When you were in school, you learned about grammar right? For most of us, grammar was a dreadfully boring subject. Who cares about the use of "who" vs. "whom"? Really, who cares? Fortunately, or unfortunately depending on how you look at it, in the business world grammar is very important. Letters, resumes, applications, memos, emails and spoken word looses its professional edge when proper grammar is forgotten. That's not to say that you should speak like and English book. Then you will probably come off as pompous and arrogant. So there's a balance that must be reached between proper grammar and normal speaking. Let's look at some general guidelines for different situations.

Business letters

This includes cover letters and any business correspondence that is either mailed, faxed or even emailed that is intended as a matter that is purely business. These letters require proper grammar usage and correct spelling. There is nothing worse than a business letter that is meant to be official in some way that has poor grammar and spelling. The writer looks like an unprofessional oaf. Run all of your business correspondence like this through the spelling and grammar check on Microsoft Word. If you are a Mac user, get Microsoft Office for Mac, which operates the same as MS Office for Windows, or use another spelling/grammar check method. Once you've done that, proof read your correspondence, or have someone with a good eye do it. If you are unsure about anything, check it out online, or better yet, buy a grammar handbook and have it handy for quick reference.

Resumes, applications and cover letters

Same rules as for business letters. You want to make the best first impression possible. This starts with correct grammar and spelling. When you are introducing yourself to a potential employer, this is of the utmost importance.


Intra or Inter office memos need to be treated the same as business letters. Many people, all of whom you’d like to leave with a good impression, might see them. The exception would be if you were sending out a memo inviting everyone to the next company Vegas Night fund raiser. The rules probably can be relaxed for that.


Emails are a bit different because they tend to take on a somewhat informal tone. Still, depending on who you are corresponding with and the subject matter, you will want to keep your grammar up to snuff. It goes without saying that in the business world, there is no room for incorrect spelling. Sometimes, for the sake of saving time, emails are reduced to a few words, and that's OK as long as that's the tone that has been established.

Spoken Word

This is the trickiest, because you don't have time to run the words that come out of your mouth through grammar check, and you can't refer to your handbook in the midst of a conversation. The key to a correct conversation is this: Don't use words that you're unsure about. If you're wrong you might make a negative impression. Try to make sure you're not using slang terms, and that you speak slowly and purposefully (not s l o w l y, just slow down a bit). If you've been writing business correspondence and have been paying attention, you will pick up grammar clues that way.

Proper grammar, whether it's fun or not, is a necessary tool for your professional advancement. Don't forget to brush up on it and use it!


Posted:Friday, November 09, 2007

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