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Лингвистический фон деловой корреспонденции (Linguistic Background of Business Correspondence)

Let's sum up the basic rules concerning the letter length.

The letter should be neither too long nor too short. It is better to include too much information than too little. Your reader cannot read your mind. If you leave out vital information, he won't know what he wants to know, unless he writes back again and he may not bother to do that.

If you include extra information, at least he'll have what he wants, even though he may irritated by having to read the unnecessary parts. Provided, of course, that you include the vital information as well as the extras: the worst letter of all is the one that gives very piece of information about the product, except for the price.

Order and sequence

As well as containing the right amount of information, the letter should also make all the necessary points in a logical sequence, with each idea or piece of information linking up with the previous one in a pattern that can be followed. Do not jump around making a statement, switching to other subjects, then referring back to the point you made a few sentences or paragraphs before.

1. Unclear sequence

Consider this badly-written letter. There is no clear sequence to the letter, which makes it difficult to understand.

Dear Sir,

We are interested in your security system. We would like to know more about the prices and discounts you offer.

A business associate of ours, DMS (Wholesalers) Ltd., mentioned your name to us and showed us a catalogue. They were impressed with the security system you installed for them, so we are writing to you about it. Do you give us guarantees with the installations?

In your catalogue we saw the 'Secure 15' which looks as though it might suit our purposes. DMD had the 'Secure 18' installed, but as we mentioned, they are wholesalers, while we are a chain of stores. We would like something that can prevent robbery and shoplifting, so the 'Secure 15' might suit us.

How long would it take to install a system that would serve all departments?  Could you send us an inspector or adviser to see us at some time?

If you can offer competitive prices and guarantees we would put your system in all our outlets, but initially we would only install the system in our main branch.

We would like to make a decision on this soon, so we would appreciate an early reply.

Yours faithfully,

2.Clear sequence

Here is a better version of the same letter, in which the ideas and information are in logical order.

Dear Mr. Jerry,

We are a chain of retail stores and are looking for an efficient security system. You were recommended to us by our associates DMS (Wholesalers) Ltd. for whom you recently installed an alarms system, the 'Secure 18'.

We need an installation which would give us comprehensive protection against robbery and shoplifting throughout all departments; and the' Secure 15' featured in your catalogue appears to suit us. However, if one of your representatives could come along to see us, he would probably be able to give us more advice and details of the available systems.

Initially, we will test your system in our main branch, and if successful, then extend it throughout our other branches, but of course a competitive quotation and full guarantees for maintenance and service would be necessary.

Please reply as soon as possible as we would like to make a decision within the next few months. Thank you

Yours sincerely,


1.     First paragraph

The first sentence or paragraph of a letter is an important one since it gets the tone of the letter and gives your reader his first impression of you and your company. Generally speaking, in the first paragraph you will thank your correspondent for his letter (if replying to an enquiry), introduce yourself and your company if necessary, state the subject of the letter, and set out the purpose of the letter. Here are two examples:

Thank you for your enquiry dated 8 July in which you asked us about our range of cosmetics. As you have probably seen in our advertisements in fashion magazines, we appeal to a wide age-group from the teenage market trough to more mature women, with our products being retailed in leading stores throughout the world.

Thank you for your letter of 19 August which I received today. We can certainly supply you with the industrial floor coverings you asked about, and enclosed you will find a catalogue illustrating our wide range of products, which are used in factories and offices throughout the world.

2.     Middle paragraphs

This is the main part of your letter and will concern the points that need to be made, answers you wish to give, or questions you want to ask. As this can vary widely with the type of letter that you are writing, it is dwelt in other parts of my diploma work.

It is in the middle paragraphs of a letter that planning is most important, to make sure that your points are made clearly, fully and in logical sequence.

