I had a question from a BizWritingTip reader recently. She wrote: “I always have trouble using ‘can’ and ‘could’ in a sentence. Could you please provide some examples?” Well, not only could I provide some examples, I can. The word “can” expresses power or ability. Example I can provide the answer to your question.?I can […]
About Jane Watson
Jane Watson may be part of a rare breed. She enjoys grammar and business writing, and is Canada’s grammar guru. She delights in keeping people up to date in what is happening with the English language and with North American business writing style. Jane’s free, weekly electronic business tip (BizWritingTip) on writing styles, business emails, grammar, or word choice is available to anyone who wishes to receive it.
Jane has also written The Minute Takers Handbook (available at www.csae.com) and Business Writing Basics (published by Self-Counsel Press). Business Writing Basics has also been translated into Mandarin and Chinese.
Jane conducts writing courses for both the public and private sector. If you are interested in having Jane work with your organization, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Entries by Jane Watson
How do people read letters and emails? Remember today’s readers are skimmers, and they want key information quickly. They also try to quickly prioritize a message to determine how much time they need to spend on it.??Because letters have been around so long, people are familiar with their layout. Busy people tend to read the […]
Many people are confused about when to use “which” and when to use “that.” Often times, it is a subjective call on the part of the writer. “Which” means the words following are not essential to the meaning of the sentence. In other words, the information adds a new element the reader may not need. […]
Marion’s question: “It would be helpful if you dealt with the correct usage of the verb ‘comprise.’ I believe it is incorrectly used in the example from another BizWritingTip: ‘The NAFTA Secretariat is comprised of a Canadian Section, a Mexican Section and a United States Section.’ ” BizWritingTip response: Back in the days of the dinosaurs, […]
Terry’s question: “I tend to not use the word ‘the’ in front of acronyms, but I see this used in documents more and more. Which is correct: ‘REIP provides regional outreach services to Northeastern Ontario’ or ‘The REIP provides regional outreach services to Northeastern Ontario’? If the word ‘program’ is added after REIP, I would use ‘the.’ ” BizWritingTip response: Grammatically, […]
Nat’s question: “Lately, I have seen quite a few people write ‘I will talk to it at the meeting,’ meaning a particular subject. This sounds weird to me. You can talk to someone but you should talk about a particular subject. Please enlighten me.” BizWritingTip response: You are absolutely right. The phrase “talk to” is used […]
Karen’s question: “I receive numerous emails daily from staff and other community contacts who end their messages with ‘cheers’ or ‘thanks much.’ Whatever happened to closing with ‘sincerely’ or a simple ‘thank you’? What is the appropriate way of ending an internal email or one received by a fellow service worker from outside your business?” BizWritingTip response: […]
Jo’s question: “Can you please help me with the following sentences: ?The couple is/are here to see you. ?A couple has/have bought a lot of groceries. ?The pair of shoes are/is gone. ?Whose pair of shoes are/is this/these?” BizWritingTip response: There are two questions here but both relate to subject and verb agreement. The guideline […]
Laura’s question: “How do you write numbers in sentences? Do you spell out the number or can you write 10. Are there different rules if the sentence starts with a number?” BizWritingTip response: The guideline for writing numbers in sentences is to spell out numbers from one to nine. Ten and over you use figures. […]
Odesh’s question: “Many people now use the word “Google” as a verb to indicate searching the Internet. Is this still informal or is it acceptable in formal writing?” BizWritingTip response: “Google” became the proprietary name for the popular Internet search engine in the 1990s. However, according to Oxford Dictionaries Online, it is now used as a verb […]