People from around the world have been writing to me in search of the correct wording for new year's messages to their English-speaking friends and associates. To help them, I have composed these brief messages as models. I hope you find them helpful. Note to international readers: If the message says I, it is...
Cathy wrote to me today, concerned about a possible change in how her team sends holiday greeting cards. In the past they have purchased holiday cards, addressed them to a mailing list of customers and other important people, had everyone on the team sign them, and then mailed them through...
I recently worked on business writing with a manager from India who spoke several Indian languages as well as English. She made an error that I have since noticed in another Indian manager's writing, so I thought it was worth writing about here. It involved using "few" when she meant "a...
While reading an inflight travel magazine on my vacation, I came across an ad for a resort in Traverse City, MI. Do you recognize the abbreviation MI? Is it Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, or Missouri? I am not familiar with Traverse City, so the ad kept me guessing. It wasn't until...
I am working with an executive who speaks English as a second language, with Chinese as her first language. She was very surprised to learn that the words information, knowledge, and jewelry have no plural forms. Would you join me in making a list of such words for her? I have started...
In the United States, today is 1/11/11. In much of the rest of the world, it's 11/1/11. That difference is enough to argue against using numbers alone. Although all those 1s look terrific together, numbers alone can't communicate with the clarity of words, especially if you have clients, employees, or business partners...
I sent out our monthly e-newsletter, Better Writing at Work, yesterday. As usual we got hundreds of out-of-office messages. Here is my favorite, which came from Phillip in Germany: "I am in the moment not in the office." I prefer Phillip's preposition. LynnSyntax Training
We have just welcomed to our home an international exchange student from the Middle East. When I read the information she included on her program application, I added her birthday to our calendar: June 5. But here's the problem: Her birthday is May 6. How could I have gotten that wrong? Her birthday...
With some business audiences, it's easy to know exactly what to say and how to say it. We do it almost without thinking, following the usual rules. But with a global audience of non-native English speakers, the usual rules get tossed aside. We need to take a fresh look at communicating. So it...
I've been writing here about dates and times, but today I got a good laugh about places. A psychologist who lives in Redmond, Washington, shared a story of an Australian consultant who was trying to track him down. Only when she realized that Redmond, WA (mentioned on a website),...