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THE PARTS OF SPEECH [ ? ]
> Adjectives
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> Nouns
> Pronouns
> Prepositions
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> Vowels : Consonants
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PLAIN ENGLISH WRITING ( What is? )
> Plain English Material
> Jargon and Legalese
> Active Voice
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> Using plain English
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GRAMMAR ( What is? )
> The English Grammar
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GRAMMAR MISTAKES
> Attraction
> ALONE (usage)
> AND relative
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MISUSED ENGLISH WORDS
> Aggravating, Irritating
> Both, Each, Every
> Continual, Continuous
> Decided, Decisive
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CAPITALIZATION ( What is? )
> Book Titles
> First Words
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PUNCTUATION ( What is? )
> Apostrophe
> Colon
> Comma
> Dash
FIGURES OF SPEECH
> What is a figure of speech?
> the Simile
> the Metaphor
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PLAIN ENGLISH WRITING : 9 Tips to Write Better Plain English Material : Complexity and Pomposity in Poor Writing : Drop the Officialese, and Write in Plain English : How to Recognize Passive Voice : How to Replace Jargon and Legalese : How to Start Writing in Plain English : View all articles

How to Use Personal Pronouns in Plain English Writing

How to Use Personal Pronouns in Plain English WritingNo matter how educated your audience is, you should use personal pronouns to improve the clarity of your writing. Here's why.

First, personal pronouns help your reader's comprehension because they clarify what applies to your reader and what applies to you.

Second, personal pronouns allow you to "speak" directly to your reader, creating an appealing tone that will keep your reader reading.

Third, personal pronouns help you to avoid abstractions and to use more concrete and everyday language.

Fourth, personal pronouns shorten your sentences.

Fifth, first-person and second-person pronouns aren't gender-specific, allowing you to avoid the "he or she" dilemma. The pronouns to use are first-person plural (we, us, our/ours) and second-person singular (you, your/yours).

Let's look at these two examples:

BEFORE
This Summary does not purport to be complete and is qualified in its entirety by the more detailed information contained in the bank statement and the Appendices hereto, all of which should be carefully reviewed and voted on.

AFTER
Because this is a summary, you may not find all of the information is important to you. You should review the entire bank statement and its appendices before you decide how to vote.

Here's another sentence that doesn't quite say what the writer meant to. Even though the reader founded the intended meaning, he had to correct the sentence in his mind as he read.

To accept your recommendations on the project, further studies will have to be completed.

How can "further studies" accept recommendations? They can't course, but because of the way the writer built his sentence, they seem to.

What the writer probably meant to say was:

Before we can accept your recommendations on this project you will have to make further studies.

A write should never assume that a reader can figure out the right meaning from a weak sentence. Writers need to build a strong sentence so the reader can understand them and not misunderstand important information.

Let's see how we can write the following sentences more clearly, with a little more friendliness, and a little shorter:

BEFORE
This letter is in response to your personal request of Mr. David Jones of this office to be furnished the official listing of the legal descriptions of all federal lands in your county under administration of the Bureau of Land Management, and I regret to inform you that we do not have such a list as you request, since it would be physically impossible for the Bureau to compile and maintain such a list.

That's a 74-word sentence, which means it's long, and it's sloppily put together, which means it's complex.

AFTER
David Jones tells me you have asked for an official listing by legal description, of all federal lands managed by BLM in your county. I wish I could help you but I can't. You see, there is no such list, and I doubt that we will have one in the near future; it would simply be physically impossible for BLM to compile and keep current such a list.

Although we saved only six words, we did turn one long sentence into four short ones, and we ironed out the quick curves and turns. And we gave the letter a rather friendly (we care about you) tone, thanks mostly to the use of personal pronouns, nine in all.

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PLAIN ENGLISH WRITING : 9 Tips to Write Better Plain English Material : Complexity and Pomposity in Poor Writing : Drop the Officialese, and Write in Plain English : How to Recognize Passive Voice : How to Replace Jargon and Legalese : How to Start Writing in Plain English : View all articles





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