3.     Final paragraph

When closing the letter, you should thank the person for writing, if your letter is a reply and if you have not done this at the beginning. Encourage further enquiries or correspondence, and mention that you look forward to hearing from your correspondent soon. You may also wish to restate , very briefly, one or two the most important of the points you have made in the main part of the letter. Here are some examples:

Once again thank you for writing to us, and please contact us if you would like any further information. To go briefly over the points I have made - all prices are quoted c.i.f. Yokahama; delivery would be six weeks from receipt of order; and payment should be made by bank draft. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

I hope I have covered all the questions you asked, but please contact me if there are any other details you require. May I just point out that the summer season will soon be with us, so please place an order as soon as possible so that it can be met in good time for when the season starts. I hope to hear from you in the near future.

We are sure that you have made the right choice in choosing this particular line as it is proving to be a leading seller. If there is any advice or further information you want, we shall be happy to supply it, and look forward to hearing from you.

3. Rules and manners for writing a business letter

·        Main steps

·        Technical layout of letter

·        A letter's style

Writing an effective business letter is an important skill for every manager and business owner.In this brief overview we will examine the five main steps in creating an effective business letter.

Main Steps:

1.Identify your Aims:
Clearly establish what you want to achieve from the letter- whether it is to win back a dissatisfied customer or to reprimand an employee.Whatever the aim, create your letter from these goals.

2. Establish the facts:
Make sure you have the relevant accurate facts available. For a late payer,this might include relevant invoices, complaint forms, talks with your sales department and any previous correspondence from the customer.

3. Know the recipient of the letter:
Write in the language of your recipient. Try to put yourself in the position of the recipient. Read it from his point of view. Is the letter clear or open to misinterpretation.  If you know the recipient, use this knowledge to phrase the letter to generate your desired response.

4. Create a sample Copy:
Having established your aims, amassed the relevant facts with a conscious view of the recipient- write down the main points of your letter.

5. Decide on Physical layout of letter.
The physical appearance of a letter consists of the paper and the envelope.  The first thing a recipient sees is the envelope. It is essential that it is of suitable quality with the name and address spelt correctly.Quality envelopes and paper suggest a professional company.   It is wise to make sure the envelope matches the size of the paper.While you will use 81/2 x 11 inches(A4 size) sized paper for the majority of letters - a 4 x 6 inches(A5) can be used for specific shorter letters.But insist that properly sized envelopes are used for this A5 size paper,allowing you maintain and convey an coordinated image.

Technical layout of letter:

This will include your company's name, address, telephone number, fax number and email address. Include your web address if available. Other information may be required depending on the legal status of your business formation.Contact your legal adviser for exact details.

2. Name and address:
Always include the recipient's name, address and postage code. Add job title if approriate. Double check that you have the correct spelling of the recipient 's name .

Always date your letters.Never abbreviate January to Jan. 31.

These are optional.They are a good idea if you have a large volume of correspondence.These day modern word processors made this an easy task to complete and maintain.

The type of salutation depends on your relationship with the recipient. Always try to personalise letter thus avoiding the dear sir/madam situation.

6.Subject matter:
Again this is optional, but its inclusion can help the recipient in dealing successfully with the aims of your letter. Normally the subject sentence is preceded with the word Re: It should be placed one line below the greeting.

This will contain a number of paragraphs, each paragraph dealing with one point and one point only.

The signature should be clear and legible-showing you are interested in the letter and consequently the recipient.Your signature should also be followed underneath by a typed version of your name and your job title.

If you include other material in the letter, put 'Enclosure','Enc', or' Encs', as appropriate, two lines below the last entry.

A letter's style:

Previously we created the main points of our letter, now we must transform this into a final version.To do this, four main considerations are necessary.

There are three main formats: blocked, semi-blocked and indented.

The former has all entries tight against the left -hand margin.The semi-blocked format sets the references and the date to the right margin for filing and retrieval purposes, with the remaining entries placed against the left margin.

The indented format follows the same layout as either of the above, but indents each paragraph by five or six spaces.

Clarity of communication is the primary goal. Don't use technical jargon if the recipient is unlikely to understand it. Short sentences are less likely to be misunderstood or misinterperted. Be precise , don't ramble. Check each sentence to see if it is relevant.Does it add to the point ?

3. Manner:
Always try to personalise your letters. Always try to be civil and friendly even if the subject matter is stern and sensitive.Give the impression to the recipient that some effort and thought has gone into the letter.

