APA posted a blog concerning this issue at http://blog.apastyle.org/apastyle/2011/08/punctuating-around-quotation-marks.html. The posts contains a useful table describing the differences between the “American Style” and “British Style” as well as a large table illustrating the APA style for quotation marks and punctuation.
ACS Style -- “Location of quotation marks is a style point in which ACS differs from other authorities. In 1978, ACS questioned the practice and recommended a deviation from it: logical placement. Thus, if the punctuation is part of the quotation, then it should be within the quotation marks; if the punctuation is not part of the quotation, the writer should not mislead the reader by inferring that it is. Place quotation marks before all punctuation that is not part of the original quotation. Place them after all punctuation that is part of the quotation.”
The ACS Style Guide: Effective Communication of Scientific Information, Washington, DC: American Chemical Society, 2006 pp. 18-19
AMA Style -- “Put closing quotation marks outside commas and periods, but inside colons and semicolons. Put question marks, dashes, and exclamation points inside quotation marks when they are part of the quote.”
American Medical Association. AMA Manual of Style: a Guide for Authors and Editors. New York: Oxford University Press, 2007 Section 2.1.1
The AMA says its style guide is similar to the “Vancouver Style” used by the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE).
ASA Style -- The ASA does not directly address the question. However, the manual does say that it follows the Chicago Manual of Style in most respects.
The ASA Style Guide. 3rd ed. Washington, DC: American Sociological Association, 2007
MLA Style – First, the MLA Manual provides the blanket restriction: “a sentence can end with a period, a question mark, or an exclamation point” (p.98) which seems to put it in the British Style camp. But it immediately provides (p. 100) an exception. “Place a question mark inside a closing question mark if a question mark occurs there in the quoted passage. But if the quotation ends a sentence that is a question, place a question mark outside the quotation.”
Later (p.. 134), the MLA seems to reverse course on sentence endings by saying “By convention, commas and periods that directly follow quotations go inside the closing quotation marks,”
MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing. 3rd ed. New York: The Modern Language Association of America, 2008 (The MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers provides similar guidance.)
Chicago Style – The Chicago Manual describes both the “traditional” (American style) and the “alternative” British style. Chicago prefers the American style but says the British style may be appropriate for “some works of textual criticism.”
For the traditional style, Chicago says “Periods and commas precede closing quotation marks, whether double or single” (p. 309). “Colons and semicolons – unlike periods and commas – follow closing quotation marks; question marks and exclamation points following closing quotation marks unless they belong within the quoted matter” (p. 310).
Chicago Manual of Style, 16th edition, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2010
AP Style – “The period and the comma always go within the question marks. The dash, semicolon, the question mark and the exclamation point go within the quotation when they apply to the quoted matter only. They go outside when they apply to the whole sentence” (p. 362).
The Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law, New York: Associated Press, 2009
|link comment||answered Apr 05 '12 at 22:01 Jeff Pribyl Grammarly Fellow|
Develop your vocabulary. Children develop their vocabulary before they learn, or understand grammar. Read. Keep track of those words and idioms you don’t understand. Invest in a good, hardcover dictionary – preferably a good British English or American English dictionary as these are likely to be more extensive and inclusive than others. Often, dictionaries for other English dialects are intended to supplement, not replace, a BritE or AmE dictionary.
Don’t try to “show off” your vocabulary. We all want to appear smart, successful, and educated. This facet of human nature, coupled with the legacy of British colonial schools, leads many to make inappropriate word choices. Fortunately, most readers are not fooled, and the writer is seen as pretentious. When selecting a word from among several synonyms, chose the simplest. View words taken from Greek or Latin with suspicion when a Anglo-Saxon word is available.
“Use” not “utilize”.
“Learn” not “ascertain”.
“Start” not “initiate”.
In longer works, use your expanded vocabulary to provide “spice” and variety so the reader does not tire from repetition. But remember, a little spice goes a long way.
