8 Grammar Rules Every Businessperson Knows But Frequently Misuses


Grammar is a funny thing: we all think we remember our lessons from grammar school yet, in day-to-day business writing situations, we seem to make an increasing number of mistakes.  Even in communication between business executives, it’s becoming increasingly common to spot misspellings as well as improper grammar.

While many now argue that the formality of grammar is no longer necessary, or perhaps even an inconvenience (note: who wants to worry about grammar when texting or tweeting?), I see it as a question of preciseness and respect: preciseness in terms of one’s ability to convey a message in a clear way, and respect in terms of taking the time to ensure that it is easily and clearly readable by the target recipient or audience.  While grammar may be a bit old-fashioned, it does serve a valuable purpose in effective communication.

The following eight tips cover the most commonly-confused grammar rules you and I see on a regular basis.  I did my best to convey the explanation in layman’s terms since few of us are grammarians; instead, we all simply want to sound respectable and to write in a professional, concise, and clear way that conveys the professionalism due in business communication.

This is my first video-based blog entry; additional videos in this series will appear over time.

#1. Punctuation
Commas, Periods, Semicolons, & Colons

#2. Pronouns & Contractions
Their & They’re & There, Your & You’re, Its & It’s

#3. Linking Verbs
Be, feel, taste, look, smell, appear, become, grow, remain, seem, sound, stay

Coming soon…

#4. Lie & Lay

Coming soon…

#5. Lets & Let’s

Coming soon…

#6. Then & Than

Coming soon…

#7. Plural vs. Possessive

Coming soon…

#8. Words That Sound Similar
Lose & Loose, Effect & Affect, Weather & Whether, Alot &. A Lot, Here & Hear, To & Too, Accept & Except, “Could of” & Could Have, All Ready & Already

Coming soon…


What other grammar rules do you see abused and misused?


8 thoughts on “8 Grammar Rules Every Businessperson Knows But Frequently Misuses

  1. Here are some of my biggest: I am shocked at those that can not seem to get advice and advise right. More people in higher circles get this wrong than anything I have seen.
    My next one I don’t see too often but its: Irregardless
    Moot is different than Mute. Mute is a button on your remote. Not a point some one has made.
    Next we get to one of my adobe favorites: I used to look and say ” Hey, Its just not greek”
    (This part I cut from the web http://www.bernzilla.com/item.php?id=582 ) Although the definition of process at Answers.com provides both of the aforementioned variations as acceptable pronunciations of the plural form of the word, there is some very important fine print that shouldn’t go overlooked:
    In recent years there has been a tendency to pronounce the plural ending -es of processes as (-Ä“z), perhaps by analogy with words of Greek origin such as analysis and neurosis. But process is not of Greek origin, and there is no etymological justification for this pronunciation of its plural. However, because this pronunciation is not uncommon even in educated speech, it is generally considered an acceptable variant, although it still strikes some listeners as a bungled affectation.
    Bungled affectation? I couldn’t have said it better myself.
    So next time you’re talking about processes, think “glasses” and not “hypotheses.”

  2. Have a read to the comments from that blog article I sent…. some are classic. analyseeeez,, prooooceseeeez…they kill me…Bungled affection and trying to impress people… I love it. I would hear this stuff at Adobe all the time and I would just want to throw up.

  3. Pingback: Against the Herd Is 6 Months Old: The Most-Read Posts So Far | Bassam Against the Herd

  4. Hi, Bassam! I always enjoy your articles. Insightful, well written, often humorous. Thank you for the time you put into them.

    Just a head’s up that this “8 Grammar Rules….” looks like it’s an unfinished article, but it is showing up in your blog articles feed. You are always so professional, I thought you would want to know.

    Hope your summer is delightful and to connect again soon!

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