Three Common Grammar Mistakes That Are Bad For Business
English grammar can be flat-out daunting. Did you know there are 205 different ways to spell just 44 sounds in English? And you remember the“i before e, except after c” rule? Well, how does that help explain words like “science?”
Although it can be challenging to master, correct grammar can be the detail that makes or breaks your credibility. To maintain your reputation in the workplace or to protect your business’s reputation, make sure you avoid these three common pitfalls:
1. It’s vs. Its
The difference between it’s and its can seem tricky because an apostrophe “s” usually indicates something possessive, as in “Ellen’s shirt.” However, this case is just the opposite.
Use it’s when you mean to contract “it has” or “it is.” The apostrophe is only used to shorten the phrase, as in “it’s been a long ride.” However, when referring to possessive elements in a sentence, such as, “the dog wags its tail,” be sure to leave the apostrophe out.
2. You’re vs. Your
An apostrophe does not indicate a possessive in you’re vs. your, either. You’re is a contraction, or shortcut, to say: “you are.” For example, “you’re going to join us tonight, right?”
On the other hand, your is simply the possessive form of “you,” much like “my” or “our.” For example, “are these your glasses?”
3. They’re, there, and their
First, we can differentiate they’re because it’s a contraction. They’re is just a shorter way of saying “they are.”
Next, you can use the “remove the t” trick to remember how to use there. Without its first letter, there becomes here. Because both words refer to the location of something, it can be a useful tool to remember the word’s meaning.
Finally, similar to its and your, we use their to signify possession. In this case, we use it to refer to a third party; for example, “that is their house.”
Good grammar might feel like a minor detail in the grand scheme of your career or business operations. However, professionals cannot afford to ignore the negative impact of a sloppily composed email or an inaccurately written proposal. That’s why it often makes sense to outsource your editing and proofreading needs to professionals.
Neil Rhein is President of Bullseye Communications, where he and his team specialize in content review and content development for financial services companies and other clients.