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Writing essays - Will or Would?

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Writing essays - Will or Would? [#permalink] New post 11 Sep 2010, 21:39
Just wondering whether I should use will or would writing my application essays.

Two examples:
"An MBA from XXXX School will/would provide me with...."

"I will/would bring to the class X, Y and Z"

My first thought is to use "would" as I'm not admitted yet and I can't be sure if "I will bring that" because they may ding me...

What do you think?
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Re: Writing essays - Will or Would? [#permalink] New post 12 Sep 2010, 00:15
I think would makes more sense as it sees optimistically into the future with that school :)
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Re: Writing essays - Will or Would? [#permalink] New post 12 Sep 2010, 05:44
yea, i had this question to and i asked 4 different consultants (free consultations!) and some school adcoms at an MBA fair. There was definitely a consensus: its doesnt matter. That said,
ADcoms know your not in the school yet. I would rather say "I will join the consulting club" than "I would..." sounds more powerful.
I think both are optimistic, but "will" sounds more forceful.
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Re: Writing essays - Will or Would? [#permalink] New post 12 Sep 2010, 05:48
yep I have been doing some research today and eventually I changed everything from would to will. In fact in the questions they also use "...you will..." or "...you are going to..."
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Re: Writing essays - Will or Would? [#permalink] New post 12 Sep 2010, 09:24
yeah i agree "will" sounds more "definite" and powerful. "would" sounds like if something happens then it "will" happen you know. Like "i would go to club Y if I get elected as an officer" vs. " i will do xyz at club Y as an officer" - sounds cocky but it shows confidence!
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[#permalink] New post 13 Sep 2010, 04:52
-

Last edited by osbornecox on 15 Dec 2010, 00:07, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Writing essays - Will or Would? [#permalink] New post 13 Sep 2010, 11:16
I agree that it's not worth losing too much sleep over. That said, "will" is stronger and more persuasive than "would." Avoid "would" whenever possible.
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Re: Writing essays - Will or Would? [#permalink] New post 14 Sep 2010, 05:17
agree with the consensus here. i am using 'will' in all my essays where both will/would could be used.
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Re: Writing essays - Will or Would? [#permalink] New post 14 Sep 2010, 05:20
What about contractions?
"didn't or did not"
"doesn't or does not"
"wasn't or was not"
"I'll or I will"
and so on....
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Re: Writing essays - Will or Would? [#permalink] New post 14 Sep 2010, 05:23
rid82 wrote:
What about contractions?
"didn't or did not"
"doesn't or does not"
"wasn't or was not"
"I'll or I will"
and so on....


I spell all of those out. I feel it gives it a bit more emphasis, but you are right would (will) be intersting to see what everyone else thinks
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Re: Writing essays - Will or Would? [#permalink] New post 14 Sep 2010, 08:30
rid82 wrote:
What about contractions?
"didn't or did not"
"doesn't or does not"
"wasn't or was not"
"I'll or I will"
and so on....


Do NOT use contractions. :shock:
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Re: Writing essays - Will or Would? [#permalink] New post 14 Sep 2010, 10:15
I don't think contractions are necessarily a no go, especially if you have a reason to use them. These essays are not, in fact, meant to be laborious and formal. These aren't academic essays or official letters or even business memos, where it would not make sense to use contractions or colloquial language. Here, you're trying to show them your voice, and if your voice comes through better with contractions (without undermining your authority), then so be it.

That said, I've used contractions in mine, but I've done so sparingly. If I used a contraction or two every sentence, it would start to stand out. But when it's used only occasionally (once a paragraph or so), it can increase the effect of a sentence. I think people who aren't truly comfortable with writing tend to lean toward formalism because they think it makes them sound better (maybe it does), but I'd say there's no need for a blanket no contractions rule.

But I'm no expert. Anyone have any opinions from the admissions people or admissions consultants themselves?

Worth a look: using-contractions-in-essays-39871.html#p276846

Finally, AlexMBA's (admission consultant) thing on writing: what-is-good-writing-78273.html

Quote:
And the last one for writing from a subjective viewpoint (first person narrative) is SINCERITY. Tonally, it's got to sound like a real person, not a robotic PR release. Aim for a lack of formality without being casual.

Your essays may not sound like the stylized writing you are used to at work, but believe me it will be miles better than the overwhelming majority of sh*t you'll see in powerpoint presentations, website copy and business correspondence. Corporate speak makes it harder to separate the clueless, incompetent, and spineless from the knowledgeable, talented and ethical - that's why it can be an invaluable "cover your ass" dialect in a bureaucracy.


The question is whether using a handful of contractions simply lacks formality (good) or sounds casual (bad).
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Re: Writing essays - Will or Would? [#permalink] New post 14 Sep 2010, 11:23
Jeanette wrote:
I don't think contractions are necessarily a no go, especially if you have a reason to use them. These essays are not, in fact, meant to be laborious and formal. These aren't academic essays or official letters or even business memos, where it would not make sense to use contractions or colloquial language. Here, you're trying to show them your voice, and if your voice comes through better with contractions (without undermining your authority), then so be it.

