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Top Business Writing Mistakes:

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Presentation on theme: "Top Business Writing Mistakes:"— Presentation transcript:

1 Top Business Writing Mistakes:

2 Top 11 mistakes …culled from Business Insider, Forbes, and various business blogs Context: “a study last year from the Society for Human Resources and Management shows that 45% of employers plan to increase training for grammar and other language skills (meaning they're unhappy with the levels now).” (Christina Sterbenz, Business Insider, “The 11 Most Common Grammatical Mistakes and How to Avoid Them”

3 1. Fewer vs. Less Use “fewer” with countable things/items
Use “less” with uncountable amounts/volumes and intangible items Examples “I should drink less alcohol, and I should eat fewer vegetables!”

4 2. Dangling & Misplaced Modifiers
A dangling modifier is a word or phrase that modifies a word that’s not clearly found in the sentence. Having arrived late for work, a written doctor’s note was needed by my employer. What’s wrong, and how do we fix it? A misplaced modifier is a word (or maybe a phrase) that modifies the wrong word in a sentence. Example: As I got on the subway, I found a gold man’s watch.

5 3. Its vs. It’s Normally, “apostrophe s” signals possession. However, with the word “it,” it’s the opposite of what we normally expect. It’s fine with me if you give the cat its food when you get home.

6 4. Commas We could go on for days with comma rules. But here are some of the major ones: A comma goes after a (long) introductory clause. You have to help your readers find your subject; so, you should put a comma before that subject starts. Even though I really wanted to finish my homework, I fell asleep instead.

7 Commas Cont’d Use a comma between sentences joined with the words “for,” “and,” “nor,” “but,” “or,” “yet,” “so.” A tip to remember this is that these words spell the following acronym (FANBOYS). I’d like to do my homework, but I have too many phone calls to make. If the FANBOY is not separating two complete sentences, you do NOT need the comma: I’m going to complete my homework by 9 pm and go out with friends after.

8 FANBOY FAKERS The words “However,” “Moreover,” and “Therefore” are not FANBOYS and are therefore punctuated differently. GOOD: Tennis is my favorite sport. However, soccer is where I excel. ALSO GOOD: Tennis is my favorite sport; however, soccer is where I excel. BAD: Tennis is my favorite sport, however soccer is where I excel. ALSO BAD: Tennis is my favorite sport, however, soccer is where I excel.

9 Comma Splices Don’t do this: My dog loved to play, I gave him a bone.
These are two complete ideas and need to be separated by a semicolon or a period.

10 5. Lie vs. Lay Everyone screws this up—including me! Here’s a helpful table from Business Insider: (Tips: “Lay” must have an object. You don’t “lay down.” You might “lay” down a rug, but you lie down to go to sleep.)

11 6. Then vs. Than Then describes time. Than is used for comparisons.
See if her proposal is better than mine, and then you can decide which to use.

12 7. Colon Mistakes A colon is used after a complete sentence to introduce a series of items, a quote, and so forth. The list that follows needs to explain the sentence the precedes the colon. CORRECT: The workers liked their job for three main reasons: its health benefits, its friendly atmosphere, and its rigorous business reputation. INCORRECT: The workers chose their job for: its health benefits, its friendly atmosphere, and its rigorous business reputation.

13 8. Vague pronoun references
What’s wrong with the following? INCORRECT: If my students don't do well on their quizzes, they must not be very good.

14 9. Affect vs. Effect In general, "affect" means "to influence." So if you're going to influence something, you will affect it. If it's the result of something, it's an effect. Thus, effect is typically a noun, and affect is typically a verb. There are some variations to this rule, but you’ll be right 99.9% of the time remembering this.

15 10. “It” vs. “They” People are “they” and a thing is “it.” This seems common sense, but is often misused in business writing. Here’s an example of what not to do: Raytheon is headquartered in Tucson. They provide digital marketing services. Here’s what it should actually say: Raytheon is a company headquartered in Tucson. It provides digital marketing services.

16 11. Assure/Ensure/Insure
Assure is something you do to someone to make them feel less anxious. I assure you that the company will complete your project on time. Insure is something an insurance company does. Progressive insures my car. Ensure is used when you’re guaranteeing someone. We seek to ensure quality for every website we build.

17 Other tips “Irregardless” is not a real word! Use “regardless”
Punctuation always go inside quotation marks unless you’re using parenthetical citations. Unless you’re doing science writing, use the word “use” instead of “utilize”

18 Activity Get in pairs. You’ll be handed an upside-down piece of paper.
When I give you the go-ahead, turn over the paper. Correct all the errors you can find in the document. The first two teams who find all the errors and correct them appropriately will receive 2 extra credit points.

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