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  • Ever wondered how and why the English language works the way it does?

  • Are you aware you’ve forgotten some basic grammar rules? Tips for writing and reading clear english

Because a lot of our clients find this really helpful, I thought I would share some language reminders and writing tips that will help you improve your professional English and establish a clear writing style.

Let’s start with the basics: the Sentence.

The most simple sentence structure in the English language is Subject-Verb-Object.

  • The Subject and Object are usually nouns – words that name a person, place or thing.
  • The Verb (action word) generally follows the subject and identifies an action or a state of being.
  • The Object receives the action and usually follows the verb.
  • Basically, the Subject is the do-er and the Object is the thing that is done to.

Examples make this clearer:

Example 1:  Steve drives to the office = a sentence

Steve = the subject.

Drives = the verb,

Office= the object.

As you can see, the order of words is key to the meaning. Change the word order and you have a different do-er and a different meaning, as you can see in the following example:

Example 2: The office drives Steve to drink.

In Example 2 the office and Steve are in a completely different relationship!

Understanding how a sentence works is key to punctuation too – but that’s for another day.

Here are a few tips to writing clear sentences:

Tip 1 – 

Get to the point as quickly as possible. Put the most important information where it will be spotted immediately (e.g. headlines, first paragraphs and email subject lines).

Tip 2

Cut out repetition and unnecessary words which make your style verbose and wordy. Nowadays readers want clarity, both for speed and to avoid misunderstandings. For example:

  • Please summarise the decisions and actions we agreed and make sure your summary includes who is responsible for each action we agreed on and when it should be done.

Replace with:

  • Please send us a summary so that everyone knows the actions they need to take and by when.

Tip 3

Put a full-stop after a sentence, not a comma.

  • The photocopier needs replacing, my assistant is look at options.

Replace with:

  • The photocopier needs replacing. My assistant is look at options.

OR

The photocopier needs replacing so my assistant is looking at options.

Overall, clear and correct writing is a key tool in business communication. It shows professionalism and prevents misunderstanding.

For more tips about improving English and using English for Business, download your free copy of our “International Business Tips” e-book.  If you work internationally, you’ll find the practical tips useful – for meetings, presentations and conference calls.

 

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