Business Writing Tip #85—Transition Words to Use in Reports

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We all like to read writing that moves smoothly. Clunky writing, or writing where we have to think about the relationship between sentences or paragraphs, slows us down. And in today’s information-rich world, many of us have too much to read to want to slow down and spend time working out just what a writer meant.

In English we have a number of useful transition words—words that link our ideas together. In the table they are arranged in lists to show you their function. These words create logical relationships between your ideas and they make your writing easier to read.

I hope you find them useful.

Addition Emphasis Sequence Example Comparison
Furthermore In fact First, second, third, etc For example On the other hand
In addition Surprisingly Next In this case Similarly
Moreover In any case Then Such as However
Lastly Indeed Finally Notably In contrast
As a matter of fact Certainly At this point In particular Whereas

Business Writing Tip #84—Idioms 2 (and some collocations): Talking about Sales

Idioms abound in English. In this series I am not providing comprehensive lists (I don’t think I could). I’ve focussed on the most commonly used ones. As well as some idioms, I’ve also listed some commonly used sales and marketing expressions. sales & mktg sign

To come down in price: to become cheaper

To bring down the price: to lower the price of a product, to make it cheaper

To do a roaring trade: to sell a lot of something very quickly

To plug (a product): to promote (a product)

To work out the kinks (informal): to solve a problem you are having with something

To make cold calls: to telephone somebody you do not know in order to sell them something

For sale: available to be bought, especially from the owner

On sale: available to be bought, especially in a shop/store; being offered at a reduced price

Sales drive/campaign: a special effort to sell more of a particular product

Seller’s market: the situation when the people selling something have an advantage, because there is not a lot of a particular item for sale, and prices can be kept high

Buyer’s market: the situation when there is a lot of a particular item for sale, so that prices are low and people buying have a choice

To have an ace up your sleeve (informal): to hold a secret advantage, for example a piece of information, that you are ready to use if you need to

Hard sell: a method of selling that puts a lot of pressure on the customer to buy

Common Sales and Marketing Verb Phrases (Collocations):

break into/enter/capture/dominate the market

gain/grab/take/win/boost/lose market share

find/build/create a market for something

start/launch an advertising/a marketing campaign

develop/launch/promote a product/website

create/generate demand for your product

attract/get/retain/help customers/clients

drive/generate/boost/increase demand/sales

beat/keep ahead of/out-think/outperform the competition

meet/reach/exceed/miss sales targets

Business Writing Tip #83—Idioms 1: Idioms for Meetings

meetingIn English we use many idioms. But what is an idiom? According to my Concise Oxford English Dictionary an idiom is ‘a group of words established by usage as having a meaning not deducible from those of the individual words’.

In most cases, particularly with some of the more informal idioms, I recommend that you avoid them when you are writing for business. In business writing we are often writing for someone whose native tongue is not English, and idioms can be a barrier to them understanding what we mean.

That said, there are some idioms which are used so often in business that they have become quite acceptable. In this tip we will look at some of the idioms and expressions that are in common use when we talk about meetings.

To adjourn a meeting To end a meeting
To call a meeting to order To start a meeting
To call on someone to speak To invite someone to speak, to give a meeting participant permission to speak
To carry a motion To win acceptance for a proposal or idea in a meeting, usually through voting
To circulate the agenda To distribute the programme of the meeting to participants before the meeting so they know what will be discussed
To defeat a motion This happens when a proposal or idea does not get enough votes to pass. When a motion is defeated the proposed action will not take place.
Follow-up meeting A meeting where participants discuss business that wasn’t completed at a previous meeting, or discuss new business related to an agenda item.
To have the floor To have permission to speak, without interruption, during a meeting
To hold a meeting To conduct a meeting
To put (or lay) something on the table To present a matter for discussion at the meeting
To make (or table) a motion To make a suggestion at a meeting that will be voted on by the participants
To move to do something Another way of saying to table a motion.
To open a meeting To begin the meeting proceedings
To be out of order Used when someone does not obey the speaking rules of the meeting. For example, someone may speak when someone else has the floor.
Robert’s Rules of Order A reference book that provides guidelines on how to conduct a meeting and a code of conduct. It has been adopted officially by some organisations.
To rule someone out of order When the chairperson states that someone is not following the rules of the meeting
To run a meeting To conduct or chair a meeting
To second a motion To agree with a motion that is tabled. In formal meetings someone will move the motion and it will be seconded before it will be put to a vote.
To table a discussion To postpone a discussion until a future meeting
To take minutes To record the details of a meeting to create the official record of the meeting

 

Business Writing Tip #82—Singular or plural verbs with pronouns

When it comes to pronouns (words that replace nouns in sentences) sometimes people don’t know whether to use the singular form of the verb or the plural, particularly with indefinite pronouns.

Singular indefinite pronouns use a singular verb and plural indefinite pronouns need a plural verb…but that sentence may not help you! So here’s a list of indefinite pronouns.

But first a simple rule to make it easier. Indefinite pronouns which end in –one or -body are always singular (anyone, everyone, somebody etc.). So someone goes and they both go …

Singular IndefinitePlural IndefiniteSingular or Plural Depending on Context
AnotherBothAll
AnyoneFewAny
EachManyMore
EveryoneOthersMost
EverybodySeveralNone
EverythingSome
Much
Nobody
Nothing
Other
Someone
Anybody
Anything
Either
Little
Neither
No one
Somebody
Something

Business Writing Tip #81—UK versus US English—Part Three

A few more differences. Remember, neither version is ‘wrong’. They are just different.soldier at the tower

The important thing to keep in mind is that when you’re writing, choose one version and stick to it.

 British (UK)American (US)
Past actions with result nowUse present perfect

I’ve lost my mobile phone. Have you seen it?
Use present perfect or past simple

I’ve lost my cell phone. Have you seen it?

OR

I lost my cell phone. Did you see it?
Using shallEither will or shall can be used with the first person (I or we)

I will/shall be late to the meeting because my car’s broken down.

Shall can be used to ask for advice.

Which version of the report shall we use?
Shall is unusual

I will be late to the meeting because my car’s broken down

Should is the more usual way to ask advice.

Which version of the report should we use?
Can’t vs must notUK English users use can’t to say that they believe something is not probable.

I haven’t heard from David. He can’t have got my message yet.
US English uses must not when something isn’t probable.

I haven’t heard from David. He must not have got my message yet
The all important weekend At the weekend/at weekendsOn the weekend/on weekends
Completing forms
(note: Indian English often uses fill up – not wrong, just different)
Use either fill in or fill outUse fill out
RoundUse either round or around.
He turned round/around.
Use around.
He turned around.
Front/backUse at the front or back
Please sit at the front of the room.
Use in the front or back
Please sit in the front of the room.