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Writing Tips: 221 - 230

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These tips provided by: http://www.basic-learning.com

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Tip #221:  Avoid words that put your readers on the defensive. 
Here are some phrases to avoid:

  ·You claim
  ·You allege
  ·You neglected
  ·I insist
  ·I cannot permit
  ·I cannot believe

*********************************************************

Rewrite the following trite expressions:

1. This will acknowledge receipt of your letter.
2. After giving due consideration to each manuscript, we have made a selection.
3. Allow me to express our appreciation for your suggestions.
4. I plan to speak along these lines.

*********************************************************

Last week, Marvia E. Rankin asked the following:  I know it is vague to say, "in accordance with your letter of".  Would it be better to say, "in reference" or "per your letter of" ?.

*****

Ita B. commented: 'In accordance with' means you are carrying out an
instruction.  'With reference to' is better. 'Per' means,  to; for; or
by each. So why would you use it to open a letter? Why not just write,
'In answer to your letter dated, etc.'...

*****

Adrivit Roy commented:  These are the classic examples of "Cliche" in
business writing. However, these cliches were originated for formal
writing, but these are getting extinct in American business
correspondence.

Cliche: "In reference to your letter dated July 17, we are happy
to..."

Reader-friendly version: "We received your letter on July 17 and we
are happy to ..."

****

R T Groce commented:  With regard to Marvia Rankin's question, what's
wrong with "with regard to?" Or "Thanks for your letter of?"  Or "I
appreciate your letter?"  Or anything else that sounds friendly,
professional yet non-stuffy.

Whenever I see a letter that begins "Per" I make the unfair assumption
that I am about to read an uninspired letter from a half-thinking
person who is so caught up in business routine that he, or she, would
be incapable of saying anything worthwhile.

Let's dump stuffy stock phrases and start writing naturally, in a way
that invites someone to want to do business with us.

*********************************************************

"Shoot for the moon. If you happen to miss, you'll still land among
the stars."
(Ivy McLemore)





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Tip #222:  Use English words rather than French or Latin terms, and
single-syllable words rather than multisyllable terms.

Example:

Substitute For

A day per diem
A year per annum
Essential sine qua non
Genuine bona fide
Reason for raison d'être

*********************************************************

Weekly practice:  (Please do not use bold or italics to indicate
your answers because it does not always show up on all computers).
Which is the correct use of the preposition "in" and "on"?

1. They visited relatives (on, in) Omaha, located
   (on, in) the great state of Nebraska, one of the
   largest states (on, in) the United States.

2. The stray animal found itself (on, in) a box (on, in)
   the large house (a place with limits).

3. Three friends decided to meet (on, in) June 10.
   In case of bad weather, they would meet (on, in)
   June 14.

*********************************************************

Linda Sallee commented:

Gloria, I guess I was surprised you didn't point out to your readers
that "per" should not be used for  "according to" or "in accordance
with."   In my business grammar class, I follow William Sabin's rule
from the Gregg Reference Manual:

"Per", a Latin word, is often used to mean "by the," as in 28 miles
per gallon (mpg) or 55 miles per hour (mph). Whenever possible,
substitute "a" or "an"; for example,  at the rate of $8 an hour, 75
cents a liter. " Per" must be retained, of course, in Latin phrases:
for example, "per diem" (by the day) or "per capita" (for each person;
literally, by the head). Note:  Do not use "per" in the sense of
"according to" or "in accordance with."

Why not use "a" or "an" instead of "per" in the mpg or mph (28 miles a
gallon or 55 miles an hour)? If you do, it is much easier to remember
that the only time you should use per is in a Latin term.

This error is wide-spread, and it's one people can't seem to break.
However, it's incorrect, and the use of "per" weakens the message.  As
R. T. Said, "Let's start writing naturally."  Try writing as if the
person were sitting in front of you and you were talking to them.  How
many of us would say, "Per your request"?

I think your weekly tips are right on target, and each week I add them
to my reference material for the courses I facilitate. I didn't expect
to respond about this topic, but the per situation is one that comes
up often. 

*********************************************************

Last week's practice:  Rewrite the following trite expressions:

1. This will acknowledge receipt of your letter.
2. After giving due consideration to each manuscript,
   we have made a selection.
3. Allow me to express our appreciation for your
   suggestions.
4. I plan to speak along these lines.

Rewrites:
1. We received your letter.
2. After considering each manuscript, we have made
   a selection.
3. Thank you for your suggestions.
4. I plan to discuss (the latest use of computers.)

