Two of the most telling characteristics of any person’s intelligence is how s/he speaks and writes. We automatically judge people who misuse the English language in both the spoken and written word. If you want to make something of yourself and set an example of excellence, then be certain you’re using the proper syntax and pronunciation.
When I read a sales letter, PowerPoint slide, cover letter, marketing piece or e-mail that has even one glaring error, I think the writer doesn’t care, didn’t take the time to make it perfect or just doesn’t know the correct usage. I received a sales e-mail and the sender misspelled “receive”: recieve. Yikes.
I point out mistakes when people send me letters asking for my business, attention or both. One acquaintance berated me for doing so; it’s a character flaw on my part. Some people appreciate someone telling them of the error, other’s don’t. It’s up to the individual. But, if you don’t know nor recognize your mistakes, you may keep making them.
For me some of the tell-tale signs of lack in English stem from only six items. When you write these, get them right – 100 percent of the time.
That four-letter word that tracks the world – t-i-m-e – and the lack or mismanagement of it, causes us to skip over the little things, make excuses and make errors both at home and the office. What do you think about a person whose letters, e-mails, marketing pieces or PowerPoints are riddled with mistakes? When you make them, someone’s thinking the same about you.
If you have words that cause you heartburn or give you hives, then learn the correct usage, spelling and meaning: Get it Right.
1. Your: Possessive pronoun. An odor lurks in your office. I used your computer. Your family liked the reunion.
You’re: Contraction for you are: If you’re interested, call me. Let me know where you’re staying in San Diego.
2. It’s: Contraction for it is or it has: It’s been raining for a week. It’s getting late; we have to leave.
Its: Possessive: My computer and its software are in need of repair. He looked at its engine and cited a price.
3. Than: Comparison: She’s older than you are. The report is shorter than it’s supposed to be.
Then: adv. meaning “at this time” or “next”: We’ll pick up Terry and then go home. After the project’s completed, then we can relax.
4. I: Subjective pronoun: I won the contest. Pat and I took a computer class.
Me: Objective pronoun: Let me know when the car will be ready. Please call Bill or me with questions. (Never: Call Bill or myself.)
Myself: Reflexive pronoun: I heard myself say, “Slow down.” I completed the project all by myself.
5. Each, everyone: Singular: Each of the proposals was accepted. Each of the children needs his/her permission slip. Not: Each of the children needs their permission slip.
Everyone of the employees has the Swine Flu. Everyone in the department gets a day off.
6. Colons follow a formal salutation, not a comma, even in e-mail. Dear Mr. Highlight:, Greetings Fellow Committee Members:
Follow these six rules and you’ll be a better person; your adoring fans will be impressed.