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Manner for wrting scientific papers in English (論文英語)

Mount Usu / Sarobetsu post-mined peatland
From left: Crater basin in 1986 and 2006. Cottongrass / Daylily

[ conversation | terminology ]

10 rules of plain English

  1. Prefer the short word to the long.
  2. Prefer the familiar word to the fancy.
  3. Prefer the specific word to the abstract.
  4. Use no more words than necessary to make your meaning clear.
  5. Use the active voice whenever possible.
  1. Use verbs. Put verbs in action.
  2. When possible, express even a negative in positive form.
  3. Put one piece of information in one sentence.
  4. Put outline first and then details or specifics.
  5. State cause and effect.

(Ito 1984)

Elliptical sentence (省略文)

Redcuing repetitions
You may read this book if you want to (omission: read this book).
Language was made for man, and not man for language.
He worked hard when (he was) young.
He is never happier than (he is) when (if) he is working.
When (I was) a boy, I used to go fishing with my father.

Language for sciences

Some Common Word Stems

  • aer (air) [air] aerial, aerodynamic, airport
  • ann (enn) [year] annual, anniversary, centennial
  • aqua [water] aqueous, aqueduct, aquifer
  • aud [hear] audience, audible, auditorium
  • bio [life] biology, biography, antibiotics
  • chron [time] chronology, chronic, synchronized
  • clos (clud) [shut] close, disclose, enclosure
  • corp [body] corporation, incorporated, corpuscle
  • cred [believe] credit, credo, incredible
  • dict [say] dictate, predict, contradict
  • duc [lead] product, reduce, transducer
  • fac (fic) [make, do] manufacture, satisfaction, efficient
  • flu [flow] fluid, effluence, influence
  • ge n [birth] generate, genus, hydrogen
  • geo [earth] geology, geography, geometry
  • hydro [water] hydraulic, dehydrate, hydrofoil
  • ject [throw] eject, reject, injection
  • labor [work] laboratory, collaborate, elaborate
  • log [reason, science] logic, technology, analog
  • manu [hand] manual, manufacture, manuscript
  • mit (miss) [send] emit, omit, missile
  • nov (neo) [new] novel, innovate, neoplasm
  • ped (pod) [foot] pedal, podium, expedite
  • photo [light] photograph, photoelectric, photon
  • plic (ply) [fold] complicate, implicate, multiply
  • port [carry] portable, export, report
  • pos [put] deposit, composition, propose
  • puls [drive, push] impulse, propulsion, pulse
  • rota [wheel] rotation, rotary, rotate
  • scend [climb] ascend, descend, transcend
  • scop [look] microscope, telescopic, scope
  • sequ (secu) [follow] sequence, consequence, consecutive
  • solv [release] solve, solvent, resolve
  • spect [look] inspect, aspect, perspective
  • stat (stit) [state] state, static, constitute
  • strain [bind] restrain, constraint, stringent
  • tact [touch] tactile, contact, intact
  • tele [distant] television, telephone, telecommunication
  • tempor [time] temporal, contemporary, extemporaneous
  • therm [heat] thermodynamics, thermometer, thermal
  • tract [draw] traction, attract, contract
  • val [strength] value, valence, evaluation
  • vert [turn] invert, divert, conversion

