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Student Composition:
Three Passions I Live For

(See Teacher's Comments and Revised Composition Below.)

Looking back on my past twenty years full of passions (1) and enthusiasm, I feel grateful and (2) to live a healthy and happy life. There are a lot of qualities I have learnt from ordinary life that guided me through. If I am asked to list the first three, I will put health, happiness of my family and enough financial support (3) as the passions I live for.

Health comes first for me. Without health, everything is meaningless. It is indispensable to everyone (4). Only when one is healthy can he start his own career, set up his own family and achieve any accomplishment (5). I always value health and regard it as the preliminary step (6) to possess a happy family and earn enough money.

Happiness of my family (7) is very important to me because I love my family wholeheartedly. I get pleasure in their joys and suffer what they suffer. Their infinite love and support motivate me to overcome any trouble or obstacle (8) I may meet. To make those I love happy is the biggest wish for me. What would millions of money (9) mean to me if I saw my family suffer from pain and agony (10)? Now that Iíve got a healthy body, I have plenty of time and opportunities to entertain my family. Then money comes third. (11)

Everyone must admit that they could never do without money (12). Money enables us to get food, a house for shelter, clothes to wear and furthermore (13) enjoyment. For example, with money, we can get a good education, travel around the world and receive fine medical treatment. Money is essential to satisfy our basic needs as well as further self-development.

As long as I am healthy, Iíll work hard to earn as much money as I can, then with it I buy substances (14) or services to make (15) my family live more comfortably. If everything goes on (16) smoothly, Iíll be absolutely the happiest girl in the world!

Teacher Joe's Comments

(1) "Passion" is normally a non-count noun, especially in this expression, "full of passion". In any case, the word "passion" itself is not really appropriate considering the three ideas being expressed. Health and wealth are mentioned as necessities which add to the writer's quality of life, but they are not really "passions". If the writer loved to go the gym every single day of the week and practiced yoga, weight training, along with various other sports, then it might be called "a passion". "Wealth" is also "a passion" for some people who really do seem to live for money. They want all the money they can get - more, more, MORE! That's passion. This writer doesn't live for money, however, she only uses money to help her live a better life. For her, money is a tool, not a passion.

(2) Perhaps the word "and" was added by mistake. I think the writer wanted to write something like "I feel grateful for the chance to have lived a healthy and happy life". If the writer wants to keep "and", then a sentence such as "I feel grateful and happy to have lived a healthy life". "And" should connect two similar words or ideas.

(3) "Support" is what somebody, or some thing, gives to you. When I read "enough financial support", I think the writer wants support from her parents or maybe from the government. "Enough finances" or "sufficient finances" would be better, but the writer could even use the simple expression "enough money". It's better to use a simple word such as "money" correctly than to use a more formal word such as "finances" incorrectly.

(4) This sentence just repeats the same idea as the previous two sentences, only using different words. The writer's message is "Health is important. Health is important. Health is important." It seems the writer is just trying to show off her knowledge of English without communicating any message. In the revised essay below, notice how the first two sentences are combined to show cause and effect, while the third sentence is cut out completely.

(5) This is far too general. It's not bad grammatically but is quite boring. The reader must wonder if the writer is capable of describing a real achievement or not. The writer should give examples of achievements that she has achieved or hopes to achieve.

(6) The writer seems to be emphasizing health by writing "THE preliminary step", so "the first step" would be more clear. There might be many "preliminary" steps, which all might be necessary, but not so important.

(7) The first time this is mentioned, in the first paragraph, it may be okay to write it this way. However, the second time it is used, "my family's happiness" is much more natural. If the writer insists on using this awkward expression again, she should at least use an article: "The happiness of my family...".

(8) Again, the writer would show her ability to communicate in English if she gave an example or two instead of just using the general words "trouble" and "obstacle".

(9) "Money" is a non-count noun. We could say "millions of dollars", "millions of pounds", or "millions of yuan". Another possibility would be "a large amount of money".

(10) We suffer from a disease or some other bad situation. Writing "suffer from pain and agony" is like writing "suffering from suffering and suffering". The writer could change this to "living in pain and agony" or "experiencing pain and agony".

(11) This is a fair attempt at a transition to the next paragraph, but it could be better. See the revised essay for examples of smooth transitions between paragraphs.

(12) This sentence communicates nothing and should be cut.

(13) It is not clear what the writer is trying to say by using the word "furthermore" here. Maybe she means, "beyond these necessities", or something similar. The word "furthermore" could also be cut with no replacement, and the meaning would come through more clearly.

(14) "Substances" sounds like raw materials, especially chemicals or drugs. The writer should use specific goods and services in order to communicate her message.

(15) The word "make" sounds like the family will be forced to live more comfortably, against their will. "Allow" is a more appropriate word.

(16) This should be simplified to "goes smoothly" to make it idiomatically correct. It's still too vague. The writer would do even better to express what she means by "go smoothly" by giving examples.

Teacher Joe's Revised Essay

"Keys to Happiness"

Looking back on the first twenty years of my life, lived with passion, energy and enthusiasm, I feel grateful to have been so healthy and happy. I owe my happiness to so many people and lucky events, but there are three key, fundamental factors that have guided me and supported me in my life. Those three keys to life are my physical health, healthy finances, and my family's happiness.

Health comes first for me, because without health everthing else is meaningless. Imagine starting a career without good health. Imagine starting a family without good health. Imagine achieving anything without good health. Clearly, good health is a basic, fundamental prerequisite for every other aspect of one's life.

Good health is not enough to be happy. We still need to have money in today's society. Money obviously pays for the basic necessities of life - food, housing, clothing - but is also necessary for other reasons. The amount of money we have at our disposal determines the quality of education we can receive. Money guarantees we will always get adequate medical treatment if the need arises. We can also use money for travel and other entertainment that can add to our quality of life.

When we have both our health and healthy finances, we can turn our attention to the most important factor in having a happy life. Family is the most important factor because it provides the love, joy and support that everybody needs. I love my family with all my heart. I get pleasure from their pleasure. I suffer when they suffer. My family helped me get through the tremendous pressure of entrance exams. They consoled and advised me when I had misunderstandings with my friends. More importantly, they were there to share in my successes throughout the past twenty years.

These three factors are all that I need and want in this world. As long as I stay healthy, work hard to earn as much money as I can, and then use my health and wealth to share both good times and bad times with my family, I will always be the happiest girl in the world.

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