Grammatical mistakes for informal writing may not really be a problem, in fact it could even give an impact or be a comedy. But in business communication, whether you are sending something to your boss, client, coworker or your employee, it is always important to write your sentences in correct grammar.
Written communication is the face of your business in this age of email, so it’s even more important than ever to create a professional image with strong writing. While everyone can make an error now and then, consistent and/or careless mistakes send a message that you are not detail-oriented, or possibly worse, that you do not have a good education.
This article will give you a few reminders on the most common mistakes we see in business writing, so you can review and avoid them in your own work.
“Your” Does Not Mean “You Are”
Perhaps the most common grammatical mistake we see is the incorrect use of “your” when someone really means “you’re,” the contraction of “you are.” Over and over, we get kindly meant emails saying, “I hope your feeling better” or promotion emails saying “Your not going to want to miss this!”
If you want to say, “I hope you are feeling better” in an informal way, then the contraction would be: “I hope you’re feeling better.” Your is a possessive, as in my iPhone, your iPhone, their iPhone.
Which leads us to:
“Their” Is Not a Place
Business writers often confuse “their” with the identical-sounding “there” or “they’re.” (And vice-versa.) As stated above, “their” is a possessive describing to whom something belongs, as in “Their SIP termination is superior to mine.”
On the other hand, “there” is used to designate a place, as in: “Please put the office supplies over there.” Or “there” can designate a state of being as in “There are great programs now online to train affiliate marketers.”
“They’re” is a contraction of “they are,” as in “They’re going to love this casserole.” Using “there” or “their” instead of “they’re” is a far too common problem, very similar to the “your” versus “you’re” issue described above.
It’s vs. Its
This one really seems to trip up even good writers. Again, “it’s” is a contraction of “it is.” So if you’re in doubt, ask yourself, could I replace “its” with “it is” and have the sentence make sense? If the answer is a resounding yes, then you should use “it’s” instead. For example, “It is important to have good SEO on retail websites” would become “It’s important to have good SEO on retail websites.”
Of course, if you are still unsure of your skill with grammar, the safest bet is to write your emails in a word processing program that has grammar check. Many email programs now have spell check built in, but fewer include grammar as well. The extra time to do a grammar check will be well worth it until you have mastered the most common grammatical mistakes.
About the Author
Sarah Boisvert is a business writer who covers business topics and businesspeople such as CEO David Kiger.