Travel back in time for a moment with us, to your grade school days. Remember those grammar lessons that seemed to confuse what we knew of the English language; rules on top of rules and multiple versions of the same words. While we may have mastered grammar long ago, it seems that passing time and less practice of those rules does have an effect on our communication in the professional world.
When writing business proposals, office communications, and emails, it is easy to let good grammar slip by. This can be a tough topic to bring up to your team because we all learned it many moons ago, yet it can become a real issue if allowed to persist. Getting team members into the habit of checking for grammatical errors in everyday interactions and email writing can help prevent those errors from creeping into content and publications representing your company, brand, and clients.
Some of the most common grammatical errors in business communications are the use of “there”, “their”, and “they’re”. Same word? Not even close. “There,” does not show possession whether it is used in the form of a noun, a pronoun, adverb, or adjective. “Their”, should be used when showing possession; as it is a pronoun. The third version, “they’re”, is a contraction of “they” and “are. Here is an example of how all three should be used:
“They’re going to turn that in by the end of the day to their boss who sits over there by the window.”
Another common error found frequently is the misuse of “its” and “it’s”. “Its” is a possessive pronoun, similar to “their”. The other version, “it’s” is a contraction of “it” and “is”. When used incorrectly, these seemingly simple and non-key terms may look harmless but can greatly drive down the trust and professionalism of a business. Here is an example of the correct use of these two words:
“The team put forth its best effort and it’s going to be a great presentation.”
The final error we recently discussed as a team is the difference between “effect”, and “affect”. “Affect” is a verb, while “effect” is a noun. Here is an example:
“How does this email affect my team?” vs. “This email has an effect on my team.”
There are so many grammatical errors in businesses everywhere, and some of us are lucky enough to not be bothered by them. However, those of us (like your boss most likely) that pay fine attention to detail are bothered by them and these preventable mistakes can really cost your company. So stay alert and on point with a little help from the Grammar Police; we guarantee there’s at least one in your office!