Some Common Prefixes

  • prefix: (meaning), examples
  • a-: (not), atypical, asymmetric, abnormal
  • ad-(at-, al-, etc.): (to, toward), adhere, ad infinitum, attraction
  • anti-: (opposite), antibiotic, anticatalyst, antimatter
  • back-: (behind), background, backlog, backfire
  • bi-: (two), biweekly, bilateral, bivalent
  • centi-: (1/100), centimeter, centigram, centiliter
  • co- (col-, con-, etc.): (together with), cooperate, collaborate, consolidate
  • counter- (contra-): (opposite), counterbalance, counteryeight, contradict
  • de-: (reverse, undo), defiate, decrease, defrost
  • di-: (two), dimethyl, divide, dilemma
  • dia-: (across, through), diameter, diagonal, diagnose
  • dis-: (not), discontinuous, disproportionate, dishonest
  • dis-: (reverse, undo), discharge, dislodge, dismantle
  • down-: (down), downturn, downslope, downtime
  • e- (ex-): (out of), evaporate, eject, expel
  • en-: (in, within), enclose, encapsulate, engage
  • extra-: (beyond), extrapolate, extraordinary, extracurricular
  • in- (im-, ir-): (in), insert, immerse, irrigate
  • in- (im-, ir-, il-): (not), independent, inelastic, immobile
  • inter-: (between), interpolate, intercontinental, interfuse
  • iso-: (similar, same), isotope, isomorphic, isosceles
  • mal-: (bad, badly), malfunction, malformed, malpractice
  • mis-: (bad, badly), miscalculate, misfire, mispronounce
  • mono-: (one), monomer, monorail, monotone
  • multi-: (many), multiple, multiplex, multitude
  • non-: (not), noncollapsible, nonmalleable, nonflammable
  • on-: (on), ongoing, onlooker, on-line
  • out-: (surpass), outperform, outdo, outclass
  • out-: (out, outside), outline, outbuilding, outskirts
  • out-: (proceeding from), outgrowth, outlook, output
  • over-: (excessive), overwork, overproduce, oversell
  • over-: (beyond), overlook, overlap, overtime
  • poly-: (many), polygon, polymer, polytechnic
  • post-: (after), postpone, postmortem, postgraduate
  • pre-: (before), preview, prevent, preformed
  • quadr-: (four-), quadrangle, quadrilateral, quadrant
  • re-: (back), revert, reject, retract
  • re-: (again), reapply, refasten, reiterate
  • retro-: (back, backwards), retrospect, retroactive, retrorocket
  • self-: (by itself, by oneself), self-lubricating, self-employed, self-loading
  • self-: (in itself, in oneself), self-evident, self-explanatory, self-assured
  • semi-: (half), semicircular, semiconductor, semiannual
  • side-: (to or on the side), sidetrack, sidelong, sidecar
  • sub-: (under, below), submarine, subsoil, substrate
  • sub-: (a lesser part of), subclass, subdivision, subroutine
  • super-: (beyond, above), superstructure, supersonic, superheated
  • trans-: (across), transmit, transaction, transect
  • tri-: (three), triangle, tripod, trioxide
  • ultra-: (extreme), ultrasound, ultraviolet, ultramicroscopic
  • un-: (not), uncertain, unavoidable, unclear
  • un-: (reverse), unfold, undo, unbend
  • under-: (beneath, below), underground, underlie, undersurface
  • under-: (inadequate), underdeveloped, underestimate, understaffed
  • uni-: (one), uniform, unify, unique
  • up-: (up), upgrade, upturn, upkeep
  • well-: (well), well-timed, well-advised, well-defined

Noun (名詞)

Countable noun

= material noun + abstract noun + proper noun
These are often misused (check dictionary well):


Uncountable noun


Fixed phrase (定型文)

Research consists of three elements or components:
1) a question, problem or hypothesis
2) data
3) analysis and interpretation of data


We sometimes require to define term to increase clarity.
There is an uncertainty around the terminology in …
This shows a need to be explicit about what is meant by …
To date there is no consensus about …

Grammar (文法)

Infinitive (不定詞)

(谷口 1977)


Infinitive phrase (不定詞句) vs noun clause (名詞節)
I hope to be a doctor. ↔ I hope (that) I shall be a doctor.
I expect him to do his duty. ↔ I expect that he will do his duty.
I told my son to keep the room clean. ↔

I told my son that he must keep the room clean.

I believe him to have been trustworthy. ↔

I believe that he was trustworthy.

It is necessary to refrain from smoking in the hall. ↔

It is necessary that everyone (should) refrain from smoking in the hall.

It is natural for her to get angry. ↔

It is natural that she (should) get angry.

I think it natural for her to get angry. ↔

I think it natural that she (should) get angry.

She is said to have been a beauty when young. ↔

It is said that she was a beauty when young.

He seems to be studious. ↔

It seems that he is studious.

Infinitive phrase vs adjective clause (形容詞節)
There is no water to drink. ↔

There is no water that one can drink.

He was the first (man) to come. ↔

He was the first man that came.

I made a promise to do it. ↔

I made a promise that I would do it.

Infinitive phrase vs adverb clause (副詞節)
You must take care (in order) not to offend her. ↔

You must take care that you may not offend her.

He was sorry to hear of your disappointment. ↔

He was sorry that (when) he heard of your disappointment.

He left his home never to return. ↔

He left his home and never returned.

I got up so early as to be in time for the train. ↔

I got up so early that I was (could be) in time for the train.

You are old enough to understand such things. ↔

You are so old that you (can) understand such things.

This book is too difficult for you to understand. ↔

This book is so difficult that you cannot understand it.

They would be surprised to receive an invitation. ↔

They would be surprised if they should (or were to) receive an invitation.

Participle (分詞)

Participial construction (分詞構文)

As he felt tired (= Feeling tired), he went to bed early.
[When I was] Walking along the street, I met him.
Ex. When I was spoken to in English, I was at a loss. ⇒

Being spoken to in English, … ⇒

Spoken to in English, …

[ usage ]

Preposition (前置詞)

used before a noun, a noun phrase, or a pronoun, connecting it to another word

to show a relationship in space or time or a logical relationship between two or more people, places or things

Comparison (比較)

1. Positive (原級)

as - as …
He is as great a statesman as ever lived. = He is the greatest statesman that ever lived.
Her face turned (as)abbr. white as a sheet.
not so (or as) - as …
He is not so (as) intelligent as she is.
He is not so much a thinker as a man of action. = He is not a thinker so much as a action.
x times + as (positive) as
She has about three times as many jazz CD as I do.
I am willing to pay twice as much as you did for this picture.