That said, I've used contractions in mine, but I've done so sparingly. If I used a contraction or two every sentence, it would start to stand out. But when it's used only occasionally (once a paragraph or so), it can increase the effect of a sentence. I think people who aren't truly comfortable with writing tend to lean toward formalism because they think it makes them sound better (maybe it does), but I'd say there's no need for a blanket no contractions rule.

But I'm no expert. Anyone have any opinions from the admissions people or admissions consultants themselves?

Worth a look: using-contractions-in-essays-39871.html#p276846

Finally, AlexMBA's (admission consultant) thing on writing: what-is-good-writing-78273.html

Quote:
And the last one for writing from a subjective viewpoint (first person narrative) is SINCERITY. Tonally, it's got to sound like a real person, not a robotic PR release. Aim for a lack of formality without being casual.

Your essays may not sound like the stylized writing you are used to at work, but believe me it will be miles better than the overwhelming majority of sh*t you'll see in powerpoint presentations, website copy and business correspondence. Corporate speak makes it harder to separate the clueless, incompetent, and spineless from the knowledgeable, talented and ethical - that's why it can be an invaluable "cover your ass" dialect in a bureaucracy.


The question is whether using a handful of contractions simply lacks formality (good) or sounds casual (bad).


Care to share with us an example of your use of contractions? I'm interested to know how they add to the effectiveness of your essay. If you're quoting someone/something, ok. Otherwise? I can't see any reason to use such informal language in an application essay. Seeming personable is probably a good thing, and it can be accomplished by other means, but I think you risk seeming careless by including contractions. And all that aside, in response to a poster asking an online community for a general rule re: contractions in application essays, which do you think is a safer recommended course of action? Using or avoiding contractions?

Jeanette wrote:
I think people who aren't truly comfortable with writing tend to lean toward formalism because they think it makes them sound better...


Probably true. But I'm very comfortable with writing and simply couldn't abide the use of contractions in an MBA application essay. I'd just feel like I'm exposing myself for no reason. But I'll entertain the notion that you've used it to enhance your own writing.
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Re: Writing essays - Will or Would? [#permalink] New post 14 Sep 2010, 11:51
skahuh wrote:
Jeanette wrote:
I don't think contractions are necessarily a no go, especially if you have a reason to use them. These essays are not, in fact, meant to be laborious and formal. These aren't academic essays or official letters or even business memos, where it would not make sense to use contractions or colloquial language. Here, you're trying to show them your voice, and if your voice comes through better with contractions (without undermining your authority), then so be it.

That said, I've used contractions in mine, but I've done so sparingly. If I used a contraction or two every sentence, it would start to stand out. But when it's used only occasionally (once a paragraph or so), it can increase the effect of a sentence. I think people who aren't truly comfortable with writing tend to lean toward formalism because they think it makes them sound better (maybe it does), but I'd say there's no need for a blanket no contractions rule.

But I'm no expert. Anyone have any opinions from the admissions people or admissions consultants themselves?

Worth a look: using-contractions-in-essays-39871.html#p276846

Finally, AlexMBA's (admission consultant) thing on writing: what-is-good-writing-78273.html

Quote:
And the last one for writing from a subjective viewpoint (first person narrative) is SINCERITY. Tonally, it's got to sound like a real person, not a robotic PR release. Aim for a lack of formality without being casual.

Your essays may not sound like the stylized writing you are used to at work, but believe me it will be miles better than the overwhelming majority of sh*t you'll see in powerpoint presentations, website copy and business correspondence. Corporate speak makes it harder to separate the clueless, incompetent, and spineless from the knowledgeable, talented and ethical - that's why it can be an invaluable "cover your ass" dialect in a bureaucracy.


The question is whether using a handful of contractions simply lacks formality (good) or sounds casual (bad).


Care to share with us an example of your use of contractions? I'm interested to know how they add to the effectiveness of your essay. If you're quoting someone/something, ok. Otherwise? I can't see any reason to use such informal language in an application essay. Seeming personable is probably a good thing, and it can be accomplished by other means, but I think you risk seeming careless by including contractions. And all that aside, in response to a poster asking an online community for a general rule re: contractions in application essays, which do you think is a safer recommended course of action? Using or avoiding contractions?

Jeanette wrote:
I think people who aren't truly comfortable with writing tend to lean toward formalism because they think it makes them sound better...


Probably true. But I'm very comfortable with writing and simply couldn't abide the use of contractions in an MBA application essay. I'd just feel like I'm exposing myself for no reason. But I'll entertain the notion that you've used it to enhance your own writing.


Avoiding contractions is absolutely the safer approach. If you're really in doubt, don't use them. I make absolutely no argument about that. But I don't like laying down rules that aren't

All I'm saying is that it's perfectly possible to use them effectively in an application essay as it can avoid coming across as robotic, can sharpen a sentence, and actually increases the feeling of sincerity. Again, I'm perfectly willing to be proven wrong if an admissions committee or reputable admissions consultant lays down a blanket rule to never use them.

