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BenchmarkWriting.
Professional Writing & Language Skills

Writing and Language Skills


for Tax & Legal Advisory
Practitioners

www.BenchmarkEnglish.com
Professional Writing Skills
INTRODUCTION ............................................................................................................5

PART 1 FUNCTION........................................................................................................6

Greetings .....................................................................................................................................................................6

Titles ............................................................................................................................................................................6

The Complimentary Close:........................................................................................................................................7

The Comma after the greeting...................................................................................................................................8

Reference forms:.........................................................................................................................................................8

Starting The Letter.....................................................................................................................................................9

Dates ..........................................................................................................................................................................10

Enclosures .................................................................................................................................................................11

Asking Politely for Information ..............................................................................................................................11

Accepting an Engagement........................................................................................................................................12

Providing a timeframe..............................................................................................................................................13

Prepositions of time ..................................................................................................................................................14

Exercise on Prepositions of Time ............................................................................................................................15

Urgency......................................................................................................................................................................16

Giving Assurances ....................................................................................................................................................16

Avoiding giving information....................................................................................................................................17

Expressing Concern..................................................................................................................................................17

Common references to sums of money ...................................................................................................................18

Apologising................................................................................................................................................................18

Estimations and forecasts ........................................................................................................................................19

Legal interpretation..................................................................................................................................................20

Lookf
orwar
dto…...................................................................................................................................................20

Closing phrases .........................................................................................................................................................21

PART 2 STYLE.............................................................................................................23

Professional Writing Skills - Copyright Nick Russell 2007 2


The Passive Voice .....................................................................................................................................................23

Focusing with Passives .............................................................................................................................................24

Describing Procedures with Passives ......................................................................................................................25

Using Passives to be Objective not Personal...........................................................................................................25

Exercise in Passive Forms ........................................................................................................................................26

Avoid Modals ............................................................................................................................................................27

Indirect questions .....................................................................................................................................................28

Give and Get .............................................................................................................................................................29

Problem .....................................................................................................................................................................29

Formal Language......................................................................................................................................................30

Exercise in Formal English Writing........................................................................................................................31

Reporting Lapses ......................................................................................................................................................32

Mi
sunde
rst
andi
ngMus
tn’
t......................................................................................................................................32

Hereby .......................................................................................................................................................................33

Contractions..............................................................................................................................................................33

Saying No via Legal Reference ................................................................................................................................33

Conditionals ..............................................................................................................................................................34

Nominalised Conditional Warnings ........................................................................................................................36

Conditional Exercises ...............................................................................................................................................37

Exercises in Nominalised Conditionals ...................................................................................................................37

Exercises in Nominalised Conditionals ...................................................................................................................38

Legal Connection Phrases........................................................................................................................................39

Following the Law ....................................................................................................................................................42

Breaking the Law .....................................................................................................................................................42

Legal Writing Exercise.............................................................................................................................................43

Some Unloved Correspondence Expressions..........................................................................................................44

Very Good .................................................................................................................................................................45

Plurals, Singulars and Uncountables1 ....................................................................................................................46

Plurals, Singulars and Uncountables 2 ...................................................................................................................47

PART 3 TECHNIQUE ...................................................................................................48

Indirect Speech-Writing Minutes............................................................................................................................48

Professional Writing Skills - Copyright Nick Russell 2007 3


Indirect Speech Exercise ..........................................................................................................................................49

Concessive contrasts .................................................................................................................................................51

Exercise in Concessive Contrasts 1 .........................................................................................................................52

Exercise in Concessive Contrasts 2 .........................................................................................................................53

Cause and Result ......................................................................................................................................................54

Cause and Result Exercise 1 ....................................................................................................................................56

Cause and Result Exercise 2 ....................................................................................................................................57

Describing Trends 1..................................................................................................................................................58

Describing Trends 2..................................................................................................................................................59

Describing Trends 3..................................................................................................................................................60

Describing Trends Exercise 1 ..................................................................................................................................61

Describing Trends Exercise 2 ..................................................................................................................................62

Describing Trends Exercise 3 ..................................................................................................................................63

Doublespeak & Jargon.............................................................................................................................................64

Problem Expressions ................................................................................................................................................65

Problem Expressions Exercise 1..............................................................................................................................66

Problem Expressions Exercise 2..............................................................................................................................67

System Process Evaluation ......................................................................................................................................68

EXERCISES .................................................................................................................69

Financial Statements Exercise .................................................................................................................................69

Tax Letter Exercise. .................................................................................................................................................70

Letter Completion Exercise Tax..............................................................................................................................71

Professional Writing Skills - Copyright Nick Russell 2007 4


Introduction

In this manual, we shall focus on the three key elements of professional business writing; function, style
and technique.

The Three Components of Professional Business Writing

Style includes all the elements of


Function includes the basics language that make a piece of
of all business writing appear professional:
correspondence: the Tone, grammar, formality and
formalities like, salutations, register. For example many non-
titles, references etc., as well native writers write as if they are
as practical functions like speaking:
requesting, apologizing offering
etc. Knowing the precise
phrase for the specific function NOT:“
Wewi
l
lfi
nisht
hej
obont
ime.

is an essential skill.
FUNCTION STYLE BUT:“
Theassi
gnmentwi
l
lbecompl
etedbyt
heduedat
e.”

REQUESTING: NOT:“
Pleasegi
veust
hef
il
e.”

BUT:“
Wewoul
dbegr
atef
ult
orecei
vet
hef
il
e.”

TECHNIQUE

Technique refers to the ability to NOT:“


Sal
eswentupbutpr
ofi
twentdownbecauseofabadcostsi
tuat
ion”
.
perform a specific writing task
like reporting trends, linking
BUT:“
Not
wit
hst
andi
ngani
ncreaseinprof
it
s,sal
esdet
eri
orat
edduet
ohi
gher
causes and results, sequencing,
overheadexpenses”
.
using professional or technical
vocabulary correctly.

Professional Writing Skills - Copyright Nick Russell 2007 5


Part 1 Function
GREETINGS

NOT Thet i
tle‘MI SS’r eferst oan BUT
unmarried woman. For
Dear Ms Lawson,
Dear Miss Lawson, business purposes, a neutral
feminine title is preferred

In official correspondence, if you do not know the name of the person you are writing to, use the following
forms:

Dear Sir,
Dear Sir or Madam,
Dear Madam, ( thepluralf
orm‘Mesdames’i srarelyused)
Dear Sirs,
Gentlemen! (U.S.)
To Whom It May Concern! (Only used for purposes of legal notification)
Dear Members of the Board,
Dear Ladies,
Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,
Dear Colleagues,
Dear All,

TITLES

When you are writing to somebody by name, there are the following forms:
Dear Mr Weston, (if it is a man)
Dear Bill, (if the letter is informal)
Dear Mrs Benedict, (title for married woman)

Dear Ms Weber,
(Ms = neutral title for women –it is popular because it does not differentiate between married and
unmarried status.Thepr onunci
at i
oni stri
cky;itispronounced‘ MZ’ not‘ MI SS–i not
herwor dsthe‘S’
is
voiced not unvoiced)

Dear Miss Clarke, (traditional title for unmarried women –no longer much in use)
Dear Margaret Jackson, (this form of addressing without title is common in Scandinavian countries,
where formal titles are seen as old-fashioned)
Philip Meldrew esq. (short form of esquire –anol dfashi
onedal t
ernat
iveto‘Mr–only used on
envelopes or in the address block’ )

US/UK Differences:
Common abbreviated titles have no full-stop/ point after them in British English but U.S. usage is to
include point: ‘
Mr.
’and‘ Mr s.

Professional Writing Skills - Copyright Nick Russell 2007 6


THE COMPLIMENTARY CL OSE:

NOT BUT
The combination of a formal Dear Sir,
Dear Sir,
…………………
………………… opening and an informal
Yours faithfully,
Best regards, complimentary close do not
fit together

The complimentary close is the phrase before writing your signature. There are a variety of formal and
informal options:

,l
At the most formal levelett
ersst
art
i
ngwi
th:‘ ’
Dear Sir,endwi
t
h‘ ’
.
Yours faithfully,

Letters beginning with Dear Mr XXX,shoul


dcl
osewi
th‘ ’
Yours sincerely,.

Let
ter
sbegi
nni
ng‘ ’cancl
Dear Mike, osewi
th‘ ’
Best regards,

Other options include:

Your obedient servant, (old-fashioned –but still sometimes to be seen)


Cordially, - (unusual –but sometimes used by English middle classes)
Respectfully, or Respectfully yours, (an unusual but dignified formal phrase)
Yours truly / Very truly yours (U.S.),
Best wishes,
Yours,
Yours as ever,
Kind regards,
Kindest regards,

If you want to focus a higher degree of friendliness at a fairly formal level you can use:

With kindest regards,

Professional Writing Skills - Copyright Nick Russell 2007 7


THE COMMA AFTER THE GREETING

Note that after the greeting there is a comma followed by a new paragraph beginning with a capital letter,
e.g.:

Dear Mr Jones,

With reference to your enquiry of 5 August...

REFERENCE FORMS:

There are a number of ways to begin a business letter with varying levels of formality. Often we are
writing the letter to confirm or arrange some business, so we wish to refer to an earlier correspondence,
phone call, email or meeting. The following is a list of possibilities

Wer efertoy ourlet terof …


With reference to....
Further to your letter of 10 July 200X …
Referring to....
Regarding...
Concerning..

Iam wr
it
ingwi
t
href
erencet
o….

Thank you for your letter of 12 June 200X

I am writing in connection with your letter of /dated 14 June 200X

Be careful not to be too impersonal:

Two aspects need to be


addressed here. Firstly the
NOT BUT
alienation of the client by the Dear Sir,
Dear Sir, very impersonal passive form. We refer to the issue of
Reference is made to your Secondl ythewor d‘ problem’ doubtful receivables.
problems with bad debts. might indicate a lack of
professional competence.

Professional Writing Skills - Copyright Nick Russell 2007 8


STARTING THE LETTER

NOT
Dear Sir,
Reference is made to your letter
of 23 June 200Z in which you
enclosed documents and
financial statements relating to Making a detailed reference BUT
Excalibur S.A. for the years to the specific terms of We refer to your letter of 23
200W, 200X, & 200Y and kindly reference with the client often June 200Z and are pleased
requested us to review the leads to an over-complicated to offer our analysis and
aforementioned documents and sentence. It is more efficient possible solution to the
to provide you with our to start your letter with a issues raised,
comments and suggestions general reference statement.
regarding the advantages and
disadvantages of a proposed
acquisition of Excalibur S.A. by
Hyperion Inc.

When writing a business letter it is logical to start by referring specifically to the business in hand. This
can lead to difficulties. The desire to make a complete and accurate summary of all the issues can lead
to a long and over-complicated opening sentence. It is more efficient to start the letter with a general
‘t
empl at
e’ phrasel ikei nt heexampl ebel ow:

Dear Mr Rawson,

We refer to your letter of 23 June 200X and are pleased to offer our analysis and possible solution
to the issues raised.

Professional Writing Skills - Copyright Nick Russell 2007 9


DATES

There is no fixed standard for writing dates. Dates may be expressed in various forms. Often within
cor
por ationst her
ear e‘houser ules’ .Thef ollowingv er
sionsar eallaccept able:

Tuesday, 16 January 2007


16 January 2007
nd
2 January 2006
16 January, 2007

Normally the digital date form is not used in formal correspondence but it might be added to notes or
reports. Be careful to differentiate between U.S. and European practice.

12/10/2006
12.10.07 (US/ Japan: Month Day Year)
10.12.06 (Europe: Day Month Year)

Wer efertothedat eofear li


ercor respondencewit
hthepr
eposi
ti
on‘
OF’
E.g.: We refer to your letter of 24 August 2007

Alternatively we use the expression,’dat ed’


E.g.: We refer to your letter dated 24 August 2007

You can not use, ‘


dat
ed’when referring to earlier meetings or telephone conversations.

