Is it just me, or do these sentences seem weird to you?

'Is there anything else that needs covering?'
'The development plan received 20 objections.'

Wouldn't it be more natural to write them this way?

'Is there anything else we need to cover?'
'We received 20 objections to the development plan.'

Adding humans (in those examples, we) allows us to avoid clunky, unnatural sentences.

Impersonal writing can also be nonsensical. Without humans, the first sentence suggests that topics can have needs. The second sentence is about a development plan so intelligent it can receive objections.

Sure, we say sentences like that and hardly anyone notices, but with writing, our readers expect polish. Adding humans is an easy way to add that polish, achieve more clarity and make our writing more interesting.

I like this quote from Martin Cutts editor of The Plain English Guide (Oxford University Press).

'The myth that I and we should be avoided in formal reports has crippled many writers, causing them to adopt clumsy and confusing constructions.'

I and we are only two ways of adding humans to our writing. If they're inappropriate for you, or you want some variety, try other human words: you, staff, the managers, drivers, residents, members, shareholders, the senior management team, councillors, stakeholders, subscribers, players or customers.



Interested in a workshop on business writing for your team?