Five Grammar Mistakes to Avoid in Your Professional E-Mails

Making grammatical mistakes in a work or official email is a sure way to make a bad impression.  When you slip up and make a mistake verbally, you have ways to cover—your attitude, your facial expressions, and so forth.  In an email, though, all your reader has to judge you on is your text, and errors stand out like a sore thumb, making you seem unprofessional.

Here are the five most common grammatical errors you should try to avoid.

Incorrect: Everything is coming along alright.
Correct: Everything is coming along all right.

Alright – one word – is generally not considered standard English.  It can be used as slang for “satisfactory”, but when you’re using formal English, you should use it as the two-word all right.

Incorrect: Case and point
Correct: Case in point

This is a phrase we’ve seen come up in a couple recent submissions.  The phrase “case in point” means you’re proving your point with the example you’re using.  Case “and” point is wrong, based on mishearing the “in”.

Incorrect: My boss will advice you.
Correct: My boss will advise you

“Advice” is a noun – it’s the information and recommendation you are giving.  “Advise” is the verb – it’s when you’re giving that information and recommendations.  Sentences need verbs, so advise is correct.

Incorrect: I have 30 mails in my inbox.
Correct: I have 30 e-mail message in my inbox.

“Mail” is an uncountable noun – it’s referring to the entirety of the mail in your inbox, and not the individual pieces.  Therefore, you can’t stick “s” at the end of it and call it plural.  You can say 30 messages, or pieces of mail or even e-mails, but not 30 mails.

Incorrect: There’s some good samples over there.
Correct: There are some good samples over there.

Two things to watch out for here.  First, contractions should be avoided in formal writing; it’s not that you can never use them, but too many contractions are considered informal.  More importantly, “there’s” is short for there is, and that requires a singular noun.  When you have a plural noun like “samples”, you need to use the plural form of the verb – are.  Make sure your nouns and verbs work together!

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