syntax in copywriting

Syntax and Context in copywriting _ part 1


So, the other day I was having a little chat with a friend of mine (who’s also a writer) And after a couple beers, the conversation came around to the topic of syntax, and context in writing.
(yeah, I guess that probably makes us a couple of nerds. But this is the kind of stuff we’re interested in. And the small talk usually ends up turning to advertising, and copywriting)

So here we are…

Anyway, I thought I’d share the highlights of our conversation with you.

If you’re interested… then read on.

If you’re not interested… then I guess you can go nerd out somewhere else?

First, let’s start with a quick definition, just to get the ball rolling…

Basically, “syntax” in writing refers to the order of the words you use.
By using the same words, in a different order, we can completely change the meaning of the message.


(Warning: cheesy example coming up…)


Take this next sentence for example…
“The dog bit the boy”
Now, let’s change the order of the words…
“The boy bit the dog”

See how that works?

Same words, but the sentence now has a completely different meaning. Especially for the boy (and the dog)


So how can this syntax thing, help you with your copywriting?

Let’s say you have a bonus offer with your product, and you want to add a touch of scarcity to your call to action.
The way you word it can have a huge impact on how it’s perceived by your audience.

Take this next example…

“The only way to get this bonus is to order right now”
compared to…
“The way to get this bonus only is to order right now”

Can you see the difference?
The first one says to get the bonus, you need to order now (a touch of scarcity).
The second one sounds like, if you order now, you only get this one bonus. (you don’t get the option of anything else) Also, the second one almost sounds like improper English, which can hurt your credibility in the eyes of your reader.


Alright, I can already hear some of you saying “those are pretty lame examples.”
And you’re right… they are.
But I only use extreme, or simple examples, when I’m writing a post like this, because I need to emphasize the point quickly. This is not a full length book, or a full course on copywriting, so I need to make the point as easy as possible to comprehend.
That way you can (hopefully) grasp the concept, and run with it from there.

OK, I’m going to end this post here.
I know, I know, I promised this post would be about “syntax” and “context.”
But it’s already starting to get a bit lengthy (imagine that… me, talking too much. There’s a shocker… right?)

Anyway, I’ll turn the “context” topic into another post, and try to get it up here as soon as I can. But right now, I have to get back to work.

So until next time, just remember… the “order” of your words can often have as much impact in your writing, as the words themselves.

All the best,


Update: I finished part 2 and you can read it here

Posted in Copywriting, Email Copy, Offline Copywriting, Online Copywriting and tagged , , .

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