******
Here is a comment from Rochelle Mikulas:

"In response to cliche phrases, I think it is too bad that we are
letting go of structure to let everything be 'reader-friendly.' It
makes it difficult to tell writing from speaking. Speaking is often
sloppy, which is fine, but not always concise and well communicated.
Business writing should show that one is efficient with words. Yes, be
pleasant, but it is a letter, not a conversation."

******

"No one can make you feel inferior without your consent." (Eleanor
Roosevelt)


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Tip #223:  The subjunctive tense of a verb is the "wishful thinking"
tense.  It always uses the verbs "were" and "would."

Example: 

  If I were working at Bloomingdales, I would have a
  20% discount on my clothes.

  If you were young again, you would have more hair.

  If I were you, I would move to the mountains.
    
*********************************************************
Weekly practice:
Change these negative sentences to more positive-sounding sentences:

1. I'm sorry you had to wait so long.

2. I would hate to see you experience a problem
   like this again.
    
*********************************************************

Last week's practice: 
Which is the correct use of the preposition "in" and "on"?

1. They visited relatives (on, in) Omaha, located
   (on, in) the great state of Nebraska, one of the
   largest states (on, in) the United States.
2. The stray animal found itself (on, in) a box (on, in)
   the large house (a place with limits).
3. Three friends decided to meet (on, in) June 10. In case
   of bad weather, they would meet (on, in) June 14.

Answers:
1. They visited relatives (in) Omaha, located (in)
   the great state of Nebraska, one of the largest
   states (in) the United States.
2. The stray animal found itself (in) a box (in) the
   large house (a place with limits).
3. Three friends decided to meet (on) June 10.  In case
   of bad weather, they would meet (on) June 14.

    
*********************************************************

More on "Per":  Suzanne Cole comments:

In response to Linda Sallee's comments on William Sabin's rule on the
use of "per" (Gregg Reference Manual):

I would hesitate to latch onto a single reference manual to define the
rules of our language and dismiss all other possibilities.

"Per" means "for each" or "by each"  or simply "by" (as in "per diem,"
which translates to "by a day" where the word "diem" means "a day").

It also means:
 * to indicate the agent, instrument, or means, through,
   by, by means of
 * to designate the reason, cause, inducement, etc.,
   through, for, by, on account of, for the sake of

(Charlton T. Lewis, Charles Short, A Latin Dictionary)

It's a powerful little word, very useful, and can be properly applied in phrases such as "per your request" -- regardless of cliche.
    
*****

Yossi David comments:  Why avoid these foreign terms? In some cases
(e.g. expense reports for business trips) are more or less mandatory. 
Also, when corresponding with a customer or potential customer, I have
found that it is good practice to use the terms that they do. This not
only makes them feel more comfortable, it also doesn't give the
impression that you think you're smarter than they are.
    
*********************************************************

                 ********Announcement:********

I recommend a writing tool, StyleWriter, as an integrated software
program for those who want to enhance what they have learned from my
tips and workbooks.  StyleWriter runs from within Word and other
leading word processors to show you how to edit every sentence. It's
just like having your own editor showing you how to cut the 25 to 30
percent of redundant words and poor writing habits from your draft.  

*********************************************************

Committee--a group of people who individually can do nothing but as a
group decide that nothing can be done. (Fred Allen)





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Tip #224:  According to Jack Griffin's book, How to say It at Work,
use the following phrases when communicating with your colleagues:

  Get your opinion
  Constructive criticism
  Value your opinion
  Work together
  Team effort
  What do you need?
               
*********************************************************

Rewrite the following sentence fragments:

1. We reorganized the department, distributing the
   work load more evenly.
2. The field tests showed the prototype to be extremely
   rugged.  The most durable we've tested this year.
3. We have one major goal this month.  To increase the
   strength of the alloy without reducing its flexibility.
               
*********************************************************

Last week's practice: Change these negative sentences to more
positive-sounding sentences:

1. I'm sorry you had to wait so long.
2. I would hate to see you experience a problem like
   this again.

Suggested answers:

1. Thank you for being so patient.
2. I feel confident this situation will not arise again.
               
*********************************************************

Whenever ideas are shared, the result is always greater than the sum
of the parts. (Rich Willis)




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Tip # 225:  The phrase "reason is because" is a colloquial expression
to be avoided in writing.  "Because", which in this phrase only
repeats the notion of cause, should be replaced by "that."
               
*********************************************************

Rewrite the following:

1. Sales have increased more than 20 percent.  The reason
   is because our sales force has been more aggressive
   this year.

