Writing Thank-you Letters


Christmas is over, and the time is perfect for brushing up on how to write a thank-you letter. If you’ve received gifts or help of some kind, it never hurts to show your appreciation, and acknowledge kindness in a timely manner.

Let’s assume that you are thanking someone for a gift. It is good to have foldover note cards on hand. Handwriting your note gives it a personal touch.


What to Include

When you describe the gift, be sure to avoid tacky phrases like “the lovely gift” or “the nice present.” Instead, name the gift and tell how useful or appropriate it is. You might want to say how you plan to use it or where you will place it. Tell what it is about the gift that especially pleased you.

Add one or two sentences saying something nice about the giver of the gift, expressing affection or sending greetings to them and their family (if it applies).

Do Not

It’s not a good idea to ask where the gift was purchased so you can return it.

If you receive duplicate gifts, do not mention this to the giver.

If the gift is money, it is usually best not to mention the amount. Instead, you can mention the giver’s kindness or generosity.

Don’t include news, extra information, or questions unrelated to the gift. Find a different opportunity for this, if necessary.


The main thing is to convey to the giver of the gift, that you appreciate their thoughtfulness and to tell them a simple “thank you.”

There is no need to gush over the gift or the person who gave it. This would seem flowery and insincere. Simplest is often best. Show your genuine appreciation and you will make the giver of the gift very happy.


Semicolons and Colons


For years I have avoided using a semicolon, for fear I would do it wrong. It was almost the same with a colon, except that I knew it was useful for setting off a long list.

When I looked up the use of the semicolon I was surprised how simple the rules are for when to use it.

I thought I would share with you what I’ve learned.


One job of a semicolon is to link clauses that could stand alone as sentences, and that have a close relationship. The linking should be more effective than leaving them as separate sentences.

Here is an example:

The old man fell asleep whenever he began reading the book; the novel was obviously boring.

Why not use two sentences? Although each sentence could stand alone, they are closely related, and the point is better made by using the semicolon. Joining them with “and” would water down the effect.

Another job of a semicolon is for lists in text, or often in footnotes, where a dividing mark stronger than a comma is needed. Often we find this use of a semicolon in non-fiction writing to separate references.

Here is an example:

Attalos’ commands: with Alketas, Arr.4.27.5; with Koinos, Arr. 4.24.1; Meleagros, Arr. 4.16.1; 5.12.1; 6.17.3; Krateros, Arr. 4.16.1.

Notice that at the beginning of the list, after Attalos’ commands, we have a colon. This marks the beginning of a list, so we have a use for the colon in this sentence as well.

The colon is often used to separate a general statement from one or more items that support it. These explanations need not be complete sentences, but could be more like a list.

Here is an example:

I won’t be going to the party for two reasons: I have nothing nice to wear, and I haven’t been invited.

Other kinds of lists can also follow a colon.

My grocery list had several things on it: milk, eggs, sugar, flour, and baking powder. 

After you learn the use of semicolons and colons, and after my shopping is done, I could make pancakes for you.




Spelling Bee

Are you ready for a tough spelling bee?

Here are twenty-five words that sometimes give people grief.

  1. address
  2. all right
  3. asphyxiate
  4. camouflage
  5. carburettor (Americans may spell it with only one “t.”)
  6. chrysanthemum
  7. commitment
  8. committee
  9. desiccated
  10. diphtheria
  11. embarrass
  12. exhilarate
  13. gorilla
  14. grammar
  15. harass
  16. hemorrhage
  17. inoculate
  18. intercede
  19. liquefy
  20. ophthalmologist
  21. penicillin
  22. seize
  23. siege
  24. supersede
  25. vaccinate

Why not have a look at these words and then have someone give you a spelling test? How do you think you’ll do?

If you don’t get 100%, don’t worry. You won’t be alone.

Are you sweating blood yet?