Etiquette Tip of the Week: The Career Killer

By Callista Gould, Author and C​ertified Etiquette Instr​uctor​

While working in the music business, I caught a grammatical error on an invite to an event for a popular musician. I noted the error and left it on the Marketing Manager's desk.

He sent it back to me with a note. "Grammar is overrated."

Maybe so. But after that, I had a new job responsibility: proofreader. Invites, flyers and newsletters went through me. (I knew my English undergrad was not for naught.)

Bad grammar is a career killer. Employers tell me about tossing or deleting resumes full of errors. I hear from managers marveling at their staff's emails full of gaffes.

I hear about people passed up for promotions, because they say,
"I seen the results."
"We have boughten new supplies."
"Me and her are going to lunch."

Instead of:
"I have seen…" or "I saw the results."
"We bought..." or "We have purchased new supplies."
"She and I are going to lunch."

(Note to "Grammar Check" fans – Word only identified, "I seen.")

Bonus: never say, "I was woken up." It should be, "I was awakened."

Some quick hits:
It's "it's" if you can break it into "it is."
There's no apostrophe in the possessive. (The dog chases its tail.)
Ditto for "who's" and "whose."

"I" is a subject, which creates the action. (I will order a pizza.)
"Me" is an object, which receives the action. (The pizza will be delivered to me.)

To add a person, check your sentence by separating it into two sentences.
He and I will order a pizza.
He will order a pizza. I will order a pizza.

Grammar is a lifelong study, like learning to code or mastering another language. Review online resources or (gasp) get a book. For help with spoken grammar, get thee to Toastmasters.

The pudding is in the proof.


Culture and Manners Institute