Have you ever:
- Read an email and found so many mistakes you couldn't read thoroughly?
- Found a misplaced comma that changed the meaning of the sentence?
- Got turned off by reading a good article with silly grammatical mistakes?
Let's look at these examples:
Thank you for visiting me their.
The first sentence uses "their" instead of "there."
I have gone through the profile, your hired!
The second sentence has "your" instead of "you're".
Let's eat John!
And in the third sentence, John's manager killed him because he forgot to use a comma. Talk about a hostile workspace!
These were only a few examples of when Grammar goes terrible.
But these are not the only possible mistakes.
And these will not be the mistakes you will commit after reading this article! 😃
Let's race ahead into common workplace grammar mistakes.
First Checkpoint - Tenses
Did you notice anything common in the above sentences? Were, are, and will represent the three tenses to describe respective actions.
Past Tense is when we describe an action taken in the past
I waited an hour before I called the client.
Here, "I" did the action of waiting for an hour before calling.
I called the client.
Here, "I" did the action of calling the client.
I did the background check on all the candidates.
Here, do became did. "I" did the action of performing a background check.
Present Tense is when we describe any action happening in the present.
Wait becomes waiting
I am waiting for an hour before I call the client.
Here, "I" is in the process of waiting before he calls.
Future Tense describes any action that will take place in the future.
I will wait for an hour before I can call the client.
Here. "I" will wait before he makes the call.
So, next time don't make any situation "tense" by misusing tenses! 😏
If you became tensed while working with tenses, here's a great pun to loosen up:
Second checkpoint - Homophones
Do these sound almost the same to you?
- There and Their
- Then and Than
- To and Too
These words are what we call Homophones. They have different meanings and spellings but similar sounds. Hence, they create confusion if you don’t know proper usage.
Let's look at each of the above examples and understand their uses.
Their vs there
There - We use “there” when we are referring to an existing place. We also use it when we want to point out a location.
Let’s look at the following two examples of where to use there:
Oh, I know that place. They have great food over there!
The above sentence describes that someone knows a place. It could be a restaurant or a hotel famous for the quality food they serve there.
“I have to catch an early bus to Bangalore so I can be there on time for the meeting.”
In the above example, someone has to arrive at a place (Bangalore) for a meeting.
Remember, “there” and “their” are two different words but sound similar. We talked about the usage of “there”; let’s now look at the examples of using “their”.
Their - We use “their” to refer to an object owned by a group of people.
I am unsure if we can enter the property of Gandhi family; it’s their place!
Here, someone is unsure if they can enter someone’s place, owned by Gandhi family.
Let’s see an example of where their is correct and there isn’t:
We can drive to Pune to meet our friends. We can stay at their place too.
The second example states that some people will stay at their friends’ place in Pune
Now, if we write the above sentence as:
We can drive to Pune to meet our friends. We can stay at there place too.
It would be incorrect because “there” and “place” convey the same meaning. Its either of the two words:
We can stay there.
We can stay at the place.
We can stay at their place.
Then vs Than
Then - We use “then” when describing an event or a situation, like someone’s arrival or departure. Or this could be an event that happened before another event started.
“We saw the match and then went for some beers.”
In the above sentence, “We” - a group of people arrived before event action “went for beers” happened. Here, “then” describes the time between a match and going for beers after it.
“She wrapped up the meeting and then went for dinner.”
Here, the event of ending of meeting happened before going for the dinner. Then clarifies that wrapping the meeting happened before going for dinner.
Than - We use “than” for making comparisons.
“I was thrilled to see Heidi perform better than Clara.
Here, “than” describes the comparison between performances of Heidi and Clara.
“We were sure the review was much better than the movie.”
Here, "than" highlights the comparison between the quality of the movie and its review.
To vs Too
To - To describes relationships between one or more than one words. It also explains the direction including “towards” and “until”, before a noun or verb.
Shalini said she would like to join the meeting.
Here, “to” describes that the person speaking would go and join the meeting.
Too - Too has multiple meanings. You can use it to replace bigger words like “excessive”. And you can use it in place of “as well” and “also”.
I think this cupboard is too heavy.
Here, “too” describes something being excessively heavy.
Mrinalini, Shalini’s friend, gives great speeches too.
Here, “too” describes that the person speaking can also do an action.
Don’t get too confused between to and too! 😅
Third Checkpoint - Pronouns.
Me vs I
This is rather tough to figure out when to use and and when not. When you refer to yourself, use a proper pronoun.
Me - You use “me” when the person in question receives the action of the verb directly or indirectly.
“She accidentally pushed me when moving out of the elevator.”
He gave me the keys and asked me to pack my things.
Here, “me” is the person who she pushed. The person in question receives the action of pushing.
I - You use “I” when the person in question is doing the action either alone or with someone else.
Jane and I will head out to dinner after the meeting.
Here, “I” is the person who will go with Jane for dinner.
If it’s difficult or confusing, you can use a simple tip of writing or saying out loud the sentence you want to create.
If you write “Jane and me will head out to dinner after the meeting.”
If you leave out the other person’s name, it becomes “me will call you”. That is not correct.
Rewrite the sentence.
“Jane and I will head out to dinner after the meeting.”
Now, you can leave “Jane” and still go out for dinner alone! 😉
Who vs That
Who - Who refers to a person or an individual.
I asked Stephen, who told me to buy this.
