Business English: Presenting the decision
Business English: Presenting the decision

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Business English: Presenting the decision

3.2 Improving your writing style

To write clearly it is a good idea to use short sentences However, it is also important that your sentences should be varied, so that the reader enjoys the way in which you write. The way you join sentences together is important, and you should try to include words that add more colour to the text – such as adverbs and adjectives. Here are some examples that show you how to brighten up your style.

1 Using ‘and’ (a conjunction)

This joins two similar sentences. You should be careful not to overuse it as it becomes boring.

They came to the UK. They bought houses.

They came to the UK and bought houses.

2 Using ‘because’ (a conjunction)

This is used for giving reasons. It can go at the beginning of a sentence or in the middle. Notice how the comma is used.

Because of the cows, Milton Keynes was the subject of jokes.

Milton Keynes was the subject of jokes because of the cows.

3 Other conjunctions

There are several ways of linking the following two statements using conjunctions that make a contrast:

They were well qualified. They could not find jobs.

They were well qualified, but they could not find jobs.

They were well qualified, yet they could not find jobs.

Although they were well qualified, they could not find jobs.

In spite of being well qualified, they could not find jobs.

Despite being well qualified, they could not find jobs.

Note that in spite of and despite require a change in the form of the verb.

While means much the same as although, but is less strong. When it has this contrastive meaning it is usually used at the beginning of the sentence and needs a strengthener in the second part.

While they were well qualified, they still/nevertheless found it hard to find jobs.

Using these contrastive conjunctions makes the text more lively than simply using and.

4 Using relative pronouns

Another important way of linking sentences is to use relative pronouns who, which or that.

They bought houses. They had four bedrooms and a garage.

They bought houses that had four bedrooms and a garage.

Navrita Atwal, who runs the project, said ...

5 Using the ‘-ing’ form

A marketing campaign brought families to Milton Keynes. It used Cantonese language videos.

These sentences can be improved by using the -ing form of the verb, as in paragraph 5 of the article (see Section 3.1). Note the importance of commas here.

A marketing campaign, using Cantonese language videos, brought families to Milton Keynes.

When using the -ing form of the verb in this way be very careful that it refers to the right noun or pronoun. It is easy to write an ambiguous sentence (see below).

6 Using past participles

They went away. They were convinced they could not find a job.

They went away, convinced they could not find a job.

Make sure that the past participle refers to the right noun or pronoun, as with the -ing form of the verb. In the following example it is not clear what the past participle refers to and so a different link should be used. Note how commas are used.

The new arrivals met some new friends, influenced by the video.

Here it is not clear whether the new arrivals or the friends were influenced by the video, and so the following form would be better.

The new arrivals, influenced by the video, met some new friends.

7 Using adverbs

To improve style use words that indicate a sequence of events and other adverbs to add colour or detail.

They found things strange when they arrived.

They got used to life in Milton Keynes.

At first they found things strange when they arrived, but they gradually got used to life in Milton Keynes.

Activity 16

In the article (see Section 3.1) a number of words have been printed in bold. Link each of them to the appropriate section above.

Example

Carefully in paragraph 2 is an adverb, covered in Section 7 of ‘Improving your writing style’.

Answer

The words are given in the order in which they appear in the article.

Word (paragraph number)Section of ‘Improving your writing style’Type of word
Just as (1)7adverb of time
built (1)6past participle
But despite (2)3conjunctions
carefully (2)7adverb of manner
regularly (2)7adverb of time
perpetually (3)7adverb of time
But (4)3conjunction
using (5)5-ing form
attracted (5)6past participle
which (6)4relative pronoun
while (7)3conjunction
but (8)3conjunction
as (8)3conjunction
helping (9)5-ing form
designed (10)6past participle
and (10)3conjunction
who (10)4relative pronoun
but (10)3conjunction
since (11)7adverb of time
and (12)1conjunction
but (12)3conjunction
who (13)4relative pronoun

In the remaining activities in this course you study different ways of linking sentences and using the parts of speech that you have looked at. You then write a short report about the new residents of Milton Keynes.

Activity 17

Improve the following sentences using the word in brackets.

  1. She was well qualified. She could not find a job. (although)

  2. He had a lovely house. He was not happy. (despite)

  3. They got used to living in a new environment. (quickly)

  4. He got a job. He packed materials in a warehouse. (packing)

  5. She became rather depressed. She could not find a job. (because)

  6. The new arrivals bought a dog. They were pleased with the open spaces. (pleased)

Answer

Some alternative answers are shown.

  1. Although she was well qualified, she could not find a job.

    She could not find a job, although she was well qualified.

  2. Despite having a lovely house, he was not happy.

    He was not happy, despite having a lovely house.

  3. They quickly got used to living in a new environment.

    They got used to living in a new environment quickly.

  4. He got a job packing materials in a warehouse.

  5. She became rather depressed because she could not find a job.

    Because she could not find a job, she became rather depressed.

  6. The new arrivals, pleased with the open spaces, bought a dog.

The last sentence is an example of the need to change the shape of the sentence because if you wrote The new arrivals bought a dog pleased with the open spaces, it would mean that the dog was pleased and not the new arrivals.

Activity 18 - Part A

Link the following sentences by changing the verb in bold into the -ing form. Notice that the subject in both sentences is the same and so it is possible to use this structure. Make sure you use commas where necessary.

Example

There is a small herd of cows. They graze perpetually in a park.

There is a small herd of cows, grazing perpetually in a park.

