10 Grammar Mistakes that Could Cost You a Job

by Tim Pate

As a business student, your focus is supposed to be the raw mechanics of a company – right? You’ll produce the idea, the innovation, and let your copywriters and editors make sure that everything is spelled correctly and follows grammar rules.

Sorry to tell you, but this mentality is guaranteed to get you into trouble when you put it into practice.

Whether you like it or not, having a firm understanding of the English language is essential to your business career. It starts with your resume: a messy, unrefined resume is the fastest way to be dismissed for a job. However, your resume is not the only way employers will evaluate you.

Today, virtually everything you write is fair game for employers to scrutinize and evaluate to determine if you are the right person for a position. If you put together a really great project for a class that you plan to show at an interview, do you actually think you’ll be taken as seriously as you should be if that project is riddled with grammatical and spelling errors? Even the content you post on social media pages reflects upon you as a professional. You must take all these things into careful consideration; after all, your employers will.

Let Google be your friend: if there is something about which you are unsure, type it into the search engine and let the internet correct you. On that note, I have compiled a list of common grammatical mistakes. Remember, this list is not comprehensive, and you should check over all of your work to ensure that it is clean and professional.

1. You’re vs. Your: “You’re” means “you are.” “Your” means “something you possess.”

2. It’s vs. Its: “It’s” means “it is.” Never use “it’s” as pronoun (unless someone’s name is It. In that case, “It’s” would mean that something belongs to It). “Its” is the proper possessive pronoun, as in, “The car isn’t working. Its transmission is shot.”

3. There vs. They’re vs. Their: “There” is an adverb describing something’s location: “The ball is there.” “They’re” is a contraction meaning “they are.” “Their” is a possessive pronoun, meaning that more than one person possesses something: “That is their house.”

4. More than vs. Over: When describing the quantity of something, use more than: “He has more than five cars.” When describing a physical location in relation to something else, use over: “They flew over the Rocky Mountains.”

5. Affect vs. Effect: “Affect” means “to influence or impact,” as in, “The decision affected the entire company.” The result of being affected is the effect: “The effect was that everyone took a pay cut.”

6. Loose vs. Lose: Something that is loose is not tight: “Pull that rope harder; the knot is loose.” “Lose” means to misplace an object or to not win a competition: “Don’t lose your head or you might lose the game.”

7. Irregardless: Don’t use this word. “Irregardless” is not a real word. The proper term is “regardless,” and adding “ir-” to the front does not make the word any stronger.

8. Who vs. Whom: “Who” is the subject of a sentence, or the person doing something: “Who is playing basketball?” “Whom” is the object of a sentence, or the person being affected (not effected): “He passed the ball to whom?” If the word follows a preposition (e.g. to, around, of, in, before, with, under, etc.), always use “whom.” If a sentence you write sounds awkward, it is okay to rewrite the sentence completely.

9. Could of/Should of/Would of: The proper use is “could’ve/should’ve/would’ve,” because these words are meant to be contractions of “could have/should have/would have.” Never replace “-‘ve” with “of.”

10. Literally vs. Figuratively: If you use the adverb “literally,” it means that whatever follows is actually true. Therefore, it doesn’t make sense to say, “I am literally dying of boredom,” unless your body is actually shutting down as a result of being bored, which is unlikely. In that case, it is accurate to say, “I am figuratively dying of boredom.” Every time I see this mistake I figuratively lose my mind.


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