Machen Sie Ihre Briefe und E-Mails persönlicher

Make your business letters more personal with active verbs

Mit aktiven Verben gestalten Sie Ihre Geschäftsbriefe und E-Mails lesefreundlicher, höflicher und gleichzeitig persönlicher.

In the old days, the language of business was very different from that of everyday life. Letters in particular were often excruciatingly polite. They consisted of set phrases, long sentences, and the more impersonal they were, the better it was. “We look forward to the arrival of your esteemed reply in due course” is one I remember reading less than ten years ago. Of course, even then it was old-fashioned, but people were still using it.

In recent years communication has become more direct. Much of the gobbledygook of the past has disappeared and today you can get your message across without bending over backwards to be polite.

One big difference is that active verbs are replacing passive ones whenever
possible. Look at these two senten ces. The first uses a passive verb, the second an active one.

➊ An active verb should be used whenever possible.

➋ Use an active verb whenever possible.

Not only is the second, active, one more direct, it is also shorter, an important aspect in this age of information overload.

Sometimes, however, it is better to use a passive verb, especially in sentences where the action is more important than the person who performed it.

How good is your feeling for the English language? Test yourselfby doing this exercise in two minutes.

Look at these sentences.

Sentence a) is in the passive voice, sentence b) in the active voice.
When is the passive better and when is the active better?

a) Our current catalogue is enclosed herewith.
b) We are enclosing our current catalogue.

a) The goods have been repaired and will be returned to you tomorrow.
b) Our engineers have repaired the goods and we will return them to you tomorrow.

a) Any questions you may have will happily be answered by our staff.
b) Our staff will be happy to answer any questions you may have.

a) Your visit is being eagerly awaited and a car will be sent to pick you up from the airport.
b) We are very much looking forward to your visit and will send a car to pick you up from the airport.


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Solution: 1) b  2) a  3) b  4) b