Careless writers often express two or more unrelated thoughts in the same sentence — as :
1. We are at a loss to understand why you did not keep your promise to remit, and we have begun many suits lately to collect past-due accounts.
2. St. Louis should always extend a hearty welcome to manufacturers, and it has one of the largest parks in the United States. Sometimes a sentence contains two ideas that it is really absurd to connect as : Mr. Annis was a successful manufacturer, but he died in California.
Sometimes also a sentence contains too many members or is unduly lengthened by the addition of several subordinate clauses as : 1. We agree that it is somewhat late to address you in regard to this, but we are trying to get your account in proper balance, and as you know we are having a hard problem to solve in handling our returned goods, we have been unable to give everything its proper attention.
2. We have some customers who wish to return goods which were shipped according to the contract which we have taken great pains to make clear to all that do business with us. But quite often there is not enough in the sentence.
For example, a subordinate clause will be mistaken for a sentence and made to stand alone as : You having made no effort to pay your past-due account. Although we have extended to you most courteous treatment.
Again, a relative clause will be connected with a statement by and or but when the connectives should be omitted as: We wrote you January 7 about the invoices of October and November and which should have been paid before the Christmas holidays. Sometimes there is a needless change of the subject as :
Our Iowa representative visited the house today, and business in his territory was reported good. Note the improvement when the subject is made the same as : Our Iowa representative visited the house and reported business good in his territory. In all of the foregoing cases, the writers failed to make their meanings clear because they did not express their thoughts, one at a time, in complete units.
That is, their sentences lacked unity. Unity in the sentence is the expression of but one main idea.
Do not unite two or more statements unless they are closely related in thought. Original: I was greatly disappointed this morning to find that your check had not yet reached us, and I told the manager of the Credit Department that you would pay your bills promptly. Improved: Several months ago I told the manager of the Credit Department that you would pay your bills promptly.
This morning, however, I was greatly disappointed to find that your check had not reached us. Rule II. Do not include in the same sentence inconsistent or absurd ideas.
1. Original: Hoping to hear from you at an early date, we trust that you will find the sale of our line satisfactory. Improved: We hope to hear from you at an early date. Meanwhile we trust that you will find the sale of our goods satisfactory.
2. Original: The hat was undoubtedly crushed in shipping, and it was a John B. Stetson hat. Improved: This Stetson hat was undoubtedly crushed in shipping.
Do not use and or hut to connect a relative clause with a sentence.
1. Original: Referring to your account on our books, we find that since the date of this statement you have paid us $155.51, and which remittance we appreciate. Improved: We appreciate the payment of $155.51 which our record of your account shows you made since your last statement.
2. Original: We have received many orders from Mr. W. A. Miller, a well-known retailer, and who understands the conditions in that part of the state. Improved: We have received many orders from Mr. W. A. Miller, a well-known retailer, who understands conditions in that part of the state.
A sentence should not contain too many members even though they are closely related in thought,
I. Original: This statement is sent for comparison, and if, at your convenience, you will be kind enough to check it over and if found to be correct, favor us with a remittance, we shall be enabled to balance your account down to the point mentioned. Improved:
This statement is sent for comparison. Please check it over at your convenience, and if you find it correct, favor us with a remittance. We shall then be able to balance your account down to the time mentioned.
2. Original: We are sure you do not wish us to discriminate against our good customers; however, we do just this, if we waive interest in your favor while other customers who for some reason could not pay for their purchases on the maturity date allow us interest for the overtime. Improved:
We are sure you do not wish us to discriminate against our good customers who for some reason could not pay for their purchases on the maturity date and have allowed us interest for the overtime. If, however, we waive interest in your favor, this is precisely what we do.
Do not mistake a phrase or a clause for a complete sentence.
1. Original: We do not urge our customers to put their private funds into these bonds. Although we have ourselves bought heavily of them. Improved: Although we have bought heavily of these bonds, we do not urge our customers to put their private funds into them.
2. Original: We shipped one case June 7, price twenty-seven dollars. The other June 23, price thirty-six dollars. Improved: We shipped one case June 7, price twenty-seven dollars, and the other June 23, price thirty-six dollars.
When clauses, phrases, and single parts of speech are connected by and, or, but, either — or, neither nor, etc., they should be made similar in form. Careless writers often join a clause and a phrase by one of the foregoing connectives when both expressions should be clauses or nouns.
I. Original: We could not continue longer in business, or very few orders had come in and on account of the high cost of labor. Improved: We could not continue longer in business, for very few orders had come in and the cost of labor was high
2. Original: The company decided that it would raise the wages of its employees and to grant them a bonus. Improved: The company decided to raise the wages of its employees and to grant thtm a bonus.
3. Original: As we have written you many letters and no reply having been received, we are placing your account in the hands of our attorney for collection.
4. Improved: As we have written you many letters and have received no reply, we are placing your account in the hands of our attorney for collection. Careless writers also unconsciously shift from one form of the verb to another, from present time to past time, from one pronoun subject to another and from one form of verb to an unlike form as, ” My duties are to answer the telephone and filing letters. This, of course, should be written: “My duties are to answer the telephone and file letters.
The following sentences illustrate these types of errors :
1. Original: Mr. Hart will call on you in a few days, and samples of our goods will be shown to you. Improved: Mr. Hart will call on you in a few days and show you samples of our goods.
2. Original: Just then a customer comes in and wanted to return some goods which she had bought. Improved: Just then a customer came in and wanted to exchange some goods which she had bought.
3. Original: We appreciate his going on the road for us, his loyalty to the house, and that he has made money for us. Improved: We appreciate the fact that he went on the road for us, was loyal to the house, and made money for us.
4. Original: We regret being unable to replace the broken chair and that you have decided not to give us future orders. Improved: We regret that we are unable to replace the broken chair and that you have decided not to give us future orders.
Avoid any needless change of the subject,
1. Original: You may give us a promissory note for the amount, or a check may be sent by you. Improved: You may give us a promissory note for the amount or send us your personal check.
2. Original: Our salesman will call on you next week, and our proposition will be explained to you in detail. Improved: Our salesman will call on you next week and explain our proposition in detail.