Communication Works

Hot Tip No. 1 - Pronouns

A pronoun is a word that stands in place of a noun, eg 'Ask John if he is going to be late home.'

When deciding whether to use I/Me, She/Her or He/Him, always ‘leave the other person out of it’.

Example 1:

She/Her and I went to town.

In order to understand whether ‘She’ or ‘Her’ is correct, leave ‘I’ out of it and ask yourself, who went to town?

Answer: She went to town. We couldn’t say ‘Her went to town’ because it would not make sense!

The correct sentence therefore has to be ‘She and I went to town’.

Note that it is ‘She and I went to town’, not ‘She and me went to town’, because if we left the other person out of it (‘she’), we couldn’t say ‘me went to town’.

Use the above same logic to decide whether to use He or Him.

Hot Tip No. 2 - How do I write the date when I'm addressing a letter?

Writing conventions evolve over time, and many business writers remain unaware of current date formatting. Note that the day of the month has nothing following it (eg 4th becomes 4, 2nd becomes 2). In addition, there is no comma separating the month from the year.

This date format applies to letters, reports, emails, memos and personal correspondence.

Example One:

4th March, 2010 (incorrect)

is replaced with

4 March 2010 (correct)

You will also note that in an address, there is no full-stop after titles or initials. Neither is there a comma at the end of each line of the address. This adheres to the full block punctuation style which requires punctuation only in the main body of the letter.

Example Two:


March 2nd, 2010.


Mr. H. Belafonte

224 Evermore St.



2 March 2010

Mr H Belafonte

224 Evermore St



Hot Tip # 3 Reflexive Pronouns

 An increasingly common mistake in both written and spoken English is the overuse and incorrect use of the reflexive pronoun: myself, yourself, and yourselves. Interestingly, the same misuse does not seem to occur with the reflexive ‘themselves'.

 Perhaps in an attempt to appear scholarly and grammatically correct, writers and speakers are using the incorrect from of the pronoun. The effect is that the sentence appears clumsy and reflects poorly on the credibility of the user. So, when should you use the word? 

 The golden rule is that you should only use myself if the word I comes before it in the same sentence.  When this is the case, the word is used in the following situations:

 Firstly, when the subject and object of the sentence are the same: 

  • I saw myself in the mirror.
  • I saw myself in the mirror.

 Secondly, when you want to emphasise, or call more attention to the subject of the sentence:

  •  I did the job myself. (Nobody helped me)
  • I ate all the cake myself. (Nobody else ate any)

 The use of the other reflexive pronouns (yourself, himself, herself, ourselves, yourselves and themselves), in relation to their subject and object pronouns, is the same.

 When not to use the reflexive:

  •  The goodwill of the community is dependent on yourselves.    Incorrect
  • The goodwill of the community is dependent on you.  Correct     

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