Avoid nominalizations, uncover hidden verbs. A “nominalization”, or hidden verb, is a verb converted into a noun. It often needs an extra verb to make sense. Hidden verbs often go hand in hand with passive verbs and combine to give an officious and longwinded style. Some hidden verbs have endings such as: -ment, -tion, -sion, and -ance and often link with verbs such as: achieve, effect, give, have, make, reach, and take.
“Please make an application for a personal loan ….”
“Please apply for a personal loan ....”
“To trace the missing payment, we need to carry out a review of the Agency's accounts so we can gain an understanding of the reason the error occurred."
"To trace the missing payment, we must review the Agency's accounts so we understand why the error occurred."
Hidden verbs also occur when we turn verbs into nouns by adding endings such as -ing, -tion, -ment, or -sion and placing the longer word between the words “the” and “of”.
“This means we must undertake the calculation of new figures for the congressional hearing.”
“This means calculating new figures for the congressional hearing.”
Reduce Prepositional Sprawl. ESL writers and native-speaking students who wish to appear “educated” often use too many prepositional phrases. At times, it seems that their writing is nothing but one prepositional phrase strung after another. More than one or two prepositional phrases per sentence begins to wear on your readers because they're forced to put more and more material "on hold" as they try to figure out what the phrases modify. As a rule of thumb, the Chicago Manual of Style recommends that prepositions make up only 7 to 10 percent of the total words in a text. This represents no more than two prepositions, on average, per 20 word sentence. Compare the first sentence with ten prepositions to the second sentence with just two.
“It is a matter of the gravest possible importance to the health of anyone with a history of a problem with disease of the heart that he or she should avoid the sort of foods with a high percentage of saturated fats.”
“Anyone with a history of heart disease should avoid saturated fats.”
Where possible, use adjectives that precede the noun rather than prepositional adjective phrases that follow the noun.
“The corral toward the east is enclosed by a white fence.”
“The eastern corral is enclosed by a white fence."
Using active verbs, instead of “to be” verbs, helps reduce unneeded prepositional phrases.
“The eastern corral is enclosed by a white fence."
“A white fence encloses the eastern corral.”
Learn to use possessives. Many prepositional phrases can be replaced with a possessive.
“The note from Beverly confessed that she had eaten the leftover pizza.”
“Beverly’s note confessed that she had eaten the leftover pizza.”
“One of her friends was in a car accident.”
“Her friend was in a car accident.”
“The aim of the government was to impose law and order.
“The government’s aim was to impose law and order.
Don’t try to show off. More is not better, especially when it comes to linking multiple thoughts (independent clauses) into a single sentence. Keep each sentence to one thought, or two if you create a compound sentence.
By Mr. Jeff Pribyl-an Expert
|link comment||edited Jun 16 '12 at 04:47 sanjay Expert|
One suggestion I have for ESL writers is read, read, read! The more familiar you become with the way the language is constructed, the more you will internalize it. Also, I would suggest to start out with simple sentences. Don't try to make them long until you have a solid understanding of how the words work together.
How do I improve my writing?
I use vivid language as much as I possibly can. Sometimes, I even use words in unconventional ways. For example, instead of saying, "I worked out for an hour," I would say, "I ellipticalled for an hour." Simple tweaks can make your writing so much better and much more interesting.
|link||answered Jan 09 at 23:07 Michelle Webb New member|
I usually write something and leave it there for some time and check it and recorrect it later. I really find it useful because some different and new ideas will come to me when I got some time to think about it and then come back.
another way I usually do is to read what I have written to some of my friends and ask them to give me some feedback and suggestions which make my writing more smooth and it really helps me a lot.
|link comment||answered Dec 20 '11 at 02:24 pikezhang New member|
Recognize that you write the way you think and speak.
