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.
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!
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!
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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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!