BEOWULF SHAKESPEARE AMERICAN ENGLISH PLAIN ENGLISH BEST ESSAYS

AND ALL THAT

1066 HOME OLD ENGLISH MIDDLE ENGLISH MODERN ENGLISH CONTEMPORARY ENGLISH
 
   

Cordelia Reardon. The Plain English Campaign and Its Advice

 

 Use the Right Verb Forms and Pronouns

 

Other guidelines also have to be used flexibly.  For example, the campaign encourages the use of active verbs in order to make letters sound ‘crisp and professional’ (Plain English Campaign 2008). However it is sometimes necessary to use passive verbs in order to take the harsh edge off the active equivalent.

Cutts (1995:48) attributes the active voice with making the writing “tighter, more personal, and introduces action earlier in sentences”.   Similarly, The Oxford University Press (2009) believe that in most sentences, actions should be expressed through verbs; however the reality is that  in many sentences the verbs are ‘smothered and all their vitality is trapped beneath heavy noun phrases based on the verbs themselves’ (The Oxford University Press 2009).

An example of this would be 

 

If you decide to cancel your application, a cheque for the amount of your investment (subject to a deduction of the amount (if any) by which the value of your investment has fallen at the date at which your cancellation form is received by us) will be sent to you (Cutts 1995: 53).

By reinstating the verb and removing the various clutter, i.e. the brackets and asides, the text can be cut significantly i.e.

 

If you decide to cancel your application, we will send you a cheque for the amount of your investment less any fall in its value at the date we receive your cancellation form (Cutts 1995: 53).

However, as previously mentioned, the use of passive verbs cannot be discounted altogether.  Passive verbs are useful to defuse hostility, for example, 'this bill has not been paid’ is softer than 'you have not paid this bill'(Plain English Campaign 2008).

It can also be used to avoid identifying the person who performed the action, for example, 'a mistake was made' evades the blame, whereas 'we made a mistake' admits to it (Plain English Campaign 2008).

Conversely, The Plain English Campaign (2008) advocates that it is affable to bring the writer closer to the reader by referring to them as ‘you’ as opposed to, for example, ‘the applicant’ or ‘the supplier’.  Similarly, the Campaign’s advice recommends that the writer should refer to their self as ‘I’ or ‘we’.  While this element of friendliness is not necessarily a requirement of clear communication, it may make the reader more receptive to the message because it is reminiscent of a face to face conversation.

Hyland (2002) argues for this principle of writer identity in academic writing.  He argues that students are conditioned to remove themselves from their writing in order to produce ‘a kind of impersonal, faceless discourse’ (Hyland 2002: 351).  He believes that writers can gain a better control over their writing if they are aware of the positive effects of self-mention i.e. a deeper engagement with language (Hyland 2002: 357).

Copyrighted material

 
 
WE ARE PARTNERS
 


 

EVALUATE THE PEC'S ADVICE

  Use Clear and Simple Structure

  Use the Right Verb Forms and Pronouns

  Make Your Point Succinctly

  Use Technical Terms Sparingly

  References

BEST ESSAYS

  The Language of the Internet

  English Reasserts Its Status

  More   

 

 
 
 
 

Site Map || Feedback || About || Links

Copyright Alex Chubarov 1066-2066

All Rights Reserved

 

COUNTDOWN TO 2066