2. Comparative (比較級)

3. Superlative (最上級)


Positive ⇔ Superlative
I have never read so interesting book as this. ≈ This book is the most interesting book (that ) I have ever read.
No (other) boy in this class is so tall as John. ≈ John is the tallest boy in this class.
Positive ⇔ Comparative
It is not so cold as it was yesterday. ≈ It is less cold than it was yesterday.
He is as bad as beggar. ≈ He is no better than a beggar.
(You and I are mad but) I am not so mad as you. ≈ I am not more mad than you.
You are not mad, nor am I. (or Neither you nor I am mad.) ≈ I am no more mad than you.
He is not so much a poet as a novelist. ≈ He is a novelist rather than a poet.
Comparative ⇔ Superlative
He is greater than any other English poet. ≈ Hi is the greatest of all English poets.
I have never seen a picture more amusing than this. ≈ This is the most amusing picture that I have ever seen.
Nothing is more precious than time. ≈ Time is the most precious thing.

Negative form (否定形)

For lectures (講義のために)

Syllabus (シラバス)

Verbs for indicating the goals

Cognitive domain (知識領域)
↓ knowledge
↓ comprehension
↓ application
↓ analysis
↓ synthesis
↓ evaluation

define identify recognize repeat choose describe discuss explain review simulates
apply generalize relate operate demonstrate analyze calculate conclude develop estimate solve appraise assess choose compare revise value arrange compose modify prepare predict

Affective domain (情意領域)
↓ receiving
↓ responding
↓ valuing
↓ organization
↓ characterization

accept attend develop recognize complete comply cooperate examine obey respond accept defend devote pursue seek codify display order organize systematize internalize verify

Psychomotor domain (精神運動領域)
↓ imitation
↓ manipulation
↓ precision
↓ articulation
↓ naturalization

bend calibrate dismantle fasten fixe grasp grind handle heat manipulate measure mix organize perform reach shorten sketch stretch

Dctoral course in Plant Ecology, Division of Biosphere

Entrance Exam., English (2007.2.28)
Attention: Do not open and see any dictionaries during you take this exam. Except Question (3) a, you must answer in English.

(1) Each of the questions below is followed by several suggested answers or completions. Select the one that is best in each case.

a. When we eat celery we are acting as
(A) producers (B) primary consumers (C) secondary consumers (D) decomposers
b. Which of the following best describes an intimate ecological association in which the organism is harmed
when living on or within the host, but which generally has a negative effect on that host?
(A) mutualism (B) saprophytism (C) commensalism (D) parasitism (E) predation
c. Which concept most completely describes the place an organism is found in an ecosystem?
(A) habitat (B) niche (C) food web (D) chemical cycle
d. Which ecological unit is defined as so to include abiotic factors?
(A) population (B) ecosystem (C) community (D) biome (E) deme

(2) Give the definition of the following terms

a. Facilitation
b. Biological invasion
c. Reproductive strategy

(3) The following essay was written by an author who lived in Sapporo, Hokkaido, Japan. After reading the sentences, answer the questions a to d.
Succession is influenced by many factors. You are studying a 20-hectare site that was homesteaded in 1884. At that time the forest was cleared. Stumps were grubbed from 10 hectares, but not from the other 10 hectares. The grubbed site was plowed and farmed for 10 years, the rest was grazed. In 1894, the settler went to fight in the Sino-Japanese War and the farm was abandoned. However, it stayed in the family to this day, with no further major disturbance. Contrast the two 10-hectare sites in terms of their successional progress.

hectare: a unit of area, often abbreviated as ha.
grub: clear by digging up roots and stumps.
homesteaded: acquire or settle on land under a homestead law. In the present case, the law of ex-legionary (屯田兵).

a. Translate the essay into Japanese.
b. Which site will be closer to climax vegetation? Why?
c. Which site will have more introduced species? Why?
d. How would the location of the site affect the succession process? Would the results be altered if the site were located close to Sapporo rather than outside of Hokkaido, e.g., in Okinawa? Explain.
(4) What would be an excellent way to control weeds in each of the following cases, a-e:
a. A field is infested with either groundsel (Senecio vulugaris L. ノボロギク) or Klamath weed (Hypericum perforatum L. セイヨウオトギリソウ).
b. A pasture is infested with Scot's broom (Cytisus scoparius (L.) Link, エニシダ).
c. A pasture is infested with Canada thistle (Cirsium arvense Scop., セイヨウトゲアザミ).
d. Lawn has a wide variety of undesirable rosette weeds.
e. A vacant lot is covered by an array of interesting and pleasing weeds.

(5) Write your research plan in doctoral course as following order. (a) Objectives, (b) Materials and methods, and (c) Expected results and the originality.