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Language and Writing

All writers in this collection speak for themselves—and themselves alone.


The Creepy Language Tricks Taco Bell Uses to Fool People Into Eating There

Kiera Butler, a senior editor at Mother Jones, asks author and food linguist Dan Jurafsky to analyze the menu at Taco Bell.

Process AnalysisLanguage and Writing Mixed Person Discussion Questions & Writing PromptsConnect with Author

Five Ways to Write a Damn Good Sentence

Demian Farnworth, a contributor to CopyBlogger, gives advice on composing effective sentences.
Process AnalysisLanguage and Writing Second Person Discussion Questions & Writing PromptsConnect with Author

How to Write a Personal Letter

In this humorous essay, Garrison Keillor examines the long forgotten art of writing letters. Published in 1987, this essay predates e-communication and creates a longing for a simpler time.

Process AnalysisLanguage and Writing Mixed Person Discussion Questions & Writing PromptsConnect with Author

I Won’t Hire People Who Use Poor Grammar. Here’s Why.

CEO Kyle Wiens explains the correlation between someone's grammar competence and that person's readiness for professional life.

Cause and EffectLanguage and Writing First Person Discussion Questions & Writing PromptsConnect with Author

Is There a Formula for a Good Book?

Award-winning writer and editor Jason Heller (of the science-fiction genres) evaluates a variety of formulas, or rules, for literary success.

Classification and DivisionLanguage and Writing Third Person Discussion Questions & Writing PromptsConnect with Author

The Perfect Essay

John Kaag, a professor of philosophy and expository writing, explains how his mother's constant and consistent criticisms of his essays affected his writing.

Cause and EffectLanguage and Writing First Person Discussion Questions & Writing Prompts Connect with Author

The Source of Bad Writing

Steven Pinker, a professor of psychology at Harvard University, explores how people think and how that thinking process is often unclear to the audience.

Cause and EffectLanguage and Writing Mixed Person Discussion Questions & Writing PromptsConnect with Author

Victory in 30 Seconds: How Castrated Hogs, Baseball and Other Analogies Shape U.S. Elections

Former Presidential speechwriter John Pollack points out the function of analogies in American politics.

AnalogyLanguage and Writing Third Person Discussion Questions & Writing PromptsConnect with Author

Why Adverbs, Maligned by Many, Flourish in the American Legal System

Jacob Gershman, who covers law for the Wall Street Journal, explains how a single adverb can change a court's interpretation of the law.

(This essay is now behind the Wall Street Journal paywall. You must access it through Newsstand. Sign in to Atlas to access this database.)

Example and Illustration • Language and Writing Third Person • Discussion Questions & Writing PromptsConnect with Author

Writing Your Way to Happiness

This article suggests that focused, expressive writing can lead to greater insight and personal satisfaction, which means that everyone with a journal will one day see the light of their own lives.

Process AnalysisLanguage and Writing Mixed Person Discussion Questions & Writing PromptsConnect with Author