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I Need to Write an Ad - Advertising Lingo

Grammar and Vocabulary for Advertisements

by Sally Jennings

Writing ads in English can be tough. Here are a few hints.

"Will pull up weeds and fertilize lawn." Not quite right, thought the gardener. He looked in the phone directory ads and found "Will Maintain Your Lawn," or "We Specialize in Lawn Care." Ah, much better.

"Ask for Child Meal," no that wasn't right. The menu in English was always so hard, the restaurant manager thought. She flipped through the take-out menus from other restaurants. "Children's Portions Available on Request." Yes, that was it.

The real estate agent searched the online dictionary for one word meaning "on the other side." There it was, "reverse." He wrote, "A Sample of Current Listings Shown on Reverse." His flyer was finally perfect.

In the last few years, home computers and insta-print businesses have made it possible for many people to design and use their own advertising materials. Here is a little help if you are one small word or one short phrase away from standard English.

English nouns which can be counted are plural in ads. Even though a customer only orders one meal at a time in a restaurant, the sign should read "meals," as in "Home Cooked Meals." The same is true for apples, oranges and bananas, "Apples, $2.25/kg."

If a number higher than "1"comes before the noun, the noun is countable, and should be in the plural form, "five candies for a loonie," "three mowings a month," "two suites."

Items sold one at a time are still plural, but may have "each" after the price, if customers usually buy more than one,"candy bars, $1.00 each," "pumpkins, $2.99 each." If customers only buy one at a time, then don't use the word "each," "haircuts $10.00." Another unit of measure may be used after the noun,"two-bedroom apartments, $799/month," "candy, $1.50/bag."

Uncountable nouns like "lettuce, soup, and coffee" never take an "s." When these are in noun phrases, the first noun, which is the countable unit, takes the "s," "heads of lettuce," "bowls of soup," and "cups of coffee." Even when the second noun already has an "s" in the plural, the first noun needs one too, as in "orders of fries."

Fish, meat, and shrimp are already plural without the final "s," "fish and chips," "three-meat chow mein," and " deep-fried shrimp." However, "prawns" has a final "s."

Adjective phrases drop the "s," "three-bedroom house," "two-car garage," "two-level floor plan," "three-cheese pizza," "four-star rating."

Stock phrases can give your ads a personal touch: "Serving You With Pleasure," or "We Would Love to Serve You," or "We Treat Your Needs as Our Own."

Finally, when you are asking for payment, a nice phrase on an invoice might be "It Was a Pleasure Serving You," or "Thanks for the Business." This leaves the customer with a good impression so they will recommend your business to someone else.

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