Grammar mistakes can ruin the quality of any writing piece, and business documents are not an exception to this claim.
Business documents assist in running the operations smoothly. But if such documents contain some sort of grammatical mistakes, they will leave a bad impression on your employees, potential customers, or clients. And that’s where this post will come in handy.
Here, we’ll go over some common grammar mistakes that beginners usually make when creating business documents. Besides discussing those common errors, we’ll also present their possible solutions.
This means your business writing will be free of grammatical mistakes after going through this post. So, let’s dig in.
A Peek at the Concept of Business Writing
A writing form that allows companies to share ideas and thoughts in the written form is known as business writing. The intention behind this type of writing is to educate, convince and foster goodwill throughout the company. A few common examples of this writing form are emails, letters, memos, and reports.
Like other forms of writing, business writing requires clear, captivating and error-free content. In fact, that’s what makes this writing form more effective than others.
Business writing helps a firm run its operations smoothly. Therefore, companies should hire experts to compose such documents.
Otherwise, the internal communication of a business will be at risk. And since communication is key to a firm’s success, ignoring the importance of writing top-notch business documents can negatively impact the company’s revenue graph.
Common Grammar Mistakes and Their Solutions
Upon reviewing a plethora of business documents and researching the internet, here are some of the most common grammatical errors we’ve found:
Using Phrasal Verbs
One of the most common grammar errors associated with business writing is the use of phrasal verbs. As the name depicts, ‘phrasal verb’ is a combination of a verb and another component, like an adverb or preposition.
For instance, the idiomatic expression ‘look down on’ is a prime example of a phrasal verb. Such expressions are most common in informal writing or daily conversations. Therefore, when it comes to writing business documents, you must avoid them.
For instance, if you’re planning to use the phrasal verb ‘go over’ in a business writing piece, you can replace it with a formal alternative like ‘review.’ Doing so will elevate the overall tone of your write-up.
I vs. Me
If you have been writing personal emails or some other form of informal write-ups for quite some time, you may have gotten in the habit of addressing yourself as ‘I.’ However, you can’t continue the same practice in business writing.
As we’ve already mentioned, business documents have a more formal tone. Therefore, when creating such write-ups, you must address yourself as ‘me’ instead of ‘I.’ And since ‘me’ is an objective pronoun, you can use it in an objective position or after a preposition in your sentences.
Here is a sentence that illustrates the perfect usage of ‘me’ instead of ‘I’ in a business write-up:
Thank you for giving Joey and me an opportunity to work here.
Fewer vs. Less
The terms ‘fewer’ and ‘less’ serve the same purpose. Therefore, naïve writers often think that they can use them interchangeably, which is true for informal write-ups. But when dealing with business write-ups, that’s not the case.
The definition of business writing states that it should clearly convey the information. So, you can’t confuse your audience by using words like ‘fewer’ and ‘less’ interchangeably.
Instead, you must know the separate use cases for both these terms before using them.
For instance, you can use the word ‘less’ to describe intangible concepts in your business write-ups. On the other hand, if you want to refer to countable objects, you can use the term ‘fewer.’
Homophones are two or more words that sound the same, but they have different meanings, spellings, or origins. A few common examples of such terms are as follows:
- Affect and effect.
- Assure, insure, and ensure.
- Its and it’s.
- Then and than.
- They’re, their and there.
As you can see, the pronunciation of these words is similar. Therefore, most writers, especially beginners, use them interchangeably when creating business documents. But you can avoid such a mistake by using a modern-technology-based grammar checker.
In order to make sure that you’re using homophones correctly, you can use the free grammar checker. The grammar checker works on AI and NLP techniques that allow it to understand your text as humans.
These technologies allow this tool to instantly identify the words used in the wrong context and suggest their appropriate usage. So, that’s how you can avoid this grammatical error.
The title of a document is the first thing that readers see. And since ‘first impression is the last impression,’ if you haven’t correctly capitalized the words in the title, readers will get a bad impression.
So, to cope with this, we recommend referring to the following title capitalization guidelines for business documents:
- Use upper case for nouns, pronouns, adverbs, verbs, adjectives, and subordinate conjunctions like because, once, or while.
- Capitalize first and last words.
- Always use lowercase for articles like a, an, or the.
- Use lowercase for coordinating conjunctions like and, but, or.
- Write prepositions in lowercase letters.
The Use of Em Dash vs. En Dash vs. Hyphen
Writing contains different types of dashes: em dash, en dash and hyphen. These dashes seem the same to beginners.
Therefore, people, especially naïve writers, use these dashes interchangeably. But they don’t know that each dash serves a different purpose. So, in order to avoid this mistake in business writing, one must know the difference between them.
Hyphen is the shortest and most common form of dash. Experts recommend using this sign when spelling out numbers. Here is a sentence that illustrates the implementation of a hyphen:
His dad is fifty-five years old.
En Dash (–)
En dash is a bit longer variant of hyphen. And as the size expands, the purpose of this dash also changes.
Therefore, writers typically use this sign to demonstrate a range like dates, numbers, and time. The following sentence describes the implementation of this sign:
Em Dash (—)
Em dash is the longest form of the dash. The usage of this sign is like colon, comma, or semicolon. Therefore, you can use this type of dash to distinguish multiple phrases in a single line. Here’s how this sign accomplishes its goal:
My colleague—Joseph—is also my family friend.
Sometimes, em dash is also useful for highlighting citation sources. Here is how this sign achieves this purpose:
Did my back hurt your knife? — Rachel Green
Lack of Parallelism
Sometimes, when writers deal with lengthy business documents, they often start daydreaming. As a result, they end up using different verb forms in the same sentence like this:
To succeed, one must work hard, be dedicated, and having a positive attitude.
This situation results in the absence of parallelism. And since parallelism is key to the perfect flow of content, you shouldn’t ignore this issue.
In order to avoid the lack of parallelism, you can re-read your content. Doing so will help you ensure parallel structure in lists and series, which will ultimately improve readability. So, by following a parallel structure in the above sentence, it will become like this:
To succeed, one must work hard, be dedicated, and have a positive attitude.
Run-On Sentences and Fragments
The subject or predicate of a sentence is crucial because they breathe life into a phrase. But when writers are in a hurry, they often leave some sentences unfinished.
This not only ruins the sentence structure but also gives rise to run-on phrases and fragments. And when readers read such sentences, they won’t get the message you want to convey.
In order to avoid the issue of run-on sentences and fragments, we recommend thoroughly reading your document. By running a manual check for sentence structure errors, you can ensure that your content doesn’t run on lack of predicate or subject.
The verb is the activity in a phrase, whereas the term ‘subject’ refers to the thing that performs the verb’s action. Both these things must agree in numbers.
Otherwise, your content won’t be qualified as high-quality material. But when beginner writers deal with collective nouns in a business write-up, they often fail to fulfill the subject-verb agreement. A common example associated with the subject-verb agreement issue in business writing is as follows:
The team are working.
Since the word ‘team’ is a collective noun, you should write it with a singular helping verb. For instance, the above sentence will become like this:
The team is working.
This way, you can avoid the subject-verb agreement issue and maintain consistency in your writing.
All in all, correct grammar is the cornerstone of every quality write-up. And business writing is not an exception to this claim. But if you are just getting started with this type of write-up, we recommend reading existing business documents.
This way, you will not only get an idea about the acceptable grammatical structure and language, but you will also learn the formatting of business writing. And once you’ve completed a business document, make sure to proofread your work.
Doing so will help you catch spelling, grammar, and punctuation mistakes in your content. And this practice will eventually help you formulate clear and effective communication.