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Do you know how to use the grammar to approach a company ir you aren’t not satisfied with their work? Here we tell you how you can do it!

If a business contact has annoyed you and you want to show your displeasure in an email, it’s not enough to just throw around long words like indemnification. For that formal, frosty tone you’re seeking, your best weapons are grammatical, and the good news is, you probably won’t need to learn anything new. The aim of this blog is to weaponize what you already know…

Less is Colder

Generally, native speakers use a lot of words when we want to ingratiate and waste the bare minimum on those who incur our displeasure. You can start by tidying up your adverbs and reference phrases. Many of them are probably unnecessary (“really”, “right now”, etc.) and longer phrases can be cut down to sinister, one-word alternatives like “Unfortunately…”.

Short and Simple

Next, you can ditch all those elaborate verb forms with auxiliaries to give subtle nuances of meaning. You’re angry, remember; to hell with subtlety. Your charming “we were hoping you might be able to send…” converts to a curt “Please send…”, simple futures with will are more common than a friendlier going to, and continuous verb forms are switched to simple where possible. Last time, perhaps, you were looking forward to hearing from Bob. The new ninja-you merely looks forward to receiving his proposed solution.

Aggressive Passives

Finally, we reach the big gun of formal English: going passive. Changing an active verb form like “I informed you” to a passive “you were informed” has a variety of benefits apart from just sounding posher (which it does). Passives depersonalize and reduce the need for friendly pronouns like “we” and “you”. They can be used to isolate and focus on the malefactor (with “you were informed”, there’s only one person in the spotlight), they can soften an accusation (“mistakes were made” instead of “you made mistakes”), and they can shrug off responsibility in those rare cases where, regrettably, you “may be forced to take further action”. It’s worth checking your nasty email before sending it to see how many of your active sentences could easily be upgraded to punchy passives (seek out and destroy object pronouns like “us”, “me” and “you” where possible).

After that, I only have one more trick for those who really want to show off, but not until you read my next blog will you find out what it is for sure.

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