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General Writing and Grammar Help/Grammar,Writing, Choice of Words


Hi! I am Ali Ahmadian, an English teacher. I would be so thankful if you could help me to select the best choice in the following tests.
1. In photosynthesis, sunlight and heat make (natural - chemical) energy (in the form of wood or fossil fuel).
2. The ancient Greek started fire with (focused - concentrated) sunlight.
3. My teacher told me to act (firmly - confidently), even if I feel nervous.

It is lovely to meet you!


1.  In the process of photosynthesis, only light is used; heat is not used.  Carbon dioxide (C02) and water (H20) combine in a chemical reaction in the presence of light, the result of which is a fuel the plant can use - - a sugar.  As a by-product of the chemical reaction, oxygen also is produced but is released into the atmosphere because the plant can't use it.   All of this happens in a part of specific proteins that contain chlorophyll cells.

No more needs to be said about light and heat; or about chemical versus natural.  (I am not sure =natural= means in this context, however.  In any event, =chemical= is the proper choice since it is a specific adjective; "natural" can mean many things.)

When plants die, eventually, over millions of years, they form fossil fuel.  I suppose that, in a round-about way, photosynthesis produces fossil fuels, but your sentence leaves out the intermediate processes!  Creating wood with this process is incorrect, except that a tree, by  using photosynthesis, does produce wood!

I hope I have not insulted you with this science lesson, but I needed to establish the right "vocabulary" before I answered your question!  

Since I believe your sentence is about photosynthesis on a molecular level, your sentence should be:

In photosynthesis, sunlight is used to create chemical energy in the form of sugar.


Photosynthesis is a chemical reaction in the presence of sunlight and that produces a sugar.


Photosynthesis is a chemical reaction where, in the presence of sunlight, carbon dioxide and water are converted to fuel for the plant (a sugar), with a by-product of oxygen.

If you must use your sentence:

In photosynthesis, sunlight helps make energy in the form of sugar.


2.  I would use =focused= because you are speaking about use of a magnifying glass and bringing a beam of light to a small point.

Also, you need to make =Greek= plural.  I am sure this is just a typographical mistake!


3.  I would use =confidently= here because is the opposite of acting nervously.

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Martha Beth Lewis


I will answer questions having to do with grammar, plurals, punctuation, capitalization, mood, person, tense, and so on, as well as word usage and word choice. If you want a quick answer to a specific question, particularly if you wish to use formal American English for business or academic purposes (MLA), I can give you a timely response. I also can address word choice, clarity, structure, and similar concerns involving English as a second language. If you want advice of a deeper editorial nature (e.g., substantive [line] editing), please consult an Expert who offers this sort of assistance; I do not offer this sort of assistance.


I was employed as an editor for the graduate school at a major U.S. university and specialized in dissertations. I have over 200 publications in professional journals, consumer magazines, and newspapers. I am the author of five books and numerous syllabi in an arts field. I also am a freelance line editor, copy editor, and proofreader (over 40 years), and I have written or edited countless community organizations' newsletters and promotional materials.

Note: When using a word as a word in a sentence, such as: Put a period after the word dog, =dog= should be set in italics. Since I do not have access to italics here, I shall use = on either side of the word or phrase that properly should appear in italics. For the above example: Put a period after the word =dog=. Also, ~~please do not mark your questions as private~~. I will change them to public because I don't want to type the same answer twice! Thanks for your understanding.

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