Points to note in writ­ing let­ters

Sunday News (Zimbabwe) - - Culture/arts/education -

WE pick up our dis­cus­sion on let­ter writ­ing from where we left last week. We need to ac­knowl­edge that some opin­ions pre­sented here are from var­i­ous sources. Para­graphs in the body of the let­ter, just like in or­di­nary com­po­si­tions are shown by skip­ping a line be­tween one para­graph and the next. All para­graphs be­gin im­me­di­ately af­ter the left mar­gin with­out in­dent­ing. Some­body might think these are easy points to re­mem­ber, yet fail­ure to fol­low in­struc­tions has led to the un­do­ing of many learn­ers.

Where do we leave other free lines when writ­ing let­ters? Leave a free line be­tween: the last line of the ad­dress and the date, the date and the salu­ta­tion, the salu­ta­tion and the body of the let­ter, the last line of the body of the let­ter and the sig­na­ture. In the salu­ta­tion of per­sonal let­ters, use the name you use when talk­ing to the per­son you are writ­ing to, such as Dear Peter, My dear­est Fa­ther, Beloved Un­cle. In the sig­na­ture you write: Your friend, Yours sin­cerely, Your lov­ing daugh­ter/son/sis­ter, or sim­ple write Love. Then you end by writ­ing your first name only, such as: Jack, Amkela.

Learn­ers are re­minded that a per­sonal let­ter should be lively and in­ter­est­ing, ex­cept when it is about sad news. It should show the writer’s in­ter­est in the life of the per­son she or he is writ­ing to, by, for ex­am­ple, re­fer­ring to what she or he al­ready knows or has writ­ten in pre­vi­ous let­ters to the same. Avoid re­peat­ing the pro­noun “I” many times as it is bor­ing to read such ma­te­rial. The same ap­plies for or­di­nary com­po­si­tions where rep­e­ti­tion spoils ev­ery­thing.

Writ­ing in­for­mal or per­sonal let­ters is ob­vi­ously an eas­ier task than writ­ing for­mal or busi­ness let­ters which fol­low a par­tic­u­lar style and rules. For­mal let­ters are writ­ten for busi­ness pur­poses, and are sent even to peo­ple we do not know per­son­ally. When are for­mal or busi­ness let­ters writ­ten? These are writ­ten when, for ex­am­ple: seek­ing school va­can­cies, lik­ing mov­ing from pri­mary school to high school, seek­ing for em­ploy­ment, mak­ing com­plaints or apolo­gies to or­gan­i­sa­tions. For ex­am­ple, com­plain­ing about poor ser­vice de­liv­ery by a lo­cal bus com­pany or lo­cal au­thor­ity.

You could write a busi­ness let­ter giv­ing in­for­ma­tion or mak­ing en­quiries to or­gan­i­sa­tions or ask­ing for ser­vices. Lan­guage used in busi­ness let­ters is strictly for­mal, no slang and you stick to the re­quire­ments of the ques­tion. There are two ad­dresses: — the writer’s ad­dress first, then the date, fol­lowed by the ad­dressee’s name and ad­dress. Salu­ta­tion — For for­mal let­ters write: Dear Sir/Dear Madam or use the per­son’s name if you know it, for ex­am­ple, Dear Mr Dube, Dear Miss Jane, Dear Rev­erend Ndlovu, Dear Pro­fes­sor Ge­orge.

The sub­ject of the whole let­ter is given in the form of a head­ing just af­ter the salu­ta­tion. Ex­am­ple — AP­PLI­CA­TION FOR A FORM ONE PLACE or ASK­ING FOR A DONA­TION. When a head­ing is in small let­ters, it should be un­der­lined. A for­mal let­ter should al­ways be po­lite. Ar­range for­mal let­ters in para­graphs. Write: Yours faith­fully and af­ter that as the sig­na­ture write your full names leg­i­bly, like in this case: Charles Dube or Mary Jones.

Learn­ers can com­pare and con­trast in­for­mal and for­mal let­ters so that they do not con­fuse the two. Learn­ers should not for­get pic­ture com­po­si­tions which just like those based on other sit­u­a­tions are found in Sec­tion B of the English Lan­guage ex­am­i­na­tions. Learn­ers nar­rate the full story as rep­re­sented by the pic­tures. They do not de­scribe the pic­ture it­self, how­ever, learn­ers have to make the story live by giv­ing the places and char­ac­ters imag­i­nary names. Learn­ers could add any rel­e­vant de­tails.

When­ever learn­ers are asked to write com­po­si­tions, they should al­ways read the ques­tions or topic and un­der­stand ex­actly what they are re­quired to do. They should ob­serve the rules of the ques­tion, such as length, or in­for­ma­tion that must, or may be in­cluded. They should write neatly, ar­rang­ing the com­po­si­tion in para­graphs; each para­graph be­gin­ning with a topic sen­tence. A re­minder again and for the ben­e­fit of ju­nior learn­ers: a para­graph is as­set of sen­tences that deal with one main idea.

A topic sen­tence in­tro­duces the main idea in a para­graph. A para­graph has other sen­tences that sup­port the topic sen­tence by de­vel­op­ing the main idea fur­ther. It stands out clearly sup­ported by free lines or spa­ces from other para­graphs. Let us spec­ify the three main parts of a com­po­si­tion: we have the be­gin­ning or in­tro­duc­tion. A good in­tro­duc­tion should be brief, and in most cases it is one para­graph. It should give the reader an in­sight into the com­po­si­tion; and the di­rec­tion it will take. Above all, it should be in­ter­est­ing enough to en­cour­age the reader to want to read on.

The body or mid­dle of the com­po­si­tion. This is the main part of the com­po­si­tion, but, it gives learn­ers a tor­rid time. This is where learn­ers make or break the com­po­si­tion. A well writ­ten body in­cludes all the de­tails of events or de­scrip­tions. It is the longer part of the es­say, usu­ally con­sist­ing of sev­eral para­graphs de­pend­ing on the to­tal length of the es­say. It should be in­ter­est­ing enough to main­tain or even in­crease the reader’s in­ter­est. All in all, it should deal with the ma­te­rial within the terms of the ques­tion or topic.

Lastly, we have the con­clu­sion or end­ing. A good end­ing ties to­gether com­ments made ear­lier in the com­po­si­tion. Sums up what has been writ­ten in re­sponse to the ques­tion. In ad­di­tion to this, it makes judge­ments, or gives an­swers to the is­sues dis­cussed, or rea­sons for the events dis­cussed. On top of that, it is usu­ally brief. Learn­ers al­ways ask what they can do to pass English Lan­guage ex­am­i­na­tions. While there is noth­ing wrong with that, the prob­lem is that the ques­tion is too wide for con­sid­er­a­tion. I would sug­gest they pro­vide spe­cific ar­eas they need to be helped on rather than present vague ques­tions.

In the next is­sue I would briefly de­scribe the type of com­po­si­tions and what is re­quired. We shall con­sider these types from de­scrip­tive leav­ing out nar­ra­tives as the lat­ter has been dealt with a num­ber of times on this page.

For views link with charles­dube14058@gmail. com/sms only 0772113207.

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