Plain English

by David

I remember throughout my childhood that I would hear different adults demand: “Say it to me in plain English”.

Sometimes we’re so good at language that we obfuscate our communication beyond recognition.

The website has been fighting for crystal-clear communication since 1979 and I commend their work. Look at some examples of really long-winded official writing and then the alternatives:


Your enquiry about the use of the entrance area at the library for the purpose of displaying posters and leaflets about Welfare and Supplementary Benefit rights, gives rise to the question of the provenance and authoritativeness of the material to be displayed. Posters and leaflets issued by the Central Office of Information, the Department of Health and Social Security and other authoritative bodies are usually displayed in libraries, but items of a disputatious or polemic kind, whilst not necessarily excluded, are considered individually.

In plain English

Thank you for your letter asking for permission to put up posters in the library. Before we can give you an answer we will need to see a copy of the posters to make sure they won’t offend anyone.


High-quality learning environments are a necessary precondition for facilitation and enhancement of the ongoing learning process.

In plain English

Children need good schools if they are to learn properly.

I think we need to get back to “plain English” a lot more.

One Comment  leave one »

26.Oct.2006 - 7:13 pm

But if we used plain English instead, how would we be able to write flowery essays for school just to reach the word requirement? 😛


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