The ability to write concisely is a vital skill in journalism. Test yourself with this quiz.
Never presume or guess the gender of the addressee. In one instance, I Googled the name of an intended addressee and found that the person identified as transgender. Rather than ‘Mr’ or ‘Ms’, I simply used the recipient’s first name and surname.
Mixing up words and meaning can make your writing look unprofessional. An astute reader will presume your work has not been properly proofread.
A competition judge once pulled me up on using the word ‘that’ (instead of ‘who’) when referring to a person. It was the last time I made that mistake!
The English language provides several ways of expressing unreality or uncertainty. They are useful, elegant tools worth using in your writing.
The word ‘self’ in ‘yourself’, ‘himself’, ‘herself’, ‘itself’ is a reminder that these pronouns are meant to be used only when the action reflects onto the actor. I cannot contact ‘yourself’, but I can contact ‘you’.
There remains a ‘standard English’. And, in many ways, ‘advancement is codified in language’. Language is power. The minute you open your mouth, you are judged by what you say and how you say it.
As a traditionalist, I think that using ‘they’ as a gender-neutral singular pronoun is just a slack way of making your text inclusive, whether for marketing reasons or out of fear of being considered politically incorrect.