When it comes to capitalizing job titles, there are several rules and also The Rule. The other rules have been formed from a precedent, whereas The Rule is based on people’s egos. To differentiate between the rules and “ego rule”, let’s first look at the rules based on the former.
These rules state that you must capitalize job titles that precede the name of the person the job relates to when used as part of the name:
“The journalist asked Chairperson Smith for her opinion on the latest profit figures.”
“President Le Grande stated that the unemployment figures were lower than expected.”
You must also capitalize job titles when they immediately follow the name of the person the job relates to when the word “the” does not precede the job title:
“Mrs Smith, Chairperson, will attend the meeting on 27 July at 09.00.”
“Bill Jones, Editor for The Messenger newspaper, oversaw the article.”
“Ms Brown, Office Manager, will take minutes during the meeting.”
When the word “the” appears before the job title, you do not need to capitalize:
“Mrs Smith, the chairperson, will begin the meeting at 09.00 sharp.”
“Ms Brown, the office manager, will order the new stationery supplies.”
“Bill Jones was the editor of The Messenger for twenty years.”
However, when you write signatures in business letters and other correspondence, you must always capitalize job titles:
“Mrs Jane Smith, Chairperson, ABS Ltd.”
“Mr Bill Jones, Editor, The Messenger.”
“Mr Green, Department Manager, Human Resources.”
Job titles are never capitalized when used in a descriptive manner:
“Mrs Smith, who will chair the meeting, wants all participants to arrive on time.”
“Mr Green, who manages the Human Resources Department, is on leave this week.”
Now, let us turn our attention to The Rule – the rule that concerns ego.
This rule can, in certain circumstances, override the above rules. In working life, you may come across several colleagues, such as a manager, who want their job titles to be capitalized at all times. It is generally the case that more senior members of staff want the ego-boost of having their job titles capitalized everywhere.
So, as you can see, the rules mentioned above are sometimes broken in order to satisfy the wishes of higher-ranking staff members. In other situations, bear in the mind the standard rules, and use them accordingly.
1. Read a book with lots of dialogue.
Reading a book with lots of direct dialogue in it has quite a few advantages. Less text on the page due to dialogue (lots of speech marks etc) can make it easier to read and easier to write translations as there are simply fewer words. Dialogue is also a lot easier to understand than blocks of descriptive text and is much more like the language you will want to learn in order to be able to speak everyday English.
2. Read English language comics.
Comics can be quite easy to understand and are usually full of idiomatic language that is used everyday. There can, however, be problems with understanding slang and certain jokes and/or dialogue that are written in the way people speak rather than with normal spellings. So, choose your comic with care. And let the pictures guide you too.
3. Read English language entertainment guides.
Most big cities around the world have an English language magazine and/ or online guide to films, plays, art and museum exhibitions that are taking place in the city that week. Reading this in English is not only a good way to practice your reading skills, but it can also guide you to places where native English speakers might visit and where you might hear some English spoken there.
4. Read English language magazines.
Choose a periodical but buy one copy in your native language and the other in English, so you can compare when you need to. Obviously, choose a subject matter you’re interested in so you enjoy reading.
5. Take a one-week intensive course.
Intensive courses are great because they force you to speak, write, read and listen to English pretty much non-stop for many hours each day. It really improves your ability in a relatively short space of time.
6. Supplement your group class with a one-to-one class.
Group learning is valuable, but if you complement it with a one to one teacher, it’s even better. It is more expensive, but you can use the time with your teacher to focus on your weak points, such as pronunciation or grammar issues.
7. Get friends together to chat in English.
You could set up an informal meeting in a café for you and your friends to spend one hour a week chatting in English. Take along comics, entertainment guides etc. and perhaps arrange to visit one of the events you read about.
8. Ask for English classes in your workplace
This is especially useful if you use English in your job. Your company would certainly benefit in having staff that is more fluent in English as it is still the language of international business.