NOT ‘
DATED’r eferst oawr i
ttendat e BUT
We refer to our meeting We refer to our meeting of 4
dated 4 June 2009
on a document and cannot be
June 2009
used to refer to the date of a
telephone call or meeting

Professional Writing Skills - Copyright Nick Russell 2007 10


ENCLOSURES

Whenwesendal ett
erandi ncl
udeaddi t
ionaldocument s/objects,weusuallyr efert o‘ enclosures’
. In
emails,addit
ional document s/
object sar eusual l
yr eferr
edt oas‘ att
achment s’. Below are some of the
phrases used to inform the reader that additional information accompanies the letter or email.

In Letters In Emails
Please find enclosed .. Please find attached ..
Please find as enclosure .. Please find appended ..
Please find attached .. (when additional information is Please find as attachment ..
fixed to covering letter by staple or paper-clip) Attached please find ..
Please find appended... (when additional information is In the attachment please find ..
fixed to covering letter by staple or paper-clip)
Please find attached .. (for fax messages)

ASKING POLITELY FOR INFORMATION

Non-native speakers often write


NOT BUT
too informally and directly. This We would be grateful if you
We want the file please. can appear impolite could send us the file.

We would be most grateful if you could send us the details.


Pleasecoul dy ousendust hefil
e…
We would very much appreciate your sending us the details as soon as possible.
I would be much obliged to you if you could send us ....
We kindly request that you send us the file as soon as possible

Professional Writing Skills - Copyright Nick Russell 2007 11


ACCEPTING AN ENGAGEM ENT

NOT BUT
We need to transform informal We thank you for choosing our
Thanks for giving us the job spoken English into formal firm and look forward to a
written English successful partnership.

We thank you for this assignment and for your trust in the quality of our professional services.
We thank you for choosing our firm and look forward to a successful partnership.
We shall be pleased to confirm our acceptance of the assignment and look forward to a successful
cooperation.
We consider it an honour to have been chosen to serve your firm and shall make every effort to exceed
your expectations.
Wear ehappyt oconf i
rmthatwecan…
We accept your offer
Weagr eet o…
Wear ewi ll
ingto…
In principle we would be - prepared to offer you our services, provided…
- ready to
- willing to
- disposed to undertake the project

Professional Writing Skills - Copyright Nick Russell 2007 12


PROVIDING A TIMEFRAME

NOT BUT
Apart from being too informal, The assignment will be
We’
llf
inishthejobunt
il there is a common mistake to completed by Tuesday
Tuesday mixup‘ until
’and‘by’

‘BY’of t
enr eferstoadeadl ine,- a point of time at which something
must be finished.
E.g.:‘ Imusthavet her epor
tcompl etedbyt omor row eveni ng’.
‘UNTI L’usual lyref
er stoaper iodofavai labl etimest arti
ngf rom now
to a future time point.
E.g.:‘ Youhaveunt iltomorrow eveni ngt of ini
sht her eport’
.

The order will be executed within two weeks


The project will be completed by 20 April / the end of this month
The assignment will be carried out according to your requirements and we shall begin our work on
1March
We shall carry out a review which will be submitted to you at the end of next week
We shall proceed as requested and the assignment will be completed by the due date.

Professional Writing Skills - Copyright Nick Russell 2007 13


PREPOSITIONS OF TIME

Clock time AT11o’ clock


IN the morning
IN the afternoon
IN the evening
Parts of day
AT night
AT midnight
AT midday
Days of the week ON Monday
AT Christmas
AT Easter
Holidays & special AT the weekend
days But: ON Christmas Day
ON Easter Sunday
Also:(I’
m goi nghomeFORt
heChr
ist
masHol
i
day
s)
Months IN August
Years IN 2005
Dates ON 30 March 2019
FOR an hour
Time periods
(I
’v
ebeenwai tingf oranhour )
The factory will be closed FROM 1st TO 14th July.
Connecting two
Repairs will be carried out BETWEEN Monday and
dates / time points
Wednesday.
Time points I
’vebeenwor kingSI NCE7o’cl ock
Time period
I lived in New York FROM 1987 to 1989
(finished)
Time point (past) I visited China 18 years AGO
Time point Deadline I must have the report BY Monday night.
Time period (future
We have UNTIL Monday to give our answer.
extension)
Time period limit The project must be completed WITHIN two weeks.
Simultaneous time We can organise the staff relocation questions
period WHILE we are carrying out the main construction.
Simultaneous time
We visited Agnes DURING our summer holidays.
period
Next Monday
Reference to Every Christmas
particular dates / One weekend
days may require NO This Saturday
preposition This year
Every year

Professional Writing Skills - Copyright Nick Russell 2007 14


EXERCISE ON PREPOSITIONS OF TIME

Complete the text below with prepositions and time reference links:

Dear Harry,
th
Further to our meeting _____________ 12 November and our phone conversation two days
_____________ I would like to summarise the points agreed. We shall begin the audit
th rd
_____________Monday 12 January and complete it _____________ Wednesday 3 February. The
total audit will be therefore completed _____________ four weeks _____________ time for your
shareholders meeting. The total time budget _____________ 500 hours is higher than -
_____________ 2006 due to the increased work required for the consolidation of your new
acquisition of Berry S.A. _____________ February. The preliminary audit should be completed
th
____________17 January. I have _____________ last received the figures _____________your
subsidiary in Singapore. Our review _____________ the figures should be completed
_____________ next Friday _____________ the latest.

As we informed you _____________ our meeting during the interim audit ________________
September, Mr Nigel Waterbridge is no longer permitted to serve as lead partner for your audit. Nigel
was appointed to serve your firm nearly 9 years ______________. Now under new auditing
standards enacted three, months ___________ , _____________ October of ____________ year by
our professional institute,, we are obliged to replace lead partners _________________ 5 years. Mr
Julian Fletcher has therefore been appointed to replace Nigel. As you know, Julian has served as
senior manager on your audit _____________ 2004. Consequently, we are confident that he has the
knowledge and expertise to serve your company with the high level of competence that you received
from Nigel ____________ the ______________________ 9 years.
th
Our team will be flying _____________ Milano Malpensa _____________ Sunday 11 January and
we would be grateful if your driver can pick them _____________ _____________ the airport. They
will require accommodation and we accept your kind offer to book them rooms _____________ the
rd
Millennium Hotel _____________ 11 January _____________ 3 February. They will not require
th th
rooms _____________ the week ends. Please note that _____________ 15 _____________ 19
January there is a Partners conference _____________ Hawaii and only junior staff will be working.

I look forward _____________ seeing you _____________ month.

Best regards,

John Macintosh
John Macintosh

Professional Writing Skills - Copyright Nick Russell 2007 15


URGENCY

Sometimes the direct approach


BUT
NOT is acceptable –if you are on
We would be grateful to hear
WE NEED YOUR familiar terms with the other from you at your earliest
ANSWER NOW!!! party. Formal business convenience.
relations however, demands a
more polite approach

Please could you answer as soon as possible.


We would very much appreciate a prompt/an early reply.
We look forward to hearing from you soon/by return.
Please could you reply at your earliest convenience.
Thanking you in anticipation of your prompt cooperation.
In view of the urgency of the situation please reply as soon as possible.
Please could you give this matter your immediate attention.

GIVING ASSURANCES

This informal spoken promise BUT


NOT
needs to be transformed into We assure you that every
We definitely will do it! a professional written effort will be made to meet
expression your requirements.

We assure you that every effort will be made to meet your requirements.
Please be assured that the assignment will be completed on time.
Please rest assured that the assignment will be completed on time.
We assure you that no effort will be spared to meet the required deadline
I shall personally ensure that you receive a copy as soon as possible.
You may depend/rely on us to meet the deadline
Assuring you of our closest attention at all times.
We promise to.../that...

Professional Writing Skills - Copyright Nick Russell 2007 16


AVOIDING GIVING INFORMATION

This may be true, but we are


NOT not usually allowed to BUT
communicate in written These are matters of client
I
t’
snoneofyour
business correspondence in confidentiality which we are
business! not permitted to disclose
this way
.

These are matters of client confidentiality which we are not permitted to disclose.

We are not in a position to disclose the intentions of our client.

The infor mati oni


nquestioni shighl
ysensi ti
veandsi ncereveal i
ngi tcoul djeopar di
zeourcl i
ent’s
commercial position you will appreciate that we are bound by a duty of care to respect his confidentiality
on this issue.

EXPRESSING CONCERN

NOT BUT

SCARED’i snotawor dwe We are concerned about the
We are scared about the
would normally use in level of liability.
debts. business correspondence .

We are somewhat concerned by the lack of provision for the contingent liabilities concerning service
contracts

In view of your exposure to litigation in the U.S., we fear that your provision may be insufficient to cover
the estimated risks.

We were extremely disturbed to learn of the loss of your largest customer.

Professional Writing Skills - Copyright Nick Russell 2007 17


COMM ON REFERENCES TO SUMS OF MONEY

BUT
The company recorded
NOT bad debts OF €1.
7m
‘I
NANAMOUNTOF’i snota
The company recorded OR
standard English expression
bad debts in an amount The company recorded
of €1.7m bad debts AMOUNTING
TO €1.7m

Thank you for your cheque of $54670 in complete settlement of your account to date
We have pleasure in submitting our invoice for our fees and expenses
We herewith enclose our invoice for services rendered
Please can you arrange for the transfer of $97500 to our account by 31 August 2008
We must insist on payment by due date
There is a balance outstanding of $7986 on your account

APOLOGISING

NOT BUT
This is a spoken form. In
Sorry for being late! business correspondence We apologise (US

apol ogise’i sthepr ef
err ed apologize) for the delay.
word

We apologise for the delay

Please accept our sincere apologies for the mistake / error / oversight

We very much regret the misunderstanding and assure you that we shall make every effort to minimize
any inconvenience caused.

Pl
easeexcuseusf
oromi
t
ti
ngt
oment
i
on….

We apologise for the delay caused by circumstances beyond our control

We regret any inconvenience caused by the technical fault/defect/flaw

Professional Writing Skills - Copyright Nick Russell 2007 18


REFUSING

NOT BUT
You’ renotal lowedt o The spoken style is too direct Capitalization of debt
capitalize debt interest! and authoritarian interest is not in
compliance with IFRS

Whensay i
ng‘ NO’ t oacl i
enti tcanbe very useful to deflect the refusal away from you to the specific
standard or legislation. In this way you avoid getting personal.

Other possible expressions include the following:

This transaction would not be in compliance with art 664.

Such a construction would not be in accordance with GAAP.

In specific cases where the client needs to be humoured the news can be delivered more gently:

Provided you were able to justify the transaction under Article 2a it might be accepted, nevertheless our
experience indicates a considerable level of risk in such situations.

Thi
smi
ghtbeac
cept
abl
eif
… nev
ert
hel
ess
,iti
snotadv
isabl
e…

In some cases, to show sympathy with the client it may be appropriate to sugar the pill by introducing the bad
news with the introductor
yex
pressions‘ Unfor t
unat el
y’,or‘
Iam af r
ai d’.

ESTIM ATIONS AND FORECASTS

Uncertainty can lead to very


NOT unprofessional language. BUT
We guess the job will When committing to writing, a We estimate completion of
take 2-4weeks,butwe’ re more cautious approach is the assignment within four
not sure. weeks.
required

We estimate that the assignment will be completed within three weeks.


We anticipate difficult trading conditions in the next quarter.
Based on our forecast, …
Accordingt oourpr ognosi s,…
Wepr edict…
Marketstrendsi ndi cat e…

Professional Writing Skills - Copyright Nick Russell 2007 19


LEGAL INTERPRETATION

NOT When interpreting the law, there BUT


The tax people will see are more formal expressions The transaction will be
this as tax evasion than‘ SEE’ deemed as tax evasion by
the fiscal authorities.

regarded as
construed as
deemed as
interpreted as
treated as

LO O K FO R W A R D T O …

NOT The‘ TO’in this standard BUT


We look forward to see expression is not part of an We look forward to seeing
you next week. infinitive verb. It is part of a you next week.
prepositional phrase.

