This grant blog addresses the following topics:

  • Review previous writing tips
  • New writing tips
  • Character growth leads to business growth

Don’t Wait! Download our "Three Steps to Winning a Government Grant" PDF here - http://albertabusinessgrants.ca/

I bombed first year university because my writing skills were terrible. Really bad.

About the only thing I remember from first-year English class was that my professor, Dr. Smith, met my mom at an event.

Take a wild guess what she told my mom about me?

Her comments had nothing to do with my writing skills.

Instead she told my mom, I really like your son because he takes his hat off when he enters my class. I thought that was bizarre, but I’ll come back to this point in the conclusion of this blog.


A few weeks ago I provided a few writing tips to improve your business writing. Every day I see common mistakes that people write, and I want to use this blog as a way to improve your skills.

I will say at the outset that I’m not an advanced grammar instructor, so you need to build on these tips to improve your skills. If you see where I can improve, please leave a comment or message me. I’m always learning and love to improve my writing as well.

This week’s writing tips will build on the previous tips. The three previous writing tips are here for your convenience.

Tip 1

Write shorter sentences.

Subject – verb – object. 


Dave gets up everyday and goes to his job looking at cars and he is happy all the time.


Dave likes cars.

  • Don’t write like you speak. The magic of writing is that you only need a few words to say something.

Tip 2

Write in the active voice.


The best hockey team in the world by far is the Edmonton Oilers.


The Edmonton Oilers are the best. 

  • Notice the subject comes before the verb in the “after.” Often when you have the word “by” in a sentence, you are in passive voice. Stop that. Switch to active voice. You’ll use less words and be clearer.

Tip 3

Understand the difference between dependent and independent clauses.

During the municipal election, politicians go door knocking.

The “During the municipal election” is the dependent clause. Whenever the dependent clause comes before the independent clause, you need a comma.  No comma in sentences when the independent clause comes before the dependent.

Politicians go door knocking during the municipal election.

  • Notice here no comma exists. The independent clause comes first.

Any sentence with the word “because” has a dependent and independent clause in it.

I like my boss because he brings cookies to work every Friday. No Comma.

Because my boss brings cookies to work every Friday, I like him. Comma.

One other point on this section, the dependent clause by itself is never a sentence. That’s why it’s “dependent.”


Tip 4 the “comma”

You can master your comma usage if you understand the use of “FANBOYS.” Let me explain.

When you have two independent clauses in one sentence (i.e. each clause can stand alone as an independent sentence, you need to join them with something known as a “coordinating conjunction.)”

Stay with me.

Coordinating conjunctions are words like “for, and, nor, but, or, yet, and so.”

Here is an example:

The dog is small, but he barks all the time.

  • Notice “the dog is small” and “he barks all the time” could stand alone as sentences. You then need a coordinating conjunction to make the sentence grammatically correct.
  • Note when the sentences are really small, you can avoid using a comma.
  • When you have no coordinating conjunction between two independent clauses, you use a semi colon: “I love red cars; they are sharp.”

Tip 5 “This usage”

Whenever you start a sentence with the word “this,” put a noun after it.

Edmonton has a new arena that is one of the best in the word. This [venue] is awesome for concerts.

  • Most people leave the reader hanging with the word “this.” Take your writing to the next level and describe what “this” means.

Tip 6: “It”

When you use “it” in a sentence, you need to replace “it” with what you are referring to 75% of the time. The reader will thank you.


Let us finish this week by going back to my professor and the hat story for a minute.

I know a few of my blog readers are entrepreneurs or inspiring entrepreneurs, so I want to leave you with something that I’ve observed while building my small business.

Back in that English class, I needed to learn the “hard skills” for making my living today (i.e. grammar and clarity). Those skills allow me to earn a living, and I am grateful (note the coordinating conjunction I use here).

But taking my hat off in class taught me something too, and I think it’s [note the poor use of "it's," I should insert something like "that lesson is"] having an impact on my business growth today. I can’t really explain why, but I think the connection is rather simple: people trust people who are respectful. It makes sense.  

I’ve been studying Project Timothy for about eight months: http://advance.cbmc.com/products/operation-timothy

A clever verse in the Bible, 1 Corinthians 3:6, says that “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow.”

Regardless of your spiritual beliefs, we can all pretty much agree that the “growth” part of any business is a bit of a mystery. I cannot say with certainty that being respectful to others is driving my business growth, but I have seen a correlation between when I’ve been respectful and disrespectful. The growth arrow seems to point in the same direction as my respect toward others.

Just an observation and some food for thought.

Thanks for your time this week.