  1. A new town was built. It provided housing for 6,000 families.

  2. The campaign was run throughout 1998. It used bright leaflets and the radio.

  3. They left Hong Kong. They decided to start again in the UK.

  4. Some did not find employment easily. They settled finally for unskilled work.

Answer

  1. A new town was built, providing housing for 6,000 families.

  2. The campaign was run throughout 1998, using bright leaflets and the radio.

  3. They left Hong Kong, deciding to start again in the UK.

  4. Some did not find employment easily, settling finally for unskilled work.

Activity 18 - Part B

Now link the following sentences by using a past participle. Make sure you use commas where necessary.

Example

They decided to migrate. They were influenced by the video campaign.

They decided to migrate, influenced by the video campaign.

  1. They bought new houses. They were pleased by how modern they were.

  2. Some were unhappy. They were depressed by not finding jobs.

  3. The majority settled down. They were attracted by the rural environment.

  4. Several decided to stay. They were helped by such courses.

Answer

  1. They bought new houses, pleased by how modern they were.

  2. Some were unhappy, depressed by not finding jobs.

  3. The majority settled down, attracted by the rural environment.

  4. Several decided to stay, helped by such courses.

Activity 19

Read the following passage and put the words in the box in the correct places. Each word should be used only once. One has been done for you.

Many families came to Milton Keynes in the 1970s. (1) ...... most of them were happy with their homes, (2) ...... for about £100,000 when they were in Hong Kong, they did experience difficulties. They liked the rural environment and the quiet of the area, (3) ...... finding jobs remained a difficulty. (4) ...... they were generally well qualified, a number remained unemployed for some time. For example, one migrant, (5) ...... had been a senior civil servant, had to accept unskilled work (6) and (7) ...... felt unhappy about this. Many began to feel depressed, (8) ...... they sent off their CVs, (9) ...... never got beyond the interview. (10) ...... they just looked for jobs, but (11) ...... many began to take courses, (12) ...... to help them into the job market. The self-help groups and the courses, (13) ...... by the local council, did help considerably. (14) ...... many began to find work at the right level. One woman found a job (15) ...... other migrants to find employment. The main problem (16) ...... they faced was a lack of confidence.

later • bought • but • but • gradually • because • who • at first • that • naturally • assisting • while • designed • although • set up • and

Answer

Many families came to Milton Keynes in the 1970s. (1) Although most of them were happy with their homes, (2) bought for about £100,000 when they were in Hong Kong, they did experience difficulties. They liked the rural environment and the quiet of the area, (3) but finding jobs remained a difficulty. (4) While they were generally well qualified, a number remained unemployed for some time. For example, one migrant, (5) who had been a senior civil servant, had to accept unskilled work (6) and (7) naturally felt unhappy about this. Many began to feel depressed, (8) because they sent off their CVs, (9) but never got beyond the interview. (10) At first they just looked for jobs, but (11) later many began to take courses, (12) designed to help them into the job market. The self-help groups and the courses, (13) set up by the local council, did help considerably. (14) Gradually many began to find work at the right level. One woman found a job (15) assisting other migrants to find employment. The main problem (16) that they faced was a lack of confidence.

Activity 20

Improve the following text by linking the sentences that have the symbol ⇔ between them. Try to use a variety of ways of linking the sentences.

(1) In the 1970s several families moved to Milton Keynes. ⇔ They came from Hong Kong. (2) They had decided to migrate. ⇔ They were influenced by a promotional campaign. (3) They liked the houses in the town. ⇔ The houses were larger than they were used to. (4) They came in quite large numbers. ⇔ They settled down quite quickly. (5) Many of the new arrivals were well qualified. ⇔ They found it difficult to find jobs. (6) Some people found jobs running courses. ⇔ These were designed to help others. (7) One person said a problem was lack of confidence. ⇔ She ran a project to help Asian women.

Answer

In this activity there are a number of ways of linking the sentences.

  1. In the 1970s several families, who came from Hong Kong, moved to Milton Keynes. In the 1970s several families moved to Milton Keynes, coming from Hong Kong.

  2. They had decided to migrate, influenced by a promotional campaign.

  3. They liked the houses in the town, which were larger than they were used to.

  4. They came in quite large numbers, settling down quite quickly.

  5. Many of the new arrivals were well qualified but (they) found it difficult to find jobs.

    Although many of the new arrivals were well qualified, they found it difficult to find jobs. Many of the new arrivals were well qualified, yet they found it difficult to find jobs.

    In spite of being/Despite being well qualified, many of the new arrivals found it difficult to find jobs.

  6. Some people found jobs running courses that were designed to help others.

    Some people found jobs running courses designed to help others.

  7. One person, who ran a project to help Asian women, said a problem was lack of confidence. One person, running a project to help Asian women, said a problem was lack of confidence.

Activity 21

Write a short report about the people who came to Milton Keynes from Hong Kong. Cover the following points and include some of the elements of style mentioned in this section. You should write about 150 words.

  • housing; greenfield development

  • low crime, high employment; reputation of Milton Keynes

  • marketing campaign; video, Cantonese

  • reasons for moving to Milton Keynes; video: cheap housing, job opportunities

  • attitude of the new arrivals; houses (bedroom, garage)

  • problems experienced; enjoyed town; problems with unemployment; well qualified; unskilled jobs

  • solutions to problems; courses; lack of confidence

Answer

Your text will differ from this one, but it serves as a guide.

In the 1970s Milton Keynes was developed, a new town, providing housing for 6,000 families on a greenfield site. In spite of the low crime rate and high employment, it had the reputation of being the most boring town in England. A marketing campaign, using video and in Cantonese, was used to promote the town. Many migrants came to the town from Hong Kong, influenced by the video and attracted by the cheap housing and job opportunities. The migrants liked the town. Some were able to buy houses that had four bedrooms and a garage. While they enjoyed living in the town, some encountered problems with employment and although many were well qualified, they had to take unskilled jobs. Courses were run which helped migrants find jobs. However, some migrants who attended the courses still found difficulty because of their lack of confidence.

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