I look forward to - meeting you


We are looking forward to - our meeting next week
- seeing you
- hearing from you

Professional Writing Skills - Copyright Nick Russell 2007 20


CLOSING PHRASES

NOT BUT
If you have any questions This closing phrase is overused I am at your disposal for
please do not hesitate to and out of fashion any further questions
contact me which may arise

Theol d,st andar dcl osi


ngl i
ne,usedi nthousandsofl etterseachday :
’Ifyouhav eanyquest ionspl ease
donothesi tat
et ocont actme’ ,is intended as a personal statement of client service –but is so
standardised that it has lost all personal connotation. Try to find a fresh one; use it for a few years, then
change it again. A few alternatives are listed below:

 I am at your disposal for any further questions which may arise


 If you require any further assistance, I am at your disposal.
 Please feel free to contact us should further questions arise.
 I shall be pleased to elaborate on any of the abovementioned issues at your convenience.

Professional Writing Skills - Copyright Nick Russell 2007 21


CORRESPONDENCE EXERCISE

Read the letter below and try to identify the elements of function and style which
need to be changed. Rewrite the letter in an appropriate business style using the
functional phrases you have learned so far.

Dear Miss Harvey,

reference is made to your problems with contingent liabilities for warranty


claims in the U.S. discussed at our meeting dated 2007 the third of
December and you kindly requested us to carry out an analysis in order to
mitigate the level of risk in connection with the reporting requirements under
G.A.A.P.

If you look carefully into the envelope containing this letter, you will find the
summary of the relevant standard which I promised you at our meeting at
Tuesday 3 December 2007. From our point of view, we are a little bit scared
that you may not have guessed right the level of risk since you have only set
up a provision in an amount of €1. 3m whichi snotasmuchasl asty ear!

In order to do our job, we want you to send us a copy of the specific warranty
terms for the products on the U.S. market as well as the marketing and sales
figures for both your US and European markets for 2006, 2007 and your
ideasf or2008.Si nceweappr eciatethet i
ghttimef
rame,we’ l
lneedy our
information ver yqui ck.Andi fwegett hedocument ationf ast,we’l
ldef i
nit
ely
finish the job until the middle of January 2008.

From oursi de,i t


’sabsol utelyimpor t
antt ocor rect
lyfi
gureoutt hewarr
ant
y
claims otherwise the auditors will see this as unacceptable becausey
ou’
re
not allowed to understate the risks.

Finally, thanks for giving us the job and we look forward to see you again
soon.

Yours,

Joe

Professional Writing Skills - Copyright Nick Russell 2007 22


Part 2 Style

THE PASSIVE VOICE

The use of the passive voice in writing is sometimes criticised because it is impersonal, and can be
complicated and unclear. However for formal professional situations it can be very useful. First some
clarification of the passive form:

Intheact i
v evoicet hesubj ectofthesent encei sthe‘ agent ’
,inotherwor dst heper son/object that
performs the action. In the passive voice the subject is no longer the agent, so the focus of the sentence
changes.

Identification

Example of active voice

The lawyer drafted the contract


Lawyer = Subject & agent verb object
(agent is performer of action)

Example of passive voice

The contract was drafted by the lawyer


New subject Passive verb New object
comprising (be) + past participle of
(subject is no longer the agent)
active verb

Passive verbs comprise two elements:

Thever
b‘t
obe’and the past participle

Present
Active Ford makes cars
b y
Passive Cars are made F o r d

Simple Past
Active Ford made cars
b y
Passive Cars were made F o r d

Professional Writing Skills - Copyright Nick Russell 2007 23


Past Continuous
Active Ford was making cars
b y
Passive Cars were being made F o r d

Present Perfect
Active Ford has made cars
b y
Passive Cars have been made F o r d

Future
Active Ford will make cars
b y
Passive Cars will be made F o r d

Thesimpl er ul
eforconver tinganact iveverbi ntoapassi veonei stof ormt hever b‘tobe’int
othe
same tense form as the active verb and then to add the past participle of the active verb.

FOCUSING WITH PASSIVES

We use the passive when we wish to give specific focus to a sentence by transforming the object
into the subject:

Not:
The Government resolved to raise the level of V.A.T. by one percentage point.

But:
V.A.T. will be raised by 1 percentage point

Not:
The company have overstated their assets by a material amount

But:
The assets have been materially overstated by the company

This technique is widely used in newspaper reporting. Headlines are often a contraction of a passive
form.

Professional Writing Skills - Copyright Nick Russell 2007 24


DESCRIBING PROCEDURES WITH PASSIVES

We use the passive to focus on procedures and processes rather than the people performing
them

NOT
Andrew and Simon collect all the relevant tax information, Peter reviews it, and discusses
the key issues with Mr Drayton. Then Peter, Andrew and Simon complete the return, Mr
Gray gives it a final check and then they send it to the tax authorities.

BUT
The tax information is collected, key issues are discussed and then the tax return is
completed, checked and sent to the tax authorities.

USING PASSIVES TO BE OBJECTIVE NOT PERSONAL

It is useful to use passive forms to avoid personal criticism and to deal with issues in a factual,
professional style.

NOT BUT
You have made a mistake A mistake has been made

The impersonal style here avoids the personal pronoun 'YOU', focuses on facts and avoids
personal criticism

Quite often the style is even more indirect and the following phrases are quite common:

There appears to be an error

An error appears to have been made

The value of this technique can be further demonstrated in the following

Theuseofpr onouns( ‘you,we


NOT etc’)ist ooper sonaland BUT
We have found out that you hostile. It is likely to cause According to our findings,
have failed to provide your staff offence and resentment in the transactions are not being
with adequate training so they accurately and reliably
are not able to accurately and
reader. What is required is a
reliably process your factual tone which avoids processed due to staff
transactions. personal criticism inexperience

Professional Writing Skills - Copyright Nick Russell 2007 25


EXERCISE IN PASSIVE FORMS

Re-write the following texts in a neutral, factual, style in the passive voice without using personal
pronouns( ‘you’ ,‘
we’et c.)

1.

You have not provided your team with clear instructions and training and you are therefore failing to
fulfil compliance procedures in a timely and efficient way. You really must improve the competence
and performance of your team immediately; otherwise you will get into serious trouble with the tax
authorities

2.

We have conducted an investigation into the internal audit organization of your firm and have
identified that you are very exposed to risks.

You do not have a very secure internal control structure. Although you have a system, you do not
apply t
herul esconsistently.Ifyoudon’ tappl yt her ules,y ouar eexposedt or i
sk.

Yourst af
fisnotawar ethatt
heyneedtor epor tandf ol
lowuper ror ssy
stemat
i
cal
l
y.I
fyoudon’
thav
e
a system to do this, y
oucan’
tcor
recterrors and they will reoccur.

IT staff make frequent changes to the live files. Of course you need to make changes from time to
ti
me,but ,i
fyoudon’ thav etightrulesr egar di ngaccessi ngandi fyoudon’ tdocumentcar ef
ullyall
changes made, then you have a high risk of corrupting your system and maybe you will get a
breakdown.

Professional Writing Skills - Copyright Nick Russell 2007 26


AVOID MODALS

The reporting and correspondence style for professional practitioners needs to avoid critical personal
ref
erences( useofper sonalpronouns,‘ you’and‘ we’ )andt ofocusonf actsi
naneut ral factual styl
e.We
have already seen how the use of the passive can be used to defuse a critical personal statement by
avoiding personal pronouns. Similar techniques exist with regard to basic modal forms.

NOT The use of the personal BUT


You must tell the tax pr onounand‘ must’i stoo It is necessary to inform
authorities the tax authorities.
primitive and authoritarian
.

Sentences beginning: 'You must ....' are not professional and should be avoided. A third person
impersonal/factual form is more effective

This third person approach can be widely used in professional correspondence to express degrees of
necessity.

'It is desirable to inform the tax authorities'. (weak)

'It is advisable to comply with the transfer pricing rules'. (medium)

'It is necessary to carry it forward'. (quite strong)

'It is essential to inform the shareholders' (strong)

'it is crucial to meet the deadline' (very strong)

A similar approach is to use the starting phrase: 'There is...'

'There is an obligation to report the disposal'

'There is a requirement to set up a provision'

Professional Writing Skills - Copyright Nick Russell 2007 27


INDIRECT QUESTIONS

NOT Direct questions forms are BUT


Whatwasl astyear
’s spoken and seldom used in Please inform us of last
turnover? business correspondence. year’sturnover .
.

If several items of information are required, the process of asking can be reduced to several bullet points.

NOT:
How much did you turn over last year?
What was your reported income before tax?
Can you send us your audited financial statements?

BUT:
Please provide us with the following information:
 Lastyear ’sturnover
 Reported income before tax
 Audited financial statements

Similarly the direct form below can be transformed into an indirect question:

NOT:
We would like to know; do you have a transfer pricing policy?

BUT:
We would like to know whether you have a transfer pricing policy.

OR:
Please inform us whether you have a transfer pricing policy.

Professional Writing Skills - Copyright Nick Russell 2007 28


GIVE AND GET

Give and Get are very common words used frequently in speech. For professional correspondence more
formal expressions should be used.

NOT ‘
Give’cansoundt ooinfor
mal BUT
Please give us the and does not communicate a Please provide with the
documents professional image documents.
.

NOT ‘Get
’al sodoesnot BUT
You will get our report at communicate a professional You shall receive our
the end of the week image report at the end of the
week.

The informal sentence below would be acceptable in spoken communication on the phone:

We shall finish our work and you will get our preliminary findings by the end of next week.

I
fthi
ssent
enc
ewaspar
tofaf
ormal
doc
ument
,ins
teadofs
ubs
ti
tut
i
ng‘
recei
ve’for get we could use the more
f
ormal‘
submi
t’

We shall complete our review, and our preliminary findings WILL BE SUBMITTED to you by the end of
next week.

PROBLEM

NOT ‘Problem’communi cat esa BUT


Regarding the transfer negative message. It may Regarding the transfer
pricing problem,… indicate a lack of experience pricing issue,…
.

Avoidt hewor d‘problem’unl


essitisnecessar
y.Cli
ent
salwayshave‘probl
ems’–but for you they are
your everyday business.Useinst
eadwor dsli
ke:‘
i
ssue’
,‘mat
ter
’,‘
topi
c’–oreven‘
chal lenge’

Professional Writing Skills - Copyright Nick Russell 2007 29


FORM AL LANGUAGE

Professional advisory may lack authority if, in its written form, it is not written in a clear, formal style.

NOT Thiskindof' chatty’colloqui al BUT


We’l
ltryandsor tout style is not appropriate for We shall endeavour to
your problems. formal advisory activities resolve the issues.
.

I
nthet
abl
ebel
owi
sal
i
stof‘
spok
en’
expr
ess
ionsandt
hei
rfor
mal written equivalents.

Spoken Written
so accordingly
ease alleviate
you lessor / contractee
find out ascertain
start commence, initiate
end conclude
business enterprise
try endeavour
more than in excess of
get receive
about in respect of
instead of in lieu of
if in the event of
details particulars
people persons
before prior to
payment remittance
by law statutory
use utilise
give submit
problem issue
to make better optimize/improve
work out determine/establish
help assistance
work activity
show disclose
hide conceal
get worse deteriorate
need require

Professional Writing Skills - Copyright Nick Russell 2007 30


EXERCISE IN FORM AL ENGLISH W RITING

Re-write the sentence below substituting formal expressions for the underlined words. You may have
to change the structure of some of the sentences.

