July 2014  
UpWrite Press Writing eTips

Test Your Writing Acumen

This month we’re going to look at spelling—in particular, the spelling of plurals and other derivatives of “words that end in y.” Here’s your chance to test your understanding of when to change “y” to “i” (or not) before forming a plural or adding a suffix. Give the correct spelling for each word in parentheses below.

  1. Our department has had several (baby + plural) born this year.
  2. There have already been too many (delay + plural) with this project.
  3. On a scale of 1 to 5, how would you rate the (bumpy + ness) of the flight home from our last conference?
  4. We will be (apply + ing) Jan’s suggestions for improving efficiency.
  5. Frank’s comments always mark him as a (duty + ful) employee.
  6. A clean inspection report would make Kendra the (happy + est) manager in the plant.
  7. I’ve always (enjoy + ed) doing research for our projects.
  8. After you get (marry + ed), be sure to adjust your W-4 form.

You can check your answers at the end of this newsletter.

Writing to an Intercultural Audience

American business dealings are no longer confined to the United States. Nowadays, with the aid of electronic communication, businesses reach around the globe with messages for non-English speakers. When you are writing to someone who knows English as a second language, you must carefully choose your words in order to assure that the message received is the message intended. Here are some tips to help you clearly communicate with someone who may be unfamiliar with the intricacies of English.

  • Use clear, simple words. Intercultural communication is not the place to practice your creative-writing skills. Use plain, precise, easy-to-understand language.
  • Avoid jargon or slang. Technical terms that you use with your coworkers may be totally unfamiliar and confusing to readers from other cultures. Again, be clear, be precise, and use everyday words.
  • Be brief. Keep your sentences short and to the point, sharing no more than one idea per sentence. Paragraphs should also be brief.
  • Avoid idioms. A reader who is unfamiliar with English will likely be confused by phrases such as “give him the boot” or “off the wall.”
  • Avoid cultural or “loaded” references. Do not reference topics that can create tension, such as religious and political issues. Also, in most cases, avoid talking about pop culture and competitive sports.
  • Use clear transitions. Lead your reader through your thoughts by starting sentences with transitions such as next, in addition, however, and so on.
  • Avoid abbreviations and acronyms. Spell out your words for readers who may be unfamiliar with the shortened forms.

Finally, while considering all of these cautions, do not write “down” to your readers. While they may be less-than-expert students of English, they are likely to be well versed in the business at hand. Avoid using a simplistic or condescending tone in your communications.

You can find more on writing for an intercultural audience beginning on page 39 in Write for Business: A Compact Guide to Writing and Communicating in the Workplace.

Trainer Tip

Try to fit training into the workday by beginning each day with a quick tip. This can be something as simple as a brief morning email or a quick information session for your staff. The emails can transition employees into the tasks of the day, while face-to-face meetings can foster a sense of teamwork—especially when employees don’t normally have a lot of personal contact throughout the day.

That Little Extra

The electronic devices that can make it easy to misuse language and truncate spelling can also help you to hone your language skills. Use them to play online language games or fill in crossword puzzles to exercise your brain and keep your spelling sharp. Also consider accessing free or inexpensive foreign-language apps and Web sites (such as www.duolingo.com). Research shows that building language skills fosters new neural connections in the brain, which also helps to fend off the effects of aging.

   

July Writers' Forum Topic

Here’s your chance to tell us how your work environment operates. Send us your responses to the forum question below, and we’ll print the most interesting in our eTips Mid-Month Mini.

Is good writing important to your business? How can you predict if a potential employee will be a good writer? And how do you promote good writing skills in a person who’s been hired?

Email your response to writersforum@upwritepress.com. Write “July Writers’ Forum” in the subject line, and you could see your reply in the eTips Mid-Month Mini.

Answers to This Month’s Quiz

  1. Our department has had several babies born this year.
    If the final “y” is preceded by a consonant, form the plural of the word by changing the “y” to “i” and adding “es.”
    Other examples: theory-theories, party-parties
  2. There have already been too many delays with this project.
    If the final “y” is preceded by a vowel, keep the “y” and add “s” to form the plural of the word.
    Other examples: survey-surveys, monkey-monkeys
  3. On a scale of 1 to 5, how would you rate the bumpiness of the flight home from our last conference?
    Change the final “y” to “i” before adding the suffix “ness” to this kind of two-syllable word.
    Other examples: crazy-craziness, puffy-puffiness, happy-happiness
  4. We will be applying Jan’s suggestions for improving efficiency.
    Simply add the suffix “ing” to words that end in “y.”
    Other examples: try-trying, say-saying, worry-worrying
  5. Frank’s comments always mark him as a dutiful employee.
    If the final “y” is preceded by a consonant, change the “y” to “i” before adding a suffix (except those beginning with “i”—like “ing.”)
    Other examples: beauty-beautiful, bounty-bountiful
  6. A clean inspection report would make Kendra the happiest manager in the plant.
    See the explanation for no. 5.
    Other examples: early-earliest, easy-easiest
  7. I’ve always enjoyed doing research for our projects.
    If the final “y” is preceded by a vowel, keep the “y” and add the suffix.
    Other examples: employ-employed, play-played
  8. After you get married, be sure to adjust your W-4 form.
    See the explanation for no. 5.
    Other examples: apply-applied, worry-worried

We Want to Hear from You!

This is your chance to be part of the UpWrite Press newsletters and blogs. What writing topics do you want to hear about? Have you any favorite communications tips you’d like to share? What words do you constantly mix up? Send us your ideas and you could see your name in Writing eTips or the Mid-Month Mini.

Stay Connected

Twitter

RSS Feed

Facebook

Blog

iTunes

YouTube

Write for Business Blog

Recent entries…

 

Visit our blog for these and other great articles!

Affiliate Program

Earn money with UpWrite Press. Receive 5% of the net sale for every customer that makes a purchase through your affiliate link. Learn more

Featured Product

Write for Work is a practical guide to writing and communicating in the workplace. It's designed for students in 1- and 2-year degree programs or school-to-work programs. This flexible work-text provides extra support for students who’ve struggled with writing in the past.

Subscribe!

eTips is like finding a writing coach in your inbox. It includes the best writing information, helpful tips and advice, plus updates on evolving communication practices. Sign up today!

Have a Suggestion?

We are always looking for feedback on our eTips. If you have a suggestion, please tell us.

Coming in August

Filling Out Forms

eTips is a publication of UpWrite Press, P.O. Box 460, Burlington, Wisconsin 53105.
Copyright © 2014, UpWrite Press. All rights reserved. Visit www.upwritepress.com.