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Common Mistakes in English Business Writing

People usually underestimate the importance of proper business writing at the workplace. Usually, when writing an email, some workers don’t bother that much about a misplaced comma or an improperly spelled word. However, your recipients might get a bad impression about you if they see that you are so inattentive to grammar rules. Particularly, you might be severely judged if you are occupying some senior position at work. Therefore, we have decided to compile a list of the most important things you should pay attention to while writing.

How to improve written communication at work:

1. Never discriminate.

To be politically correct, avoid using merely male pronouns when the person you are talking about can be either male or female. If you continue referring to a person as “he” although it is a woman, you might be viewed as narrow-minded or even sexist. The best way to refer to a person if you don’t know the gender for sure is to write “he/she,” “him/her,” “his/her,” etc.

2. Be some steps ahead of what you were at school.

Avoid common mistakes that you were prone to making in high school or college. You’re surely not expected to demonstrate grammar skills as if you were a philologist or a linguist, but mistaking “affect” and “effect” or “there” and “their” is over-the-top. By making such mistakes when emailing at work, you will seem unprofessional.

3. Watch your tone and style of writing.

Business correspondence at work is really different from informal chatting with your friends. Therefore, make sure that you use proper vocabulary. Besides, do not use slang words, mind proper capitalization, avoid informal abbreviations, etc. Always proofread your email before sending in order to avoid common mistakes.

4. DON’T YELL!!!

Keep in mind that using CAPSLOCK and numerous exclamation marks makes an impression of a rude and impolite person, who is yelling at this very moment of writing these lines. Such style of writing is totally unacceptable for emailing at work. In such a way, your message might be misinterpreted by your reader.

5. Always proofread and edit your writing.

Before hitting the button “SEND,” always take some time and revise what you have written. Another idea is to ask your friend, family member or a colleague to help you with that.

You have probably noticed many examples of bad business writing or poorly written business letters and asked yourself “how can I avoid common grammar mistakes in writing?” Find out the common mistakes in business writing gathered by our professional experts and improve your writing skills. Look through the list of our suggestions and you will see what grammatical mistakes may compromise the quality of your business writing.

  1. “To comprise” and “to compose.”
  2. People usually use the words “compose” or “comprise” when they want their text to sound more impressive. However, being unaware of the nature of these words, they always fail to reach the expected outcome. Remember that “to comprise” means “to contain” and “to compose” means “to put together or to create.”
    Examples:
    The Latin alphabet is composed of 23 letters.
    The Latin alphabet comprises 23 letters.

  3. “To assure,” “to insure,” and “to ensure.”
  4. Once again, although these words sound similar, they have different meanings. The problem is that depending on the context, these words can be interchangeable. To make things easier, you should use:

    • assure when assuming the removal of doubt from the person`s mind;
    • ensure when assuming a virtual guarantee of something;
    • insure when making references to insurance.

    A useful tip: although some style manuals suggest using “to insure” when stressing taking of the important measures beforehand, we recommend you to use “to ensure” in all cases except for the ones related to insurance.
    Examples:
    Jim has edited his business plan to ensure it was totally flawless.
    Jim assured his customer that the project would be done according to the deadline.
    Fair policies insure the business world.

  5. “Principle” and “principal.”
  6. In business writing, these two words are often confused. You should remember that “a principal” is a noun or an adjective meaning “someone or something first in authority, rank or importance.” In its turn, “a principle” is a noun that has a totally different meaning, “a truth, doctrine, or law.” As such, when you read that people are fighting for their principals, most probably, the author was going to say that people fight for their principles.
    Examples:
    A tight schedule was a principle obstacle of Jim`s way.
    Jim supported the principles of fair labor.

  7. “Irregardless.”
  8. When we notice the word “irregarless” in business communication, we cannot stop laughing. There is NO such a weird word. You can use “irrespective” or “regardless” instead.

  9. “Affect” and “Effect.”
  10. Except for the most popular pair of words that are usually confused, “who” and “whom,” the words “affect” and “effect” are always misused as well. Thus, in conversational writing, the word “affect” is used as the verb, which means “to influence,” whereas the word “effect” is a noun that means “a result of something.” Also, the word “effect” can appear as a verb that means “to cause.” However, such cases are often viewed as jargon language. The term “affect” as a noun is almost never used in business writing.

  11. “Its” and “it`s.”
  12. The fastest way to remember the correct usage of these words is to understand that contractions usually have apostrophes. Thus, “it`s” is a contraction of “it is” or “it has.” In its turn, “its” is a possessive pronoun.
    Examples:
    It`s the most efficient policy I have ever known.
    Its approach to work is awful.

  13. “Which” and “that.”
  14. Indeed, it is one of the most common grammatical errors in writing. Fortunately, knowing the difference between these words, you won`t consider it a problem. Remember that when referring to objects, the use of “which” or “that” depends on whether the clause is important for understanding of the sentence. As such, you should use “that” to introduce an important clause. For example, in the sentence “The director stated that the competitors declared bankruptcy,” the clause “that the competitors declared bankruptcy” is an essential clause for the understanding of the whole sentence. When the clause is not that important for the overall meaning of the sentence, you should use the word “which.” In addition, nonessential clauses are always preceded by commas.
    A useful tip: If you want to understand which word should be used, just remove the clause. If the meaning of the whole sentence remains the same, you should use the word “which.”
    Examples:
    It is our company that is the only reliable provider of touristic services.
    We work only with the APPY company, which offers high-quality services.

  15. “There,” “their,” and “they`re.”
  16. In this case, everything is pretty easy.

    • “There” is an adverb indicating direction;
    • “There” is a possessive pronoun;
    • “They`re” is a contraction for “they are.”

    Just remember the meaning of these three words and you will never confuse them.
    Examples:
    They arrived on time.
    We went there too late.
    They`re having a meeting after John`s visit.

  17. “Whom” and “who.”
  18. Similar to “that” and “which,” confusing these two words are among the most common mistakes in business writing. When referring to people, the word “who” is used when it comes to the subject of the sentence. In its turn, the word “whom” should be used when one talks about the object of a verb.
    Examples:
    It was me who forgot to cancel the order.
    Whom do you consider responsible for this failure?

Remember that proper business correspondence is the thing that needs constant improvement. Therefore, do not be lazy and read some valuable resources that will help you improve your writing.

We do hope that our suggestions will help you avoid common mistakes in writing. Writing good business English is a privilege but, unfortunately, not all people have it. If you have bad business writing skills, the best strategy to avoid common mistakes in business writing is to hire a professional editor, who will take care of the clarity and correctness of your sentences. So, if you are not able to avoid mistakes in business writing, the quality assurance managers working at Essays-Panda.com are just the right people for you. Visit our website and you will see that we are a team that will make your text stand out of the standard ones.
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