Realistically, that is the way we tend to write our first drafts. It is a default mode, perhaps even a lazy mode. It is human nature to communicate in all aspects of life the way we are used to communicating. You can see that happening with the invasion of text speak into mainstream society. People are saying "OMG" and "WTF" because they are trained to think that way in texting on a phone. That training bleeds into writing as poor writers shorten words improperly and spell terribly. Also, as conversations become more and more casual, the conversations include a lot of meaningless phrases that poor writers desperately want to include in their writings.
Train yourself to think and speak properly. If you can do that, your writing will get a million times easier.
|link comment||answered Mar 07 '12 at 17:49 Rik Kluessendorf Contributor|
I am an Indian. For us it ESL. Here are two things I did which helped me to improve my English writing skills. It is not perfect yet! 1. When I stumbled across a word I dont understand, while listening or reading, I referred to the dictionary - Concise Oxfor Dictionary. 2. I wrote five sentences using the new word in each of them. I and my friend exchanhed our work for peer review and correction.
|link comment||answered Oct 30 '12 at 13:12 srinivasan n New member|
I have written academic research papers, proposals, and fiction. My suggestion is to use some of the word processing capabilities. The one I always use is the outliner.
It takes a while to get used to it; however, longer documents can be shrunk down to a page or two.
I use Grammarly to check each section individually. It always tells me something useful, and even if I do not quite understand the answer, I can rewrite s sentence or two to improve it.
Don't be afraid to rewrite.
|link comment||answered Sep 12 '11 at 13:58 Barry Jackson New member|
I write letters to friends, post comments on some newspapers and write some teachings things to teach my childrend. Most are one page in length. I understand that I could send the texts to you for advice and have my drafts back avery time after they were correted and rewritten. Is it right?
|link||answered Sep 19 '11 at 09:24 Prayoon Jivasantikarn New member|
Say it; explain it, and say it again. In other words, have a beginning that introduces the topic, a middle with details and explanations, and an ending where you reiterate your original idea. Also, the key to good writing is planning! Decide what details you will use in each part of your essay before you ever start. Then, be sure to tinker with the sentences and words to get the perfect mix. Grammar Gremlin
|link comment||answered Feb 05 '12 at 12:43 Grammar Gremlin New member|
-- What are some of your good writing habits?
The best writing habit I have is to focus on prewriting. Often, if I just sit down to write out my thoughts, my writing mirrors my thinking process. And my thinking process is often a jumbled mess. When I focus my mind on what, exactly, I want to write about, what the purpose is, what tone I want to use, I can produce a lot of great brainstorming. As I brainstorm ideas, I just let my brain go crazy and come up with all sorts of thoughts. Writing them down allows me to keep thinking so I don't have to remember every detail as I go. This really allows me to get creative with my ideas. I often brainstorm a word bank to use later when I'm drafting. That way, whenever I get stumped during the drafting phase, I can look at my word bank and draw inspiration from that. After I've spewed a ton of ideas out in the brainstorm, when my brain is exhausted from expelling all these great ideas, then I focus on organizing those thoughts into the structure I want to write. As I decide which ideas to use and which ones to leave out, I'm already shaping a better piece of writing than I would have had. Also, as I organize my brainstorm into something more structured, I usually get more inspired thoughts because I'm thinking in a different way than I was when I brainstormed. I add my new inspired thoughts to my brainstorm then keep on organizing. After my organized layout is set, I can rearrange portions of my ideas to be sure that the draft is already well-structured, well-developed, and focused on one clear concept. By the time all this prewriting is done, my draft usually flows exteremly well. The important thing to remember in drafting is that I can't worry about mistakes. I have to let my brain flow as I follow my outline. I know that I'll go back and adjust my draft later in revision and editing stages. That removes all the pressure of being perfect when I draft. Using this process, my first draft is 100 times better than it would have been if I had just plopped down and started writing. Of course, there's always a time for that, as well. Usually I use that kind of a process when I'm writing more creative, less structured works. I've taught this method to students for years, and they're always astonished at how much their writing improves simply by changing their process. Many of them never realize how well they could write until they changed how they write. Only once they realize their full potential as they are can I step in as a writing teacher and help them improve further.
