Writing like a native

Do you know anyone who learned a language as an adult and WRITES so well that he or she would be mistaken for a native? Is writing like a native less difficult than speaking like a native? I hope it is less difficult.

Even native speakers have troubles writing like . . . well, like they’re supposed to. Good writing skills are difficult to tackle in your own language, let alone a foreign tongue.

To answer the question, though. Do I know anyone personally? No. But Nabokov had an excellent command of the English language, I presume. Or was it his editor?

I don’t think writing is easier than speaking. Speakers can get away with a lot of things. By nature, spoken language is predominantly spontaneous, and spontaneity allows for a larger margin of error by far. Good, careful writing is a much more demanding task.

People have said about my written English, maybe Steve can chime in here,


To be more specific, yes, it can be done. I think everyone has his/her own recognisable style of writing, a personal flavor that does not necessarily have anything to do with whether or not they could be mistaken for a native. On Steve’s bIog there are a lot of commenters where I honestly don’t know whether they are native speakers or not. I know I will never be mistaken for a native in any of my foreign languages when I speak them, so I think it is definitely easier to be 100% authentic in writing.


I have come across many non-natives who write as well as any educated native, and even better than uneducated natives. I cannot tell in many cases if the person is native. Joseph Conrad comes to mind but there are many more. There are people who speak flawlessly as well, it is their pronunciation, strong or slight, gives them away. There is no accent in writing. To me it is less obvious what would constitute non-native writing, other than obvious mistakes, since there are so many writing styles.

All languages do not have the same level of difficulties. Spanish and dutch are quite easy to write in front of french or thai

Yutaka, two examples are astamoore and SanneT. They both write without making any mistakes. I gather that SanneT has lived in the UK for a very long time and I’m not sure what astamoore’s story is…

Well, I make a living translating into, and writing in, English. Got to keep my error rate down to keep the checks coming.

Aw, shucks, Peter, thanks.
I settled in the UK when I was 27, but had been there before for a little over a year. Although I had had English at school, I was appallingly bad at it and only really got to grips with the language through daily exposure to newspapers, books, radio and television. Theater and cinema tickets were relatively cheap in those days and I really learnt to listen. I revelled in being able to read English books in the original and my passion for words has never left me. (This may also be one of the reasons why my sentences tend to be a bit long at times.)

Sanne, your sentences are perfect in all dimensions: length, breadth, and depth. I enjoy reading them.

I agree with you, Peterlaunonen.
SanneT and Astamoore have at least one thing in common, that is, brilliant style. Without their comments, the forums at LingQ would have a gigantic void.

I agree with peterlaunonen, too.
Writings of both SanneT and astamoore always make me feel ashamed of mine.
I believe they are good writers in their native languages in the first place,
which makes them good writers in another language, too.
Or it seems to be not a matter of language but a matter of thoughts.

Well if anyone else had asked the question, I would have cited you as an example of someone with a very native-like writing style. Are we to assume from your question that you aren’t satisfied with it?

Hello to everyone, I’m Manuel, I’m new here.
While I was reading your answers, I thought about my way of writing in English (which is the foreign language I speak better).
First of all, I think it’s necessary to have a good ability in writing in your native language; then, if you know well a foreign one, it’s easy to shift your thoughts into it. I’m definetly not a good writer even in Italian and that makes me a bad writer in English.
By the way, I can tell whether a person is Italian from his way of writing; sometimes the word order is incorrect or unusual in my language (especially for adjectives); but it can also be the opposite: as astamoore wrote in his first answer, writing has a smaller margin of error than speaking and people can be mistaken for native more with writing. That’s also because it has no accent.
I’d like to answer to PierreM saying that I don’t think what he had said is true: every language is difficult in its way. I don’t speak Spanish nor Dutch, but I do speak French and, for me, writing in French is as difficult as in English.

Among the reasons why I like the LinqQ forums is that any writer, doesn’t matter the language level, is encouraged to write in any “style” and make mistakes. I think I even enjoy (abuse?) the fact that we I can’t correct what we write here on the Forum. It is the additional excuse for a learner to write fast, write worse then Conrad, not to mention Skyblueteapot (my favorite) and the other famous authors above mentioned :slight_smile:

Like Ilya, I believe the LingQ forum is so great because of the diversity of contributions. I find it quite odd to read so many complimentary contributions, especially from those whose wit and style I have admired for a long time.

As for being jealous of somebody else, I gave that up - there are so many brilliant linguists on here that I would have to be jealous round the clock.

I have seen Cherry6120 and YutakaM make such progress through their forum writing and only wish my improvement in French were as spectacular as theirs in English. Perhaps I ought to submit a lot more French forum posts?

I particularly like Yutaka’s frequent, tongue-in-cheek stance of ‘agent provocateur’ and his choice of topics.

As for Helen’s writing: I am pleased she is a ‘native’, otherwise my middle name would be Jealousy.

I second Sanne on Yutaka’s apparent improvement. His writing has gotten much better virtually in no time.


I’m new here. I agree with above posters who say that writing has no accent and is has a smaller margin of error. Writing skills canbe transferred from one language to another, so if you write well in your mother tongue, you will probably write well in your second or third language. I can spot unusual phrasing or the absence of an article when there should be one and I think either the writer is uneducated or perhaps he/she is not a native.


We have to consider which type of “natives” we are comparing to our own writing or that of a learner of this language as a second language. Go to (almost) any forum, or youtube and see how these natives write their own language. In my opinion, my ortography, punctuation and overall skills are much better than most of those natives I’ve read.

I guess the more errors you make and the more relaxed you feel when making them makes you look more like a native than a perfecty structed sentence haha. (Of course I’m not suggesting this!!! in case you wondered…)

sumtimes ppl get really lazy wen they rite n cant b bothered using correct spelling n grammar…
mayb it cums from 2 much sms messagin n internet chattin…?