Non-Sentences in Business Writing

Using non-sentences (e.g., single words) is a creative-writing technique that can make your business correspondence more interesting to read.

Non-sentences can make your writing flow more naturally.


Let's remind ourselves what a sentence is. A sentence is a group of words that expresses a complete thought. A sentence must contain a subject and a verb, although the subject may be implied.

A non-sentence doesn't express a complete thought. Here are some examples:
  • Really?
  • Worse.
  • Yes.
  • No.
  • Possibly.
  • Oh, great.
  • Half dead.
  • Own goal.
  • Bad business.
So, how many non-sentences should you use in formal business correspondence? Well, that depends. Your readers will expect the level of respect that your relationship with them dictates. Non-sentences are great for making your writing flow naturally, so they are great for things like books. They are not so good in business writing though, because they can make you look disrespectful. That's the danger of using them.

The Benefit of Using Non-Sentences

Used occasionally, non-sentences can:
  • Make an impact.
  • Make you look confident.
Impact and confidence are big benefits. Non-sentences can also make your writing flow more naturally.

Don't Overuse Non-Sentences

If, for example, you included a non-sentence (e.g., "Disaster.") in the middle of a paragraph, you would probably achieve some impact and look pretty confident to your readers. However, if you then put another non-sentence (e.g., "Really?") in the next paragraph or on the next page, you would run the risk of your readers thinking you're over-familiar, and the impact and confidence won with your first non-sentence (i.e., "Disaster") might be lost.
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