4. Accuracy:
Once the final version of the letter has been created, polish it off with a final spelling and punctuation check.

Letter writing etiquette

Always make sure you start and end your letters correctly. If you are writing to Mrs Jane Smith then you should start the letter 'Dear Mrs Smith' and finish it with 'Yours sincerely' - N.B. 'sincerely' does not start with a capital 'S'.

Particular care is required when you are writing to a woman. If she has just written her name as Jane Smith do you start the letter 'Dear Jane' or 'Dear Ms Smith'. She might be offended if you refer to her as 'Ms' and you might not feel comfortable writing 'Dear Jane' as it sounds too familiar. To get round this problem all you have to do is ring the company and ask them how she likes to be addressed. If there is not a telephone number for the company in the advertisement just call Directory Enquires (dial 192 in the UK). When you ring the company all you have to say is that you are writing to Jane Smith and you would like to know whether she is a Ms, Mrs or Miss so your letter can be correctly addressed.

If the advertisement just says reply to J. Smith how would you address the letter? Dear Sir? or Dear Madam? Dear Mr Smith? You would be well advised to ring the company and find out J. Smith's full name and title (Mr/Mrs/Ms/Miss). Remember politeness costs you nothing, but it can really pay dividends and you will probably be the only person who has bothered to find out. This may distinguish you from everyone else who applied - being noticed is the key to writing a potential interview-winning covering letter.

If the advertisement just says write to the Personnel Department or reply to Box Number 55 it may not be possible for you to find out who will be handling your reply. In these cases you will have to start your letter 'Dear Sir/Madam' and finish the letter with 'Yours faithfully'. Please note that 'faithfully' does not start with a capital 'F'.

Striking the Right Tone
          An underlying goal of most business letters you write is to promote goodwill between you and your reader. Especially when writing to someone for the first time, you should use a tone that will encourage that person to listen to you and want to work with you now and in the future

If your letter is primarily informational or contains good news, a direct approach is usually best. State your point or offer your news immediately and briefly, and then explain any other information the reader needs to know.

Finding the proper tone is more difficult if you are delivering bad news. In this case, taking an indirect approach may be a better strategy. In the first few sentences, for example, you could begin on a positive note by stating how much you want to work with the reader’s company or by reminding the reader of times you accommodated his or her requests in the past. When you do get to your point, try to minimize the reader’s disappointment or anger by delivering the message in carefully considered language that conveys your news clearly but tactfully.

Establishing a Courteous Tone

            The fast pace of letters makes it easy to send a message without fully considering the nuances of its tone. If you do not take the time to think about your words and how they may be perceived, your letters may seem overly blunt or even insulting.

A simple rule can keep you from writing inadvertently offensive letters: Always ask yourself how you would feel if you received the message you are sending. If you would bristle at its terseness, you can assume the reader will as well. If you are unsure how the message might be taken, ask for someone else’s opinion, or let it sit overnight and read it again the next morning with a fresh eye.

If someone sends you a rude  e-mail message (or “flame,” in e-mail slang), take a moment to calm down before responding. The best way to douse a flame is to write back using the most neutral and measured tone you can muster. In some cases it’s best not to respond to a flame.

4. Style of a business letter

Now I will deal with some common writing problems that do not involve rules of grammar. These problems—of parallelism, redundancy, and the like—are more rhetorical than grammatical; that is, they involve choices you must make as a writer trying to create a certain style of expression. You must determine what stylistic choices will afford greater clarity and cogency to each of your efforts to communicate. We all make different choices when faced with different communicative tasks depending on what we feel will be most effective. An expression that is appropriate for a formal letter may be utterly off-putting in an informal message.

A successful and distinctive writing style is an elusive bird of paradise. It is unmistakable once you see it but difficult to find. It involves many things: creating an appropriate voice for your purpose, choosing the right words for the subject and audience, constructing elegant sentences whose rhythm reinforces their meaning, presenting an argument in a logical fashion that is both engaging and easy to follow, finding vivid images to make thoughts accessible to your readers. You can probably add to this list. You may, for example, want to shock or jolt your audience rather than court it, and this strategy requires stylistic features that are quite different from those you would use for gentle persuasion. 