1. We shall try to solve your problems.

2. We will give you the report at the end of the week.

3. This transaction will ease your tax burden.

4. The authorities have accepted our arguments. So, the additional charge has been withdrawn.

5. Since the interest charged is more than the market rate, you could face difficulties.

6. If there is an investigation about the calculation methods, your position would be weak.

7. Before we start our work we would like to work out the areas of risk.

8. By law you have to show the information

9. The financial condition of the business got worse and the directors tried to hide key
information.

10. We shall start our work on 15 April and end it on 22 May.

11. The directors got a bonus in shares instead of cash

12. His salary was more than 2 million.

13. You will get our payment by the end of the month

14. If the assets are no longer used, the business should write them off.

15. We need your help.

Professional Writing Skills - Copyright Nick Russell 2007 31


REPORTING LAPSES

Reporting lapses or defects is an essential part of business reporting. There is a formal vocabulary to express
this.

NOT This style is too critical is too BUT


Youdon’ thavequal i
fi
ed personal and hostile. A more An absence of qualified
staff in the tax department factual tone is required personnel in the tax
department was identified

Other expressions include:

Ther
ewasal
ackof…

There was an absenc


eof…

There was a failure (to do or in doing something)

The XYZ activity was omitted.

The XYZ activity was ignored.

There was an omission regarding the XYZ activity.

MISUNDERSTANDING M U S T N ’T

NOT I
fyoumean‘ itisnotnecessar y’ BUT
Youmustn’tcheckal
lthe here, then you can not use You need not check all
figures ‘
MUSTN’ T the figures.
.

I
nEngl
i
sh,‘
mustnot
’has only one meaning; something is not allowed, it is prohibited

Professional Writing Skills - Copyright Nick Russell 2007 32


HEREBY

'Hereby' is an old fashioned expression combining the following meanings: 'At this time', 'Duly' and, 'By this act' - at
the end of the marriage ceremony the priest announces:

'I hereby pronouce you man and wife'.

The word has a useful function in professional writing by adding formality and professional authority.

NOT This needs to be written BUT


We have finished the job. 'We have completed the
You will find our report more formally assignment and hereby
enclosed. submit our report'.

CONTRACTIONS

NOT BUT
We’vebeen informed that Contracting the subject and We have been informed
they don’ taccept the verb is not normally that they do not accept
figures acceptable in written English the figures

Business correspondence should not contain contractions of subjects/auxiliaries and negatives.

SAYING NO VIA LEGAL REFERENCE

NOT BUT
You are not allowed to The style here is too personal Revaluation of written-off
revalue goodwill that has and hostile goodwill is not in
been written-off. compliance with I.F.R.S. 27
.

Saying 'No' ,(unless the situation is particularly serious), should be executed in neutral manner avoiding the personal
pronoun and by referring to the specific rule, standard or legal requirement. The phrases below provide the link to the
law :

Unfortunately this transaction is -not in compliance with (the law)


-not in accordance with
-not in adherence to
-In conflict with

Professional Writing Skills - Copyright Nick Russell 2007 33


CONDITIONALS

NOT BUT
If you do that, you will get First conditional constructions If you were to carry out the
into trouble are too basic for most transaction, there would be
advisory situations a high risk.
.

Conditional forms fulfil an important role in professional writing. They allow the adviser to present various
options as a means to explore and clarify the professional issues.

Conditional forms state a condition and its related consequence. There are usually two clauses; the
clause stating the condition and the clause expressing the realisation of the condition. Commonly they
ar ereferredt oast he‘ i
f’(i.e.condi t
ion)cl auseandt he‘reali
sation’clause.Fourdi st i
nctt ypesexi standi t
is important to appreciate the subtle effects that can be achieved by the correct application of the forms
as well as the grammatical rules which apply. The grammatical structure of a conditional is instrumental
in communicating the degree of probability of the realisation of the condition.

Conditional 1:

Condition (if clause) Realisation

If you purchase the company, you will have to take out a loan

The‘ i
f’
clausetakest hepr es ent The‘ i
f’cl
auseint hepr esent
tense. The use of the present tense combines with the simple
tense indicates high probability of futur
ei nt
he‘ r
ealisation’clause
fulfilment

The first conditional is quite direct and personal. The second conditional presents a condition that is more
theoretical

Conditional 2:

Condition (if clause) Realisation

If you purchased the company, you would have to take out a loan

The‘ if
’’clauset akest hepast The‘i
f’cl
auseinthepastt
ense
tense. The use of the past tense combineswit
h‘would’i
nthe
indicates possibility rather than ‘
real
i
sation’
clause.
probability of fulfilment

For professional advisory, it is common to use a variation of the second conditional:

Professional Writing Skills - Copyright Nick Russell 2007 34


Condition (if clause) Realisation

If you were to purchase the company you would have to take out a loan

Theuseof‘ weret o’inthe‘


i
f’ The realisation clause is the
clause indicates that the same as the normal second
condition is hypothetical conditional

This variant form allows the adviser to explore various possibilities without actually recommending or
committing to a specific line of action.

Other variant versions of this second conditional exist. They also express the condition hypothetically

Condition (if clause) Realisation

If you did purchase the company you would have to take out a loan

Condition (if clause) Realisation

Were you to purchase the company you would have to take out a loan

The third conditional describes hypothetical situations in the past and imagines the consequences

Conditional 3

Condition (if clause) Realisation

If you had purchased the company, you would have had to take out a loan

The past perfect form expresses The‘


real
i
sat
i
on’cl
auserequires
t
hepasteventi nthe‘if’ cl
ause. ‘
woul
dhave+pastpar
ti
cipl
e’.
The condition is unreal.

Professional Writing Skills - Copyright Nick Russell 2007 35


NOM INALISED CONDITIONAL WARNINGS

NOT BUT
If you abuse the anti- Direct conditional warnings An abuse of anti-avoidance
avoidance legislation, you can appear too personal and legislation will result in serious
will have problems hostile consequences.
.

Theuseofpr onounssuc has‘ you’or‘ we’t oex pr


essconsequenc esbas edont heact ual
i
sati
onofs pec ified
circumstances is usually too personal for a formal legal context. To achieve a factual impersonal tone, it is customary
to omit the personalpronounwi thinac onv ent i
onal‘ i
f’clauseandsubst it
uteanounor gerund.

Not:
If you do not meet the requirements you will have to pay penalties.

But:
Failure to meet the requirements will lead to penalties.
OR
Failing to meet the requirements will result in penalties.

Not:
If you don't comply with art.7b you could face serious consequences

But:
Non-compliance with art.7b could lead to serious consequences.

Not:
If you don't declare your income, the tax authorities will treat it as tax evasion

But:
Non-declaration of your income will be deemed as tax evasion.

Professional Writing Skills - Copyright Nick Russell 2007 36


CONDITIONAL EXERCISES

Complete the sentences below by putting the verbs in brackets into their correct tense according
to their conditional form.

1. If you _______________ (work) so hard, you will get tired.

2. If they can not provide us with guarantees, we _______________ (not discuss) the matter
any further.

3. We would not be able to make this decision, if we _______________ (not have) the support
of our board.

4. If everybody _______________ (give) ten dollars, we would have enough money.

5. If I had known the price was going to fall so sharply, I _______________ (sold) my shares
the week before.

6. I _______________ (not accept) the position, even if they had offered it to me.

7. He _______________ (lend) you the money if he had had it.

8. If we were to offer you the position, _______________ (be prepared) to move to Berlin?

9. If you _______________ (be) to restructure, you would reduce your liabilities.

10. We _______________ (must) give up the assignment, if you do not cooperate.

11. Provided we have your full support, we _______________ (reach) the targets.

12. If we _______________ (lend) you the money, when would you repay it?

13. You would have fewer problems with your customers if you _______________(improve)
your quality control.

14. If you were to set up such a high provision, the shareholders _______________ (react) very
strongly.

15. The workers council _______________ (respond) more cooperatively, if you had
implemented some of their suggestions.

Professional Writing Skills - Copyright Nick Russell 2007 37


EXERCISES IN NOM INALISED CONDITIONALS

Rewrite the following conditional sentences using a noun (nominalised form) form instead of
personal pronoun (you etc.)

1. If you do not meet the safe haven requirements, the tax authorities will classify your interest
payments as dividend

2. If you abuse the anti-avoidance rules, you will be penalized.

3. If you do not comply with Art. 7b, the consequences could be serious.

4. If you do not declare this income, you will be guilty of tax evasion.

5. If you file your tax return late, you will have to pay interest charges.

6. If you set up a fiscal grouping you could reduce your overall tax burden

7. If you do not have an economic reason, the authorities will not accept the transaction.

8. If you over-estimate the extent of the risk, we will not accept the provision.

9. If you fail to recognize the risk, you will not be presenting a true and fair view.

10. If you ignore the exceptional deterioration of the assets, then book value will not reflect the
true market value

Professional Writing Skills - Copyright Nick Russell 2007 38


LEGAL CONNECTION PHRASES

Legal connection phrases for tax and legal practitioners are built around 7 key communicative functions
to express:

1. Disclosure
2. Compliance
3. Description
4. Possiblity
5. Impossibility
6. Interpretation
7. Ambiguity

There is a legal obligation to disclose / reveal


prove
give evidence of
substantiate
Disclosure establish
declare (make a declaration),
submit,
clarify, show, file, fill out, fill in, send
Make a self-accusation in order to avoid penalties
The transaction must comply with the law
Such expenses must be wholly exclusively and necessarily
incurred in the course of business otherwise they can not be
accepted
The transaction must be in compliance with the law
The procedure must be in accordance with G.A.A.P.
- in conformity with
The procedure must conform to G.A.A.P.
There is a requirement to follow the specified guidelines
Legal Compliance
We must keep to the rules
It’sessent i
altoadher etot hegui del
ines
Adherence to the law is essential
We must not deviate from the specified requirements
We must follow the law
We must keep to the law
We have to be in line with the rules
We have to respect the law
There is an obligation to conform to the law

Professional Writing Skills - Copyright Nick Russell 2007 39


The law states that all partners must sign the contract
The law describes three criteria for membership
The law prescribes a specific procedure for setting up
Prescriptive measures to be adopted
af i
scal grouping.(Ther eisal egal pr
escr i
pt i
on…. .
)
The law stipulates that all such transactions have to follow a
specified format (stipulation)
Thel awset sout….
The law provides for all possible contingencies regarding this kind
of activity
Legal description
The law defines exactly what constitutes a representative office
The law gives guidelines regarding this kind of transaction
The law specifies the procedure which must be followed
The law requires that all such activities are documented
The legal jurisdiction is limited to countries within the E.C.
Thel awsay s…..
The law determines/ That is determined by the law
The law demands that full records are maintained
There is a mandatory requirement to file your tax return before 31
December.
You would be permitted to do that
Allowed
Allowance
allowable expenses
There would be nothing to prevent you from doing XYZ
A deviation from normal rules
Exception
Exemption /you would be exempt
There would be no barrier / no obstacle
Provided you can meet all the criteria, you would be eligible for
tax relief
Your eligibility would be based on meeting certain conditions
Entitled (right based on belonging to a class/category)
The entitlement
Everyone is entitled to tax relief on the first £5000 earned
Possibility
Providing
Provided that
Fulfil criteria
Meet conditions/requirements/ standards
Such a transaction would be acceptable provided you can
support it with legal contracts
The law authorises you to reclaim the tax
You would qualify for relief if you can support your claim.
Article 362B enables (lets, allows, permits) you to offset losses
within the group for tax purposes
There is an interesting loophole / blind-spot/ an interesting
anomaly.
Escape route
A way around the law
Room to manoeuvre, space, scope, flexibility, elbow room,

Professional Writing Skills - Copyright Nick Russell 2007 40


What you are suggesting would not be acceptable
Allowed
Permitted
Unless y oumeetal lt
her equi r ement s,y ouwoul dn’ tbeper mitt
ed
to do that
Such a procedure would be rejected by the authorities on the
groundst hati tis:……
Illegal
In breach of the law
Against the law
Contrary to the law
In conflict with the law
Against the spirit of the act/law
The position could not be sustained
Your position would be weak/unsustainable
Impossibility
Such a transaction would be forbidden
That would not be in line with the law
There is very little scope within the framework of the law to do
such a transaction
The law is very strict, rigid, inflexible on this point and offers no
loophole
Threat of penalties
You could be subject to penalties,i fy oudi d……
This transaction would contravene accepted guidelines
This transaction would be in violation of G.A.A.S.
This transaction would violate rule 970 C
The primacy of economic substance over legal form is critical
within our legal environment
Unless there are strong economic justifications for the
transaction, the authorities would not accept it.
Deemed
Construed
Interpreted
Considered
Treated / handled
Qualified as
Interpretation Regarded as
If you introduced this inter-company transaction without any
economic justification, it would be deemed as (it would be treated
as) a hidden profit distribution and therefore taxable
Onus of proof / Burden of proof
In such cases, the onus of proof is on the taxpayer to justify such
expenses as business costs.
There is some uncertainty regarding this point
This is a grey area
The law is ambiguous concerning this matter
There is some ambiguity in the law
The law is open to more than one interpretation
Ambiguity The law could be construed in two ways
The law is not clear on this point
This particular area is pending clarification at our Federal
Supreme Tax Court
The law is extremely complicated/complex
There is a (strong) tendency to treat this as a non-deductible
expense.

