Yesterday, I answered a short question about contractions and got this reply from Vivien:

Thank you for providing the term and meaning of ‘contractions’. Currently, I am working with an American ‘.com’ company that is young and  struggling to be taken seriously. In reviewing their written correspondence to their customers I noticed they frequently use contractions. This is one of the business communication practices (amoung others) I will be attempting to dissuade them from using. Contractions are acceptable in casual communications however, are generally out of place in business communications.

Thank you for your time,
Miss Viv

It’s a pretty formal sort of reply by today’s standards using words that you could probably simplify to say the same thing – it says something about Vivien – at least about what she thinks is ‘correct’ business English. But is she right? This was my reply to her:

Dear Miss Viv – that really depends on the image that your company wants to project. English, like advertising, is capable of carrying a lot of sub-text ‘message’ and contractions can, of course, carry a message about the organisation. If you want to create the idea that your customers are your friends then contractions would be one way of helping to create that impression. The more structured the English becomes the more formal will be the presentation and image – we are not living in an age where ‘formal’ is equated with ‘good business’ – take Skype as an example… young and onetime struggling, now rich and global and still using contractions!

 

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