Everyday English for Construction and Engineering 2
Everyday English for Construction and Engineering 2

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

Free course

Everyday English for Construction and Engineering 2

3.3 Writing to advise

Writing to advise is all about giving advice to your audience. Some people find this easier than others. When writing to advise, you are expected to suggest what someone should do.

Writing to advise is informative and helpful. It is a little like giving instructions, except you must adapt your tone of voice to suit the needs of your audience. For example, if you were providing your friend with advice on which dress to wear, you might use a very relaxed and informal tone, whereas if you were advising a work colleague on how to deal with a difficult customer, you would use a much more formal and serious tone.

When you write to advise, you should use words like ‘should’, ‘could’ or ‘maybe’, which change a command into a suggestion. This prevents your advice from sounding too harsh. Verbs like ‘could’ and ‘should’ are called modal verbs.

In contrast, when you give instructions, you should use imperative verbs, which are verbs, or action words, that tell a person what to do. They are usually used at the beginning of a sentence, for example ‘Slice the carrots’ rather than ‘You should slice the carrots.’

Activity 24 How to make a cup of tea

Timing: Allow about 10 minutes

Write instructions for making a cup of tea. Use imperative verbs such as ‘pour’ rather than ‘you should pour’, and use short, concise sentences.

To use this interactive functionality a free OU account is required. Sign in or register.
Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).

Discussion

Here are some examples of instructions using imperatives and short, concise sentences:

  • Fill the kettle.

  • Pour the milk.

  • Remove the teabag.

Activity 25 Rewriting advice

Timing: Allow about 10 minutes

Below is a note written to a friend offering advice about their car. It is written like a set of instructions using imperative verbs which makes it sound harsh and not advisory. Rewrite the advice using words like ‘could’ and ‘should’ to modify the tone.

Dear Abbas

Get rid of your car. Sell it as quickly as you can. Take it to a dealership and say you want to sell it. Tell them firmly the price you want. Start to walk away if their offer is too low.

Regards

Louise

To use this interactive functionality a free OU account is required. Sign in or register.
Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).

Discussion

Your revised letter may look something like this.

Dear Abbas

I’m sorry to hear that your car has failed its MOT. You should think about getting a new one. You could try fixing the problems but it may be very costly. It might be easier to take it to a dealership and sell it. If you decide to do that, you should tell them the price you want and you should start to walk away if their offer is too low.

Regards

Louise

In this section you have:

  • practised writing to inform
  • practised writing to persuade
  • practised writing to advise.
FSE_SSC_2

Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to University-level study, we offer two introductory routes to our qualifications. You could either choose to start with an Access module, or a module which allows you to count your previous learning towards an Open University qualification. Read our guide on Where to take your learning next for more information.

Not ready for formal University study? Then browse over 1000 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus371