Sunday, June 26, 2011

Importance of Word Study

The importance of learning new words and using them naturally and modestly is what this study is all about. The cultural value of a good vocabulary, to be able to speak and write correctly has a definite value in social and in business. 

Build a vocabulary.

"He who commands words commands men", so goes an old adage. In business and in social, having an extensive vocabulary should be one of your primary objectives: read intensively as well as extensively, and whenever possible read aloud; listen carefully and study the words of well-educated speakers and of well-educated people in general; consult an abridged dictionary and keep it handy for spelling, pronunciation, or meaning of a word. You may also work out crossword puzzles and other word games.

Choose words accurately.

Words have no significance unless they present a clear picture to the minds of your listener or reader. Words are to the writer what colors are to the artist. A writer uses words to convey his thoughts and feelings; the artist uses colors. An artist painstakingly select the right colors; combination and blend of colors. His critical and artistic sense must be met and fully satisfied. Just any color and combination will simply not do. In the same way, a writer must choose his materials carefully and arrange them effectively. Having decided the exact meaning he wishes to impart, a skillful writer seeks not any word but rather, the exact word. Approximate words will not do. Carelessly chosen words betray slovenly thinking.

Good usage.

Choice of words should conform to good usage in present, reputable, and national value.

Present words. Use words in good, modern use, and not archaic, obsolete, or rare, which have faded in disuse and are no longer in use in speaking and in writing today. Use new words that have taken the place of the outmoded ones, and they will give added freshness and vitality to your language.

Reputable words. Use words that are accepted by recognized writers and speakers. The use of slang expression occasionally may appear to be effective at times but its habitual use indicates a meager vocabulary and the indisposition to develop it. Slovenly language corrodes one's mind and weakens the writer's ability to phrase fine shades of meaning.

National words. Words that are understood, say, throughout the United States, is said to be in national use. In general business correspondence, use only terms that are readily understood.

Choose effective words and phrases. 

No language affords greater opportunity for flexibility or originality than does the English language. Writing letters with stilted, time-worn expressions marks himself a person of weak character with little or no originality of thought. The following expressions are trite and over time have lost their popular use and original effectiveness:

Trite words and phrases - Part I

According to our records. All information is obtained from records. It is better to say We find.

Acknowledging your; answering your. Avoid using a participle as the first word of your letter.

Advise. Used with too little discrimination, and best reserved to indicate actual advice or information. Often say or tell is better.

Bad: We wish to advise that your order has been shipped.

Better: We are pleased to tell you that your order has been shipped.

And oblige. A needless appendage.

Poor: Kindly ship the enclosed order and oblige.

Better: Please ship the enclosed order immediately.

As per; per. Correctly used with Latin words; per annum and per diem.

Allowable: 5 Pesos per yard.

Better: 5 Pesos a yard.

Bad: As per our telephone conversation. 

Better: In accordance to our telephone conversation. 

Bad: Per our agreement.

Better: According to our agreement.

Assuring you of. This participle has been overused and should be avoided.

At all times. Often used with little meaning. Better to use always.

Poor: We shall be pleased to talk with you at all times.

Better: We shall always be pleased to welcome you at our office.

At hand. this expression is unnecessary.

At this time. Also unnecessary in most cases. Try at present or now.

Poor: We wish to advise that we are out of stock of polo shirts at this time.

Better: We are sorry to tell you that we are out of stock of polo shirts at present.

Attached find; attached hereto. In both of these cases attached is or are would be sufficient.

At your convenience; at an early date. Trite, vague, and unnecessary in most cases. Be specific.

Indefinite: Please notify us at an early date.

Better: Please let us know immediately (or within ten days; or by the first of next month).

Vague: We should appreciate hearing from you at your convenience.

Better: We should appreciate hearing from you by the tenth of ____.

Aught; naught. The word aught means anything. The word naught (or nought) means nothing.

Correct: The shipment may have gone for aught I know.

