Who Else Wants To Know 21 Ways to Sound Native While Writing?

When I started freelance writing I fell pitifully short of the qualities of a writer. An excellent grade 3 level English student would mop the floor with me.

But I was lucky.

I met rigorous editors who were my clients on one of the content mills, and they patiently helped me reach and conquer levels to where I am today. The fact that they were paying peanuts for my services did not matter. All I wanted was to better my writing skills. 

From spellings words in different English dialects to creating short and long sentences that make sense. I started to catch up slowly and am gradually improving my skills.
A computer Keyboard
sound native for a breakthrough as a freelance writer
I did not just rely on their help, but I also had to research (and still do) to keep growing. There are no quick fixes to this problem, but the tips in this blog will take you a long way.

As a non-native writer, you have no option but learn how to make your writing flawless. So, the practice must be your daily undertaking. It will take dedication and time to close the gap from where you are right now, to the native level you covet. There is native formal language and native colloquial language and so, you have to set some goals to know what you intend to achieve. 

The tips I am going to show you here will help you grow both formal and colloquial native English skills. Check them out.

Native is Not Equal to Vulgar

You might be thinking that being native means using foul talk or curse words as we see in some Hollywood movies. It isn't. There is an audience for such kind of writing, but most clients will need non-offensive language in their content.

As a writer, your writing will be read by professionals, family people, religious individuals, requiring you to use non-offensive language. Scrap the vulgar mentality and build your vocabulary according to your niche(s).

Virtually Place Yourself in an English Native Country

One way natives identify fake reviews on Amazon is when the writer uses terms like "5 US dollars". Another sell out is when you try to explain terms that are new to you but common to the locals. 

Writing in this manner identifies you as an outsider. A native writer will use $5 or 5 dollars. They will also not need to explain terms like a timeshare in their writing.

Place yourself somewhere in an English speaking country virtually like America, and write from there.

Native Does not Mean Complicated

When I started writing I would try to impress potential clients by using words like "...I promise to deliver gloriously supernatural content..." My target was to show my prowess in the English language but that, am sure, is what was denying me writing opportunities. 

Don't be like me, the fool, to gather complicated English words without understanding when and how to use them. It is also possible that you know some important-sounding or technical terms (buzzwords), but always find a way to communicate your ideas in a simple language.

Using complicated words affects your readability score. If you think your audience will need to reread a sentence to understand it, then find easier words to express your ideas.

The simple words and phrases you understand will provide clear meaning when you use them in your writing. If you intend to use a new word, ensure you know its definition and the appropriate context you can apply it.

Google is Your Friend

Google is the shortcut to knowing whatever you want from anywhere around the world. Anytime you are struggling to choose between two words, phrases, or sentences, go to Google books or Google search. The one with the most results is your best bet. If a term is missing, then it is probably wrong.
Use Google for research as a freelance writer
Google is a great resource for freelance writers
Let's say you want to decide between take, have, or drink coffee. You will realize that even though all of them are correct, 'have' is used often.

Get Your Grammar Right

Grammar is a thorn in the flesh even for natives. Do we say an herb or a herb? A herb is wrong even though it sounds right to most non-natives. So, correct grammar might sound wrong in certain instances, while what sounds right could be wrong. 

One way to improve your grammar is through reading and writing often. If you meet certain terms severally in various contents, they tend to stick on your mind and help during writing sessions.

Immerse Yourself

If you truly desire to sound native in any language, you will have to immerse yourself. Create opportunities all the time to the extent of dreaming in English. If you want to listen to music, listen and sing along the native composers, watch movies with English scripts, read content authored by natives. The list goes on and on. Listening to news channels like CNN and BBC can expose you to learning formal English.

You will have to make hard decisions like speaking English every time. If you are in your home country, you might look odd and become the butt of the joke to some people. But that is one way to make some sacrifices on this journey.

Interaction With Natives

You will have to interact with natives to identify what makes their speech different. Start by joining online forums that are packed with native speakers and be keen on how they frame their contributions. Find some English speaking friends in your area and interact with them often.
Interact with native freelance writers
Find native freelancers and interact
If you have the resources, then travel for three months or more vacation to Australia, or any other native English country to learn from the horse's mouth. Count yourself lucky if you live in countries like England, Australia, or the United States. The longer you stay there, the faster you will learn and develop your vocabulary.

Avoid Slang

We all agree that the language we use in writing is not always like what people use on the streets. Some clients might request you to use slang in their content but when they don't, please avoid using them. Words like dope, groovy, its lit and many other slang words, do not always last. Luckily, a non-native writer might not know much slang, and therefore will not struggle to avoid them. 

