I find it very
difficult to write bad news. Our store recently had an
unfortunate incident that resulted in necessary layoffs and distributor
terminations. I had to write letters to the employees and distributors,
explaining the cutback and apologizing for their distress. The letters
were painful to write and difficult to word in an upbeat manner. I
really struggled with a way of showing compassion while delivering the
news. It helped me to personally deliver the letters and spend a little
one-on-one time with each employee, assuring each one that I would
provide whatever references were needed for the person to find another
Winter, Owner, Winter Leather Works
My most difficult
writing project is a letter of reference. I manage a fast-food
restaurant that employs many students, and graduating seniors often ask
me for a letter of recommendation for college or another job. Unless
the student has made a real impression on me, I find it hard to write
an effective letter that doesn’t sound too generic. I always ask the
student to provide me with a résumé or a list of school
activities and accomplishments so I can see the person’s strengths,
apply them to his or her job, and write from there.
— Lisa Harris
Ronnette Radican asked us for a little help, which we were happy to
Coming from another
country, I find it hard to use proper "PREPOSITIONS." I have
taken many ESL classes and am now on my way to English 112 in the fall
of 2006. Yet I still have problems with prepositions. My professors
have told me that I have to listen carefully when others speak and that
eventually I will come to use prepositions naturally. But I wonder if
there is a better way to learn prepositions. Can you help?
Here's our reply to Ronnette's request:
Don’t feel alone. Everyone has
trouble with prepositions at some point. It might help to know the
definition of a preposition. As presented in Write for Business: A
Compact Guide to Writing & Communicating in the Workplace, a
preposition is defined in the following way:
preposition is a word (or word
group) used in front of a noun or a pronoun to form a phrase that
modifies some other word in the sentence.
Prepositions modify nouns by telling where:
- under the table
- in front of the door
- between the pages
- within the room
They also present additional information:
- regarding your letter
- by means of an email
- contrary to our opinion
- as for your suggestion
You can find a useful list of
common prepositions in the Proofreader’s Guide section of Write
for Business. One helpful exercise might be to go through a
written piece such as a corporate report or a short story and underline
all of the prepositions you find. Your professors are right, though.
Listen to the language, and the more you become familiar with the language, the
easier the "rules" will become.
another Writers’ Forum question in our July eTips.
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WORD PAIR of the MONTH: insure, ensure
you using them correctly?
Insure means “to secure from
harm or loss.”
joked that he had to give so many speeches he was going to insure his voice.
Ensure means “to make certain of something.”
ensured Susan that her job was not in peril.
Congratulations to John
Communications! He won our drawing for an iPod shuffle
with the complete library of UpWrite Press podcasts. And thank you to
everyone who took part in our micro survey last month.
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Coming in the July eTips