Professional Writing Skills - Copyright Nick Russell 2007 41


FOLLOWING THE LAW

NOT BUT
You must keep to art 6a There are several formal 'This procedure has to
expressions to link to legal comply with Art. 6a.
requirements .

'This procedure must comply with Art. 6a.


adhere to

This transaction must be in accordance with Art. 6a


in compliance with..

There is a mandatory requirement to follow Art. 6a

This transaction is subject to the provisions of Art. 6a

This procedure must not deviate from Art. 6a.

This procedure has to conform to Art. 6a.

Conformity to Art. 6a is essential.

Adherence to Art. 6a is essential.

Art. 6a must be respected.

BREAKING THE LAW

BUT
NOT More professional expressions INDIGO S.A. is in breach of the
You are breaking the law may be used to express this thin capitalisation rules.

The following legal expressions refer to breaking the law:

INDIGO S.A. is in breach of the thin capitalisation rules

INDIGO S.A. is in violation of the thin capitalisation rules

INDIGO S.A. has violated the thin capitalisation rules

Distributing profits in this way would be in contravention of Art.7b


Distributing profits in this way would contravene Art.7b

Distributing profits in this way would be considered illegal - ( ..would be forbidden / unacceptable)

Professional Writing Skills - Copyright Nick Russell 2007 42


LEGAL W RITING EXERCISE

The text below is part of a letter written in an informal style. Re-write it using some of the
expressions above.

In order to be inside the law you have to show the tax authorities your transfer
price contracts and these need to be similar to contracts made with outsiders.

If you read the law it says that transfer prices must pass the‘
thirdpar tytest ’
.
Now, you told me that the products sold inside your group are different from
any products you can buy on the market. This fact gives you a chance but even
then, you still have to show that prices and margins are similar to those of other
companies in the same industry which are not related.

Of course, if you can explain and show that you have special costs and show
clear paperwork, contracts and invoices, then the tax authorities will agree, but
in our experience you can not go too far. The tax authorities have statistical
data for trading margins in all industries so they might not believe you if your
figures are way out from normal.

If your numbers are much higher or lower than what is normal for your industry,
the Tax Authorities will just work out the difference between your figures and
the average industry figures and make you pay tax on it on the basis that it is a
secret payment of dividend on untaxed earnings.

So that you can achieve a level of comfort and maximize your commercial
efficiency with regard transfer pricing, we shall be delighted to look at your
papers and systems and advise you on how your paperwork can be improved
and your prices set at the right level so that you keep inside the law.

Professional Writing Skills - Copyright Nick Russell 2007 43


SOME UNLOVED CORRESPONDENCE EXPRESSIONS

The British and American business community is moving away from some of the old-fashioned and irritating
correspondence expressions used by our forefathers. Below is a list of expressions that are now out of fashion:

 "To be perfectly honest" suggests that everything else has been dishonest.

 "Needless to say" contradicts whatever follows, so skip it.

 "Enclosed herewith, please find" is wordy and dated; substitute "enclosed."

 "As you know," "as you are aware," "as per our conversation" are unnecessary and may sound
insulting; omit them.

 "I am writing this letter to inform you" states what is obvious to the reader.

 "Please rest assured" sounds as if you're asking the reader to take a nap.

 "Please be advised that" wastes time and says nothing.

 "At your earliest convenience" and "as soon as possible" are too vague; provide a specific date.

 "If you should have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact me" is overused.
Find a fresher expression.

 "For your perusal," ". . . review," and " . . . consideration" are outdated and pretentious.

Professional Writing Skills - Copyright Nick Russell 2007 44


VERY GOOD

Very is an over-used qualifier applied to a simple adjective (usually good or bad). To a higher level of
quality in professional writing it is important to develop your vocabulary and find accurate and precise
adjectives that explain more clearly the situation. So instead of writing: The profits were very good in
2006, we can use adjectives like ‘ outstandi ng’ ,‘
excel lent’,‘
subst ant i
al’
.In the exercise below,
substitute an single adjective for the underlined text.

1. The profits are very good

2. The situation is very bad

3. We think it is very likely that taxes will rise

4. The calculation is very difficult

5. It is very difficult to know what will happen

6. It is a very big company.

7. The profit contribution of Gerling Inc is very small

8. The share price is very cheap

9. The rents are very expensive

10. It is very important to have a good compliance culture

11. Its very easy to see what will happen

12. A weak control system makes it very risky for us

13. With tight controls we feel very safe

14. It is very right that we should question these kinds of transaction

15. These figures are not very close to our calculations

Professional Writing Skills - Copyright Nick Russell 2007 45


PLURALS, SINGULARS AND UNCOUNTABLES1

Choose the correct alternative in each of the following sentences:

1. We would be most grateful for your (advice/advices) on these matters.

2. Thank you for the (information/informations) concerning the schedule.

3. Could you supply the usual bank and trade (reference/references)?

4. Please accept our sincere (apology/apologies) for the delay.

5. We have excellent storage (facility/facilities).


st
6. The annual (account is/accounts are) submitted to the Auditors by January 31 .

7. We close our (book/books) on June 30 for the financial year.

8. May we draw your attention to the (content/contents) of our letter on June 4.

9. At least it will make a contribution to (overhead/overheads).

10. (Profit has/profits have) fallen in the last quarter.

11. I understand they are in (debt/debts) at the moment.

12. If you let us have a note of your (expense/expenses) we will be glad to reimburse you.

13. The (possibility/possibilities) for expansion (is/are) endless.

14. (Business is/businesses are) very slow at present.

15. We have no (knowledge/knowledges) of the proposal to increase import duty.

Professional Writing Skills - Copyright Nick Russell 2007 46


PLURALS, SINGULARS AND UNCOUNTABLES 2

Choose the correct alternative in each of the following sentences:

1. The Customs usually charge (duty/duties) even on small packages.

2. We have made substantial (progress/progresses) since we last wrote to you.

3. We could, on this occasion, accept payment in foreign (currency/currencies).

4. The (inventory is / inventories are) higher than last year.

5. The news from the Middle East (is / are) worrying.

6. We have some (information/informations) for you.

7. Mr a Parker has a lot of (experience/experiences) in the field of transfer pricing.

8. We would be grateful to receive your (expertise/ expertises) on these difficult legal


issues.

9. (Less/Fewer) people nowadays learn Latin.

10. Themeet
i
ngdoesn’
tst
artt
il
l4.
30so we have (much/plenty of) time

11. Hedoesn’
texpect(
much/
many
)moneyf
rom t
hesal
e.

12. Macdonald is more successful (as/than) Neville

13. People who drive (ones/their) cars into large towns should pay a fee.

14. Ones first duty is to their/ones family.

15. Their/Ones first duty is to their company.

Professional Writing Skills - Copyright Nick Russell 2007 47


Part 3 Technique
INDIRECT SPEECH-WRITING MINUTES

NOT BUT
Richard said it was very Although grammatically Richard emphasised the
very important to sell our correct, the reported form importance of disposing of
subsidiary, Cashdrain Inc. needs to be summarised Cashdrain Inc.
.

Business meetings, especially formal ones, need to be recorded in written form. The written records are called
‘minut es’.Therear especifi
cgr ammat i
calrulestof ol
lowwhent rans f
ormi ngl anguagef rom directtoindirectspeech
‘Direct speech' is what people actually say. ‘
Indi
rect’or‘report
ed’ speech is a written record or subsequent report of
the spoken words. As a general rule, the reporting verbs are ‘
one step’backwards in time from the verbs in the active
direct speech.

e.g.

Direct Speech: “
We needt
osol
vet
hepr
obl
em”

Would be reported as:

Reported Speech: John said that we needed to solve the problem.

In business reporting we take this reported speech form a stage further.


 Fi rstl
yt hev erb‘say’isnotv er
yex pr
essive.Weneedt ocommunicate more precisely the tone and function
of the speaker so we use instead verbs like: stressed, asserted, emphasized.
 Secondly, we summarise the spoken content using nouns:

John emphasised the necessity to find a solution

Notice how the verbs in the di


rectf
orm‘need’and‘ solve’hav ebeent ransf or
medi
ntonouns‘
necessi
ty’and

sol
ut ion’–to produce a more formal precise summary of the spoken form.

Professional Writing Skills - Copyright Nick Russell 2007 48


Below is a list of reporting verbs used in busines
smi
nut
esasasubst
i
tut
efor‘
SAI
D

Thef
oll
owi
ngi
sal
istofver
bst
ousei
nst
eadof‘
sai
d’
Advised
Agreed
Approved
Asked
Closed (brought/drawn to a close)
Declared
Delegated
Demonstrated
Disagreed
Emphasised
Exclaimed
Expressed (doubts/reservations)
Inquired (whether )
Insisted
Opened (The meeting was opened by the Chairman, Mr Harris)
Proposed
Remarked
Requested
Resolved
Rai sed( aquestionwasr aisedbyMrX…)
Recommended
Reminded
Showed
Stated
Suggested
Summarised
Stressed
Underlined
Updated
Urged
Voiced
Warned

INDIRECT SPEECH EXERCISE

In the exercise on the next page try to match the direct speech in the left column with its
reported equivalent in the right column:

Professional Writing Skills - Copyright Nick Russell 2007 49


I have serious reservations concerning this
The Chairman urged the members to settle
1 proposal A their dispute

We are all delighted with the production


2 modifications, Norman. B Mr C expressed doubts about the proposal

Mr Harris was delegated responsibility for


3 Can we afford the new investment? C Expo 2009

I think we would get better service if we


4 switched to Rexon. We would get much D Mr X summarized the points discussed
faster delivery
Would you be so kind to organize the The Chairman stressed their duty to keep to
5 conference, William? E the agreement
So, we have agreed to proceed with Option
6 B: John will complete his study and we shall F Mr X suggested further research.
meet again in two weeks time.
Please try to resolve your differences as
7 gentlemen! G Mr Y rejected the contract terms

8 Yes, a figure of 20 million is on the table. H Mr Z warned about the dangers

9 We should carry out a market study. I Mr T recommended changing suppliers

Mr B questioned whether the company had


10 We can not accept these restrictions. J sufficient resources.

Mr W reminded the meeting of the time


11 So, we all agree to sell the factory K constraints.

Mr N stressed the need to finalise the


12 I will not accept these conditions L selection process.

13 We have an obligation to honour the contract M It was agreed to dispose of the subsidiary.

Mrs H. questioned the accuracy of the


14 It is absolutely crucial to reach a decision N figures.
I can give you my word that the implemented
Mr P stated that the conditions were not
15 procedures will deliver the desired O acceptable.
objectives.
We should have the market study ready soon It was agreed to defer discussion of the SP1
16 so we can talk about it next time we meet. P project to the next meeting.

If we go ahead with this, there will be grave


17 risks Q The Chairman congratulated Mr J.

