William Stromsem, J.D., CPA, George Washington University School of Business
We all take pride in our written communications to clients and others. But if you reviewed this first sentence using Grammarly, you might find that it needs improvement.
- Drop the “all”—unless you say “you all” or “y’all” in your client communications. “All” is assumed unless you want to add words to limit the meaning of “we.”
- We do not really “take pride”—that’s known as a false verb. (By the way, we do not really “take depreciation” either, but this false use of a verb has crept into our vernacular and is fairly accepted.)
- We do not communicate to clients and others; we communicate with them—unless you want to give the impression that only a one-way communication is intended.
- We can shorten “clients and others” because if we are including others, there is no limit to the people we are communicating with, so clients are already included.
The final sentence could be rewritten in several ways, but Grammarly will suggest for you—possibly, “We are proud of our writing.”
If you followed the comments in the preceding paragraph, you can see that effective business writing is complex, requiring a knowledge of grammar and writing style. Writing style should be trim, appreciating the time of the reader and communicating efficiently. You might want to frame a quote for your office wall from Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, “Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.”
You might already know grammar rules if you had paid more attention back in high school English class (whoops, another false verb), but accounting students rarely have a writing course after that. Or you may have become a better writer from past experience. (“Past” is redundant—what other type of experience can we have?) But for those who do not write confidently, TXCPA has several CPE webcasts on writing and communications skills. AICPA offers a couple effective business writing courses, as well. And a great new way to strengthen your writing is with the inexpensive artificial intelligence tool, Grammarly.
Grammarly is more than a spell-guard or grammar-guard. It reviews spelling, grammar and punctuation, but it also suggests improvements for clarity and writing efficiency. It can use artificial intelligence to add related substantive points to your writing. Grammarly can be used as you write or when you have a finished draft, and it suggests possible replacement language that you can accept or dismiss. You can set the tone and style for the communication. You can set the level of formality from casual to formal and the tone to be personable, confident, direct, empathetic, engaging or witty. Grammarly is a great, non-judgmental editor that never gets tired as it reviews each sentence without glazing over. Grammarly will evaluate your draft for correctness, clarity and conciseness, and level of engagement with vocabulary and variety. As you continue to use Grammarly, you will become a more confident writer.
You can try Grammarly for free but will likely want to migrate to the Premium or Business versions that are inexpensive in relation to the benefit to you and your firm. More information and a free trial are available here.
Many of you probably write better than me, but please do not send me edits—I’ve tried to write an informative article that is written real good. (Final sentence not reviewed by Grammarly.)