Now more than ever, clarity in communication is important.
We’re all adapting to more virtual meetings and a great deal more email communication. Documents that were discussed around a meeting table and then edited by a single person now make their way to multiple colleagues via email.
We’ve become accustomed to common abbreviations in text messages, such as, “C U @ 8pm @ Rogers, bring appie.” The text gets the point across that your friend will show up at Roger’s house at 8:00 pm and bring an appetizer.
But what about in business writing? Is correct grammar still relevant? It most certainly is!
We’re not going for Shakespeare, but don’t discount the possibility that your colleague, manager, or potential employer has a solid grounding in the rules of English grammar. When you break those rules, you lose (not loose) credibility.
Let’s take a look at three of the most common mistakes. I call them Word Trippers…
1. Who and That.
Who refers to a person. That refers to an object.
“The person that sent you the proposal is an authority on the subject.”
“The person who sent you the proposal is an authority on the subject.”
“That proposal is worth considering. The person who wrote it is an authority on the subject.”
2. Me, Myself and I.
This one is counter-intuitive. People often use “self” in a sentence because they think it sounds more academic and authoritative. It pads a sentence but rarely adds meaning. So you’ll read phrases like this…
“Please contact myself if you have any questions.”
“Please contact me if you have any questions.”
“Myself and Jim will be there at 4:00 pm to discuss the proposal with yourself in person.”
“Jim and I will be there at 4:00 pm to discuss your proposal.”
Yourself is your self…no one can contact yourself. It’s a reflexive pronoun. You can talk to yourself, but nobody else can talk to yourself. He or she can only talk to you.
Consider these examples:
“Jim and me attended the informative meeting yesterday.”
“Myself and Jim attended the informative meeting yesterday.”
“Jim and I attended the informative meeting yesterday.”
Here’s a great way to avoid tripping on this: Test your grammar by removing the second person from the sentence. For example, say this awkward – and grammatically incorrect – sentence:
“Me went to the meeting yesterday.” Or “Myself went to the meeting yesterday.” You know that’s not correct!
3. Further or Farther?
Have you ever wondered about the difference between further and farther? Because English is an ever-evolving language, you’ll find a debate about this and variations in different countries. However, most experts agree that “further” is figurative and “farther” is literal, while typically referring to a measurable distance.
“Jan has traveled further than anyone else in the company to meet with clients.”
“Jan has traveled farther than anyone else in the company to meet with clients.”
“Farther to the point Jan was making, I’d like to send you this report regarding our costs.”
“Further to the point Jan was making, I’d like to send you this report regarding our costs.”
Pay attention to these common missteps in your written communication, these Word Trippers. And never let poor grammar prevent you from gaining credibility in your workplace.
Barbara McNichol is passionate about helping administrative professionals add power to their pen. To assist them, she has created Word Trippers Tips to quickly find the right word when it matters most. Word Trippers Tips is a subscription program that includes a webinar, crossword puzzles, “cheat sheets,” and a Word Tripper of the Week for 52 weeks.