Most memorable writing has as one of its recognizable features the ample use of parallel grammatical structures.  A basic guideline about parallel constructions is to make sure that all the elements in a balanced pair or in a series have the same grammatical form. That is, if you start with a that-clause, stick with that-clauses; if you start with an infinitive, stick with infinitives; if you start with a participle, stick with participles; and so on. What you don’t want is a mixed bag, as in She had a strong desire to pursue medicine and for studying literature or The scientist asked for volunteers with allergies but who had not given blood recently.

  A second point is to make sure that once you have chosen the kind of grammatical forms you want to make parallel, you structure them symmetrically. Remember that an initial article, preposition, auxiliary verb, or modifier will tend to govern all elements in the series unless it is repeated for each element. For example, if you set up a series of nouns with the first modified by an adjective, the reader will expect the adjective to modify the rest of the series as well. Thus you should say The building has new lighting, plumbing, and carpeting but not The building has new lighting, plumbing, and different carpeting. The same is true for articles: He brought the rod, reel, and bait. If you want to restrict a modifier to only one noun, repeat the article for each noun: He brought the light rod, the reel, and the bait.

   When you spot a faulty parallel, recast the structure to give all the elements equivalent treatment. If your new parallel construction does not seem much of an improvement, rewrite the sentence completely to avoid the parallel construction. Better to have no parallel structures than to have parallel structures that sound overblown or stilted.

  Faulty parallelism is all around us. We see and hear it every day—often without taking notice. How many times have you heard Please leave your name, number, and a brief message? After waiting for the tone, have you ever objected to the imperfect symmetry of this sentence? In our most recent ballot we presented some sentences with questionable parallelism to the usage panelists to see how tolerant they would be. As we expected, they had a range of opinions.

  Crafting sentences with flawless parallelism takes effort and practice. Even if your readers don’t notice or object when you make mistakes, balance and symmetry are worth striving for in your writing. There are certain constructions that are notorious for throwing things out of whack. I listed some of them below.

both … and …

comparisons with as and than

compound verbs

either … or / neither … nor

not only … but also

rather than


Passive Voice

Writing handbooks usually include warnings about the passive voice—it is wordy and clumsy and leads to static rather than dynamic writing. There is truth to this, certainly, but the passive voice also has legitimate uses, and in many instances it is preferable to the active voice.

Such phrases as "The material will be delivered";  "The start date is to be decided";  "The figures must be approved" are obscure ones leaving unsettled who it is that delivers, who decides,  and who does the approving.  Which side it is to be? Lawsuits  are  the  plausible  outcome  of  leaving it all unsettled. Passives used in contracts can  destroy  the  whole negotiations. "You  will  deliver"  is better for it identifies the one who will do delivering.  Certainly,  "must be approved by us" violates other canons.  "We shall have the right but not the obligation to approve" is less unfortunate. 

There  is  no doubt that passives do not suit business letters,  and if they go all the way through without adding something like "by  you" or "by us" they are intolerable.  Once in a long while one may find passives used purposely to leave something  unresolved.



A certain amount of redundancy is built in to the English language, and we would never consider getting rid of it. Take grammatical number, for instance. Sentences such as 'He drives to work' and 'We are happy' contain redundant verb forms. The -s of drives indicates singularity of the subject, but we already know the subject is singular from the singular pronoun he. Similarly, are indicates a plural subject, which is already evident from the plural pronoun we. Number is also indicated redundantly in phrases like this book and those boxes, where the demonstrative adjective shows number and the noun does as well.

But there are redundant ways of saying things that can make the rest of your writing seem foolish. Many of these are common expressions that go unnoticed in casual conversation but that stick out like red flags in writing. Why say at this point in time instead of now, or because of the fact that when because will do? Something that is large in size is really just large. The trouble lies less in the expressions themselves than in their accumulated effect. Anyone can be forgiven for an occasional redundancy, but writing that is larded with redundancies is likely to draw unwanted laughs rather than admiration.

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