Many people misspell common words, mix up similarly spelled words, or use the wrong form of “there”. For them, this is not a problem because we can understand what our friends and family mean to say in e-mails or other correspondence. If you are in business, however, you cannot afford to make simple mistakes. Common grammar mistakes that make you look unprofessional can cost you customers or even help put you out of business.
Here are some of the most common mistakes. If you avoid these on your website and business materials, you will stand out to potential new customers.
1. Subject/verb agreement. Most people know the basics on this one. You match a singular verb to a singular noun and vice versa. For example, you would say, “The man IS doing his job.” and not “The man ARE doing his job.” Many people get mixed up, however, when it comes to subjects such as “everyone” or “nobody”. These confusing nouns are singular even though they refer to more than one person. So you would say “Everyone HAS something important to do.” or “Nobody WANTS to waste money.” rather than “Everyone HAVE…” or “Nobody WANT…”
2. Mixing up the present and past tenses. This is more of a concern in fiction writing, but it does come up in business correspondence as well. Sometimes product or service descriptions are written in the present tense in order to convey a sense of immediacy. If you do this, make sure that you remain in the present tense throughout the passage of writing. The only exception to this is if you make it clear to the reader that you are now talking about something in the past–i.e. “Even five years ago, people weren’t able to instantly get in touch with each other.”
3. Not putting the proper endings on past tense verbs. You probably know that most past tense verbs end with -ed: walked, picked, stated, etc. English is riddled with exceptions, however, and it is easy to mess up if you are in a hurry. Always double check your correspondence or have a proofreader go over it with you. Most importantly, don’t forget to add the proper ending to past tense verbs. Sentences such as “Every day he walk past the place across the street without thinking about going inside.” sound uneducated, and it is quite simple to catch and fix these errors.
4. Apostrophe errors. Apostrophes are used for two reasons: to show letters that have been deleted from contractions (i.e. can’t instead of cannot) or to show possession (“A diamond is a girl’s best friend.”) It is becoming more and more common for people to misuse apostrophes to denote the plural tense. Do not use apostrophes in this manner. For example, signs at a school should read, “Only teachers may use copiers.” not, “Only teacher’s should use copiers.”
5. Not using commas correctly. Commas are supposed to be used to tell the reader to take a breath before the rest of the sentence. Some people use them in place of periods, which is incorrect. If the second half of the sentence can stand on its own, either split it into two sentences or use a semi-colon.
In addition to these errors, it is common to mix up the spelling of words that sound alike. Here are five such common grammar mistakes that also make you look unprofessional:
1. Using the wrong form of “there”. There are three words that sound alike: there, they’re, and their. The first of these words is used as a noun, the second is a contraction for they are, and the third indicates possession.
2. Then and than. Then refers to something happening next, while than is used as a comparative word.
3. Lose and loose. It is becoming common to spell “lose” with two o’s; however, this is incorrect. Loose means not tight; lose that extra o when you’re trying to say “lose”.
4. To, two, and too. “To” is a tricky word; it is used as part of a verb or a preposition. Add an extra o if you mean also, and always make sure you are using “two” to refer to a number.
5. It’s and its. “Its” does not follow the rules for possessives discussed above. Instead, the apostrophe is only used if you are contracting “it is”. Sentences such as, “Your phone loses its charge easily.” should not contain an apostrophe.
Grammar can be complicated and overwhelming. The lists above contain most of the common grammar mistakes that make you look unprofessional; if you learn these rules, you will make a better impression on potential clients and customers than most of your competitors.
If you liked this article, we’d love for you to share it, post it on your site or blog, or even use it in your newsletter. All we ask is that you leave it intact and do not alter it in anyway. All the links must remain in this article.
©2009 The Business Identity Factory. All Rights Reserved.
“Helping businesses define and express their brand”
If you liked this article, we'd love for you to share it, post it on your site or blog, or even use it in your newsletter. All we ask is that you leave it intact and do not alter it in anyway. All the links must remain in this article.
© 2009 The Business Identity Factory. All Rights Reserved.
"Helping businesses define and express their brand"