9. Listen to the radio while doing other things
You don’t need to listen carefully to the radio and understand everything. It is still useful to have the radio playing in the background. You’ll pick up more than you realise, such as the natural rhythm of speech.
10. Write lists in English
This could be lists for work tasks or your shopping list or a packing list for a holiday. Say out loud the words as you write them.
This article is another guest post I wrote for top career mentor, Bud Bilanich, who very kindly invited me to contribute a series of articles to his blog.
Plain English has never been more important – as I explain in the post, plus I give you vital tips on how to use plain English in your business communications.
You can read my whole article on Bud's blog here. Enjoy!
1. Start your own English language blog.
Even for those of you who don't have to write in English, writing can be an excellent way of properly learning the vocabulary and grammar you need to describe your life, hobbies and interests. If you don't know what to write about, keep a journal and write in it every day. You could focus on your experience of learning English or British culture for example. You could translate articles from your home country into English.
2. Keep a news diary.
If writing about your own life isn't your cup of tea, then keep a news diary instead. You can pick certain news stories you read and hear about for your topics. It will also prompt you to read other news websites, which is a great way to build up your vocabulary.
3. Sign up for a regular English language Ezine.
Some English language-learning websites offer a weekly or even daily short English lesson that is sent to your email account. These exercises need only take a few minutes to do, but they add up over the course of a month. Be aware that the quality of many language websites varies significantly and these exercises should never replace more in-depth learning.
4. Listen to English language radio.
There are lots of radio stations you can listen to for free online, such as the BBC Word Service. Pick stations that don't play too much music - your objective is to listen to speech. It's a better exercise than listening to English music. That being said…
5. Listen to English music.
Listening to music while doing something else can help you get used to the natural rhythm and tone of English speech. It's also good practice to really listen to the lyrics and hear what is being sung.
6. Read the lyrics to a song.
Even native English speakers can't always clearly hear the lyrics in English songs. That's why reading the lyrics, either online or in the CD booklet, is helpful. Listen and read at the same time because this is a great way to understand how sounds change in quick, natural, informal speech.
7. Sing along to English songs.
You can put all that listening to music and reading lyrics into practice and sing along. It's a great way to practice your pronunciation. If you're brave enough, perhaps try karaoke!
8. Watch English language films and TV shows.
This is a good way to sharpen your listening skills. You could also set up subtitles for your native language on the programs or DVDs.
9. Search in English.
If you switch your search engines to the English language version, it's a great way to practice your reading skills. And it will give you a wider choice of English language sites to visit.
10. Read a book you've already read or seen the film of in your native language.
It can be hard to maintain motivation when reading an English-language book when you don't know the plot or characters very well. A good way around this problem is to pick a book you have already read or seen the film of in your own language. So, even though you might not understand everything you read, you still know the plot well. You can also check out plot summaries online for added help.
Some years ago I saw a poster on a noticeboard at my local supermarket which read: “Professional couple searching apartment in Lund”.
This notice was up for several weeks and always left me with the image of a smartly-dressed couple desperately rummaging around an apartment, having lost something so important that they felt the urge to announce this to the shoppers of Lund.
The couple (who were probably not native English speakers) meant to say:
“Professional couple seeking apartment in Lund” or “Professional couple searching for/looking for apartment in Lund” (the preposition "for" is needed here).
It is a good example of synonyms misbehaving in sneaky ways. In English, synonyms (of which there are plenty) are not always seamlessly interchangeable. Here’s a classic example:
“They were talking English to each other.” Far better to say: “They were speaking English to each other”, even though “talking” and “speaking” are clearly synonyms.
To avoid errors, check your dictionary and thesaurus carefully. A good online dictionary/thesaurus will give you multiple examples of how a word is correctly used in a sentence, and this can help you decide whether or not a particular synonym is suitable.
Anyway, I hope the couple finally found what they were looking for. An apartment, that is.
