Common Grammatical Errors in Technical Writing

             

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When speaking to a group, some of the common errors that we make with grammar are not self evident. When composing an email or a communication to a customer, these errors can stand out to the point of distraction. If you make several of these errors within the same document, your intelligence, competency, and professionalism will be called into question. Here are three common grammatical errors to avoid.

  • Company's vs. Companies (for instance). Using a plural in place of a possessive and vice versa can make a sentence unwieldy and overly complicated as the reader tries to interpret your meaning.

  • Slang and Colloquialisms. Neither has a place in a document intended for business use. With either, you run the risk of your audience not being familiar with the term or reference. Since written communications needs to convey a clear message, an unfamiliar term may defeat the purpose of your document.

  • Comma splices. Quite often, two sentences that can stand alone are joined by a comma, ''splicing'' them together. These independent clauses are just forced together, creating a long and uncomfortable sentence. The simplest solution is to replace the comma with a period and move on. If you feel the sentences must remain joined, remove the comma and add a coordinating conjunction. These are the seven coordinating conjunctions: for, and, nor, but, or, yet, and so.

Errors in writing make you seem careless. They can frustrate your readers and prevent them from gleaning needed information. Take care to proofread at least twice to catch common writing errors. If you need a second opinion, ask a coworker to have a look. Failing to catch these common grammatical errors can make you seem too lazy to check your own work or unable to communicate effectively. Neither is a trait that senior executives admire or are willing to tolerate within their ranks.

Take the time, in your technical, business, and scientific writing to ensure that you haven't mistakenly given readers the wrong impression by not being diligent about your writing.