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Tips for ESL Writers

Brush-Up Your Grammar page

Plain English page


     If you are not a native speaker of English, the online reference sites listed below may be useful to you as you pursue your studies at Marquette.  The links are grouped into the following four categories:

General Resources                  Grammar & Usage Issues

Quoting and Paraphrasing        Vocabulary and Idioms


General Resources for ESL Writers 

  • For aspects of English usage that puzzle you, refer to a handbook such as The Brief Penguin Handbook, which is currently used in Marquette’s First-Year English program.  For more information, click here.
  • For a list of valuable books and Web resources, including quizzes and idiom lists, developed by the publisher of The Brief Penguin Handbook, click here.
  • Purdue’s Online Writing Lab (OWL) has developed many materials especially for ESL students in the United States. To see a list of resources, handouts, and exercises, click here.
  • Help for with many aspects of English grammar from basic to advanced is available from


Quoting and Paraphrasing in American Academic Papers 

     Good advice about avoiding plagiarism when you integrate material from sources into your papers is available in these handouts from the writing centers at the University of Wisconsin and Purdue University:


Tricky Grammar and Usage Issues in English

  • Having trouble with articles (the, a, an)? The Center for Communications Practices at Renssalaer Polytechnic Institute offers a detailed discussion about article usage, perhaps the most challenging matter for nonnative speakers of English. You may also want to browse through their extensive lists of handouts and links.

  • More tips for working with count and non-count nouns are available at St. Cloud State University in Minnesota.


Vocabulary Development, Including Idioms 

  • You might find exactly the advice you need about idioms and vocabulary on the Purdue OWL’s resource list.


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Page Last Modified: October 18, 2018

  For suggestions and corrections, please email
Dr. Rebecca Nowacek, Associate Professor of English
Director of the Ott Memorial Writing Center, 240 Raynor Library (414.288.5542)
© 2005 Marquette University.
P.O. Box 1881 · Milwaukee, Wis. USA · 53201-1881