For what it's worth, I may have overplayed this a bit. I have 9 essays written (though only two are the finished product) and I've used contractions 5 times over those essays, two of which are basically the same place in similar essays. And at this point, I'd rather not divulge my sentences. Once I get a decision one way or the other, I'll reveal :)
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Re: Writing essays - Will or Would? [#permalink] New post 14 Sep 2010, 12:20
Jeanette wrote:
Avoiding contractions is absolutely the safer approach. If you're really in doubt, don't use them. I make absolutely no argument about that. But I don't like laying down rules that aren't

All I'm saying is that it's perfectly possible to use them effectively in an application essay as it can avoid coming across as robotic, can sharpen a sentence, and actually increases the feeling of sincerity. Again, I'm perfectly willing to be proven wrong if an admissions committee or reputable admissions consultant lays down a blanket rule to never use them.

For what it's worth, I may have overplayed this a bit. I have 9 essays written (though only two are the finished product) and I've used contractions 5 times over those essays, two of which are basically the same place in similar essays. And at this point, I'd rather not divulge my sentences. Once I get a decision one way or the other, I'll reveal :)


I'll believe it when I see it. :P

Seriously, though, I agree with you that one should be suspicious of blanket rules. Once you've learned to use the rules, you can learn to break them. But the rules exist for people who are still mastering the fundamentals, and I'd recommend that most writers adhere to them (e.g. use "will" and not "would," avoid contractions). A strong writer can create a feeling of sincerity and avoid sounding robotic without using contractions. Based on your clarity of expression thus far, Jeanette, I'm sure you'll write some killer essays.
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Re: Writing essays - Will or Would? [#permalink] New post 14 Sep 2010, 12:26
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skahuh wrote:
Jeanette wrote:
Avoiding contractions is absolutely the safer approach. If you're really in doubt, don't use them. I make absolutely no argument about that. But I don't like laying down rules that aren't

All I'm saying is that it's perfectly possible to use them effectively in an application essay as it can avoid coming across as robotic, can sharpen a sentence, and actually increases the feeling of sincerity. Again, I'm perfectly willing to be proven wrong if an admissions committee or reputable admissions consultant lays down a blanket rule to never use them.

For what it's worth, I may have overplayed this a bit. I have 9 essays written (though only two are the finished product) and I've used contractions 5 times over those essays, two of which are basically the same place in similar essays. And at this point, I'd rather not divulge my sentences. Once I get a decision one way or the other, I'll reveal :)


I'll believe it when I see it. :P

Seriously, though, I agree with you that one should be suspicious of blanket rules. Once you've learned to use the rules, you can learn to break them. But the rules exist for people who are still mastering the fundamentals, and I'd recommend that most writers adhere to them (e.g. use "will" and not "would," avoid contractions). A strong writer can create a feeling of sincerity and avoid sounding robotic without using contractions. Based on your clarity of expression thus far, Jeanette, I'm sure you'll write some killer essays.


thanks! and you're right. I was probably more writing it as a defense of my own essays than actually doing it for the benefit of others. Bad Jeanette!
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Re: Writing essays - Will or Would? [#permalink] New post 14 Sep 2010, 15:10
repost from using-contractions-in-essays-39871.html#p781756:

I talked to my editor (she's 65 with lots of experience; actually retiring this month!) about this one and she told me the following:

Contractions are ok because they bring out the more "personal" feel to the essay. It just sounds more natural to say (and thus write) "I've" instead of "I have."

She also noticed a trend in business writing that contractions are becoming more used and actually preferred in most cases. She doesn't know, however, whether MBA application essays are considered "business writing."

Also worth mentioning: Use a contraction on "negation phrases" when you want to also soften the tone: "there wasn't" instead of "there was not." Use the latter if you want to emphasize the "not." The purpose of this is to bring out the "positives" in your writing, and lessen the "negatives."
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Re: Writing essays - Will or Would? [#permalink] New post 17 Oct 2010, 02:37
guys, I ended using will in all my submitted essays.

However, I'm now having doubt in the MIT cover letter, as it is not a conventional essay.

Example:
Dear Mr. Garcia,

...... I will enrich your school community....
...... I will do X and Y.....


Do you think it is still OK to use will? Not really sure how direct it sounds in English.
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Re: Writing essays - Will or Would? [#permalink] New post 17 Oct 2010, 12:10
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In my humble opinion, I think both "will" and "would" should be used depending on the context. When talking about your goals you should use "will" because you want to show that your confident in achieving your goals. When you are talking about something that is dependent on something else you should use "would." And for some essays, the question prompt make it clear what you should use. E.g. "If you were able to create a Wharton course on any topic, what would it be? " For a cover letter, I think you should use "will" over "would" because a cover letter is sort of a statement of intent. Think of any election speeches you've heard. Or watch a Presidential debate on you tube. Do the candidates say "will" or "would?" When making a statement of intent always use "will".
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Re: Writing essays - Will or Would?   [#permalink] 17 Oct 2010, 12:10
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