The surest way to lessen your company’s image is to include simple grammar errors in your company’s presentations. Here is a list of the top 10 grammar errors to avoid in your business letters!
This list will keep your reader’s attention on your underlying ideas, and not on the grammatical errors. So let’s clean up your correspondence and avoid these top ten errors:
1. ITS OR THEIR
Error: The practice of the company is to have each franchisee sign their franchise agreement in front of two witnesses.
Better: The practice of the company is to have each franchisee sign its franchise agreement in front of two witnesses.
Alternate: The practice of the company is to have all franchisees sign their franchise agreements in front of two witnesses.
Reason: Take care that you do not switch from singular to plural in the middle of a sentence, or vice versa. “Franchisee” is singular and calls for the singular “its.” “Franchisees” corresponds with the plural “their.” The word you choose, “its” or “their”, will need to agree with the words to which they refer, such as “franchisee” or “franchisees”.
2. IT’S OR ITS
Error: ABC, Inc. is going to discuss it’s new alphabetical filing system.
Better: ABC, Inc. is going to discuss its new alphabetical filing system.
Reason: Use an apostrophe when the meaning you intend is “it is.” In the first example, the sentence could not read “ABC, Inc. is going to discuss “it is” new alphabetical filing system”, so you know it is incorrect. In this example, “its” means that ABC, Inc. owns the new alphabetical filing system. “Its” without the apostrophe is used when you are describing possession or ownership, such as “Its filing system is the best in the world”, which describes ABC, Inc. as the owner of the filing system.
3. WHO OR WHOM
Error: We will give a bonus to any employee who the supervisor recommends.
Better: We will give a bonus to any employee whom the supervisor recommends.
Alternate: We will give a bonus to any employee who is recommended by the supervisor.
Reason: When you are trying to decide whether to use “who” or “whom” remember that if it should be “who” then ask yourself if the person in the sentence would be referred to as he/she or him/her. So, “we will give a bonus to any employee…” is the same as saying “we will give a bonus to him….” You wouldn’t say “we will give a bonus to he….”. If you use “him” then it must be “whom”.
4. IS BECAUSE?
Error: The reason that my grades fell is because I was absent from school frequently.
Better: The reason that my grades fell is that I was absent from school frequently.
Alternate: My grades fell because I was absent from school frequently.
Reason: “is because” should not be used.
5. GOOD OR WELL?
Error: Our stocks performed good this past year.
Better: Our stocks performed well this past year.
Reason: “Good” is an adjective, and “well” in this example is an adverb that describes how the stocks performed.
6. DISTANCE, MONEY, AND TIME?
Error: Eight hours are the time it takes to drive from Philadelphia to North Carolina.
Better: Eight hours is the time it takes to drive from Philadelphia to North Carolina.
Reason: Although “eight hours” is plural in form, it is one unit of measurement, and therefore the accompanying verb is singular, not plural.
7. THAN SHE OR HER?
Error: Although Ms. Smith is usually the person with the answers, I believe Mr. Jones is more likely to have the correct answers this time than her.
Better: Although Ms. Smith is usually the person with the answers, I believe Mr. Jones is more likely to have the correct answers this time than she.
Reason: Try to imagine the missing words that complete the sentence. If you imagine the implied missing words “than she would have”, you will see that you would not say “than her would have” in the the example above.
8. COMMON OWNERSHIP?
Error: I am headed to Jane’s and Mary’s house.
Better: I am headed to Jane and Mary’s house.
Reason: If Jane and Mary have two separate houses, then each name would have a possessive. In this example it is clear that there is only one house, so only the last name given would have the possessive.
9. WORD PLACEMENT?
Error: Heading to the sale of a business, an accident happened to the attorney.
Better: Heading to the sale of a business, the attorney had an accident.
Alternate: The attorney had an accident heading to the sale of a business.
Reason: Here, the accident did not decide to head to the sale of the business, the attorney did. It makes sense to place the word “attorney” closer to the beginning phrase.
10. PARALLEL STRUCTURE?
Error: It is critical that franchisees evaluate not only the product or service offered, but also market it appropriately.
Better: It is critical that franchisees not only evaluate the product or service offered, but also market it appropriately.
Reason: There should be balance in the sentence structure so that the words after “not only” are parallel to the words after “but also.” Since “market” follows “but also” as a verb, then a verb (“evaluate”) should follow “not only”.
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© 2016 Lanard and Associates. All rights reserved. Contact information: Lanard and Associates, P.C., 600 W. Germantown Pike, Suite 400, Plymouth Meeting, PA 19454, phone: 215-392-0030, x101; fax: 215-392-2610; e-mail: [email protected]; web site: www.lanardandassociates.com