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All about Words: writing board papers, your grammar questions answered

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By Mary Morel | June 2017

Mid-year sale buy one online course and get one free

Buy one course and choose another (excludes Write to Govern).

How this offer works:

  • Buy your first course online at Online Writing Training – you will receive this course automatically.
  • Email me and let me know what additional course you would like – I will add it to your account within 24 hours.

Choose your courses at Online Writing Training.

Offer ends 14 July.

Writing board papers

I wrote an article for the June edition of LexisNexis’s Inhouse Counsel on writing board papers. You can read the article on my Write to govern website.

Readers’ questions

Australian style manual
A reader asked what Australian style manual I referred to last month.

Style manual: for authors, editors and printers, 6th edition
John Wiley & Sons, Australia Ltd,  2002

I have not made a typo – manual has a lower case m.

Q: Is it okay to include hyphens in predicate adjectives?

  • He is well-educated, well-respected, well-known, and well-heeled.
  •  The technology is state-of-the-art.
  • The test was multiple-choice and…
  • The new software is cutting-edge.
  • The report is up-to-date.
  • He was brought up to date. (No hyphens, because adverbial; correct?)

A: For those unfamiliar with grammar jargon, a predicate adjective is an adjective that comes after a linking verb (was, is).

I agree with your hyphenation. Although we often don’t hyphenate predicative adjectives, commonly used expressions can be hyphenated.

Hyphens are a pain!

Email greetings and sign-offs
Q: Do you have any research or comments on email salutations and signoffs, particularly in business communication, as social emails can be as informal and funny as they like?

A: My preference is to start an email with ‘Hi’ and the person’s first name.

I sign off with ‘Regards’, but will sometimes use ‘Cheers’.

I don’t have any research to support my preferred styles.

Dear readers, what salutations and sign-offs do you use in emails?

Redundant words?
Q: Is ‘additional’ redundant in the following sentences?

The worker would need to add additional bricks.
The organisation has identified two courses and may add additional courses in the future.

A: I don’t think ‘additional’ is redundant. Both sentences work better with ‘additional’, ‘more’ or ‘extra’.

The worker would need to add bricks.
The worker would need to add more bricks.

The first sentence implies no bricks have been laid. The second sentence makes it clear that more bricks are needed.

The organisation has identified two courses and may add courses in the future.
The organisation has identified two courses and may add more courses in the future.

The same argument doesn’t work with this sentence, but it sounds better with ‘more’. Can anyone give a better explanation?

Interesting stuff about writing

Do you judge writing by the number of times writers use the conjunction ‘and’? A spat arose at the World Bank over this word. Read more.

How Dr Seuss could simplify boring, wordy documents
This Guardian article is very clever.

An announcement from British Airways is Seussified and begins with:

The plane is not leaving
We’re sorry to say.
And check-in is heaving;
It will be all day!
Your plane to Barbados
Is stuck in Mumbai.
Your bag’s in Honduras.
The crew’s in Dubai.

English language spoken by Americans
A member of the All about Words Facebook group shared this link. Watch and be entertained by Michael McIntyre.

To tell your story, take a page from Kurt Vonnegut​
Vonnegut wrote about the shape of stories. Read the article and watch him on YouTube.

Facebook group

Join the All about Words Facebook group – it’s entertaining and informative.

Quote of the month

‘You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.’
Jack London, American author