How To Use Simple and Compound Sentences in Business Emails
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by Priyadarshini Mahendran
Simple sentences are just that – ‘simple’. They consist of a subject and a predicate. The subject is the person, place, thing or idea in a sentence that is doing or being something.
The predicate explains what the subject is doing in the sentence. The predicate contains a verb.
Ex: Ramanathan came late to work.
Subject + predicate.
Simple sentences are also called independent clauses as they make complete sense on their own. Simple, right?
Compound sentences, on the other hand, are those that have more than one independent clause. It consists of more than one subject and predicate and are connected by a coordinating conjunction (and, but, so, yet, for, or, nor).
Ex: Ramanathan came late to work, and he missed the meeting.
Subject + predicate + coordinating conjunction + subject (2) + predicate (2)
There are two independent clauses, i.e. both can stand alone and have complete meaning.
- Ramanathan came late to work.
- He missed the meeting.
So, how should you use simple and compound sentences?
In a business email, simple sentences are used when you want to communicate a point clearly or give instructions. They provide clarity and are concise. However, the use of too many simple sentences affects the tone of your email and makes you come across as curt and abrupt. It also prevents your email from having a natural flow.
Not so good: Please inform Preethi about the presentation at 11 am. She didn’t receive the memo. She was out of town. Her mobile was not reachable. She won’t be prepared.
Good: Please inform Preethi about the presentation at 11 am because she didn’t receive the memo.
When you want your email to have good tone, you should use compound sentences. However, compound sentences can get too wordy, and you could end up confusing your readers.
Not so good: Avinash did a good sales pitch today because he had done his research well, and he had a great plan and he spoke with confidence; but the client wasn’t convinced.
Good: Avinash did a good sales pitch today, but the client wasn’t convinced, or Avinash did a good sales pitch today for he had done his research. He had a great plan and he spoke with confidence, but the client wasn’t convinced.
Remember, to give your emails a good balance of tone and clarity, use a mix of simple and compound sentences. This will make for effective email writing.
Priyadarshini is a CELTA Cambridge graduate and a passionate English language trainer. She enjoys reading, writing and listening to music.