2. The weather has been unseasonably warm.  The reason is
   because the ozone layer around earth is thinning.
               
*********************************************************

Last week's exercise: 

Rewrite the following sentence fragments:

1. We reorganized the department, distributing the work load more evenly.
2. The field tests showed the prototype to be extremely rugged. The most durable we've tested this year.
3. We have one major goal this month. To increase the strength of the alloy without reducing its flexibility.

Here are the rewrites:

1. We reorganized the department, distributing the work load more evenly.
2. The field tests showed the prototype to be extremely rugged, the most durable we've tested this year.
3. We have one major goal this month: to increase the strength of the alloy without reducing its flexibility.



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Tip #226:  Do not use vague adjectives when specific ones are needed.
 
For example:

   Vague:  We received numerous inquiries.
   Better:  We received 145 inquiries.

*********************************************************

Rewrite the following sentence so it is clear and parallel:

In Florida, where the threat of hurricanes is an annual event, we
learned that it is important (1) to become aware of the warning signs,
(2) There are precautions to take, and (3) deciding when to take
shelter is important.

*********************************************************

Last week's exercise: 

Rewrite the following:

1. Sales have increased more than 20 percent.  The
   reason is because our sales force has been more
   aggressive this year.
2. The weather has been unseasonably warm.  The reason
   is because the ozone layer around earth is thinning.


The suggested rewrites:

1. Sales have increased more than 20 percent this year
   because our sales force has been more aggressive.
2. The weather has been unseasonably warm.  The reason
   is that the ozone layer around the earth is thinning.




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Tip #227:  Because of the number of "spam" messages being sent out on the internet, many people have set up filters to prevent the "spam" from being read.  This causes a problem if you do it by e-mail address. 

As an example, my husband received an e-mail from a friend from his high school years, and my husband's e-mail filter put it into the Trash folder.  Luckily he always scans the Subject and Sender fields in his Trash folder before dumping it into the garbage. (He uses Netscape Messenger, but this method should work with any e-mail program).

His method is to set up an e-mail filter so that all messages that appear to be not wanted get sent to the Trash folder.  Then, once a
day, review the Subject and Sender of all messages in the Trash folder not marked as having been read for important messages.
              
*********************************************************

Weekly practice:

Julie S. asked the following question. 

  "Dear Gloria,
  My husband and I are having a disagreement over
  the use of "week-end vacation" and "vacation
  week-end."  Is there a difference in meaning between
  the two? He says that "week-end vacation" is used to
  described a get-away or brief vacation that takes place
  over a week-end.  "Vacation week-end", he claims, is
  used to describe the intermediate week-end that comes
  out during a vacation that extends over 10 days to two
  weeks.  I say there is no difference between the two
  terms.  What do you say?"

Please tell me what you would say:
              
*********************************************************

Last week's exercise: 
Rewrite the following sentence so it is clear and parallel:

In Florida, where the threat of hurricanes is an annual event, we
learned that it is important (1) to become aware of the warning signs,
(2) There are precautions to take, and (3) deciding when to take
shelter is important.

Suggested rewrite:

In Florida, where the threat of hurricanes is an annual event, we
learned it is important (1) to become aware of the warning signs, (2)
to take precautions, (3) to decide when to take shelter.



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Tip #228:  Keep related words together.  Confusion occurs when you do
not place words correctly.

Confusing: 
Call your friend in Georgia and tell her all about Sally's taking you out to the soccer game for just $10.00.

Better: 
For just $10.00 you can call your friend in Georgia and tell her all about Sally's taking you to the soccer game.

*********************************************************

Rewrite the following confusing sentences by keeping related words together:

1. We sent the brochure to four local firms that had    three-color illustrations.
2. The first commercial human transplant bank opened Saturday with harvested lungs and kidneys from 18    people frozen in a stainless steel tank.

*********************************************************

Last week's practice: Julie S. asked the following question. 

Please tell me what you would say:

"Dear Gloria,
My husband and I are having a disagreement over the use of "week-end vacation" and "vacation week-end."  Is there a difference in meaning between the two? He says that "week-end vacation" is used to described a get-away or brief vacation that takes place over a week-end. 

"Vacation week-end", he claims, is used to describe the intermediate week-end that comes out during a vacation that extends over 10 days to two weeks.  I say there is no difference between the two terms. What do you say?"

******

My comment: 
The meaning is in the perception.  I do not believe there is a difference in meaning between the two descriptions.