18 Don’
tfor
gett
hedeadl
i
ne! R Mr Q apologized for the delay.

I’
m sor ryt
hatIcoul
dn’
tgi
vey
out
hef
igur
es Mr K. assured the meeting that the new IT
19 earlier. S modifications would be effective.

The Chairman confirmed that an offer had


20 I am not sure we can rely on the data. T been received.

Professional Writing Skills - Copyright Nick Russell 2007 50


CONCESSIVE CONTRASTS

NOT BUT
Option ‘ A’is more Linking contrasting ideas with Notwithstanding the
attractive BUT Option ‘B’ ‘BUT’doesn’ tsoundver y at
tract
ionsofopt i
on‘ A’,
is less risky professional Option ‘
B’is less risky.

Concessive contrasts combine a situation/circumstance with an unexpected result/event –in everyday


language we often use ‘but
’to make the connection:
e.g. The weather was wet, but it was a good party
Thewor d‘but’can be substituted by more formal expressions.

There are three distinct structures:

Concessive Linking Phrase Situation Unexpected Result

Although
In spite of the fact that
Despite the fact that sales went up profits decreased
Notwithstanding that
Irrespective of the fact that
Notice that in this structure
a VERB is used

Concessive Linking Phrase Situation Unexpected Result

In spite of
Despite profits decreased
Notwithstanding the increase in sales
Irrespective of

Notice that in this structure


a NOUN is used

Situation Concessive Linking Phrase Unexpected Result

however
nevertheless
Sales went up in spite of that profits decreased
notwithstanding that

Professional Writing Skills - Copyright Nick Russell 2007 51


EXERCISE IN CONCESSIVE CONTRASTS 1

Write out a complete version of the report below using formal concessive links to substitute
t
hei nformal‘ but

Draft Report Overview Of Renwick Pharmaceutical PLC

We have carried out an investigation into the general business and financial controls of Renwick
Pharmaceutical PLC and below are our preliminary findings:

 The production technology is outdated and primitive but the company produces their products
at competitive prices and is quite profitable
 The workforce is badly paid and unmotivated but the levels of productivity are not lower than
the national average
 There is a high level of industrial accidents and injuries among the workforce but there are no
compensation claims pending
 There are only the most rudimentary internal control procedures in the financial department
but there is no evidence of any irregularities
 The company has slack credit control procedures but they do not seem to have a significant
level of doubtful receivables
 The company has very limited IT resources in the financial department but transactions are
mostly accurately recorded.
 The financial staff have only basic qualifications and training but they seem reasonably
competent.
 The company has significant capital tied up in inventory, but their cash flow is sufficient to
finance their operations.
 There are many areas in which the business operations and financial controls could be
improved but they will not necessarily lead to a significant impact on the profitability of the
organization.

Professional Writing Skills - Copyright Nick Russell 2007 52


EXERCISE IN CONCESSIVE CONTRASTS 2

Write out a complete version of the report below using formal concessive links to substitute
t
hei nformal‘ but

Draft Conclusions Tax Due Diligence - Bensons PLC

We have carried out a Tax due diligence into the commercial, legal and financial issues pertaining to
Benson PLC and below are our preliminary findings:

- The company has substantial deferred tax assets in the consolidated balance sheet but
they are not applicable under XXX tax law.
- The company bought a subsidiary with a loss-carry-forward of €10m buti tcannotbe
utilised because the company does not continue the same business activities of this
subsidiary using mainly the same business assets.
- The tax staff have only basic qualifications and training but they seem reasonably
competent.
- The company has very limited resources in its tax functions but compliance activities are
mostly conducted in a timely and legal fashion.
- Restructuring the company and transferring the parent activities from Germany to the
Netherlands could be tax efficient but there are significant legal obstacles presented by the
German fiscal authorities
- The company has only rudimentary procedures for monitoring transfer prices for services
rendered to its related parties but there is no evidence of any significant irregularities or
risks.
- The company has failed to consider thin-capitalisation rules regarding inter-company loans
but the debt-equity ratio limits do not appear to have been breached
- The interest rates set up for inter-company loans have been set up without consideration of
transfer-price rules, but they do not seem to be at variance with standard market rates
- There are many areas in which the tax function of the company could be improved but this
will not necessarily lead to a significant impact on tax payable by the organisation

Professional Writing Skills - Copyright Nick Russell 2007 53


CAUSE AND RESULT

NOT ‘
Because’i smuchusedi n BUT
The turnover increased everyday speech, but more The increase in turnover
because the prices were professional expressions can be was attributable to a
reduced. used in business writing reduction in prices

Business reporting and advisory often involves descriptions of‘ whathappened’ and‘ whyit happened’ .
For that, it is important to be able to fluently combine causes and results. There are at least five ways in
which causes and results can be combined using linking expressions or verbs. In the graph below, we
see that a brewery had strong sales in July. The reason for this was the hot summer weather. We can
describe this connection in several ways.

Drakes Brewery

35

30

25

20
Sales ('000 Litres)
15

10

0
Jan Feb Mar Apr May June July Aug Sept Oct Nov Dec

Professional Writing Skills - Copyright Nick Russell 2007 54


Cause Connection Result
consequently,
as a result,
It was hot in July therefore, we sold a lot of beer
accordingly,
(
thus,hence,t hat ’swhy
)

Result Connection Cause


due to
as a result of
We sold a lot of beer as a consequence of the hot weather
(because of / thanks to)

Cause Connection Result


led to
resulted in
accounted for
generated
The hot weather (caused)* record sales of beer
triggered
contributed to
influenced

Result Connection Cause


was due to
resulted from
The record sales of was attributable to
was generated by the hot weather
beer (was caused by)*
was influenced by
was triggered by

Result Connection Cause


due to the fact that
based on the fact that
Record sales were resulting from the fact that the weather was hot
achieved as in July
because
since

Professional Writing Skills - Copyright Nick Russell 2007 55


CAUSE AND RESULT EXERCISE 1

Complete the following text with appropriate linking phrases

The trading margin in Europe increased _________________ improved profitability in Central Europe
_________________ successful cost-reduction programmes. Furthermore, operations in Eastern Europe
are now firmly established and the rationalization of our distribution network has _________________ an
improvement in margin, which is now close to the Western Europe level. The margin in the Americas
declined _________________ the restructuring of activities in the United States, which was
_________________ in part to the disinvestment of segments with low value added. In Latin America,
_________________ the economic problems in Brazil, the margin fell slightly. In spite of that, the overall
performance was better than anticipated _________________ a significant improvement in Mexico. The
margin was stable in the other regions of the world _________________ the recovery of the Japanese
market. In Africa and the Middle East, the upward trend continues. Among the other activities, mineral
waters achieved a good sales growth _________________ a reduction in packaging costs.
________________ much improved productivity in Zeflon, pharmaceutical products reached a record
level of profitability.

Overall, the trading margin increased to 9.8% of sales (9.7% in 2007). The improvement in margin
_________________ a reduction in the cost of goods sold. The Group was able to limit the
_________________ of higher green coffee and cocoa prices ________________ good management of
its raw material purchasing and ________________ timely increases in selling prices in the coffee sector.
In addition, ________________ ongoing improvements in industrial performance, factory fixed costs
decreased and distribution costs were stabilised. These positive factors more than compensated an
increase in marketing and administration expenses. The latter rose ________________ the integration of
acquisitions and to the start-up of new operations in certain markets. Marketing costs were stable as a
percentage of sales. Restructuring costs were up ________________ further rationalisation measures in
the United States.

Professional Writing Skills - Copyright Nick Russell 2007 56


CAUSE AND RESULT EXERCISE 2

Complete the text below by providing appropriate linking phrases; (cause and effect
and concessives).

The process of acquiring a company with accumulated losses with a view to setting those losses against
profits of mainstream business is no longer viable _____________ a tightening of the tax laws. Complex
anti-avoidance rules require a strong economic reason for taking over a loss-making concern. Furthermore
even if the economic reason exists, the authorities may still restrict the use of loss-carry-forward
_____________ specific requirements to use mainly the same business assets and continue the same
business activity of the loss-making concern.

The lack of foreign investment in XXX in recent years _____________ the high rate of corporate and other
taxes. _____________ the lowering of the corporate tax rates should _____________ an inflow of foreign
investment capital. _____________ many foreign subsidiaries based in XXXX will have to review their
debt-equity ratio _____________ changes in the thin capitalisation rules. The new debt-equity ratio rules
of 1:1.5 _____________ a re-appraisal of financing of subsidiaries. Moreover _____________ to the
increasingly aggressive positioning of the tax authorities the interest paid for such loans will have to be
very carefully reviewed _____________ avoid breaching transfer pricing rules.

In the early 1990s, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) estimated that
more than 60 percent of world trade took place within multinational corporations (MNCs). That proportion
is likely to increase with the large number of cross-border consolidations. _____________transfer pricing
is and will continue to be a very critical issue _____________ tax authorities see it as an opportunity to
collect revenue. Advance pricing agreements are being used by some clients to resolve TP uncertainties
andt oav oidlaterprobl ems ._____________,APA’ sdonotsui tever yone_____________t he
unfavourable transfer prices that often result in such agreements.

_____________ transf erprici


ng’ shi ghpr ofi
leamongt axaut hor i
tiesandt ax
executives, it has not elevated itself sufficiently to the level of the Boardroom or the offices of the key
strategic decision makers within MNCs. This lack of awareness _____________ to a general failure by
operational managers to integrate the tax function in their decision making processes. Only thirty percent
of MNCs consider transfer pricing on a "real time" basis, as part of strategic decision making. For 37
percent of MNCs it remains primarily a compliance-driven matter. _____________ it is not surprising that
TP issues are unsuccessfully resolved _____________ the late recognition and handling of such issues

There is apparent widespread frustration on the part of tax and finance professionals within MNCs
_____________ they believe that a higher degree of real time involvement, earlier in the decision-making
process _____________ more optimally aligned transfer pricing solutions. Much of the value they could
add is simply lost _____________ organisations deal with transfer pricing too late.

Professional Writing Skills - Copyright Nick Russell 2007 57


DESCRIBING TRENDS 1

16
14
12
10 Sales: rose
8 Sales went up
6 increased
4
2
0
2005 2006 2007

25

20

15 Sales: fell
Sales
10
went down
decreased
5
declined
0
2005 2006 2007

25

20
Sales: levelled off
15
Sales
stabilised
10 flattened out
5
remained constant
0
2005 2006 2007

30
25
20
Sales: reached a peak
15 Sales peaked
10 reached a high point
5 reached an all-time-high
0
2005 2006 2007

Professional Writing Skills - Copyright Nick Russell 2007 58


DESCRIBING TRENDS 2

45
40
35
30 Sales: bottomed
25
20
Sales reached a low point
15 reached an all-time-low
10
5
0
2005 2006 2007

30
25
20
Sales: picked up
15 Sales
recovered
10
turned around
5
0
2005 2006 2007

60
50
40 Sales: shot up
30 Sales jumped
20 soared
10 rocketed
0
ne
n

il

ay
ch

pr
Ja

Fe

Ju
M
ar

A
M

35
30
25 Sales: slumped
20 crashed
Sales
15 collapsed
10 dived
5
0
plunged
plummeted
ne
n

il

ay
ch

pr
Ja

Fe

Ju
M
ar

A
M

Professional Writing Skills - Copyright Nick Russell 2007 59


DESCRIBING TRENDS 3

12
10
8
6 Sales
4
Prices: fluctuated
2
were volatile
0
ne
n

il

ay
ch

pr
Ja

Fe

Ju
M
ar

A
M

8
7
6
5
Sales rose: slightly
4 Sales
3
gradually
2 moderately
1
0
2005 2006 2007

10

6 Sales rose: steadily


4
Sales constantly
continually
2

0
96

97

98

05

06

07

08
19

19

19

20

20

20

20

20

15
Sales rose: sharply
10 Sales
considerably
significantly
5 dramatically
0
2006 2007

Professional Writing Skills - Copyright Nick Russell 2007 60


DESCRIBING TRENDS EXERCISE 1

16
14
12
10 Sal
es:r…
8 Sales w…
6 i

4
2
0
2005 2006 2007

25

20

15 Sal
es:f…
10
Sales
w…
d…
5
d…
0
2005 2006 2007

25

20
Sal
es:l…
15
Sales
s…
10 f…
5
r...
0
2005 2006 2007

30
25
20
Sal
es:r…
15 Sales
p…
10 reachedah…
5 … ….
reached an all-t
0
2005 2006 2007

