Want Writing Tips? Here’s a Young Professional’s “Letter to Young People”August 25, 2019
Stay Credible! Better Business Writing, Part IIIAugust 27, 2019
- Use “that” and “which” correctly. Proper use of these words elevates your message.
The words that follow “that” are necessary to the meaning of the sentence. Words that follow “which” are nonessential, and the clause that starts with “which” must be set off with commas. The “that” clause has no commas.
Examples: I want to direct the group that is made up of goal-oriented students. Explanation: If you remove “that is made up of goal-oriented students,” the sentence does not communicate its message. So, this is a restrictive “essential” clause.
Rick Santelli, who is a pundit on TV’s “Squawk Alley,” offers ideas on stocks for buying or selling. Explanation: The clause “who is a pundit on TV’s “Squawk Alley” just offers extra info for the reader.
- Make sure your subject and verb and direct object agree in number. If you’re referring to “one” or “he/she,” the subject has to be the same in number—singular, not plural.
Example: Everyone wants (their or his/her) chance to talk.
The answer is his/her because “wants” is singular and must match the subject “everyone,” also singular.
Example: The lamp bumped the kids’ (heads, head) as they trooped into the room. Answer: It would be heads because the plural “kids” indicates a plural direct object
Every person wants their own opportunity to soar. Answer: “Every person” is singular, so the verb has to be singular. Every person wants his own opportunity to soar. Every person wants her own opportunity to soar.
How would you fix this sentence: “Know a great teacher? Nominate them.”
Correction: “Know a great teacher? Nominate him or her.”
- Watch out for commonly confused words: their, they’re, there; it’s, its; affect, effect.
The club members asked their newbies to meet there in the clubhouse, and in that place, they’re going to introduce themselves.
It’s evident that Cookie Monster likes its cookies.
His joyful nature affects his sister’s mood because the boy is always upbeat, and that buoyant effect lasts throughout the day. (Affect is usually a verb, and effect is usually a noun.)
- Avoid using stilted language.
An example is “One should try to avoid speaking if one is unfocused on the topic.”
Better: “Anyone” or “A person.”
“One” is old school, and it makes the writer sound like he’s 76 when he or she may be 35. Sometimes, though, you cannot avoid using it in writing essays. Just try not to overuse it.
- Keep your messaging focused. In one email or text or letter, keep your topic narrow. People’s attention spans are short—seconds, actually.