Tossco Communication

Writing Samples

Articulate Your Thoughts

Five Easy Ways to Improve Your Writing, Right Now!

Want to write more effectively, convincingly and persuasively?  Great news: improving basic grammar skills is one of the easiest ways to accomplish this.  Using proper grammar helps distinguish you from the troglodytic and otherwise grammatically incorrect business communication that people, including your market, are bombarded with every day! 

Though it may not seem like a big deal in the age of lol, emoji and Twitter, using proper grammar for business communication IS still a big deal.  Here's why: if you communicate with someone who has a basic command and appreciation of proper grammar, using poor grammar makes you look bad-- plain and simple.  

Fortunately, most common grammatical errors are easy to fix, with a little basic knowledge.  The list below includes a few of the most common mistakes I see, with easy suggestions to correct them.           

1.  It's vs. its!

This is an easy one because there are just two choices, and one is a contraction.  "It's" always means "it is" or "it has."  When you're writing, simply ask yourself if you want to say "it is" or "it has" with a contraction.  If so, then go with the apostrophe and use "it's."  That's it! 

Examples: It's great to see you.  It's really nice outside today.  It's been a great trip. 

If, on the other hand, you mean ownership (something or someone's possession), then use the singular possessive "its" and skip the apostrophe.       

Examples: The team took pride in its accomplishments.  The company stated that collaboration is one of its core values.      

2.  They're, Their, There…

This is a bit trickier!  Generally, it's easiest to master the contraction "they're," which always means "they are."  As with "it's" above, just ask yourself if you want to say "they are" using a contraction (one word for two). 

Examples:  He said they're going in March.  They're visiting the Galapagos Islands.  They're having a wonderful time. 

"Their" is plural possessive, meaning a group of people or things own something, e.g. something belongs to them.

Examples: Their car is new.  They go for long drives when their children are home.  The board members completed their objectives.   

"There" is an adverb that means in, at or to a particular place or position. 

Examples: The eight ball landed over there.  There are seven continents on planet Earth.   

3.  I see this a lot: alot! 

"Alot" is not a word!  If you want to say for example "a great deal," "very much," "lots," "plenty," "heaps," etc., use the phrase, "a lot."  A lot is two words!  It's easier if you think of it as a phrase rather than a word.  It's worth repeating: a lot is two words.

4.  Is it complementary, complimentary-- or a compliment? 

·         If two or more things, ideas or people are "complementary," that means they complete, enhance or perfect each other. 

·         If something is free or gratis, it is "complimentary." 

·         If someone says something nice about a thing, an idea or a person (you!), it's a   "compliment."

The trick I use to remember the difference is this: I like to receive free stuff (complimentary) and I like to hear nice things about myself (compliments).  So in these cases I use the version of the words with the "i."  Otherwise, I use "complement" or "complementary" to mean that two or more things fit together well.  Click here for more detail!                   

5.  In Regard to Regards-- better yet, Regarding Regards…

In regard to a thing, an idea or a person, there is no such thing as "in regards to" a thing, an idea or a person, e.g. "In regards to your email," "In regards to Jerry's proposal," etc.  In these examples the correct statements are, "In regard to your email," "In regard to Jerry's proposal." 

Now, you can send your "regards" or well wishes to someone or something, as in "Give my Regards to Broadway," but there is no "In Regards to Broadway."  That should be stated as "In Regard to Broadway."  Better yet, skip the unnecessary jargon of "in regard to" and opt for the more concise "regarding."  Want more information?  Click here!       

Using proper grammar for business communication may seem difficult, but the most common grammatical errors are easy to fix with a little knowledge and practice.  Follow the basic steps above to start improving today.  They'll make you look smart and you'll have a much better chance of conveying your message competently and convincingly.  And that's the whole point of effective business writing! 

More easy to use writing tips coming soon from Tossco Communication.

Amanda Tossberg