Common Grammar Mistakes in Business Communications

Avoiding common grammar mistakes in business writing

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Silly grammar mistakes in business writing can smack down your company’s credibility. Sadly, even a seasoned businessman make such mistakes from time to time. If your line of work happens to involve a lot of written communications, have a read at these common grammar mistakes in business communications.

 

Which one of these you often make?

 

“I” vs. “Me”

While both the words “I” and “me” refers to yourself, the usage in a sentence differs. You use “I” as the subject of a sentence and use “me” as the object. Sometimes it can be confusing to know which one to use. Have a look at the following example where you should use “I” instead of “me”.

 

Example:

 

Me and Mr. Runner have not received any email confirming the shipment of Acme cannons.”

 

The Fix:

 

Mr. Runner and I have not received any email confirming the shipment of Acme cannons.”

 

And here’s one where you supposed to use “Me” instead of “I”

 

Example:

 

“Thank you for accompanying Mr. Runner and I during yesterday’s plant tour. ”

 

The Fix:

 

“Thank you for accompanying Mr. Runner and me during yesterday’s plant tour. ”

 

 

Fewer vs. Less

You may have used these two interchangeably in conversations, but “fewer” and “less” are used for different kinds of objects.

 

Use “fewer” if you can count it and use “less” if you can’t.

 

Example:

 

“As our office plans to use less paper we will need fewer photocopiers.”

 

Determining whether something is countable or uncountable is an easy task, yet can sometimes be confusing. Water is uncountable and yet water bottles are countable. See the difference? The word “bottle” compartmentalize the uncountable “water” and thus “water bottles” become countable.

 

We also use “less” for money and time even though we can count money and we certainly can count time in seconds, minutes, hours, and so on.

 

Example:

 

“We have less than a week to complete this project.”

 

“We have less than $20,000 in cash reserve.”

 

e.g. vs. i.e.

e.g. stands for exempli gratia, which means “for example.” Use it when you’re giving a list of examples.

 

i.e. stands for id est, which means “that is”, “in essence”, or ”in other words.” You can use it to paraphrase an idea in simpler terms.

 

Example:

 

“Our new website has a high conversion rate, i.e., the number of conversions divided by the number of unique visitors is more than 10%.”

 

“We employ a variety of techniques to entice potential customers, e.g., free 6 months subscription, gift certificates, and free upgrades.”

 

Ending sentences with prepositions

OK, this one is debatable. While your teacher back in school may frown upon it, ending a sentence with a preposition is not a grammar mistake. Such a rule applied to Latin grammar. While the English language owes much of its many aspects to Latin, the rule has no place in modern English.

 

These days, many writers couldn’t care less about what they end their sentences with. In business writing, however, ending sentences with prepositions may be regarded as unprofessional and too informal.

 

So, how do you avoid it?

 

Luckily, this “grammar mistake” is easy to fix by rephrasing the sentence.

 

Example:

 

“We would like to inquire which department Mr. Roger is in.”

 

The Fix:

 

“We would like to inquire in which department Mr. Roger currently works.”

 

OK, those are four common grammar mistakes in business communications. We hope this short article can help you a bit when you need to get some business writing done in the future. To make things easier for you, just run your business letters or emails through the online spelling checker tool. It’ll weed out the mistakes that your tired eyes may have missed.

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