eTips Mid-Month MiniTM

June 2006

Welcome to the eTips Mid-Month Mini, an UpWrite Press extra
designed to get you actively involved with writing.

| Business Writers' Forum | Word Pair of the Month | iPod shuffle Winner |
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Business Writers’ Forum Topic:
Tricky Writing Situations

We’ve been getting responses from all over to our eTips Writers’ Forum. The following offer some good advice for tricky writing situations.


Contemplating

From Minnesota:

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 position.

— Jack Winter, Owner, Winter Leather Works

From Tennessee:

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

Meanwhile, Ronnette Radican asked us for a little help, which we were happy to offer:

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?

— Ronnette Radican

Here's our reply to Ronnette's request:

Dear Ronnette:

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:

A 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.

Good luck!

Watch for another Writers’ Forum question in our July eTips.

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WORD PAIR of the MONTH: insure, ensure

Are you using them correctly?

Insure means “to secure from harm or loss.”

Harris joked that he had to give so many speeches he was going to insure his voice.


Ensure means “to make certain of something.”

We ensured Susan that her job was not in peril.

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iPod shuffle Winner!

Congratulations to John of Savvis 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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eTips is a publication of UpWrite Press, Inc., P.O. Box 460, Burlington, Wisconsin 53105. Copyright © 2006, UpWrite Press. All rights reserved. Visit www.upwritepress.com.