Here's a simple one-sentence guideline that I suggest you can apply to ensure that you are indeed communicating in "plain English":
- Use the present tense, 2nd-person voice, unless you have good reason to use another tense.
So what does that really mean - speaking plainly?
Let's explore this rule in more depth. In writing and speaking, we can communicate in three ways or "voices":
- 1st person voice - examples include: "I", "me", "we".
- 2nd person voice - examples include: "you", "him", "her".
- 3rd person voice - examples include: "they", "them", "those".
Key tip: most business and plain-English writing should usually address the reader as an individual. Example: "You". Therefore, when appealing to your reader in a personal sense, think carefully before writing in the 1st- or 3rd-person voices for more than just a few words. Generally, 2nd-person voice offers the best pay-back in most instances.