-- How do you improve your writing?
I truly believe that the keys to improving my own writing are reading and working. Reading improves my writing because, as I read more complex writing, I learn what complex writers do with language. The more I read, the greater my vocabulary becomes, and the larger my vocabulary, the more tools I have in my writer's arsenal. I love reading a variety of genres because each genre has its own mood, tone, and style of writing. I'm not a huge sports fan, but I am a huge fan of sports writers because their writing is often lively and filled with personality. Another way I improve my writing is by working at it. I work at my own writing as I want my students to. I use every resource available to me. I ask people to read things I write, even if I'm embarrassed of them. It's only through honest feedback from readers that I can truly understand what my writing means to someone else. And everything I write is always for someone else, otherwise, why would I write it down?
-- What are special tips for ESL writers?
ESL writers should definitely read and speak as much as they can. Reading and speaking the English language will help them to develop a sense of how to write in English. Often, as we learn a second language, we keep thinking in our first language and translate one word at a time. The more we read and understand the language we are learning, the larger those translation "chunks" become. We start thinking and translating phrases of language, then clauses. Pretty soon, we're thinking in the new language and not translating at all. That takes a lot of time to develop, but we can do it. ESL writers should never be afraid or embarrassed to make a mistake. They need to know that humans learn through their mistakes, so every mistake is an opportunity to learn a new twist in the language. English is a complicated mish-mash of rules taken from other languages, so it will be quite a learning process. Even native English speakers struggle with many of the nuances. Learning any language is a journey to be relished because the journey is the destination. We are always learning more about our language and how we can use it poetically.
|link||answered Mar 08 '12 at 16:43 Erik Czerwin Contributor|
Habits - I try to write in some way every single day. I usually take one or two hours before bed to plug out a few pages, or to read something for inspiration in some way. I also observe EVERYTHING throughout the day. Be creative, if you see something interesting, maybe use it in a story, or form a story around it. You'd be surprised the things you can imagine when you try.
Improve Writing - The best perfection comes from time...and not even that's enough. Luckily we have GOOD, BETTER, and EVEN BETTER, so don't be discouraged if you don't think your writing is up to par...just keep writing. Notice patterns and trends in your writing, go back and read it and see what doesn't flow. Are there better words? Simpler structure? Just keep writing and it will improve with effort.
Lastly (not answering the last part) writing has to be a passion. If you don't enjoy it, it's not for you. It requires you to sit and think and, of course, write. Enjoy it and reap the rewards (people who find out you're an author/writer will adore you and think very highly of you, this has happened to me a lot). Just don't get bigheaded. Be modest enough, and write about whatever you want.
|link comment||answered Mar 17 '12 at 01:19 Scott Martin Contributor|
Forming Possessives with Plural Nouns Ending in S
A few weeks back, there was a lengthy discussion of plural possessives – does one add apostrophe and ‘s’ to plurals ending in s, or just the apostrophe. Thus is it Kansas’s or Kansas’. Or Arkansas’s or Arkansas’.
The consensus was: it depends upon the style guide you are using.
I decided to follow up with some more research, and the answer is even more convoluted than I thought.
The Associated Press (AP) and Modern Language Association (MLA) call for only the apostrophe when the noun ends in S – Kansas’, Arkansas’, boss’, and rowboats’. But Strunk & White and the current Chicago Manual of Style (CMS) prefer the apostrophe S for all uses – Kansas’s, Arkansas’s, boss’s, and rowboats’s. But at least these guides offer a blanket rule. Other guides provide more convoluted advice.
The New York Times and Boston Globe use apostrophe S when the final S is not sibilant – so Arkansas’s but Kansas’, boss’, and rowboats'.
