Professionalism is important for your job, no matter where your job is, or what industry you work in. But we sometimes forget that a professional personality is not just about the clothes you wear, but the language you use at work. Even in busy offices, a misplaced or misspelled word can lead to a poor representation of your true skills.
Here's a quick list of spelling and grammar mistakes to avoid at the workplace, in order to put your best foot forward in everything you say and write.
- Common homonym mistakes. Mixing up "their, there, and they're", "to, too, or two" or other homonyms makes emails or reports look rushed, without any proofreading. A great list of examples for homonyms and their proper usage can be found at Grammar Monster. But for the most part, just a simple proofread by you or multiple people can help find these simple mistakes.
- Relying on spell-check versus actually checking. Though automatic spell-check can catch a lot of mistakes, it's important to not rely on it. For example, homonyms usually are not checked because they are spelled properly, but just misused in a sentence. And, it can be easy to overlook unique or specialty words and terms (such as business names like Tumblr), which have a red line under them, but can still be spelled correctly.
- Changing tenses and subjects. Switching tenses when unnecessary, especially in the same sentence, can lead to confusion for the reader. When writing a cover letter or a report, it's important to stick with a tense appropriate for the document, and make sure there's subject-verb agreement. For example, if you're writing about your accomplishments in the third person, do not suddenly switch to first person, like so: "Chris wrote three books on secondary education. I also wrote articles on the same topic." Remember, consistency is key, especially in writing.
- Redundant expressions. These types of phrases use more words than necessary, and should be avoided or replaced with simpler language. These phrases include:
- "It goes without saying"
- "What I mean to say is"
- "Exactly the same"
- "Each and every"
- "In a manner of speaking"
In general, say what you mean, without beating around the bush with phrases like the ones above.
Overall, professional writing involves vigilance and proofreading to ensure the correct tone, spelling, and grammar. By adhering to standard rules, you'll maintain better communication and present yourself appropriately. For more tips on this and related topics, visit the Career Advice and Productivity sections of our blog.
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