Lesson 4: Grammar & Punctuation
In this lesson, we’ll be discussing the different ways in which you can ensure that your letters are written well.
- To discuss the importance of correct grammar and punctuation in business writing.
- To enumerate different steps you can take to be able to achieve business writing.
Quick Navigation through the Lesson 3:
In business writing it’s very important to ensure that your grammar and punctuation are flawless. Spelling also factors into grammar and punctuation because an alteration in the spelling can alter the grammar and how the punctuation factors in. These nuances are crucial in business where the main concern is usually a fact, figure or both—a misplaced period, comma or semi-colon could be the difference between telling a client you’re willing to do the job for $10,000 and $1,000. Business writing has to be very precise.
In this lesson we’ll be taking a look at the different ways in which we can ensure that our business writing—whether they be in the form of letters, e-mails, menus, contracts or brochures—are executed perfectly.
A lot of the time, business documents are written under pressure—a contract needs to be drawn up for a pressing deal or a brochure needs to be released in time for the launch of a certain product. Sometimes you might be made to write something important while you’re doing something else (e.g. talking on the phone or approving another proposal). Because of this, you might often be under a lot of stress or pressure and might not be able to focus properly on what you’re writing. This can account for certain lapses in grammar and punctuation. To ensure that you’re able to write a clear, concise and correct business document, always give whatever you’re writing your full attention.
Because there are instances when it is indeed difficult not to multi-task, your best bet is to re-read what you’ve written at least 10 minutes after you’ve written it. This is to ensure that you have a fresh eye; this makes you more sensitive to the nuances of the text and language. Go over what you’ve written at least 3 times before sending it (if it’s a letter) or releasing it (if it’s a memo or marketing paraphernalia).
3. Check your references.
In the digital age, searching and checking references are easy! You can check a word’s meaning or proper context by logging onto different useful online dictionaries (e.g. Mirriam Webster). This will help you with certain words which are very similar but which have fairly different meanings—e.g. complement and compliment.
4. Watch out for homonyms.
Homonyms are words that sound alike but are spelled differently and mean different things. Bye and buy, dough and doe, witch and which are all homonyms. Our previous example in the previous point is also a homonym. Under pressure, we tend to type based on sound or how we are “saying” words as opposed to how we’re reading them. Another type of mistake which is closely related to the homonym are words and their abbreviated counterparts which sound alike—for example, their and they’re.
5. Double-check punctuation.
When in doubt about how to use a punctuation mark that you often see in official documents (e.g. semi-colons, em dashes) always consult a reference. Also, especially when dealing with figures, make sure to count your zeroes and pay close attention to where you placed your comma and decimal points. For example, 50,000.000 is still fifty thousand and not five hundred thousand because of where the decimal and the comma are placed.
In this lesson, we were able to discuss the different ways in which we can streamline our business documents so that they’re written well. This makes our letters look well-thought-out and add to our credibility. We were also able to discuss the different mistakes which are commonly made when it comes to grammar and punctuation in business documents.
Next we’ll be discussing how to set the proper tone when writing business documents. We’re going to be talking about how to go about being respectful without seeming cold or insincere when discussing matters of business through letters and other documents.