3 Ways Bad Grammar Hurts Your Career

Gramatical errors don’t just jar editors and sticklers for the rules. They chip away at your credibility, your ability to communicate effectively and can, ultimately, damage your career. Here are a few reasons to proofread extra carefully at work:

6943661159_b3ba39ae9a_z1. People who use bad grammar are less likely to be hired. A mistake on your resume, letter or even LinkedIn profile cause many employers to believe that you cannot represent yourself well in writing and pay little attention to detail. Employers are very unlikely to trust someone like this, even if the position requires no writing. Check out this HBR article for one employer’s perspective.

2. Your good ideas and hard work become clouded. When readers see that you don’t know the difference between “affected” and “effected,” they are less likely to buy into your new idea or respect the work you put into a project. Small grammatical mistakes weaken your message, no matter how powerful, curtailing your achievements and progress.

3. Poor grammar compromises your professionalism. Using bad grammar in an email or conversation can make your colleagues think that you aren’t serious about your work. It can also cause them to notice or, worse, seek out your other bad habits. Become more self-aware of the language you choose when speaking and writing—it can be friendly and informal, while also grammatically correct and professional.

Learn to Write & Proofread Faster

Proofreading

Writing and proofreading quickly is vital for succeeding, no matter your job function. With the right skill set and strategies, you can write and polish presentations in a few hours, tackle email and reports more efficiently.

Almost one year ago (man, time flies!), I outlined some strategies for writing faster. I’ve also written lots about how to proofread better and faster on this blog.

I also offer individual coaching for professionals to improve writing and proofreading efficiency. We discuss your writing and proofreading strategies, and practice skills that you can put to work the very next day. Individual training sessions are the most effective since we focus solely on what you’d like to improve.

Please take a look at all our training services, including individual coaching and contact me for a detailed quote.

Common Confusion: Any one & Anyone

The phrase any one is often confused with the word anyone. It’s easy to understand why! After you know the rule, however, it’s pretty simple to keep them straight.

Anyone is an indefinite pronoun and refers to any person, not any individual. The adjective phrase any one refers to specific people or things that are unidentified.

Examples: 

  • Anyone who would like to attend next month’s conference can sign up by emailing Craig.
  • Please select any one of the items listed below for your “lunch and learn” meal.
  • Anyone can tell you that micromanagement leads to unhappy employees.
  • I feel that any one of our three candidates would excel in this role.

Common Confusion: Proscribe & Prescribe

Proscribe and prescribe are easy to confuse. After all, they’re both verbs and only one letter differentiates them.

Proscribe means to ban or forbid, often in the legal sense. Prescribe means to advise, authorize, recommend or direct.

Examples:

  • The physician prescribed two months of physical therapy for the best recovery.
  • The local government hoped to prevent crime by proscribing loitering.
  • HR regulations prescribe employees to complete three fitness activities each quarter.
  • Some patients may bribe their doctors to prescribe them certain medicine, but this is strictly proscribed.

Great Online Style Guides

Cover of "The Yahoo! Style Guide: The Ult...

Cover via Amazon

When writing any project, you may find yourself wondering about a specific word, phrase or punctuation mark. Where do you turn to answer these questions?

Most businesses and corporations don’t ascribe to a specific style code, such as The Associated Press. If this is true for your organization, consider adopting an online style guide; they offer consistent and practical information. Best of all, they’re free and easy to search to find exactly what you need.

Here are my three favorite online guides:

Purdue Owl: Purdue University’s online writing lab offers a wealth of information and guidelines. The general writing section will answer many of your questions on grammar, punctuation and mechanics. The professional and technical writing section is a great source for research and extensive information to improve professional writing.

National Geographic Style Manual: This guide to “preferred National Geographic Society style and usage” is perfect for quickly looking up a specific issue. For example, is it life-size or life-sized? When you visit this online guide, just click on “L” to find the answer in seconds.

The Yahoo! Style Guide: This is one of the best guides for web writing. Based on Chris Barr’s sourcebook, the site offers best practices for online copy as well as a word list of terms relating to communications, technology and branding.

Do you use an online style guide? Please pass along any others you find useful!