Having a background in English, I am a stickler for grammar rules and spelling conventions. So, when I see people who I know are intelligent businesspeople making common errors in their emails, social media posts, blogs and even in their speech, it leaves me, well, speechless.
Everywhere you type – whether it’s a job description, LinkedIn post, or even a quick email – you are presenting your intelligence. Although most people can understand a small typo or two, if you consistently misspell common words, names, or make blatant errors in grammar, you are not putting forward your best self. And you don’t want to leave a bad impression of your own intelligence, or your company’s!
Below are nine common grammar, punctuation and spelling mistakes you may be making in your business communication.
To, Too, Two –
- “To” is normally used before a noun or verb, and describes a destination or action. “I drove to the mall.”
- “Too” is used as an addition. “I like that movie, too!”
- “Two” is the number form of this word. “I walked two miles last night.”
Their, They’re, There –
- “Their” is a possessive word. “We’re going to see their new house.”
- “They’re” is the conjunction to “they are.” “They’re always late.”
- “There” implies a location. “Put the new couch over there.”
Quotation Marks –
Some people think quotation marks imply emphasis or sarcasm. They don’t. They are meant to mark the start and end of a quotation or passage from another source.
“Could Of” –
This all-too-common mistake comes from how similarly “could of” and the correct saying “could HAVE” sound. Could have is the correct form.
Then vs. Than –
- Then is an adverb, usually in relation to time. “We went to dinner, then we had ice cream.”
- Than is a comparison value. “She’s older than her sister.”
Lose vs. Loose –
- Lose means to no longer have possession of. “I always lose my car keys.”
- Loose means vague or ill-fit. “He has a loose tooth.”
If you have more than two commas in a sentence, chances are you are writing run-ons. Commas have three common uses:
- To separate items in a sequence. “I have a pen, pencil, and notepad.”
- To join two thoughts. “It’s cold out, so I wore a sweater.”
- To separate a beginning word or phrase. “However, I now enjoy tomato soup.”
That vs. Who –
- That is used to refer to an inanimate object. “That is a cool car.”
- Who should be used when referring to a person. “She’s the candidate who was placed today.”
Spelling someone’s first or last name incorrectly is always a no-no. If you are unsure how to spell someone’s name, try checking LinkedIn, their email signature, or just ask as a last resort. People will be happy to tell you their correct spelling (and much happier than if their name is misspelled).
There are certain things you must always capitalize: First and Last names, countries, states, titles and more. If you have a question about whether or not something should be capitalized, check this resource.
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