By Goke Ilesanmi
In the first serial published in the January 17, 2022 edition, we said it is necessary for business writing to be handled professionally because when it is done properly, it will enhance corporate image and business. We advised organisations to entrench a corporate culture of effective writing by having a writing style guide for excellence and consistency. We said the practice of good and collaborative writing boosts career, ensures business development and enhances profitability. We defined style and examined two major types of style.
Structural types of sentence
In your corporate writing style, it is better to adopt use of a mixture of different types of sentence in terms of structure and length. Too much use of short and simple sentences can make business writing childish, boring or monotonous; while too many long and complex/compound-complex sentences can impede understanding and cause boredom.
A simple sentence has one main clause as well as an idea. It basically contains a single subject and a predicate. Examples are “I eat food”; “I sing a song”, “I go to the office every day”, etc. It can also have a compound subject (two nouns or pronouns). Examples are, “Bola and Femi love each other very much”; “You and I will go there”.
This has two or more main clauses joined together by either “And” (coordinating conjunction of adding); “But” (coordinating conjunction of contrast) or “Or” (coordinating conjunction of choice). When any of these coordinating conjunctions is used to join two or more simple sentences together, the result is called “Compound sentence”. Each of the previous simple sentences will now be referred to as a “Coordinate clause”. Each of these coordinate clauses is independent of the other. However, when two sentences are coordinated as a compound sentence, it is usual for ellipsis (structural cut-off) to be used. So instead of saying “I have seen the man. I have asked the man to come”, we will have “I have seen the man and asked him to come”.
A complex sentence does not mean a sentence that is difficult. Rather, it is a grammatical name arbitrarily given to this type of sentence because of the peculiarity of structure. To make one simple sentence subordinate to another, we need to use any of the relative pronouns such as “Which”, “When”, “That”, “Where”, “Who”, etc., as a conjunction. These conjunctions are called “subordinating conjunctions”. To achieve subordination from two simple sentences “I saw the goat” and “The goat ate the yam”, we need to transform “the goat” of the second simple sentence into the relative pronoun “Which” or “That”. The result is the complex sentence “I saw the goat which/that ate the yam”.
This is the combination of compound and complex sentences. A compound-complex sentence contains two or more main clauses and one or more subordinate clauses. Example is: “I will come and see you in the afternoon when you are less business because of your schedule”.
Word segmentation in standard business writing
In the course of writing, it often becomes necessary to divide a word at the end of the line as a result of lack of enough space for accommodating the complete form of the word. The segmentation or division is structurally reflected through the addition of a hyphen (-), which comes immediately after the first part of the divided word at the end of the line.
Some English language users do not bother to divide words at all at the end of the line, especially when writing by hand. However, for those who maintain the consciousness of always adding a hyphen whenever there is a need for word segmentation, the following methods would be of immense help to them:
Division by structure: This is concerned with morphology defined as the study of the morphemes of a language and the way they are joined together to make words. Therefore, division by structure implies dividing a word into the smaller units of meaning from which it is built up. The division may be along a prefix line, such as “in-“, “un-“, “dis-”, “-im”, etc. (as “Inappropriate”, “Unpredictable”, “Disappointment”, “Impossible”, etc.) or a suffix such as –“ish”, “-ful”, “-able”, etc. (as in “Foolish”, “Spoonful”, “Surmountable”, etc.).
Division by syllable: This is another way of dividing a word. It is concerned with dividing a word along the line of syllables or units of sound. For example, the word Fortune contains two syllables, that is, “For-tune”, while “Unfortunately” contains five, that is, “Un-for-tu-nate-ly”. Therefore, if these words are to be divided, one must make sure that the spot or spots of syllabic division are strictly observed. To divide Unfortunately, for example, the possible forms of structural fragments are Un-, Unfor-, Unfortu- and Unfortunate-. In the dictionary, the bold dot(.) is used to mark the places of word-division for all headwords, derivatives and compounds.
Division by meaning: Division by meaning is concerned with the decision of whether each part of a divided word can be understood or spoken so that the complete word is easily recognised from the two parts. For example, it may be a compound word made up of two different words, such as “Head” and “Master” as in “Headmaster”; “Playing” and “Field” as in “Playing field”; “Single” and “Parent” as in “Singleparent”, etc. Note that in writing a compound word, three types of structure are possible, that is, combination, separation and hyphenation. In other words, you can write it together as one, separate it or add a hyphen.
Summary of the word- division rules
Do not divide a suffix or two syllables such as –fully,
–able, -ably, etc. Apart from the suffix –ly, do not divide a word so that a suffix of two letters (such as –ed, er, -ic, etc.) begins the next line. Do not divide a word of fewer than five letters. Do not divide a monosyllabic word, that is, a word of one syllable. Do not segment a word such that one of its parts is a single letter.
PS: For those making inquiries about our Public Speaking, Business Presentation and Professional Writing Skills programme, please visit the website indicated on this page for details. GOKE ILESANMI (FIIM, FIMC, CMC), CEO of Gokmar Communication Consulting, is an International Platinum Columnist, Professional Public Speaker, Career Mgt Coach and Certified Mgt Consultant. He is also a Book Reviewer, Biographer and Editorial Consultant.
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