Tag Archives: Clear and concise writing

Overuse of linking phrases and discourse markers

There seems to be a tendency among non-native speakers of English to use more linking phrases in their writing than is necessary. There are numerous examples of such phrases. Many of them use the passive voice and can be very … Continue reading

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Whether (or not)

WRONG We must decide by the end of the month whether or not we’re going to do it. This is an example of a very common mistake. In this sentence “or not” is unnecessary. RIGHT We must decide by the … Continue reading

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How to use commas part 4

The bracketing comma Bracketing commas usually come in pairs. They are used to mark information which is not essential to the meaning of a sentence. Such non-essential information is called a “non-restrictive phrase” or a “weak interruption”. E.g.: All the … Continue reading

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How to use “provided that”

The phrase “provided that” has numerous possible meanings, which can result in ambiguity if it is not used properly.   First of all, “provided that” can simply be a verb + conjunction combination. This is a common structure in legal … Continue reading

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How to use the word “risk”

Consider the following: There is a potential risk that the Company may refuse to satisfy your demand. Almost every time I read the word “risk” I have to correct how it is used. This is usually because it is preceded … Continue reading

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Don’t use double negatives

My last post referred to confusing multiple negatives. This one looks at the common grammatical problem of double negatives. Have a look at this example: WRONG This Escrow Account Agreement expires if no money is not credited to the Escrow … Continue reading

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Don’t use multiple negatives

Read this: If the Deposit is not paid, the Seller has the right to rescind this Agreement by a notice in writing to the Purchaser delivered within 30 days from the date of this Agreement, provided that such rescission right … Continue reading

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One simple way to make your English easier to read

Where possible, keep the subject of a sentence next to its verb. This will help prevent readers from “getting lost” as they read, and will also make your English sound more native-like. In the example below the announcement is the … Continue reading

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Don’t use Polish word order when you write in English

It is very common to use the word order of you native language when you write in a foreign language. It is part of what linguists call “first-language interference”, and it leads to a vast range of errors. This post … Continue reading

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As of

“As of” is a little phrase but I have a lot to say about it. Although it is very common in business writing it can create ambiguity if used incorrectly. Ambiguity is caused by the fact that “as of” has … Continue reading

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