Professional Writing Skills - Copyright Nick Russell 2007 61


DESCRIBING TRENDS EXERCISE 2

45
40
35
30 Sal
es:b…
25
20
Sales r
eachedalow …
15 r
eachedan…
10
5
0
2005 2006 2007

30
25
20
Sal
es:p…
15 Sales
r

10
t

5
0
2005 2006 2007

60
50
40 Sal
es:s…
30 Sales j

20 s…
10 r…
0
ne
n

il

ay
ch

pr
Ja

Fe

Ju
M
ar

A
M

35
30
25 Sal
es:s…
20 c…
Sales
15 c…
10 d…
5
0
p…
p…
ne
n

il

ay
ch

pr
Ja

Fe

Ju
M
ar

A
M

Professional Writing Skills - Copyright Nick Russell 2007 62


DESCRIBING TRENDS EXERCISE 3

12
10
8
6 Sales
4
Pr
ices:f…
2
werev…
0
ne
n

il

ay
ch

pr
Ja

Fe

Ju
M
ar

A
M

8
7
6
5
Sal
esr
ose:s…
4 Sales
3
g…
2 m…
1
0
2005 2006 2007

10

6 Sal
esr
ose:s…
4
Sales c…
c…
2

0
96

97

98

05

06

07

08
19

19

19

20

20

20

20

20

15
Sal
esr
ose:s…
10 Sales c…
s…
5 d…
0
2006 2007

Professional Writing Skills - Copyright Nick Russell 2007 63


DOUBLESPEAK & JARGON

mesnec
In the world of politics, it is someti essar
yto‘s ugarthepill
’–to package an unpleasant reality in positive
language. The word for this is ‘ doubl
espeak
’.Theex press i
onwasc oinedbyGeor geOr wel
l i
nhi snov el ‘
1984’ .
Doublespeak is not just confined to politics the world of media and commerce generates new doublespeak
expressions on a daily basis. We need to recognize these expressions for what they are; pretentious and
s omet i
mesmani pul ativ e.Bel owisali
stof‘
doublespeak ’expressions. Try to match them to their meanings in
the right column.

DOUBLESPEAK MEANING

A Vertically challenged 1 Stolen goods

B Involuntary career event 2 Junkyard

C Horizontally challenged 3 Plastic

D Friendly fire 4 Bag of ice cubes

E Collateral damage 5 A bribe

F Reutilization marketing area 6 Death

G Substantive negative outcome 7 A liar

H Thermal therapy kit 8 Vinyl

I Normal gratitude 9 Failed

J Synthetic glass 10 Meeting a colleague

K Negative gains in test scores 11 Fat

L Temporary displaced inventory 12 Killing your own soldiers

M Vegetarian leather 13 Bombing hospitals

N Face-mail 14 Fired

O Sufferer from a fictitious disorder syndrome 15 Short

Professional Writing Skills - Copyright Nick Russell 2007 64


PROBLEM EXPRESSIONS

Below are some of the most common words and expressions that many native English
speakers find confusing.

accept or except: "accept" means "to receive"; "except" means "to exclude." (I accept your proposal, except
for the part about...)

adverse or averse: "adverse" is a negative condition (adverse economic conditions resulted in huge market
losses.). "Averse" is an attitude (Investors were averse to buying stocks.).

affect or effect: "affect" is a verb meaning "to influence" (The new economic report is sure to affect the
market.). "Effect" is usually a noun meaning "result" (The effect on prices will be considerable.). Effect can also
be a verb meaning "to cause" (We can effect a positive change in morale by doubling everyone's salary.).

amount or number: "amount" refers to non-discrete quantities (What is the amount of water in this tank?).
"Number" indicates discrete quantities (What is largest number of people to fit inside a MIni?).

continual or continuous: "continual" means "close recurrence" (I have to deal with continual interruptions).
Continuous means "constant" (This continuous pain in my wrists is driving me crazy).

criterion or criteria: "criterion" is singular (There is one important criterion for a good assistant.). "Criteria" is
plural (There are many criteria to be considered.).

emigrate or immigrate: "emigrate" refers to a place of departure. "Immigrate" refers to a destination (My
cousin emigrated from Switzerland. She immigrated to America.).

farther or further: "farther" indicates physical distance (farther down the hall). "Further" means "greater in
degree or time" (further losses).

fewer or less: "fewer" refers to a countable number (fewer pages). "Less" refers to an uncountable quantity
(less water).

i.e. or e.g.: "i.e." is an abbreviation for the Latin term "id est," meaning "that is." "e.g." is also an abbreviation for
a Latin term, "exempli gratia," meaning "for example"

i
tsori
t’s:"I
t’
s"s houldbeus edonl
yasacont
ract
i
onfor"
iti
s.
""Its," r
efer
stos
omet
hi
ngbel
ongi
ngt
o‘i
t
’.E.
g.

Thebi
rds t
uckits beakint
otheeart
handt
ookoutaworm’

personnel or personal: "personnel" refers to staff or workers. "Personal" means private or confidential (All
PERSONNEL are permitted to access their PERSONAL information data file.).

phenomenon or phenomena: "phenomenon" is singular. "Phenomena" is plural.

stationary or stationery: "stationary" means "fixed in position." "Stationery" refers to "writing paper and
envelopes."

unconscious or subconscious: "unconscious" refers to being unaware or unplanned. "Subconscious" refers


to mental processes of which we are not aware.

who or whom: the easiest way to decide which one to use is to determine whether you are referring to he, she,
or they (use who) or him, her, or them (use whom).

Professional Writing Skills - Copyright Nick Russell 2007 65


PROBLEM EXPRESSIONS EXERCISE 1

Choose the correct option to compete the sentences below:

1. The religious service affected/effected me deeply.

2. The Swiss were disinterested/uninterested in the Second World War.

3. The shuttle crew is under no allusions/illusions about the dangers of their mission.

4. Thankfully, natural phenomenon/phenomena like volcano eruptions are rare.

5. The criteria/criterion for success is physical fitness.

6. Fortunately the material was inflammable/non-flammable so the children escaped safely.

7. Questioned by the inspector, the crane driver refuted/denied the allegation but could not
adduce/induce alternative evidence.

8. The terrible suffering of the defendant militate/mitigate the degree of guilt for his crime.

9. I
vormaybet
hepr
inc
ipal
/
pri
nci
pl
eboybuthe’
stot
al
lyunpr
inc
ipl
ed.

10. PG Stores Group sales of stationery/stationary were almost stationery/stationary last month.

11. Last year there were less/fewer accidents than in the previous year.

12. Some truck drivers are notorious for flaunting/flouting the code of practice.

13. The disagreement underlying these problems call/calls for full investigation.

14. From the evidence before him, the judge inferred/implied that the accident was unavoidable.

Professional Writing Skills - Copyright Nick Russell 2007 66


PROBLEM EXPRESSIONS EXERCISE 2

Choose the correct option to compete the sentences below:

1. The Army team diffused/defused the bomb.

2. The barrister tried to illicit/elicit the story from the unwilling witness.

3. Senator Brown said she was delighted by the enormity/enormousness of her election victory.

4. We are pleased to (except / accept) your terms and conditions

5. Our client is (averse / adverse) to proceeding with the discussions in view of the aggressive
demands.

6. There is every expectation that a positive conclusion can be (affected / effected) subject to your
clients full cooperation.

7. The progress of negotiations is being impeded by the (continuous / continual) interruptions by


the Managing Director, demanding additional concessions.

8. The (criterion / criteria) for our success today will be whether our company is still around in
2020.

9. MrVes ey’sass ert


iont hathismai ndomi cil
ei sinBr us
s elsisnotcons
ist
entwi
t
hhi
sst
atement
two years ago that he (immigrated / emigrated) to Switzerland.

10. The company fears that through an onerous contract it will (incur / occur) additional losses.

11. The decisive factor is whether spending (farther / further) time will yield any tangible benefits.

12. We exercisequal i
tyc ont
rol bybenc
hmar
ki
ng;(
i.
e./e.
g.)i
dent
i
fyi
ng‘
bes
t-pr
act
i
cemodel
s’and
making sure we achieve them.

13. The paradox is that although we have (less / fewer) constraints, we have (fewer / less) freedom.

14. The marketing team were able to effect / affect a more positive response to the product in our
target market.

Professional Writing Skills - Copyright Nick Russell 2007 67


SYSTEM PROCESS EVALUATION

For reporting a system process evaluation the vocabulary will comprise mainly qualitative
expressions like the ones on the table below. Try to complete the table by filling in the gaps.

Adjective Negative Adjective Noun

Efficient

Unreliable
Consistency
Accurate
Insufficient
Regularity
Competent
Inexperienced
Effectiveness
Comprehensive
unsystematic
Planning
Confidential
Inadequate

I
fyouarenots ur eoft henegat ivepr efix,youc anal way sus e:NOT+Adj ect
ive'e.g.‘
Yours
yst
emsar
enot
ef
fi
ci
ent
’- Using 'NOT' gives more stress and is usually clearer for rhetorical purposes.


Alac
kof
…’&‘
anabs
enc
eof
…’

Asanal ter nat


i
vet
othenegat
i
veadj
ect
i
vey
ouc
ans
ay:t
her
ewas‘
alac
kof

'+s
ubs
tant
i
ve- this sounds more
diplomatic:

The audit team was incompetent - = there was a lack of competence in the audit team - there seems to have
beenal ac kof…

Another common critical phrase is: 'leave a lot to be desired':

'Your internal control procedures leave a lot to be desired'

Professional Writing Skills - Copyright Nick Russell 2007 68


Exercises

FINANCIAL STATEMENTS EXERCISE

Match the expressions on the left with the formal terminology on the right

1 All the capital in the company before dividends have been paid a Accumulated depreciation
2 Buying new machines, property etc. b Acquisitions
3 Debts in the future with origin in current year c Amortisation of intangible assets
4 Differences arising between commercial and fiscal accounts d Cash and cash equivalents
5 Earnings after deducting all costs and taxes e Cost of Sales
6 Earnings kept in the business f Current liabilities
7 Excess of share issue price over nominal value g Current assets
8 Merchandise in warehouse h Deferred income
9 Investments in which the company owns between 20% and 49% I Deferred taxes
10 Money owing to our bankers and other lenders j Diluted earnings per share
11 Money owing to our suppliers k Disposals
12 Money paid in advance l Distribution costs
13 Money payable to companies who own a share in our subsidiaries m Earnings per share
14 Money received in advance from our customers n Equity
15 Money spent for redundancies o Expenditure on tangible fixed assets
16 Money spent getting goods to customers p Financial liabilities
17 Money spent to invent new products q Fixed assets
18 Money spent sold goods r Impairment of tangible fixnancial assets
19 Money to be paid between one and five years s Inventories
20 Money to be paid by our customers t Medium and long term liabilities
21 Profit divided by number of shares u Net profit for the year
22 Profit resulting from converting currencies v Prepayments
23 Property Plant & Equipment w Provisions
24 Purchase of investments x Research and Development Costs
25 Revenue divided by number of shares included new shares issued during year y Restructuring costs
26 Sale of investments z Retained earnings
27 Shareholders Capital aa Share of profits attributable to minority interests
28 Short term debts bb Share of results of associated companies
29 Special depreciation of investments cc Share premium
30 The reduction of value of intellectual property dd Tangible fixed assets
31 Things company owns for less than a year ee Total equity before appropriations
32 Things company owns for more than a year ff Trade and other Payables
33 Things which can be quickly turned into money gg Trade and other Receivables
34 Total write down of things we own hh Translation reserve

Professional Writing Skills - Copyright Nick Russell 2007 69


TAX LETTER EXERCISE.

