Guide to Grammar in the Workplace

 

WHY IT MATTERS: This isn’t about rules or points on homework. This is about your personal brand,
your attention to detail and the care you have for excellent work. The more educated your audience, the
more they’ll notice little mistakes that can potentially paint you and your company in a bad light.
COMMON GRAMMAR ERRORS TO AVOID

CAPITALIZATION:

You capitalize proper nouns, which are specific people, places and things.
This includes:
o The letter ‘i’ by itself is ALWAYS capitalized. There are zero exceptions to this rule.
o Business names (Convercent, SeedPaths, Nike, Microsoft)*
o People’s names (Bob Harris, Sarah Johnson, Pablo Garcia)
o City, state and country names (Denver, CO or Denver, Colorado)
o “Famous stuff” (movie & game titles, teams, landmarks, etc.)
Be aware of the fact that some companies purposely spell their name with a lowercase (thoughtbot) or
have two capitals within the name (SeedPaths). Spell them exactly correct or it’s clear you don’t really care.

PARALLEL AGREEMENT:

Tenses must be the same in one statement and/or list:
o I wrote letters, interviewed executives and edited my work.
o My job included executing project plans, writing test scripts and developing software.
Companies are things that do stuff, so don’t refer to them as people who do stuff!
o SeedPaths is a company THAT teaches tech. Not SeedPaths is a company WHO …
o Paul is a person WHO is a badass coder. Not Paul is a person THAT

SPELLING:

Whts crzy is tht yu cn rd ths, bt its obvsly wrng! Use spell check people! There’s no excuse for not spelling
words correctly. Most programs fix this for you, but don’t be lazy. Don’t know? Look it up!

PUNCTUATION:


End every sentence with a period, exclamation point or question mark.
Use commas, semicolons, apostrophes and colons correctly. Don’t know? Ask or look it up!
o Im isn’t never, ever correct, but I’m or I am always is.
Don’t overuse things like exclamation points or question marks. It’s written screaming!!!! Or you sound
VERY confused?????

WORD CHOICE & CLARITY:



Be VERY careful with homonyms & homophones. Common confusions include:
o There vs. Their vs. They’re
o Its vs. It’s
o To vs. Two vs. Too
Say what you mean, but be sure you are clear and accurate all the time. If you’re not quite sure what a
word means, choose another word. Concise is always best.
In many cases, you can break up really long, unclear sentences into shorter, more clear sentences. Clear,
simple writing trumps verbose, overly fancy writing all day, every day.
Know your facts! Never lie, be direct and know your stuff.

SPACING & FORMAT :

Avoid awkward spacing, unnecessary indents (emails are NEVER indented), etc.
If it looks funky, sloppy, childish or unpleasing to the eye, then that’s the impression people will have of you.

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