Grammar Tip – Abbreviations That End a Sentence

Linden’s question: “Must the abbreviation ‘Ltd’ have a period after it? If you do use a period after it, how do you deal with the end of the sentence? Are there two periods, one for the abbreviation and one for the sentence?”

BizWritingTip response:  Any abbreviation composed of upper and lower case letters should have a period after it. Therefore, Ltd. is correct.

Never put two periods at the end of a sentence. The period at the end of the abbreviation serves also as the period at the end of the sentence.

Examples (correct)
I work at Sleeman Breweries Ltd. Before that, I worked in the automotive industry.
I work at Sleeman Breweries Ltd., which is a great company.

For more information on abbreviations, please type the word abbreviations in the search box.

Word Choice – Beat Versus Beaten

Paulo’s question: “A famous supermarket announces that ‘We won’t be beat’ when referring to their unbeatable prices. Why beat and not beaten?”

BizWritingTip response: Beat is more commonly used in conversational English. However, a grammatical purist would say the phrase “can’t be …” must be followed by the past participle beaten. Therefore, the supermarket should say its prices “can’t be beaten.”

But as our language evolves, some of the things that would have caused red marks on our school essays are now acceptable.

One of these is a store’s right to brag its “prices can’t be beat.” It does have a nice ring to it.

In addition, “beaten” is now often used to denote a physical action or to imply defeat.

Examples
The victim was beaten about the head and shoulders.
Our team was beaten in the final game.

Writing Style – Commas After But?

Taranjit’s question:  “Should we put a comma after ‘but’ in the following sentence: I am sorry to hear you’re leaving the department. But (comma?) I know you will enjoy your new position.”

BizWritingTip response: Good question. If your connecting word is only one syllable (e.g., and or but), do not place a comma after it.

Examples (correct)
I am sorry to hear you’re leaving the department. But I know you will enjoy your new position. (one-syllable connector = no comma)
You should complete the report by the end of the month. And please work with the communications department to ensure it follows our style guide. (one-syllable connector = no comma)

If the connecting word or phrase is two syllables or more (e.g., however, therefore, in addition), then you place a comma after it.

Examples
I am sorry to hear you’re leaving the department. However, I know you will enjoy your new position. (Two-syllable connector = comma)
The report must be completed by the end of the month. In addition, please work with the communications department to ensure it adheres to our style guide. (Two-syllable connector = comma)

Minutes and Freedom of Information: What you need to know

I just heard about a disgruntled parent who demanded to see the minutes of his son’s minor hockey association. It doesn’t matter what the man was looking for. But, under freedom of information legislation, the group had to turn them over.

The members were shocked. After all, they were just a volunteer group organized to help their kids play a game. Their meetings and minutes were hardly formal. But all minutes – formal and informal – are considered records that the public may have the right to access. If you refuse to turn them over, the requester may then appeal to whatever authority oversees freedom of information in your locale. This authority will make the final decision as to what must be revealed.

In some cases, the entire minutes may have to be released. In other instances, the head of your group may be able to remove certain words or sentences. However, the more you remove the less transparent your organization looks.

Jane Watson has just released a web-based course on minute taking that includes a section on privacy legislation.

Minute Taking Online Course

To sample a lecture from this web based training,
click on the image and connect to YouTube

Udemy-Minute Taking The online course costs just $149… but for a limited time, use the coupon code “otn” and get the course for only $129!

Click HERE to get this special offer now!

 

Jane Watson is also the author of The Minute Takers Handbook.

Minute Takers Handbook

4th Edition of The Minute Takers Handbook

Writing Style – Starting a Sentence With “But”

Tammy’s question: “I’ve always thought that it is not appropriate to start a sentence using ‘but.’ What are your thoughts?”

BizWritingTip response: Starting a sentence with but is not a grammar error. It is a style issue.

In the academic world, the writing style is formal. Therefore, starting a sentence with but would be inappropriate as it comes across as casual. (Note: Over the past year, I have been hearing that some elementary school teachers are now accepting and and but as sentence starters.)

In the business world, effective writers use two different styles or tones: a formal one for reports and a more conversational one for emails. If I was writing a report, I would use however or on the other hand. If I was writing an email, I would use but.

Most of today’s readers tend to pay more attention to messages written with a conversational tone.

Examples
I am sorry to hear you are leaving the department. However, I know you will enjoy your new position. (Formal)
I am sorry to hear you’re leaving the department. But I know you will enjoy your new position. (More conversational)

Another Option: This sentence could also be rewritten as a compound sentence.
I am sorry you’re leaving the department, but I know you will enjoy your new position. The issue here is that the longer the sentence, the more likely it is that readers will skim the first part. The “I am sorry” is de-emphasized.