Correct: His pleas were all for naught.

There are still many other trite words and phrases that are too long to cover in just one post. Hence, the "Importance of Word Study" will be posted in parts in my succeeding blogs. Meantime, study the above discussions which I hope you will find useful and enjoyable.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Using Numbers Correctly - Part VI

Other Uses

Rule 1. In business letters and reports, spell out round numbers that can be expressed in one or two words.

We have two hundred crates in the warehouse.

We shall reserve two suites in the penthouse.

Fifty packages have been shipped today.

We received a ten-thousand peso order today.

Rule 2. Spell out whole numbers less than one hundred; use figures for numbers from 101 up.

We now have thirty-two service crews.

There are eight-two vacant slots.

The three rooms combined numbered 136.

Rule 3. When numbers are used more than once in a sentence, do not use words for some and figures for others. If one or more of the numbers exceed 101, it is preferable to express all of the numbers in figures.

We have six writing pens, three ink pads, and two staplers in our supply room.

We have 20 batteries, 40 sets of chain, 12 cases of Zerone, and 110 fan belts of various brands.

Rule 4. When two numbers follow one another, avoid expressing both in figures. If, however, it is necessary to use figures for both numbers, use a comma to separate them.

We have 3, 25-centavo coins left.

We sold 175 five-gallon plastic jugs.

From February 1 to August 1, 2010, 132,853 guests entered our restaurant to dine or just look around.

Rule 5. Page numbers are always expressed in figures.

The article that is described on page 23 of our catalog is about children's wear.

Rule 6. Use figures customarily to express quantities, measurement, and dimensions. Spell out by, except in orders, invoices, and listings; use 6 by 9 inches rather than 6 x 9 inches.

We ordered 125 boxes of apples.

The room is 140 by 120 feet. ( Not 140 x 120 feet. )

We drove 1,355 kilometers to south of Luzon.

Yesterday the temperature reached 108 degrees.

In writing large numbers, it is the practise of many insurance companies to leave spaces between groups of three digits.

Your policy No. 62 347 682 does not expire until 20__.

Rule 7. Spell out common fractions in isolated cases.

We can fill only about one third of your order now
( Not: We can fill only about 1/3 of your order . . . .  )

It is usually not considered good practise to use words with figures; use symbols instead.

The abbreviation No. or the number sign # may be used with figures but never the word number written out. The abbreviation No. is always capitalized.

Please cancel policy # 471-256-317.
( Not: Please cancel policy number 471-256-317. )

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Using Numbers Correctly - Part V


When the word o'clock is used, spell out the number which indicates the hour.

The meeting is at eight o'clock.

She left at five o'clock.

Dinner will be served at seven-thirty o'clock. (Formal)

The plane will leave at 6:30 o'clock.
(Figures may be used in business writing to indicate hours and minutes followed by the word o'clock.)

Figures are used customarily with A.M. and P.M. Moreover, the trend is to express these abbreviations in small letters ( a.m. ) rather than capitals ( A.M. )

The store is opened from 5:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.

The plane arrives at 12 m.
(The abbreviation m., for meridies, is used to indicate noon. The abbreviation n. also is used to indicate noon.)

As you have already learned, use the colon between hours and minutes when expressed in figures.

The mall will open at 10:00 a.m. and close at 9:30 p.m.
(Not:  . . . at 10 a.m. and close at 9:30 p.m.)

Correct: The mall opens  from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Using Numbers Correctly - Part IV


The expression per cent may be written as two words or as one word: percent. It is preferable to write to write out the word per cent in full rather than use the % sign. Use figures to express a number before the word per cent except when the number is the first word of the sentence, when it should be expressed in words.

Our business has decreased 12 per cent last year.

Fifty per cent of our employees have insurance coverage.

In quoting interest or discounts, the % sign is permissible and the figure preceding the sign may be expressed in figures.

Some invoices are subject to a 5% discount if paid within 15 days.

This is a 5-year 6% bond.

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