He is the person who gave me a chance to play for Nationals.
Here, “who” is Stephen, a person.
That - That refers to an object.
I loved the bat that Stephen bought for me.
Here, “that” is the bat, an object.
Stephen told someone to buy a bat, but then bought it for him. Careful, he is a KING. 👑
The next section explains Grammar mistakes with punctuations and word usage.
Apostrophes are for contracting the two words. And they indicate possession, belonging, and ownership. When you refer to something as someone’s, it means that object is his or hers.
On the other hand, “it’s” is an abbreviation of “it is”. The apostrophe is only there to show a part of the word is removed. Accordingly,
“she will” becomes “she’ll,”
“I am” becomes “I’m.”
Its vs it’s is one common mistake as an apostrophe, homophone, and also as a possessive noun.
Facebook has lost its appeal.
Here, “its” refers to Facebook.
It’s a great album with three hit songs.
Here, “it’s” is contracted form of “it is”; referring to the album in question
“Your pitched idea was excellent, and it’s presentation to the client was well-received.”
Here, “it’s” replaced “its” - this is wrong. When expanded, it becomes “it is presentation”.
The sentence describes that the presentation was of the idea that was pitched. Hence, correct way would be to use “its presentation”.
The correct sentence would be:
“Your pitched idea was excellent, and its presentation to the client was well-received.”
Your vs You’re
I don’t think I can come to your place today.
“Your” refers to a place of someone who owns it.
I hope you’re feeling well now, see you soon!
“You’re” is a shorter form of “you are”, where “you” refers to addressing someone, and “are” is the second person singular present.
Misplaced or forgotten Commas
Commas are important because they can save lives! Remember the example at the beginning?
Let’s eat John!
Without that comma, the meaning of the sentence changes. It means everyone will eat John.
The correct way to write it would be: “Let’s eat, John!”
The comma after “eat” is a pause to call, tell or ask John to join for eating or that it’s time to eat.
Here is another example:
I think I am tired of hunting Clark.
It shows someone is tired of hunting another person named Clark.
I think I am tired of hunting, Clark.
It means someone is addressing Clark about their tiredness.
When there are two separate sentences, we use a semicolon (;) to connect them. However, they are perfectly capable of standing on their own.
I have a meeting at 3 pm; call me after an hour.
Semicolons are also helpful for separating different parts or sections of the same sentence if there are commas.
The report gives us two options: invest in email marketing, which will increase our subscribers; or introduce Facebook ads, which will help us reach a wider target audience.
Note that the above sentence can also be written as:
The report gives us two options: invest in email marketing to increase our subscribers or introduce Facebook ads to help us reach a wider target audience.
Each clause can be a sentence on its own. But when joined, they convey when to call. However, in coordinating conjunctions, like, “and” and “but”, we recommend using a comma instead.
this is a bad example of explaining title capitalisation.
Notice that the first letter of the first word in the above sentence isn’t capitalised. Now, let’s look at the following paragraph with all the uncapitalised first letters:
i am sorry for the last email. it was not properly written and it had many errors this is the report I wanted to send. again i apologize.
That doesn’t look good. What’s wrong with the above paragraph? Let me explain:
- “I” should always be capitalised, whether written in the beginning or in between sentences.
- The second sentence joins two other sentences, but they lack a period.
- The next sentence has no idea where it starts.
- The last sentence isn’t required, as you have already apologized once.
This is the correct way to write the above paragraph 👇
I apologize for the last email. It wasn’t properly written and had many errors. Also, I attached the wrong report. Please find the correct one attached.
Modifiers are a group of words that clarify another word. Hence, their correct placement should always be next to the word you want to modify. When that doesn’t happen, it leads to two types of mistakes:
- Dangling Modifiers
Rohan tried Instagram marketing to increase their brand presence after seeing a decline in impressions for 2 months.
This is the correct way to use a modifier. Let me explain how:
The sentence conveys that impressions were declining, so Rohan tried Instagram marketing.
The mistake happens when the phrase “after seeing a decline in impressions for 2 months” doesn’t apply to the noun following it. Like this:
After seeing a decline in impressions for 2 months, Rohan tried Instagram marketing to increase their brand presence.
The above sentence doesn’t convey that impressions were declining. Instead, it states that Rohan was declining. This is the case of the Dangling Modifier because you left the modifier “dangling” without clarifying.
Don’t let things hang in the middle!
- Misplaced modifiers
The order of adjectives is important here for describing accurately.
He arrived office and sat at his desk covered in sweat.
The above example conveys that the desk was covered in sweat. In reality, he was covered in sweat when he arrived and sat. The correct sentence would be:
He arrived office covered in sweat and sat at his desk.
Covered in sweat, he arrived office and sat at his desk.
The Final Words
If we were Grammar Nazis, our verdict would be - mass murders of these mistakes.💀
Puns aside, poor grammar affects workplace communication and creates misunderstandings.
Imagine an entire email with misplaced commas and wrong tenses while replying to a prospective client! The reader might not want to read it completely, even if you had a great proposal.
It looks shabby and gives the impression that the writer doesn’t know how to use proper English. So, how can you improve your English communication? By signing up for a course by Blackboard Radio!
Blackboard Radio offers personalized one-on-one mentoring courses to start your journey immediately!
Meanwhile, go through this article once again and learn from your mistakes, literally! 😆
Meanwhile, why don't you start from our top 3 blogs -