Some peculiarities of writing business letters in English
Мальцева В. Р., Тумакова Н. А. Some peculiarities of writing business letters in English // Молодой ученый. 2015. №10. С. 1220-1222.
Ключевые слова: business letters, punctuation, abbreviations, official style, structure, plan.
About half of a century ago it was practically impossible to imagine the life without letters which were sent quite often to different people. A good and unexpected surprise was when a person on his or her birthday got an envelope with a congratulation postcard in it.
People exchanged letters and tried to congratulate each other on birthday, wedding day, New Year day, Christmas or 8 March and some other important holidays. In modern century an alternative variant of sending congratulations appeared for a person’s use.
Fax messages, cellular connection and electronic images occupied a stable position in people’s interaction. All these technical things narrowed the role of paper letters and when a necessity to write a certain type of a business letter appears, the writer starts to panic and looks for the sample variant of a particular letter type.
Of course, it’s much more easier for a modern user to write just some sentences in an informal style, like to say “Hello”, to ask about the affairs and to say “Bye”.
In a business style it’s impossible to use abbreviations like “u” instead of the full form “You” or to write just two letters BR or KR instead of “Best regards or Kind regards”.
Talking about the official style (the business one is mentioned here) and writing a certain type of a letter you should observe some rules.
Russian institutes, enterprises and firms; businessmen and businesswomen correspond with foreign partners mostly in the English language because it’s the official language of quite many countries in the world. When a partner writes grammatically correct letter with proper lexical units suitable for a certain business situation; follows the etiquette rules and language norms; makes a good image of a firm or an enterprise. But grammatically illiterate letter written in a style unsuitable for a business letter can impress partners favourably and later, it becomes very difficult to change the impression of a firm, an enterprise or a person when bad impression from the first sight was got.
It doesn’t matter who you are in real life: a sales manager or a student, a supervisor or an advertiser, a receptionist or an insurance agent one day you will face a necessity of writing a business letter which style will be an official one.
Of course, calling on the phone or faxing takes less time than writing a letter because you spend not much time and apply not many efforts making a telephone call or sending a fax message.
Nowadays business letters have the same importance and value as they had some time before. They organize people, inform them and provoke them for different actions. The significancy of business letters can be appreciated quite high because those organizations, enterprises and firms that send proper letters produce positive impression and can be the foundation for long-term and successful partnership .
Talking about advantages of business letters it’ necessary to mention that
- with help of them the information is being fixed and later you can use this information in a certain occasion;
- they allow planning, selecting and formulating people’s
- business letters allow you to carry out difficult and laborious affaires;
- if it is necessary they can be the evidence of a procedure at the court
- they can play the role of a tool for confidential information transfer
Sometimes it’s not necessary to write a formal letter and it can be easily replaced by a memorandum.
Memorandums are often written by business people. Like business letters, memorandums reproduce an official communication way. The main purpose of memorandums consists in conveying information from one department to another, from a person in one firm to a representative working in another company. Big firms and enterprises use ready blanks of memorandums.
But to write a good memorandum or a business letter requires certain knowledge of grammar because the knowledge of a correct sentence building is a creative process, an art based on grammar rules.
It’s necessary to remember that all parts of speech can be divided into
Punctuation is also important like use of different parts of speech. Full points, commas, question marks, brackets and other punctuation marks help us to join words to sentences.
A business letter writer has to remember that a capital letter is used to write the first word in a sentence, personal names, titles, certain abbreviations. Sometimes the choice of a capital letter depends on the author but in this case it should follow the measure and rules of using capital letters.
Full point is always put at the sentence end.
The role of a comma is to make the shortest pause in the sentence. They are used very often. Commas are used
- to divide words or short phrases while enumerating;
- to divide a word or a group of words at the beginning of the sentence to give them the introductory words role;
- to convey a direct speech;
- to emphasize an explanation or a specification;
- to make the sentence understanding easier;
- to avoid misconception.
The meaning of a semicolon is to make a pause longer than a one when a comma is used but not so long as it is used for a full point. The meaning and the role of a semicolon is great but it is used very seldom. Such a punctuation mark can be used
- to show the contrast of sayings;
- to separate word groups while enumerating them;
- to show that sayings are close connected due to their sense;
- to enforce the emphasis.
A colon is put
- before the enumeration;
- before the direct speech or a quotation;
- while dividing a sentence into two parts. The second part usually explains the first one.
Parentheses: it’s reasonable to put those words which complete the sentence meaning. If the parentheses are dropped out, the sentence should save its first sense .
Square brackets are used to show addition to the saying in a direct speech.
A hyphen: mostly it joins the words, in a whole one. A hyphen is used in those words where its influence the change of the word meaning. It is used instead of the word “to”. When the whole word can’t be placed on one line; a hyphen is closely followed by the last letter at the line end and the rest part of the word is transferred to the next line. It is important to transfer the word saving its syllables.
A dash can be single or paired. A single dash is put when a doubt or a reflection is expressed. It is also used to give explanation. A paired dash is used like the parentheses are used but to make the sentence more expressive.
An exclamation mark shows exclamation. Its place is at the end of the sentence and its role consists in conveying the mood.
A question-mark is placed at the end of an interrogative sentence that contains a question. It can also be used when there is a necessity to show that a correct time, date or place hasn’t been established yet but they’ll be defined soon.
Quotation marks are sometimes called reversed commas. Quotation marks can be singular or double. More often singular ones are used except the situation of conveying a direct speech. In case of a necessity to put quotation marks inside those that you already have, so the inner quotation marks should be singular and external double.
Apostrophe can be used when one or some letters are omitted in the word$ in a situation with a possessive case; in some surnames.
The next point you should remember is to make a letter plan. A well-planned and well-thought letter allows reaching better results than a letter that wasn’t planned and prepared thoroughly [4, c. 21]. The peculiarity of a business letter is to convey the information as exact and understandable as possible. The next step is to decide what you’re going to write about in your letter? What the theme of your letter would be? When you sorted these facts for your letter you should think how you’re going to write and who you are going to write to. It’s not necessary to overload the letter by technical details, material containing numbers especially it becomes very important particularly when the receiver is not technically prepared in this question .
At the same time you shouldn’t forget about the letter style:
- who your receiver is;
- why it’s necessary to send a letter and not to call or send a fax message;
- what reaction or action you want to get from the receiver .
It’s necessary to avoid long letters. They should be short, but very informative and accessible for understanding. There exist some restrictions that are necessary to be remembered: don’t use slang words, don’t use an instructive tone, don’t try to make an ideal letter, don’t be too official or too familiar, don’t use those words the meanings of which are unknown to you, don’t require-better offer!
Another thing that is necessary to be taken into consideration is that each letter, even the shortest one, should contain introduction, main part and conclusion.
The first paragraph gives us the topic of the whole letter. The main part is divided into paragraphs. A certain question is highlighted in each paragraph. Conclusion is the final paragraph that summarizes the content of the letter and has a request or a promise depending on the letter content. Shortness is also important: each sentence and each paragraph in a business letter should be as short as possible [2, c. 969]. All information needed should be explained in some short paragraphs.
Summing it all up, it’s necessary to mention that it’s not important of what type of the letter you are going to write, the main idea is to observe the punctuation rules and rules of a business letter structure.
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