Professional Writing: Top 10 Grammar Mistakes to Avoid

Writing an essential email, document, or presentation for your employer is one of many learning obstacles the English language presents. Unlike speaking the language, business writing necessitates a certain amount of formality and a good knowledge of language, syntax, and style.

Anything less may disappoint potential clients or present employers and possibly sceptical of your company and English language abilities. Writing properly (and accurately) is vital in an increasingly globalised world, where English is the major medium of communication in business. You should not be concerned, however.

Look at the five most typical grammar mistakes non-native speakers make in professional writing. Soon, you’ll be able to avoid those pesky grammar errors and generate competent writing that is up to pace in any business circumstance.

professional writing

Read about the top 6 academic writing citation styles here!

Good Writing Is Effective Writing

Effective and consistent correspondence with your readers is critical to every successful organisation.

To become a master of professional writing, you must first establish a set of objectives:

  • To persuade a business leader to invest in your concept
  • to increase visitors to your website to increase sales
  • to generate conversion-oriented content
  • making someone laugh

Focusing on the aim can help you write simply and concisely so your readers will know exactly what to do after reading your proposal, advertisement, or email.

One thing matters in business for readers, potential purchasers, or partners: to answer the question, “What’s in it for me?”

To achieve such objectives, avoiding frequent blunders in professional writing is critical and figuring out how to use phrases that will persuade your readers to perform the desired actions.

Grammar mistakes

The 10 Most Common Grammar Mistakes in Professional Writing

When approaching a piece of literature, most editors look for the overall picture to perform “macro edits.” We’re dealing with the story’s content here—how it flows, if everything makes sense if the tone is correct, and if there are any unanswered issues for readers. I call this “defensive editing,” similar to defensive driving.

  1. Too many acronyms

Unless they are well-known, acronyms impede reading. This is most prevalent in the scientific, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) areas, although it may be found anywhere. Here are my cardinal acronym rules:

The acronym should always be spelt out the first time you use it, followed by the acronym in brackets. Refrain from assuming your reader understands what you’re saying. “The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, for example, issued a new rule on air quality.” Use acronyms only if they are used more than once. For instance, if the National Park Service appears only once in an article or document, simply spell it out. There is no need to add “(NPS)” after the spelled-out phrase unless you intend to use it again.

Only deviate from these criteria if the acronym is more familiar to your reader than the spelled-out form…People are likely more familiar with “the IRS” than the Internal Revenue Service. When emailing intellectual property lawyers or internally, you do not need to include “IP.” In professional writing, spelling everything out the first time is still recommended.

  • Making use of phrasal verbs

A phrasal verb is an idiomatic phrase made up of a verb plus another component, such as an adverb, such as break down, a preposition, such as see to, or a mixture of both, such as gaze down on.

Phrasal verbs are regularly employed in everyday speech among native English speakers and can even be used in emails if they are informal.

When writing properly, business professionals should try to replace phrasal verbs with their more academic equivalents whenever possible to enhance the tone of the text or document.

  • omission of commas that alter the meaning

Commas are becoming more permissible in the Chicago Manual of Style.

However, it would help if you recognised them because they can transform your meaning.

When addressing someone directly, use a comma.

Take a look at the following:

  • “Friends, don’t ever do that.”
  • “Friends don’t ever do that.”

You’re talking to the reader in the first one, calling them friends and asking them not to do something.

You’re making a statement about friendship in the second.

The comma isn’t just a pause; it’s a hint to the reader that changes the sentence structure entirely.

To separate elements in a list, use commas.

  • “I enjoy painting my wife and children.”
  • “I enjoy painting, my spouse, and my children.”

In the first, the Author enjoys painting portraits of their spouse and children. In the second, the Author enjoys painting as a hobby and spending time with their husband and children. If you’ve ever heard grammar enthusiasts dispute over the Oxford comma, it’s because of commas in lists. And it’s a fantastic example of how the rules are made up.

  • They’re vs. They’re vs. They’re

One is a contraction for “they are” (they’re), one is a group-owned item (their), and one is a location (their). You understand the distinctions between the three; just double-check that you’re utilising the right ones in the right places at the appropriate times.

I find it helpful to scan my postings for such terms (ctrl + F on PC or command + F on Mac) and make sure they’re used correctly. Here’s how to use “they’re,” “there,” and “their” correctly:

They’ll have a great time there because I’ve heard their food is delicious!

  • Using an Informal Tone Or Being Overly Familiar

Professional writing is frequently more official than emails to friends, family, and coworkers.

This does not preclude contractions or slang, but a business email is not the place to be informal or overly comfortable with your reader.

This is the second most prevalent professional writing error. Use a formal and correct tone because you never know who will receive your email. For example, if you’re writing an email to a specific person, you could address her as “Dear Ms. Smith” or “Dear Mrs. Smith.”  If the company is large, address it as “Dear Sirs” or “Dear Ladies and Gentlemen.”

If you need to figure out who to address your email to, research the company beforehand and determine your target audience.

  • Possessive Nouns

Most possessive nouns will include an apostrophe, but where that apostrophe goes can be tricky. Here’s an example of an inappropriate use of possessive nouns:

The lizard’s tails all grew back.

The word “all” implies more than one lizard in this statement, yet the apostrophe’s placement suggests that there is only one.

Here are some broad guidelines to follow:

  • Include an apostrophe after the s if the noun is plural. Consider the bones of the dogs.
  • If the noun is single and ends in s, include an apostrophe after the s. Consider the blue colour of the outfit.
  • If the noun is singular and does not finish in an s, the apostrophe is placed before the s. Consider the lizard’s tail.
  • Inadequate parallel structure

Keep the sections in the same grammatical structure when creating any type of series or list. “The HR director position travelled to multiple cities delivering leadership training, giving an advantages presentation, and soliciting employee feedback,” for example, is not parallel.

“The HR director position travelled to many cities delivering leadership training, giving an advantages presentation, and asking for employee feedback.”

  • Separating Independent Clauses

Commas can be used to separate independent clauses connected by “and,” “but,” “for,” “or,” “nor,” “so,” or “yet.” For instance, the following sentence is correct: “My brother is extremely smart, and I’ve learned a lot from him.”

A statement that may stand independently is known as an independent clause. Here’s how to put it to the test: Would the second portion of the sentence (after one of those coordinating conjunctions) stand alone as a complete sentence? If so, use a comma. If it doesn’t, remove it.

  • Using quote marks

Use quotation marks when someone is talking or explicitly quoting someone or something.

  • “Hector,” she inquired, “have you seen my glasses?”
  • “It had been the best of times, the worst of times…”Dickens, Charles.
  • They can also be used to signify sarcasm or witty descriptions.

Our original “security system” was a little bell over the business door and Spike, a Teacup Chihuahua.

  1. Excessive or improper commas

When people spontaneously pause in speech, they frequently utilise commas. The comma is extra in “The bridge hardly had any traffic because it was located in an infrequently travelled area,” for example. I

In some cases, commas are used where semicolons would be more appropriate, as in “The engineer and architects of record visited the site, but they were unable to meet with the client.”

The initial comma in this situation should be a semicolon. Semicolons should be used with entire phrases (which might stand alone as sentences), while commas should be used with incomplete phrases.


Grammarly is a tool that can help you fix all of your grammar mistakes once and for all.

With Grammarly, you must copy and paste your material into the app—web or otherwise—and the tool will automatically offer grammar changes.

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