If I wanted to sound warm and friendly and to have my readers absorb both points, I would write short sentences and connect them with “but.”

Example
I realize this information will upset some readers. But business writing requires us to be persuasive and to find ways to increase our reader’s “buy in” to the message.

Taking Minutes at Meetings now on YouTube

Minute Taking Online web-based Course

Web-Based training – Taking Minutes at Meetings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

YouTube link or click on the image above

This web-Based Training is Offered through the “Udemy” training portal.

Udemy-Minute TakingThe online course costs just $149… but for a limited time, use the coupon code “otn” and get the course for only $129!

Click HERE to get this special offer now!

 

Web Based Training – Taking Minutes at Meetings

Ontario Training now offers a web based courses through Udemy on Taking Minutes at Meetings:

Taking Minutes

Web based training by Jane Watson

Jane Watson has been involved in the meeting process — both as a minute taker and as a chair — for many years.

In fact, she has written one of the first books exclusively on minute taking — The Minute Takers Handbook — now in its 4th reprint. Since then she has taught minute taking to all sorts of groups. And Jane has learned even more techniques to help you.

Whether you are taking minutes for boards, committees, weekly meetings, volunteer groups or your condo association, this workshop will  make you more confident and enable you to produce professional minutes.

Participants will learn how to write effective minutes quickly, how privacy legislation impacts minutes, and how to improve their listening skills. The course includes templates, exercises and quizzes.
Once you sign-up for the course you will have unlimited access, including any updates I make to it in the future!

Minute Taking at Meetings

Whether you are taking minutes for boards, committees, weekly meetings, volunteer groups or your condo association, this three-hour workshop will make you more confident and enable you to produce professional minutes.

The course costs just $149… but for a limited time, use the coupon code “otn” and get the course for only $129!

Click HERE to get this special offer now!

 

If you prefer the conventional classroom lead instruction, OntarioTraining.net offers both a half-day and a full-day of training on Minute Taking.

Minute Taking and Privacy Legislation – FIPPA & MFIPPA

Minute Taking & Listening Skills

Minute Taking: Take Minutes, Not Hours (half-day workshop)

Writing Style – Contractions in Minutes

Marg’s question: “My manager says I can’t use contractions in my minutes. What do you think?”BizWritingTip response: First, contractions are words that are shortened by replacing a letter or letters with an apostrophe.

Examples
Cannot = can’t
It is/it has = it’s
We will = we’ll

Contractions are not wrong, but they are considered a less formal way of writing. Contracted words are fine for emails and some letters. You would not use them in reports or business cases.

Second, board minutes are considered formal documents so it would not be appropriate to use contractions in them. If you are writing informal minutes for a weekly staff meeting or for a committee that was established handle one event, e.g., planning a fund-raising activity, contractions would be fine.

To sum up, avoid contractions when preparing documents you want to come across as formal or official; use contractions when you want your writing to sound more conversational.

Word Choice – Recur Versus Reoccur

Paul’s question: “What is the difference between ‘recur’ and ‘reoccur’?”

BizWritingTip response: If you say something recurs you are saying the event happens repeatedly – at regular intervals.

Example
We see a recurrence of flu symptoms in our patients beginning in December. (Flu happens every year.)
How should we handle the recurring problem of all staff wanting to take their vacations during the March break? (Happens every year.)

When you say something reoccurs, you are indicating it has happened before but not at a regular interval. In other words, the timing is unpredictable.

Example
He has reoccurring back pain. (It comes at the most inconvenient times.)
Complaints about the cleanliness of the staff kitchen have reoccurred. (Although the problem was thought to be solved, it has resurfaced.)

Writing Style – Smothered Verbs

Paul’s question: “My manager was talking about smothered verbs last week. What are they and why should we avoid them?”BizWritingTip response: Smothered verbs deal with style. There is nothing wrong with them grammatically.

Smothered verbs are created when writers take our strong English verbs and turn them into nouns. They then have to insert another verb to make the sentence make sense. Writers think it makes them sound more professional.

Example
I have a preference for (“Have a preference for” is a smothered verb.)
I prefer (The verb is not smothered.)
The accountant conducted an analysis of the figures. (smothered verb)
The accountant analyzed the figures.

Smothered verbs make sentences lengthy, and the tone is not as strong. If you reduce your use of smothered verbs, your sentences will be clearer and more concise.

Oftentimes, you can pick out a smothered verb by the word ending. Smothered verbs frequently end in –ion (e.g, recommendation), -ment ( e.g., overpayment), -sis (e.g., analysis), and -nce (e.g., preference).

Examples
A recommendation was made by staff. (smothered verb)
Staff recommended … (better)
We made an overpayment to you of $20. (smothered verb)
We overpaid you $20.