Ellipsis marks are simply three dots that are used to show the deliberate omission of a word, sentence, line, paragraph or phrase from a quoted passage.
There are several ways to use ellipses. Using three dots is the easiest and the most suitable for general writing and scholarly work. Sometimes, three or four dots are used in legal writing, which is not covered here in this article.
In order to create an ellipsis mark in Mac, you need to hold down the Option key and type in a semi-colon. If you use a PC and Microsoft Word, simply type a full stop (period) three types – the spacing will be set automatically. You can also press Ctrl-Alt and the full stop once as well as hold down the Alt key and type 0133 on the numeric keyboard on Windows.
You use an ellipsis mark regardless of whether the omitted text occurs in the middle of a sentence or in between sentences:
“The rules state, “Every staff member must be fully trained in Health and Safety…” (The original sentence: “Every staff member must be fully trained in Health and Safety on an annual basis.”)
When you use three dots, you can leave out punctuation like commas etc. that appeared in the original text. Let’s see an example:
The original text: “Every staff member must be aware of the regulations, Health and Safety requirements and First Aid points to ensure sufficient well-being in the workplace.” When rewritten using ellipsis marks it would read:
“Every staff member must be aware of the regulations…to ensure sufficient well-being in the workplace.”
When you use three dots, you do not need to use ellipsis marks at the end of a quoted piece of text even if words are missing, as in the example above.
Also, if your quoted text starts with the middle of a sentence, you do not need to use ellipses at the front:
“The staff manual said, ‘be aware of the regulations… ensure sufficient well-being in the workplace.’”
Lastly, you can use ellipses to indicate where sentences are meant to trail off:
“I am not sure what I think…”
As you can see, using ellipsis marks is not so difficult once you know the rules. This type of punctuation is very useful for academic work when large pieces of text might need to be quoted, but it is also something that is used in everyday writing as well.
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.
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!
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.
This article is a guest post I wrote for top career mentor, Bud Bilanich, who very kindly invited me to contribute to his blog last month.
You'll find that the 6 essential tips listed in the article apply to all kinds of writing, not just business communications.
You can read my whole article on Bud's blog here. Enjoy!
As the saying goes, there is always room for improvement. All writers can benefit from working on improving the quality of their work. Use these five tips to become a better writer and it will pay dividends in your studies and career:
Become an avid reader
It goes without saying that writers should also be readers, but sometimes time constraints stop us reading as much as we should or would like.
However, reading is vital when it comes to improving your writing. The key is to read as widely as possible – not just subjects that are in your field of interest but as many topics as you can. Everything you read will give you ideas, motivation, enjoyment and awareness of others’ writing skills. So read fiction and non-fiction, crime, romance and biographies.
Study good examples of writing
This is stating the obvious, but it’s important to study the language you read. Whether it’s a novel or article, if you find a piece of writing that you think is excellent, study its construction and re-read it as many times as you need to in order to understand why it works so well.
Think about why the writing has caught your attention. Is there something in the text that the writer does that you don’t currently use in your work? Can you use something similar into your style of writing (but remember that your own writing style is yours and yours alone and not something to copy from other writers)?
This can also be done with examples of “bad” writing. Study what makes the text poor and think about what improvements could be made. It is all good practice for your own work.
Increase your vocabulary
Reading is excellent for improving your vocabulary and adding words to your repertoire. The English language has an abundance of words – knowing how and when to use them is crucial to the quality of your writing.
Get a good dictionary, either in book form or download an internet dictionary and thesaurus, and make it your aim to learn a few new words each day or week. Check the meanings and spellings of words – don’t assume you simply know – it’s surprising how many words are misspelled and misused!
It’s also good to check the synonyms of different words – this can add to the richness of your descriptions as well as avoid clichés!
Read your work aloud
Reading your writing out loud allows you to check its rhythm and flow. If your work sounds odd to your ears or feels clumsy, it’s a sure sign that you need to revise and rewrite your text. Listen out for word repetitions and superfluous adjectives that make your work sound like long-winded waffle. In writing, less is usually more.
Also make sure you check the length of your sentences. Overly long sentences will stand out clearly when you read them aloud because you’ll need to take a breath mid-sentence!
Proofread and edit
As hard as it can sometimes be, you need to look at your work dispassionately and scrutinise the spelling, grammar, flow and effectiveness of what you have written. Proofreading and editing your text is vital.
Once you have completed your writing, it is best to put it away for a few hours or days and then return to it with fresh eyes.
Carefully read your work again and check the spelling, grammar, remove any unnecessary adjectives and check for repetitions. Are all your verbs in the right tense? Are the facts correct and is the text consistent? These are important considerations when you critically check your work.
Proofreading and editing polishes your text and helps to make it the best it can be and is something you should do after each piece of writing.
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
Tenses in English can be divided into three groups – present, past and future.
