6 Golden Rules in Email Writing- Part 2

Let’s look into the other Rules-

Clarity of expression

Clarity of expression in essential for conveying our message.

 Clarity of expression includes grammatical and lexical accuracy. Our writing should should be grammatically correct and the words used appropriate so that they convey  the correct meaning. Hence, long complicated sentences should be avoided. Also, the words used should be simple and easy to understand; and of course, not vague or ambiguous.

For example, instead of saying ‘Could you send me the data ASAP?’  you could say, ‘Please send me the data latest by 5 pm today.” The timeline here is very clear.

Again, ‘The job is almost done’ is vague. Instead, you could day, ‘70% of the job is done; we need one more working day to complete it’. The second statement is very clear.

Grammatical accuracy

All our statements must be grammatically accurate. We have various in- built tools ranging from the simple grammar and spell check to more elaborate ones like ‘Grammarly”. However, we cannot rely on them blindly; we have to cross check, and edit our writing.

There are however, many other grammatical points to be kept in mind. Some of them are

  1. Check for misplaced or dangling modifier. A modifier is a word or group of words which makes the meaning more specific. They could be an adjective or an adverbial phrase. A modifier should be as close to the word / phrase it modifies. A misplaced modifier could change the meaning.

For example, the famous leave letter which read

“ I want to go to my village to sell my land along with my wife. So please grant me two days leave.”

What is the gentleman selling? His land or his wife? The sentence should read,  I want to go to my village along with my wife…..The phrase “ along with my wife” is a misplaced modifier.

Sometimes even one- word modifiers can change the meaning of the sentence depending on where it is placed. 

Look at the following sentences.

Almost everyone has completed his/her project.

Everyone has almost completed his project.

In the first case, many have completed; some have not. In the second case, no one has completed.

  1. Use the active voice. Active voice is dynamic and more forceful.

For example, instead of saying, “ The plan was implemented successfully.” We could say

We implemented the plan successfully.”

  1. Avoid strings of nouns.

For example

We are looking for various domain experience people.

Can be better written 

We are looking for people with experience in various domains.

And again, 

Instead of

This report explains our investment growth stimulation projects.

You could say

This report explains our projects to stimulate growth in investments.

  1. Make sure that the pronouns you use clearly refer to a noun in that or the previous sentence.

      For example

We are not paid well and do not receive any benefits  .But I don’t think we can discuss that yet.

What can’t you discuss? The pay or the benefits?

Better to say

We are not paid well and do not receive any benefits. But I don’t think we can discuss benefits yet.

  1. Word order

In many Indian languages, the meaning of the sentence is not affected if the word order is changed. However, in English the word order affects the meaning of the sentence, and clarity is lost. 

In English word order is extremely important; A word or phrase wrongly placed can change the meaning of the sentence. We have already dealt with misplaced modifiers which are errors in word order.

One thumb rule for word order of adjectives is

Opinion     Shape     Age     Colour     Origin     Material 

For example: It was a lovely, little, old, brown, English, wooden table

We do not say

It was a brown, lovely, little, wooden English table.

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