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RMIT University Library - Learning Lab

Choose your words carefully


The words you use send strong signals about the tone of your message.

Tone indicates your attitude towards a topic. You can create a positive tone by using positive words. Look at the examples below. The tone in the second sentences are more positive.

Example 1

Sentence 1:

The report won’t be ready until Friday.

Sentence 2:

We will send the report on Friday.

Example 2

Sentence 1:

You have not registered for this course and cannot attend until you do so.

Sentence 2:

Please register for this course so that you can attend.

The words you use can also indicate your attitude towards the reader. In the examples below, the verbs used in the first column suggest a negative or emotive tone from the writer. The verbs in the second column are far more neutral.

Negative tone Neutral tone
You claim that... You tell us that...
You fail to understand that... May we point out that...
You neglected to send the contract. The contract was not enclosed...
The alleged incident... The incident you refer to...