Sunday, August 10, 2008

Perfecting Letter Grammar

A letter on the best stationery, properly organized and beautifully presented, can be utterly ruined by one grammatical error. These errors can also have a nasty effect upon your reputation. Grammatical traps like to lurk in lengthy sentences. Brief, direct sentences are generally safer and have the added merit of being easier on the reader.
Here’s a reference list of some of the most common grammatical errors:
  • Between you and I. When you and I follows a preposition—such as between, to, or for—it becomes you and me.
  • Avoid the phrase I, myself. In fact, use myself only for emphasis.
  • Fewer refers to items, things you can count. Less refers to quantities such as water, effort, and time. (Yes, those supermarket signs that read “12 items or less” are ungrammatical.) Similarly, farther refers to actual distance, as in a mile farther, whereas further indicates an extension, as in further discussion.
  • Don’t use irregardless when you mean regardless. Irregardless is not a word.
  • Avoid writing that you feel badly. It means you aren’t very good at feeling things, in a tactile sense.
  • Capitol is the building. Capital is everything else.
  • The speaker implies; the listener infers.
  • Make sure that nouns and verbs agree; for example, a group of employees is (not are) arriving.
Needless to say, there’s a lot more to grammar than just the information contained in these tips. If you’re unsure of a rule, take the time to look it up or ask someone who knows.

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