Rewrite the letter below in formal professional style

The twenty first of june 200X

dear Mr Carl Snide

thanks a lot for writing me a letter on the fifteenth of june I am writing to you to answer it.

You put inside the envelope of the letter which you sent to me your papers documents and letters to
the tax people. You want us to look at the papers and read them and see if we can help you to deal
with your complicated tax problems.

One of the problems you have is that you buy a load of stuff from your U.S. mother and pay a lot of
money for it –more than you would pay if you bought the stuff from someone else.

This is not allowed because the law says you have to buy stuff as cheap as possible on the open
market and if you pay your US people too much cash, the tax people think you are being tricky and
secretly sending cash back home which is not being taxed here.

If they find out about this they will add the difference between the money you pay your mother
company and the money they think you should be paying to your tax bill.

The other big problem you have is that your mother company made you a loan of $2m in 200X and
you pay a 15% fee for that.

Our tax authorities says that if you borrow money in your company family you have to pay a fee for it
which is the same as you would pay to a bank because otherwise the cost of the fee makes your profit
l
essandy oupaynotenought axandt hat’
sbadf ort hecount r
yandourt axcol lect
orsar ev er yangr y
and punish you.

That’swhyt
heyhav erulesaboutexchangepr i
cesandcapi tal regulat i
onswhi
chsayt
hatl
oansmade
by a mummy company musn't be more than 1.5 of your capital worth.

Ihopeal
lpoi
ntsar
enowcl
ear
ly.Seey
ousoonanddon’
tbeaf
rai
dtoaskquestions to me.

Yours,
Freddie
Freddie Andrews C.P.A.

Professional Writing Skills - Copyright Nick Russell 2007 70


LETTER COM PLETION EXERCISE TAX

Complete the letter below using the words provided at the bottom of the page.

Dear Mr Hopkins,

Thank you for your letter ____________ 03 June 200X. You ____________ requested us to give some brief information with
regard to different tax issues ____________ to your company. Referring to the questions raised in your letter we would like to
give you the following comments:

Loan received from Balthazar Inc.

We understand from your letter that $7.5m loan was ____________ by your parent company Benson Inc in 20XX for which
you have to pay an interest ____________ of 9.5 %. With regard to the amount of the loan it has to be ____________
whether it is in line with the mmmmm ____________ capitalisation rules. These rules ____________ special ___________
loan-ratios. If these ____________ are not fulfilled the interest payments to the US parent company will be ____________ as
constructive dividends. Therefore, we would like to ask you to provide us with the following information:

Balance sheets of 20XX –20X1


Copy of the loan agreement with Benson Inc.
Copies of agreements concerning loans given by Benson to ____________ enterprises
Copies of Renwick GmbH`s bank loan agreements
Interest ____________ paid to Benson Inc. in 200XY

In addition to the thin capitalisation aspect, problems of ____________ profit distributions could ____________, because of
the high interest rate. In order to avoid this it is necessary to prove that the interest rate is in line with the ____________
____________ principle.

Transfer Prices

Based on the information in your letter, you buy approximately 15% of your components from B. Inc. Generally, no problems
will ____________ from transactions with the ____________ company, if the prices and other conditions of delivery with
____________par ti
esar ein____________wi ththear m’sl engt
hpri
nciple.To____________poss ibl
etransf erpr i
ce
problems, we would strongly recommend a ____________ review of the above points. Our transfer pricing specialists would
of course be pleased to support you in this important matter.

Wage Tax Issues


____________ to the information given, the wage tax situation of the eight employees and of the general manager has to be
thoroughly ____________. The employees might be ____________ to mmm income tax. ____________ to the mmm Income
Tax Act the employer has to ____________ the wage tax and to pay it to the tax authorities. To review whether social
security contributions arise, please provide us with detailed information concerning the working conditions of the eight
employees, e.g. with copies of the ____________ contract and ____________ of their employment with the company.

Pleasec oul
dy ouinf
orm usofMr .Burn’
sf unctionbot hwithi
n the US parent as well as the mmm subsidiary as this could
impact the ____________ of his remuneration as an expense.

Publication of Accounts
Following mMm Commercial Law a company of your size is obliged to publish the financial statements (balance sheet, profit
and loss account, notes, management report) and to file one copy to the ____________ Register. Not all ____________
companies in mm comply with their obligations to publish their financial statements.

Worker participation on the supervisory board


According to mm commercial law, if the number of employees exceeds 500, one third of the ____________ board members
must be represented on the ____________ council.

We hope this information meets your requirements and are at your ____________ if you should have any further questions.

Yours sincerely,

according arm’sl eng th duration kindly prescribe reviewed


actually commercial employment kindly pursuant supervisory
affected connected equity liable rate thin
affiliated deductibility granted line ratios thorough
arise deemed hidden minimise related withhold
arise disposal impact parent reviewed workers

Professional Writing Skills - Copyright Nick Russell 2007 71


Write a reply to this letter based on your telephone dialogue:

Portrad Systems GmbH

GoetheStr. 34
Tel 932 334445
Fax 932 334446
E-mail: portrad@spiders.web

Clever & Cheap


Chartered Accountants
Attn Mr XYZ
9 The Mews, Kenilworth Road
Mayfair
London W1 4JR

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Re: Tax Investigation

De
arMr…,

Weh av ebee nsubjectedt oat axau di the r


ei n…. .anda lth ou
ghwebe
lie
veweh
avec
orr
ect
lya
ppl
ieda
llr
equ
ire
d
compliance procedures, the authorities are accusing us of:

1. Having failed to withhold wage taxes on one of our free-lancers.


2. They have also queried the validity of expenses for a business convention in Miami, claiming that it constitutes
a benefit in kind for the participants.
3. Telephone expenses relating to cellular telephones of our external sales force have also been challenged on the
basis that they can be used for private purposes.

I would appreciate your help on these points with a view to appealing.

Yours truly,

Brian Kay

Brian Kay
Finance Director Portrad

Professional Writing Skills - Copyright Nick Russell 2007 72


Tax/Legal Exercise –Complete the letter below

Quick & Dirty Consultants

Mr Gerard Prentice
Finance Director
Severus PLC
24-25 Glamorgan Rise
London SE27 6HP

January 16, 2007

Dear Mr Prentice,

We ______________ to our telephone conversation of last week and are pleased to provide
you with our ______________ and possible ______________ to the ______________ raised.

Facts
AnAssembl yFeeAgr eement( “
the Agreement) was ______________ 2 January 2002 between
Severus PLC and Merckle S.A.. The parties also adopted a Supplement to this Assembly Fee.
On the ______________ of this ______________, Merckle S.A. receives or pays a
______________ on the relative adjusted actual net investment share for Severus PLC. This %
share is to be applied to the ______________ operating profit/loss level of Severus PLC.

______________ Severus PLC is experiencing a serious loss which would ______________


that Merckle S.A. would have to pay a ______________ amount to Severus PLC in
______________ to the agreement. It is expected that, due to this, the net equity of Merkle S.A.
would drop below half of its capital stock Merkle would then be in a Capital ______________
situation asdefi
nedi nar t.54oft he…… Compani esCodeandi nar t
.11oft heSuppl ement .

Conclusion
Art.10 of the Supplement ______________ that the mark-up might be changed on the basis of
a ______________ agreement between Merckle S.A. and Severus PLC.if such a change is
______________byaCapi t
al______________si tuati
on(“the______________-clause. On
the basis of this clause, Merckle S.A. could (try to) escape from (a part of) its ______________
to ______________ the losses of Severus PLC.

We hope that we have been of assistance to you and are at your disposal for any further
questions.

Very truly yours,

actual currently mandated refer


analysis escape mark-up solution
basis impairment x2 mutual substantial
concluded imply obligation supplement
conformity issue provides share

Professional Writing Skills - Copyright Nick Russell 2007 73


Tax/Legal Exercise –Complete the letter below

Quick & Dirty Consultants

Mr Gerard Prentice
Finance DirectorSeverus PLC
24-25 Glamorgan Rise
Orpington
London SE27 6HP

January 16, 2007

Dear Mr Prentice,

Reference is made to our telephone discussion today. Below is our summary and conclusions
in connection with the issues _________________.

Question
Youas kedushowaCapi talI
mpai r
ments i
tuat
ioncoul dbepr event
edunder…… Companyl aw.In
_________________ you wanted to know whether it was possible to improve the net equity of
Merckle S.A. by contributing and _________________ a _________________ not et oMer c
k l
e’
s
capital. This _________________ note would consist of a _________________ by Severus to
_________________ a substantial sum of money into the accounts of Merckle at the first request of
the _________________.

Conclusion
Under……… l aw,i twould not be possible to capitalise a _________________ note as a
_________________ to the share capital of a company.
There is greater _________________ with respect to _________________ that are made outside
t
hec ompany ’
ss har ec apit
al and_________________ with so-called profit shares. However, it
would not be reasonably defensible to capitalise a _________________ note of significant value in
t
hec ompany ’
sbal anc es heet .The_________________obj ecti
oni sthatther ei snei thera
_________________ contribution nor a _________________ increase of assets.
To achieve your objectives, we would like to bring the following alternatives to your attention:
i. _________________ of assets
ii. Capitalization of _________________ costs
iii. Cash contribution followed by a loan construction

We shall be pleased to _________________ on these three alternatives at our meeting tomorrow.

Yours sincerely,

capitalising deposit genuine remunerated


commitment elaborate latter restructuring
contribution X 2 flexibility particular revaluation
demand x 4 fundamental raised tangible

Professional Writing Skills - Copyright Nick Russell 2007 74


Renwick Systems GmbH

Quick & Dirty Tax Services


Attn: XXXXXX

Tuesday, 16 January 2007

Dear XXXXX,

We would appreciate your advice on the following:

We are a specialised producer of high technology production machinery for the electronics and computer industry. We
have been operating in Austria for 5 years.

1. Our parent Benson Inc of Illinois made us a loan of € 25mi n2 00 1.Wep ayi nter
esta t8.5
%p .
a.
2. We buy approximately 60% of our components from our parent in the U.S. This year they intend to raise the price
of goods exported to us in order to reduce our profit here and to offset the increased income against their losses.
Will this be workable?
3. Our General Manager Walter Burns resides in Illinois and works part of the year in Germany. Our parent pays
him and they invoice us for the cost.
4. We have the intention of purchasing a plastic producing company in Graz for €1. 75m.The yha v
e
accumulated losses in their books amounting €11m.Ca nwet akeov e rt helo ssesa ndc loset he
business?

I look forward to your reply,

Very truly yours,

LouisWeinstock
Louis Weinstock
Finance Director

Professional Writing Skills - Copyright Nick Russell 2007 75


Herge Software GmbH

VAT implications of selling software over internet

Dear Mr Pennyfeather,

We would like you to give us an overview of the VAT implications and your advice regarding a
proposed venture.
We are an Austrian Software developer and have developed a software-modelling tool. The
computer programme can be downloaded online and allows the user to develop electronic
circuits by computer simulation. We would like to sell this innovative programme over the
internet. The customers would order the s oftwa reove rthec ompany ’shome pag
e(conne c t
e dt
o
server based in an appropriate offshore location) and download the programme

A variety of legal and VAT issues have to be resolved.


1. Could you please clarify whether income from this kind of transaction is deemed a sale
of goods, services, licenses or income from royalties–and what are the VAT
consequences?
2. Please can you inform us whether Austrian VAT is applicable on such cyber-space
transactions –especially since the server is located in the Channel Islands.
3. Is it possible to avoid VAT altogether?

Looking forward to your prompt reply.

Kind regards,

Professional Writing Skills - Copyright Nick Russell 2007 76


www.BenchmarkEnglish.com
Professional Writing Skills - Copyright Nick Russell 2007 77