What is English?

Recently, we’ve been working for several clients who have widely differing views of the English language as used in business.

First, there’s the client who prefers heavy punctuation with commas, semicolons and other marks used at every possible opportunity to help the reader fully understand the message in the text.

Then there’s the client who prefers minimal punctuation, which leads the reader to stop frequently because it’s not always easy to understand what is being said.

There are advantages and disadvantages to both approaches. Heavy punctuation can help to ensure the meaning is understood, but can get in the way. Light punctuation keeps the text uncluttered, but can hinder understanding.

The whole point of punctuation is to guide and help the reader. Surely, the best approach is to use sufficient punctuation to enable the reader to read at a good speed and to understand what is being said.

Writing for business usually requires the message to be understood fully, quickly and easily. The best way to achieve this is to put personal preferences aside and use only the punctuation that the readers needs, because if the reader can’t understand the writing, it’s a waste of everyone’s time.

Robert Zarywacz