There are lots of versions of an English thesaurus on the market now, and I believe that Roget's Thesaurus, the original modern thesaurus created in 1805, is one of the best.
It's a great complement to online, print and desktop thesauruses. And it's available here to you for FREE. All you need to do is click on the link below.
Get your free Roget's Thesaurus here. Enjoy!
Although email is now one of the most common ways to communicate in business, the business letter still has an important place. There is a set structure, an etiquette, when it comes to writing a business letter – it is far more formal than when you write to a friend or loved one. Let’s look at how we structure business letters.
The sender’s address
Obviously, you don’t need to write your address if you are using paper that is already printed with the sender’s address. If you write your address, only write the company name, address (street, town, area code), telephone number, fax number etc. Each part of the address needs to be on a separate line:
123 Anyplace Road
Tel: 1234 5678901
You do not need to write the sender’s name as this is given at the end of the letter.
The sender’s address is placed at the top right-hand corner of the letter.
The date is usually written one line below the sender’s address but sometimes it is written on the left hand side, still one line lower than the sender’s address, but also one line above the recipients address.
30 July 2015 or 30th July 2015
The recipient’s address
This is the person you are writing to, so you need to include their name as well as their company name and address. You may also need to add their company position – place this below their name:
Mrs E Jones
Any Company Ltd
Of course, if you do not know the name of the person you are writing to, you simply write the company position and then continue with the address.
There are rules for how you write the salutation (greeting) in a business letter and they depend on whether or not you know the recipient’s name.
If you know the person’s name, you can use the titles “Mr / Mrs / Ms Brown / Miss / Dr and then their surname. Note that “Mrs” is only used for married women. “Miss” – a term used for unmarried women – is old-fashioned and best avoided. Use “Ms” instead.
You can also write their name in full – if you do this, leave out their title:
Dear Chris Brown
If you have a name where the gender of the recipient is not clear (as above), it is best to write their full name rather than guess their gender and end up potentially using the wrong title. Note that no punctuation is used after the name – you do not need a full stop or a comma.
If you do not know the person’s name, there are several ways of structuring your salutation.
Male addressee(s) – Dear Sir /Dear Sirs
Female addressee – Dear Madam
Gender Unknown - Dear Sir or Madam / To Whom It May Concern
The subject line
It is not compulsory to have a subject line, but if you do use one it is a very helpful way for the recipient to see immediately what your letter concerns. There are three ways of writing the subject line to make it distinguishable from the main body of the letter:
Write “Subject” or “Re:”
Write the subject in capital letters
Write the subject in bold
The subject line is placed between the salutation and the main body of the letter, with blank space above and below.
The main body of the letter
You must capitalize the first letter of the first word, even though the salutation did not end with a full stop. Make sure you leave a blank line between paragraphs and left-hand justify your text. You can, if you wish, indent the first line of the paragraphs.
The first paragraph needs to give an introduction as well as detail the reason for writing the letter. The following paragraphs should explain in detail why you have written the letter and provide any necessary information. The last paragraph is a summary of the reason for writing and it is here that you must make sure it is clear to the recipient what they need to do, such as write back, place an order, pay an invoice and so on.
The salutation also structures how the closing is written and again this depends on whether or not you know the name of the recipient.
If you know the recipient's name you can write “Yours sincerely”. If you do not know the recipient’s name, you must write “Yours faithfully”.
Email correspondence is much more informal and you can also write “Best wishes”, “Best regards”, “Kind regards” or simply “Regards”.
You may need to enclose documents with your letter. You need to write “Enclosure” or “Enc.” below your signature and list the enclosed papers:
Mr Rick O’Shea
Enclosure: Brochure 2015-2016
The Key Blog
Hello and welcome to The Key Blog! This is where you'll find information and tips on writing, proofreading, and the English language in general. Feel free to use the articles in your own e-zines, blogs or websites etc., as long as you include the resource box. Thank you!