Within each group there are several variations of each tense, all of which serve a different purpose and require changes to the verb forms used. Perhaps one of the most common verb forms is the infinitive “to be”: I am, you are, she is (present tense), I was, you were, she was (past tense) and so on. Let’s look at the tenses in more detail.
Present simple (verb + s/es in third person)
This is used to talk about the here-and-now, plus things done on a regular basis or preferences:
I am in the office. I walk to work. I read books. I like chocolate.
Present continuous (am/is/are + present participle)
You can use this tense to talk about the here-and-now as well as plans for the future. The “ing” form (gerund) of the verb is always used after the infinitive “to be”:
I am reading a book – please be quiet. I am travelling to Scotland tomorrow.
Present perfect (has/have + past participle)
This tense is used to talk about experiences in our lives – what we have or haven’t done. Here, the time when we did things is not important:
Have you ever travelled to Scotland? He has never liked chocolate. She has read the book.
Present perfect continuous (has/have + been + present participle)
We use this tense to show that something was started in the past and is still ongoing, that is, it hasn’t finished yet. Note that a time scale (hours, days, weeks etc) is always included:
He has been travelling for five hours. She has been reading the book all day.
Past simple (verb +ed, also irregular verbs)
This shows what we did in the past: He walked to the office. She liked the book.
Past continuous (was/were + present participle)
This tense often “sets the scene” for recounting a story. We use it to describe an action that took place at a specific period of time. It is often joined with “while” or “when”:
I was watching television when he called. I was reading a book while he cooked dinner.
Past perfect (had + past participle)
We use this tense to talk about an action that had been carried out in the past prior to another past action:
I missed the bus because it had left early. I wasn’t hungry – I had eaten at home.
Past perfect continuous (had been + present participle)
This tense describes something that began in the past and continued up until another point of time in the past:
They had been waiting over an hour for the bus when it finally arrived.
Future simple (will + verb) and (am/is/are + going to + verb)
We normally use either “will” or “be going to” in this tense, both of which talk about a task being carried out at a specific time in the future:
I will travel to Scotland tomorrow. I am going to travel to Scotland tomorrow.
Future continuous (will be + present participle) and (am/is/are + going to be + present participle)
We use this tense to show that a longer action in the future will be interrupted by a shorter action, also taking place in the future. This can be an actual interruption or an interruption in time. This tense also has two different forms:
I will be waiting for you when you arrive in Scotland tomorrow. I am going to be travelling all day tomorrow.
Future perfect (will have + past participle) and (am/is/are + going to have + past participle)
This tense states the idea that something will happen before another action in the future. It can also show that something will occur before a certain time in the future. Once again, there are two forms:
You will have travelled for many hours by the time I meet you in Scotland. I am going to have waited for hours by the time your plane lands.
Future perfect continuous (will have been + present participle) and (am/is/are + going to have been + present participle)
This tense is used to show that something will continue up until a specific event or time in the future. "For ten minutes," "for three weeks," and "for two years" are all durations in time which can be used with this tense:
I will have been working on this project for over a week by the time the director arrives tomorrow. I am going to have been working on this project for nearly three hours by the time the meeting begins.
English grammar can be difficult, even for native English speakers. When English is your second language it can seem even harder to understand the many grammar rules.
This article looks at two words that are often misused and confused in writing and speech – fewer and less – and shows you how to use them correctly.
The word “fewer” refers to nouns that are countable. When we say a noun is countable, it simply means that we can make it plural (usually by adding an “s” at the end). Here are some examples of countable nouns – cat, cats, bike, bikes, child, children, and so on. We can use “fewer” to refer to all of these nouns in the following ways:
“There are fewer cats in Scotland than in England.”
“There are now fewer bikes in China than ten years ago.”
“Fewer children read books these days.”
In general, the word “less” is used to refer to nouns that are not countable. Uncountable nouns include things as well as emotional states: for example, rice cannot be made plural by adding an “s”, nor can “information”, “concern”, “happiness”, “anger”, and so on. Here are some examples:
“She had less information on the art course than the history course.”
“He has less concern about paying the bills now he has a better job.”
“Does poverty result in less happiness?”
“Less anger in the world would means fewer wars.”
Note here that “fewer” is included in the sentence and refers to the countable noun “war”.
However, we need to bear in mind that the expression “less than” is placed in front of a plural noun that refers to a measure of time or distance or amount of something:
“We need to be at work in less than half an hour.” (time)
“I now owe the bank less than a thousand dollars.” (amount)
“They had travelled for less than twenty miles when the tire got a puncture.” (distance)
Fewer and less can also be used with plural nouns with the expression “no…than”. Let us look at some examples:
“No fewer than 500 people came to see the first night of the show.”
“No less than 500 people attended the conference.”
You can also use “less” with the expression “or less”:
“Write an essay about socialism in two thousand words or less.”
As you can see, there are many ways to use both “fewer” and “less”. By knowing the grammar rules, you can confidently and correctly use both words in your written and spoken English.
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