Take Two for March 20, 2013

Can good grammar get you further in the work world?

Mignon Fogarty, aka Grammar Girl.

Could good grammar get you farther in the work world? Or is it "further"?

The website Grammarly recently completed an informal study of the LinkedIn profiles of 100 people in the consumer products industry, and found that those with fewer grammatical errors had a higher level of professional achievement:

 "Professionals with one to four promotions over their 10-year careers made 45 percent more grammar errors than those with six to nine promotions in the same time frame."

That may be because a better handling of the English language indicates a higher attention to detail, increased critical thinking skills and more.

"As you advance at work, you tend to do less actual work and a lot more management, and that requires effective, clear communication," said The Grammar Girl Mignon Fogarty on Take Two. "It makes a lot of sense that the people who write well and speak well and present themselves well in other ways are more likely to advance."

Though the importance of having perfect grammar varies depending on the industry, many younger people these days tend to forget that having even a slight error on a cover letter or resume can mean a lost opportunity. 

"So many 20-year-olds communicate by text message even at work, but if you have an outward facing position, if you're interacting with customers, I think it's essential that you have good communication skills and good writing skills," said Fogarty. "If you're communicating through email or through chat when you contact a customer service representative and you're looking for help, you're going to have a lot more confidence in that person's ability to help you and in the company who has hired them if that person is using proper English."

Even those with a good grasp of English grammar can fall victim to mistakes in important business correspondence. 

"There are a lot of commonly confused words, like 'your' and 'you're,' 'its' and 'it's,'" said Fogarty. "I believe most people just make those errors out of carelessness, but if you aren't sure about the difference, definitely look those up."

Another common mistake is mixing up the use of further and farther. Farther describes physical distance, and further describes a metaphorical distance. The best way to remember this distinction is simply that "farther" has the word "far" in it. 

Another common misconception is that it is never grammatically correct to end a sentence with a preposition.  

"You won't find a modern grammarian who thinks that it's wrong to end a sentence with a preposition. It's sort of an archaic myth that has persisted for decades," said Fogarty. "The only problem is there are a lot of people out there who still think it's wrong. So I do recommend that if you're writing a cover letter for a job, that you don't end a sentence  with a preposition, but because there's no need to take that risk and be perceived as having a mistake."


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