Saturday, April 20, 2024

6 Most Common Grammar Mistakes that Make You Look Unprofessional

January 17, 2011  
Filed under The Workplace

incorrect grammar misake photoIn a technology driven, digital world where every second counts and the need to be entertained is no longer just a light desire but a manic addiction, some of the other important things in life get swept under the rug without notice—like the lost art of speaking well, reading well, and—well, writing well.

No need to be the next Hemingway or bust out with Obama rhetoric every time you talk, but it may be well worth the time to hit the books and take a refresher course from those old grade school grammar and SAT vocab lessons…frowsty, meretricious, pulchritude, pronouns without antecedents, say what?

Depending on where you work, what you do and who you are, you may need to switch up your lingo whether it’s street talk or professional, but no matter what the situation is, it’s worth noting the correct form of grammar so you can use it to your advantage.

1.) Good vs. Well

“Good” is an adjective, which modifies a noun or pronoun. “I am doing good” is incorrect, though it is acceptable as a slang.


He is a good boy.

This tastes good.

“Well” is an adverb, which modifies a verb and some adjectives (this is where the confusion begins).


I am doing well.

She smells well for someone who has a cold. (Her nose is functioning correctly)

She smells good. (She has a good scent)

Most verbs end in “ly” and answer the “how” about the verb. However, the sense verbs of taste, look, smell and feel can be tricky, which brings us to:

2.) Bad vs. Badly

“Bad” is an adjective and “badly” is an adverb. When the verbs of taste, look, smell and feel are used actively, it should be followed with adverbs. But when the verb is used descriptively, it should be followed with an adjective.


Active verb: He feels badly because his fingers were burned from the fire. (Fingers can’t feel physically.)

Descriptive verb: I feel bad about not calling her. (In this situation, “feel” is an emotion.)

3.) Disinterested vs. Uninterested

If you are disinterested, you are neutral about the matter.

If you are uninterested, you have no interest in the matter.

4.) Off of vs. Off

Never use “off of” in a formal sentence. The meaning is still clear without the extra preposition.

Incorrect: The restaurant is off of Vine.

Correct: The restaurant is off Vine.

5.) Less vs. Fewer

Supermarkets didn’t take grammar rules into consideration when they named the “10 items or less” aisle, which technically should be “10 items or fewer.”

“Fewer” is used for things that are countable. I want fewer people in my group.

“Less” is for things that cannot be counted. I want less food on my plate.

6.) Dangling Modifiers

A word or phrase that modifies the clause incorrectly.

Incorrect: Dusty and dirty, my brother found a box of old trinkets in the garage. (A dusty and dirty brother?)

Correct: My brother found a box of dusty and dirty old trinkets in the garage.

For more on grammar tips and answers, check out the awesome Grammar Girl and The Blue Book of Grammar.

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