*******

Paul Martin comments:
Regarding the difference between the phrases "week-end vacation" and "vacation week-end,"   I guess the husband is right on a technical level.  On the other hand, I don't think I've ever heard the phrase "vacation week-end."  I think the husband is splitting hairs.

********

Robert Schwartz comments:
In my opinion, the husband is correct.

*******

Gloria J. Huerta comments:
Here's my spin on the subject of vacation weekend vs weekend vacation.

I interpret weekend vacation to mean the Friday before and/or Monday after a particular weekend, with the weekend being in the middle.

On the other hand, vacation weekend seems to imply there are vacation days either preceding or following a weekend or that there is a weekend sandwiched between vacation weeks.  I guess I agree with the husband on this subject.



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Tip # 229:  Prefixes such as "dis," "mis," "in," "un," "re" are added
to words without doubling or dropping letters. 

For example:

   Disservice
   Misspelled
   Innumerable
   Unnecessary
   Reelect

            
*********************************************************

This week's practice:

  Shirley Tay asked this question:
    "I didn't know that too." 
    "I didn't know that either."
    I'm confused.  Which is correct?  I've heard people
    using both. 

Please advise! 
            
*********************************************************

Last week's practice: 
Rewrite the following confusing sentences by keeping related words together:

1. We sent the brochure to four local firms that had    three-color illustrations.
2. The first commercial human transplant bank opened Saturday with harvested lungs and kidneys from 18  people frozen in a stainless steel tank.

*****

Yossi David's rewrite:

1. We sent the three-color illustrated brochure to four local firms.
2. Saturday marked the long awaited opening of the first commercial human transplant bank. The state-of-the-art
   facility has a stainless steel freezer tank containing the harvested lungs and kidneys from 18 people.

********

Nicola Welby's rewrite:

1. We sent the three-color illustrated brochure to four
   local firms.
2. The first commercial human transplant bank opened
   Saturday. It contains 18 people's lungs and kidneys
   frozen in a stainless steel tank.

*******

Other suggested rewrites:

1. We sent the three-color illustrations to four
   local firms.
2. The first commercial human transplant bank opened
   Saturday with harvested lungs and kidneys from 18
   people.  The samples were frozen and stored in a
   stainless steel tank.

*******

1. We sent the brochure to four local firms that had
   three-color illustrations.
2. The first commercial human transplant bank opened
   Saturday with harvested lungs and kidneys from 18
   people frozen in a stainless steel tank.
            
*********************************************************

                 ********Announcement:********

I recommend a writing tool, StyleWriter, as an integrated software
program for those who want to enhance what they have learned from my
tips and workbooks.  StyleWriter runs from within Word and other
leading word processors to show you how to edit every sentence. It's
just like having your own editor showing you how to cut the 25 to 30
percent of redundant words and poor writing habits from your draft.  

    
*********************************************************

"Artificial intelligence is no match for natural stupidity."




If you would like to receive the FREE weekly tips by e-mail, contact tips@basic-learning.com and write "Sign Me Up" in the subject line.

http://www.basic-learning.com

 

Tip #230:  Here are some suggestions for improving your resume
language by eliminating unnecessary words. 

For example:

  Original:  Assisted in preparation of
  Better:  Assisted in preparing

  Original:  Responsible for directing
  Better:  Directed

*********************************************************

Eliminate the following unnecessary wording:

1. Performed problem analysis and resolution activities
   via company help line

2. Functions performed included formatting and producing
   complex documents

*********************************************************

Last week's practice:

  Shirley Tay asked this question:  "I didn't know that
  too."  "I didn't know that either"  I'm confused.
  Which is correct?  I've heard people using both.
  Please advise! 

Comment:
  The word "too" means "in addition; likewise; also."
  The word "either" means "one or the other of two." 

*******
Linda Chambers" comments:
  The word "too" is used for the positive (i.e., "I
  knew that too.") while "either" is for the negative
  (i.e., I didn't know that either.")

*******
J. Boyle's comments:
  1) 'too' add to the issue; e.g., I want to go, too
  (or also).................
  2) 'either' subtracts (or takes away) from the issue;
  e.g., Ann says "I don't want to go" (to someone's  
  suggestion/proposal). Ruben chimes in (to Ann's
  comment) with "I don't want to go either"~ .

*******
Victoria Macdonald commented on last week's tip:
  Your latest tip reminded me of my pet peeve - people
  using the word 'reoccur.'  There is no such word in
  the dictionary. The correct word is 'recur.'

*********************************************************

"Remember the three R's:  Respect for self; Respect for others;
Responsibility for all your actions."





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