Has it always been this confused? Apparently, a century ago, the Chicago Manual called for apostrophe S with one-syllable words, but longer words received only the apostrophe – boss’s but Arkansas’. Later, CMS swung into the MLA camp, but its most recent edition changed course again.
Other academic guides – APA, AMA, and ACS – largely avoid the issue.
Frustrated by the confusion, the Legal Times turned to the United States Supreme Court in 2006. But as usual, they found the Court deeply divided. In the case of Kansas vs. Marsh, the Legal Times found 7 justices preferred Kansas’ in their opinions, while 2 (Scalia and Souter) used Kansas’s.
In 2007, the Arkansas state legislature went so far as to debate a law that would make Arkansas’s the official state possessive.
What is a writer to do? If you are a student, ask your teacher.
We older writers are on our own. I recently asked a full-time professional writer (a monthly major magazine piece, several non-fiction best-sellers [two adapted for movies], and fellow softball parent) how he handles these style differences. He said he just picks one, is consistent in its use, and let the editors change it to suit the house style (his magazine prefers one method and his publisher another).
|link comment||answered Apr 11 '12 at 15:32 Jeff Pribyl Grammarly Fellow|
Outlines and brainstorming charts are good to use when starting a new piece. A simple outline can help you to see what connects together and where your supporting details are weak. A "brainstorming wheel" is nice to, since you can focus on the ideas first, then worry about how they connect later.
Getting a few writing handbooks and style guides can help.
When you get a good working draft, you can use a number of online grammar tools to check them. There will be some conflicts, since they don't all use the same rules or check the same things. The more you use the tools, the better your writing will be over time.
Asking specific questions in forums such as these is always good. I noticed one ESL speaker on Grammarly who sometimes comes across as annoying at times with the number and type of questions he asks. However, his quality of questions and how he words them has improved a great deal recently. If you have that sort of drive and eagerness, it helps.
|link comment||answered Apr 21 '12 at 19:36 Courtney Contributor|
"I love to write about the things all around me. Some times I love to write about the texts which are in my mother language mode. I like to be creative to write about every thing."
"I write to improve my writing. Some times by reading story books, essays, newspapers and other texts to improve my writing.
1) Listening to other news network channels.
2)Reading Newspapers and hard texts to know the new words.
3) Write & Write & Write about every thing!!!!!!!
4)For more writing tips visit Englishclub.com/writing
|link comment||answered May 26 '12 at 07:38 hadi New member|
Some excellent advice from writer Cory Doctorow that helps my students' writing a great deal:
"Here's a procedure that I almost always find useful for improving almost any kind of written composition -- a speech, an essay, an op-ed or a story. As a first pass, try cutting the first 10 percent (the 'throat clearing') then moving the last 30 percent (the payoff) to the beginning of the talk (don't bury your lede!). About 90 percent of the time when someone gives me a paper for review, I find that it can be improved through this algorithm." --Cory Doctorow, full post at http://boingboing.net/2004/02/09/random-advice-for-co.html
|link comment||answered Sep 29 '12 at 18:35 d.s.koelling New member|
Some websites offer great free online courses for various subjects, including writing. One of my favourite projects is Coursera, where I'm currently enrolled as a student in a class on academic writing, English Composition I: Achieving Expertise (by Duke University).
The fun part of the course is that you can interact with other students, be graded, and learn under the guidance of university professors, for free.
I am not affiliated with Coursera in any way except as a student.
|link comment||answered Apr 01 at 18:04 David Simons New member|
I have written academic research papers, proposals, and fiction. My suggestion is to use some of the word processing capabilities. The one I always use is the outliner. It takes a while to get used to it; however, longer documents can be shrunk down to a page or two. I use Grammarly to check each section individually. It always tells me something useful, and even if I do not quite understand the answer, I can rewrite s sentence or two to improve it. Don't be afraid to rewrite.
|link comment||answered Sep 16 '11 at 21:32 ramandeep kaur New member|
Hero of the day
Person asked the most questions.