If you want to impress the boss by looking professional, smart and educated, clean up your e-mail.
We're not talking spam. We're talking syntax--and grammar, punctuation and a verb in every sentence.
"Like it or not people make judgments about how we speak, and when we communicate electronically, how we write is a pretty good indicator of how we speak," writes Lewena Bayer in Lifewise. "Using incorrect grammar can send an impression of carelessness, suggest a lack of education, indicate poor social skills and even imply low intelligence. And people also make determinations about our social status on the basis of how we choose and use our words."
Fully 60 percent of all business communication contains one or more grammar or spelling errors, according to a study by WhiteSmoke, developers of English writing software solutions. The most common error is missing words, especially verbs. An example: "I would happy to meet you," which is missing the verb "be." In addition, 28 percent of mistakes on business correspondence relate to punctuation.
While sending a message in all caps is annoying to the recipient, sending one that is poorly written with grammatical and spelling errors can be a reputation killer, giving the impression you are careless, lacking in education or just plain dumb. Consider this quote from Jane Watson, who offers specialized training sessions on grammar for businesses: "Bad grammar is like bad breath. Just because no one says anything doesn't mean that no one noticed." The point? You are judged by the content of your e-mail messages. And, no, everyone is not too busy to care. So you shouldn't be too lazy to care.
The four worst e-mail errors you can make, according to grammar expert Lewena Bayer:
1. Using the word "it" but never defining what "it" is or refers to is confusing.
2. While sentence fragments are faster to write than complete sentences with a subject, verb and proper punctuation in each one, they portray incomplete thoughts.
3. When you mix up singular and plural pronouns, your lack of basic grammar skills is glaringly obvious. Here is an example:
Incorrect: Everyone in the marketing department should bring their laptop computer to the off-site meeting.
Correct: Everyone in the marketing department should bring his or her laptop computer to the off-site meeting.
4. Using all caps for words that do not need to be capitalized is incorrect and makes it appear as if you are shouting at the recipient.
--From the Editors at Netscape