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English not your first language?

If English is not your first language and you want a proofreader or copyeditor who will take that into account, you’ve come to the right place.

I often hear from people, especially in academic and professional contexts, who are happy with the content of their text but feel that their writing in English is a bit clunky and unidiomatic (not natural to people who use English as their first language) even if it’s perfectly grammatical and understandable. Although English is the lingua franca in many fields, the unfortunate truth is that an awkward or unidiomatic style can really detract from your text in many situations.

You might think that’s an unfair standard, and I completely agree! You probably have no option but to write in English, and your writing will be judged on certain aspects that people who speak English as a first language do not need to worry about – often by people who are monolingual themselves.

People and institutions are slowly starting to develop a more nuanced and less biased approach to these issues, but we’re still far from English being where it needs to be as a lingua franca in order to accommodate our multilingual reality.

I have experience with English texts written by people whose first language isn’t English, especially those from a Romance-language background. Since I am also fluent in Spanish, I can often figure your intended meaning when the phrasing doesn’t quite work because of an awkward or imported construction that doesn’t exist in English. (And I know it would sound a lot better in your first language, really!)

Not only will I substitute these valid but awkward phrases for more idiomatic ones as part of my copyediting, I can also point out which underlying tendencies, choices and constructions are giving a Mediterranean flavour to your text that you might not want. Hopefully you’ll be able to use these observations to make your writing more idiomatic in the future.

If you have any particular concerns about your writing in English as a second (or third or fourth) language, please get in touch.

English not your first language?: Text

‘I have used Pedro’s services multiple times for academic texts, research proposals and job applications. Having English as a second language has always been a problem for me when I needed polished texts, and his work has allowed me to give a professional first impression to international committees. He always does an impressive job polishing my texts beyond just grammar (checking names of institutions and programmes, restructuring and improving flow) while keeping my tone and respecting my content. I will continue to use his services in my research career to improve my written material.’

Juan Carlos Torrado Vidal, Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Bergen

English not your first language?: Quote
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