Common Grammar Mistakes that Kill Credibility

Samantha Ruff
March 26, 2020 ·
7 min read
Grammar

We all make grammar mistakes (and anyone who says they don’t…well, let’s just they are not being entirely honest!)

But in business, obviously, it’s better to keep those mistakes to a minimum. If you are going to make mistakes, then follow this advice:

·  Don’t make the sort of simple mistakes that ruin your credibility (see the list below)

·  Don’t make them at the start of an email, post or communication where it will be blindingly obvious and give an immediate bad impression.

·  Try to learn from your mistakes and make improvements in the future.

·  Get others to help you by proofreading your text.

·  Proofread it yourself too (it’s amazing how many people don’t do this!)

So, what are the typical grammar mistakes that people make, and what can be done to fix them?

Sentence structure

This is a typical mistake as, of course, the structure of English is unique to the language. Other languages do not have the same structure and are all unique, and so trying to apply those structures with English words is just going to sound strange.

Unfortunately, this type of mistake is almost inevitable because, with a lack of knowledge, language learners will always revert back to their mother tongue for inspiration. A typical example is when speaking about possessions. Whereas saying ‘the pen of John’ would make perfect sense in all the romance languages, in English the more common ‘John’s pen’ would be used. Although the first structure is possible, it is considered extremely formal.

Adverbs cause problems too because the position of the adverb depends on what it is being used for. So, whereas it might be acceptable to say ‘always I am late’ in another language, in English it should be ‘I am always late.’

What is the solution to mistakes when English sentence structure? One approach is to look at a typical English sentence (in a newspaper, on a website, etc.) and identify all of the parts of speech. A part of speech is just the official name of a type of word – a noun, verb, adjective, etc.

Once you are able to easily identify all the parts of speech in a sentence (and you can use an online dictionary to help you) you can then start to appreciate the typical combinations that are used in an English sentence, and in what order. Alternatively, once the sentence is written you could paste it into Linguix’s grammar checker.

Verb tenses, their relationships, and ‘signal’ words

Poor grammar often begins with a lack of understanding about when and how to use the different verb tenses in English. This could be a mistake of selecting the wrong verb tense (using the present continuous instead of the present simple – ‘I’m believing you’ instead of ‘I believe you’, for example) or using the wrong combination.

Poor use of ‘signal’ words is typical. For example, ‘since’ is only used with present perfect and past perfect, not past simple (‘I did it since yesterday’ is a typical example of this mistake in practice).

Frequently review all the tenses in English to make sure you understand how to create the structure and why/when you need to use them. The most fluent speakers of English (or any language) are able to use different tenses together easily and without problems. To do this, you must understand the relationship between all the tenses, and also understand what ‘signal’ words are used with which verb tenses.

Definite Article ‘The’

Articles are different in all languages. Also, in English, there are many rules about when you should and shouldn’t use them. The result is that almost everyone makes mistakes with articles – even after speaking English for 20 years people can still make mistakes.

‘We want to establish the trust’

Unfortunately, mistakes of this kind can undermine the credibility of a sentence, so learning the rules of when (and when not) to use ‘the’ is of paramount importance. Here is a quick list for reference:

·  When we have referenced something before.

·  When something is specific.

·  When something is unique or there is only one in existence.

·  With superlatives.

·  With rivers, mountain ranges and SOME countries

·  But not with names or people, places, etc.

·  And not when something is just an example of one thing.

Subject / verb agreement

One of the most ubiquitous mistakes in the English language is between the subject and the verb. Here are some classic examples:

She swim…

Everyone have…

It don’t….

This is grammar 101. Reverting back to an elementary grammar book and completing the exercises should see this problem resolved. Or once again, you can use the grammar checker as provided by Linguix’s AI-powered writing tool.

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