Language changes over time and so must we. Millions of e-mails travel through cyberspace every minute. In order to help our readers understand our messages, we must stay in shape by stretching, bending and toning the “old school” grammar rules. In IWCC’s effective business writing workshops, we encourage our participants to apply a little Yoga to tone up the “old school” grammar rules. Today’s effective business writers have learned to bend and stretch to let go of the old rules and move on with new business writing techniques.
IWCC supports Yoga for grammar rules – even though a few academics might disagree. Here are three examples of how you can bend and stretch three “old school” grammar rules.
1. You can end a sentence with a preposition.
Everyone is doing it! Not only is it accepted in today’s business writing, you make your sentences easier to read and understand. Which version below do you find easier to read?
You will need safety tools to work with.
You will need safety tools with which to work.
Can you bend this rule right out of shape? Of course you can! Just like overstretching your muscles before a work out, you do not want to overstretch this rule by ending a sentence with an unnecessary preposition. For example, you wouldn’t say: “Where are the safety tools at?” You would simply say: “Where are the safety tools?”
2. Feel free to start a sentence with and, but or because.
Old grammar rules forbid us to start sentences with and, but or because. Why? We think the answer is simply “because”. IWCC discovered that this rule has been passed through the ages – that’s as grammatical as it gets. Our advice for business writers…"Let go and start stretching!"
3. You can use contractions and still sound professional.
When used in moderation, contractions can make you sound friendly and approachable in your business writing. IWCC’s advice…feel free to bend a little…use the occasional contraction such as, “I’m looking forward to meeting you.”, or “We’ve provided you with a new software program.” Just remember not to over bend this old grammar rule. If contractions take over, your writing will sound ridiculous.