Don’t let the rules of formal letter writing intimidate you into not writing letters!

In our last blog, we went over a few of the many reasons to make hand-writing letters your New Year’s resolution. Letter writing has many benefits, from reducing your stress to creating memorable keepsakes, but many people don’t even attempt to write letters because they are so intimidated by the long list of rules that govern letter writing and the English language in general. The good news is that, while journalists and other professional writers may be picky about whether or not you include the Oxford comma in your writing, the vast majority of people won’t be judging you for your grammatical skills. Plus, many of those rules simply don’t apply anymore, especially in casual writing. Here are a few of the many letter-writing rules you can ignore:

#1. You can’t end a sentence with a preposition.

If you are sick of trying to awkwardly rearrange sentences to avoid ending them with prepositions, such as of, with, in, etc., you’ll be glad to know that this is one grammar rule you can ignore. We can blame this rule on John Dryden, an English poet, playwright and literary critic, who decided in the 17th century that it wasn’t eloquent to end a sentence with a preposition. Trying to rearrange sentences to follow this outdated rule makes for awkward prose, and in most cases you’re better off with a more natural sounding sentence, regardless of what word it ends in.

#2. You can’t split infinitives.

An infinitive is basically just the dictionary form of a verb. For example, “to write,” “to walk,” “to go” and “to play,” are all infinitives. In English, we are taught that splitting infinitives is wrong, and many believe that the rule originated to make it easier for children learning English to understand sentence structure. However, this is another grammar rule that is probably safe to ignore. After all, no man would be able to boldly go where no man has gone before without breaking this outdated rule.

#3. You can’t use first-person pronouns.

When you’re writing a research paper or a professional newsletter, first person pronouns can make you sound too informal and personal, but when you’re writing a letter, the whole point is to be personal! Some writers avoid personal pronounces with a 10-foot pole, but they have their place in writing, particularly in writing that is more personal and intimate, like letter writing.

#4. You can’t use double negatives.

In math, two negatives equal a positive, but English, once again, is not so straightforward. Sometimes, using a double negative can help to add more emphasis to your meaning. For example, when we hear Mick Jagger crooning, “I can’t get no satisfaction,” everyone knows exactly what he means, and if you use double negatives in your writing, you can rest assured that your audience will know what you mean as well.

#5. You can’t use contractions.

Contractions, like “don’t,” “can’t” and “won’t,” have a reputation as being too informal, and if you are writing professionally, that may be true. However, if you are writing informally, contractions are very appropriate. After all, you don’t want to sound like a robot in your letters, and the more conversational your writing style is, the better your audience will be able to connect with what you’re saying.

#6. You can’t start a sentence with a conjunction.

As the name implies, conjunctions are meant to join two phrases together, which is why English teachers have been rejecting sentences that start with conjunctions for years. Luckily, this rule has largely been ignored, and you can now feel free to start your sentences with whatever you like, even if it’s “and,” “but” or “however.”

The English language is so complicated that it’s the most difficult language to learn in the entire world, but the good news is that it doesn’t have to be, especially when you’re writing something informal, like a letter. Don’t let the overly-stuffy rules of grammar intimate you into avoiding letter writing, because, as you can see, as long as a sentence sounds good, it really doesn’t matter if it follows all of the rules.

Are you ready to start ignoring all of these outdated grammar rules and start writing letters to your friends and family? If so, order the custom printed envelopes you need with us at Worcester Envelope Company today!