Cautious Business Letter



Cautious Business Letter :




Cautious Business Letter :


The word only requires special care for the reason that no other word in the English language is so often misplaced. As a general rule only should be placed immediately before the word, phrase or clause that it modifies.


Thus, in the sentence, "I only saw your brother for a moment," only modifies saw and conveys the idea that I saw him, but did not speak to him, while evidently the meaning intended is that I saw your brother only for a moment, no longer.


When no ambiguity would arise (as at the end of sentences), only may be placed after the word it modifies as, "He spoke to me only.'


Position of Phrases and Clauses :


Phrases and clauses, like words, should be so placed that they will convey the meaning intended.


Original : He said that he visited one creamery that was manufacturing a great deal of ice cream in order to learn something about the business.


Improved : He said that in order to learn something about the business, he visited one creamery that was manufacturing a great deal of ice cream.


1. Place the participle as near as possible to the word it modifies.


Original : I looked through a window and saw a man, on my way home, reading a book.


Improved : On my way home, I looked through a window and saw a man reading a book.


2. Place the relative pronoun as near as possible to its antecedent. .


Original : The fruit came in a small wooden box which we ate.


Improved : The fruit, which we ate, came in a small wooden box.


When the meaning would not be obscure, the relative clause may, for smoothness, be placed at some distance from its antecedent as, "He jests at scars, who never felt a wound."


3. When a subordinate clause is introduced by if, when, as, while, though, although, etc., force is often gained by placing it before the principal clause. This is especially true in long sentences.


Original : I should be delighted to introduce you to my friends and to show you the objects of interest in our city and the beautiful scenery in the neighborhood, if you were here.


Improved : If you were here, I should be delighted to introduce you to my friends and to show you the objects of interest in our city and the beautiful scenery in the neighborhood.


4. In conditional sentences, the subordinate clauses should be kept distinct from the principal clauses.


Original : The expectations of the parents are disappointed if the children do not work hard and money is wasted.


Improved : If the children do not work hard, the expectations of the parents are disappointed and money is wasted.


Position of Correlative Conjunctions :


Place correlatives before the same parts of speech.


Original : He not only gave me good advice, but he helped me financially.


Improved : He not only gave me good advice, but helped me financially.


Original : He shall either leave or I will.


Improved : Either he shall leave or I will.


Antecedent of the Personal Pronoun :


Make the antecedent of personal pronouns clear.


Original : The boy assured his father that he was right.


Improved : The boy said to his father, "You are right."


Or


The boy said to his father, "I am right."


Original : This law will be tolerated by the new party only so long as it is perfectly harmless.


Improved : This law will be tolerated by the new party only so long as the law is perfectly harmless.


In sentences of this kind, when the antecedent can not be repeated, report the conversation in the form of a direct quotation.


Repetition of Important Elements :


While prepositions, conjunctions, etc., may often be omitted, they should be repeated in the following constructions.


1. The preposition should be repeated when its objects are separated by an intervening phrase or by a verb and its object.


Original : He forgets the gratitude that he owes to those that helped him when he was poor and uninfluential and John Smith in particular.


Improved : He forgets the gratitude that he owes to those that helped him when he was poor and uninfluential and to John Smith in particular.


The first sentence might be construed to mean that he forgets the gratitude that he owes to those that helped him and helped John Smith. The second sentence means that he forgets the gratitude he owes to those that helped him and the gratitude he owes to John Smith in particular.


2. When two words connected by a conjunction are such as to require different prepositions after them, both prepositions should be expressed.


Original : I had no confidence or respect for him.


Improved : I had no confidence in or respect for him.


3. When two or more infinitives are used in the same construction, the sign to should be repeated when they are separated by a number of intervening words.


Original : It would have been no surprise to hear the bark of a raccoon or see the eyes of a wildcat gleaming through the leaves.


Improved : It would have been no surprise to hear the bark of a raccoon or to see the eyes of a wildcat gleaming through the leaves.


4. Repeat the article when the reference is to more than one person or thing, if the meaning would not otherwise be clear.


Original : The secretary and treasurer shall be elected for a period of three years.


Improved : The secretary and the treasurer shall be elected for a period of three years.


The first sentence implies that one person shall be both secretary and treasurer while the second sentence implies that there are two persons, one secretary and the other treasurer.


5. When that, who, when, where, if, etc., introduce a series of clauses, repeat the connective before each member of the series.


Original : He said that he would be here soon and he would then take the matter up with us more in detail.


Improved : He said that he would be here soon and that he would then take the matter up with us more in detail.


Original : We have assigned the territory to our Mr. Stillson who is a native of that state himself, is familiar with the conditions there and will remain there for sometime to come.


Improved : We have assigned the territory to our Mr. Stillson, who is a native of that state himself, who is familiar with the conditions there and who will remain there for some time to come.


6. Repeat the common subject of several verbs when any word comes between that is capable of being a subject.


Original : I shall be disappointed if he does not fulfill his engagements with me and will endeavor to make other arrangements.


Improved : I shall be disappointed if he does not fulfill his engagements with me and / shall endeavor to make other arrangements.


7. Do not omit a principal or an auxiliary verb in one clause unless the form understood is the same as the form expressed in the other.


Original : I shall feel, as I always have, that he is in the wrong.


Improved : I shall feel, as I have always felt, that he is in the wrong.


Original : The flowers were in bloom and the grass green.


Improved : The flowers were in bloom and the grass was green.


8. Repeat any form of the verb to be when it is used as a principal verb in one clause and as an auxiliary in another.


Original : She was the cynosure of all eyes and admired by every one present.


Improved : She was the cynosure of all eyes and was admired by every one present.


Miscellaneous Principles :


1. Express clearly the subject of a participle.


Original : Standing on the seashore, two vessels are seen moving in opposite directions.


Improved : Standing on the seashore, I saw two vessels moving in opposite directions.


2. When the subject consists of a series of words, phrases or clauses, force is gained by using some summarizing word, such as these, all, etc.


Original : Cotton and gold, banks and railways, crowded ports and populous cities are not the elements that constitute a great nation.


Improved : Cotton and gold, banks and railways, crowded ports and populous cities — these are not the elements that constitute a great nation.


3. In making a comparison in the comparative degree, the person or thing compared should always be excluded from the class, to which it belongs, by the use of other or some similar expression.


Original : He is taller than any member of his class.


Improved : He is taller than any other member of his class.


4. In making comparisons in the superlative degree, the word other should not be used, because it would exclude the person or thing compared.


Original : This paper has the largest circulation of all the other papers in the city.


Improved : This paper has the largest circulation of all the papers in the city.


5. Avoid the use of superfluous words.


Original : I do not like it, but I know of no other alternative.


Improved: I do not like it, but I know of no alternative.


6. Avoid the use of inappropriate words.


Original : We had an awfully nice time.


Improved : We had a very nice time.


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