20 Grammar Rules For Writing In Business


When writing e-mails or business proposals, one needs to be very accurate and tidy – grammar mistakes are an enormous setback.

Who Versus Whom

“Who” correlates with the pronouns he/she while “whom” correlates with him/her.

Continual Versus Continuous

“Continual” means always occurring whereas “continuous” means never ending. You definitely wouldn’t want to mix these up in a business contract.

Nor Versus Or

This is one of the grammar rules that is a simple one to remember. Just think of the N. Nor follows neither while or follows either.

Complement Versus Compliment

A “complement” enhances or adds to something, such as a pair of earrings complementing an outfit. On the other hand, a “compliment” is something nice that is said such as, “I like your earrings.”

Affect Versus Effect

Affect is a verb, “That song affects my mood.” Effect is a noun, “That movie has such an inspirational effect.”

Bring Versus Take

You “bring” something with you on vacation, but you “take” something away from it.

Me Versus I

If there are other people in the sentence such as, “Mary, Bob, and I” or “Mary, Bob, and me,” then take out the other people and see what makes sense.

There, Their, They’re

“There” refers to a place, “their” refers to someone’s possession of something, and “they’re” is a contraction of they are. Most of us already know this, but it’s easy to exchange these words. Unfortunately, spell check doesn’t catch these mistakes.

Your, You’re, Yore

Similar to there, their, they’re, spell check usually can’t tell the difference between these. “Your” is possessive, “you’re” is a contraction of you are, and “yore” refers to the past.

To, Too, Two

Phew, there are so many triplet words to watch out for. Use “to” when you’re going to a place, “too” to denote also or as well, and “two” to specify the number 2.

Fewer Versus Less

If you can count it use fewer, but if it’s uncountable, then use less.

Principal Versus Principle

Just think of the last 3 letters of each word. PrinciPAL is a person whereas principle is a moral or standard that is upheld.

It’s Versus Its

“It’s” is a contraction for it is, while “its” is a possessive pronoun.

Do not be sarcastic if you use the word “literally,” especially in the business world. “I am literally starving to death,” means that you’re about to die from dehydration or starvation. Don’t say literally unless you literally mean it.

Capital Versus Capitol

When talking about Washington, D.C., this is especially tricky. “Capital” is a city such as D.C., but “capitol” is the building where lawmakers meet. So the capitol is usually in the capital. By the way, capital can also reference wealth.

It means “the last.” For instance, “The Titanic’s maiden voyage was its ultimate voyage.” Be careful when using this word. Your innocent “ultimate last day at work” might translate to the last day of your life.

Who’s Versus Whose

“Who’s” is a contraction of “who is.” If who is doesn’t make sense, then use whose.

Than Versus Then

When comparing use “than,” and in all other instances use “then.”

CAUTION: Do not confuse “enormity” with “enormous.” Enormity means “evil” and does not associate with the size of something. “The enormity of our marketing campaign” doesn’t refer to how enormous the campaign is – it refers to it as evil.

Elicit Versus Illicit

“Elicit” is the process of evoking something. You want to elicit a response from consumers with a marketing campaign. “Illicit” means illegal. Your business wants to avoid illicitly acquiring products.



About Amr Badran

An Egyptian Business Consultant and Corporate Trainer since 1997. I've trained on Management, Leadership and Soft Skills to thousands of people from many nationalities, backgrounds and professions in more than 10 countries across the Middle and Far East. I've also provided my consultancy service for issues of Strategic Planning, Marketing, Sales and Capacity Building. Holder of an MBA and a Candidate for Doctorate in Business. Find more about my Management and Personal Skills Courses at AmrBadran.com and feel free contacting me at Amr@AmrBadran.com
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