But keep in mind that you might have some slang words in your vocabulary but unaware about it. You could be thinking that a 'cup of joe' instead of coffee is right. So, learning some slang words can be good to help you understand what you need to avoid.

Think in English

If you are thinking in your local language and translating it as you write, your mother tongue influence will definitely reflect in your writing. Think in English when you are not writing to internalize the language like a native speaker.

Don't be Redundant or Fluffy

What this means is that you should not use words unnecessarily. Say whatever you want to say with a few words as possible. Avoid saying one thing over and over. Are your adverbs, adjectives, and qualifiers too many? Reduce them. After completing your content, ensure you detach yourself from it to edit. Revisit it later with fresh eyes to be sure your audience will get the point and enjoy reading it.

Avoid Inversion of Sentences 

Non-natives have a habit of inverting sentences, unlike native English speakers. The sentences might pass all grammar and sentence construction standards but natives would prefer you to phrase it differently.

Do not begin your sentences with due to, because, not only, plus any other words that cause you to provide a reason before stating the problem. Remember the sentence might be right but natives would not express themselves in that way.

Instead of saying, due to unavoidable circumstances, I could not attend the meeting. Say, I could not attend the meeting because of unavoidable circumstances. 

Straightforward sentences can help you to avoid fragmenting your sentences as well.

Copy Contents Your Admire

Copy content written by a native freelance writer
Read and copy style and words you admire
Reading is part of your assignment to improve your writing skills. When you are reading, ensure you copy phrases, sentences, and paragraphs to use them as your templates. When you seek to know the meaning of a given word, learn it within a phrase and not just as an isolated word.

Use Monolingual Dictionary

Which dictionary are you using? Using a monolingual dictionary is an effective way to master the English language. Use English definitions to understand English. Bilingual dictionaries can be misleading sometimes because they do not define words but translates them. Online dictionaries are fast to get words, but a physical dictionary is easy to memorize following the time it takes to flip through the pages and find a word.

Language Tools are Life Savers

There are numerous language tools in the market. Some you will have to pay for, while others come free. Microsoft Word and Google docs have in-build grammar tools, but they are not always enough. I use Grammarly which can identify faults in grammar, dialectic differences, conventions, readability score, incomplete sentences among other writing issues. 

You can as well pay for premium services to access additional features including human proofreading. There are plenty of great tools out there and you will have to try them out to pick one that fits your needs.

Your Teacher Was Not Always Right

I was baffled by a client from New Jersey when they told me that they don't use the word averagely there. Instead, I was supposed to use "On average". Even though I can use this word well in a sentence, I avoid it as plague recently.

I don't know why but my teacher insisted that I should never start a sentence using conjunctions. But she was wrong.

Complete Comparisons

Incomplete comparisons have become common for most writers until they do not recognize when it happens. You will find statements like, It is going to be better when we leave this town. Can you identify the error?

You will be more efficient when you start using our tools (more efficient than what?)

Always remember to complete your comparisons.

Age is not a Limitation!

As a writer - particularly if you are earning through your craft, writing for a living is a motivation enough regardless of your limitations. Age might be a concern to you because your brain is less flexible as an adult but it should not hinder you from earning through writing.
numbers illustrating age
nothing should stand in your way as a freelance writer
It is going to take tears, blood, and sweat to succeed as a writer. Even natives do not always make it to the top. You have a drawback but that should be your strength by the end of the day. When you make it to the top, people will be saying in spite of his age and being a non-native, he wrote such great content.

Hire a Professional

People are different and some can only learn through sitting physically with a teacher. If you are such a person, then hiring a professional native teacher will help you learn faster than you would use other methods. 

If your local area lacks native English teachers, you can hire one online or learn through Youtube videos.

Pass the Message Before You Impress

As mentioned earlier, writing as a native does not mean to write in complicated English. You should instead seek to entertain your audience first before you impress them with your writing skills. Passing your point across is your priority. Cutting your "darlings" and "ramblings" during proofreading is something you need to consider.

Get Feedback From Natives

After writing, hire or find a native writer you admire their work who will read your content and give constructive criticism on it. Ask them if there were boring points as they were reading and any areas that are difficult to understand.
Get feedback from native writers
Get feedback and correct your errors

Don't Expect Results Today

You have to listen, read, write, rewrite, and revisit. It is a lot of work and it takes time - plenty of it, but that is another sacrifice you have to make. I consider myself an eternal student and I strongly believe everyone is. So do not expect to master everything in a two-month course or a blog like this. 

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These 20 tips are just some of the considerations you need to take to grow as a writer. There is no single person that knows everything about language - even those who write for a living. So, keep learning as you grow without fear. Spare time each day to listen and practice your skills and grow in due course. Do you have any additional ideas? Share with me in the comment section below so we can learn from you as well.