Do You Make These Seven Common Grammar Mistakes?

September 30, 2022


Because workplace communication is so important, common grammar mistakes can kill your credibility—and hold back your career. Knowing correct grammar, including correct spelling, punctuation, and word order—shows that you’re an outstanding communicator. Here are seven common grammar mistakes that are easily avoided.

  1. Incomplete comparison
    This grammar mistake happens when a sentence makes a comparison between things but leaves out vital information. For example:

Incorrect: “This year’s report was 50 percent shorter.” (Shorter than what?)
Correct: “This year’s report was 50 percent shorter than last year’s report.” 

  1. Vague Pronoun Reference
    Pronouns replace nouns in a sentence. But when more than one subject is being discussed, sentence meaning can become confused.

            Incorrect: When the client located Lisa’s report, she was relieved. (The client or Lisa?)
Correct:  When the client located Lisa’s report, the client was relieved. 

  1. Word choice mistakes
    Many words sound similar but have different meanings and spellings. Here are two examples.

. The word “farther” implies a measurable distance. “Further” refers to abstract lengths. 

Incorrect: The plane traveled one hundred miles further than we had thought.

Correct: The plane traveled one hundred miles farther than we had thought.

“Since” refers to time. “Because” refers to causation.

Incorrect: Because I joined the firm, I will be promoted.
Correct: Since I joined the firm, I’ve been promoted twice. 

  1. Misplaced modifiers
    A modifier should appear next to the word it modifies/describes. When it doesn’t, readers may feel baffled.

Incorrect: After finally taking off, we relaxed.

Correct: After the plane finally took off, we relaxed. 

  1. Comma splices
    This grammar mistake occurs when two complete sentences (also called independent clauses) are joined with a comma. Use a semicolon or a period instead.

Incorrect: “Dan works fast, he always turns in projects on time.
Correct: “Dan works fast; he always turns in projects on time.
Also correct: Dan works fast. He always turns in projects on time.

  1. Pronoun Disagreement
    This common grammar mistake occurs when pronouns disagree in number with the nouns to which they refer. 

Incorrect: Every team member must sign in when they arrive.
Correct: Every team member must sign in when he or she arrives.

  1. Apostrophe mistakes
    Apostrophes are used to show possession. However, don’t use an apostrophe after a possessive pronoun (my, mine, our, ours, his, hers, its, their, theirs).

Incorrect: My friend's work never seems to be done.
Correct: My friend’s work never seems to be done. (When referring to more than one friend, you would write “My friends’ work…”)

These common grammatical errors can confound readers, who are likely to tune out. Knowing correct grammar lets you craft business memos, reports, emails, and more that clearly communicate your ideas.

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