Grand Strander Magazine GRAMMAR article Sept 2014 .pdf
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Writing in the workplace
about grammar in
by Summer Turner
Good news! The grammar trend in business writing is to write
the way we speak. Why? Because if we don’t, we alienate our
Customers today want to feel that a real person is
communicating with them. An authentic, conversational
approach to customers is the best way to foster loyalty. In
written communication, this approach hinges on your grammar
Here’s a sampling of cases where formal grammar is giving way
to the “conversational” choice:
• That whole subject/object pronoun thing:
who/whom; he/him/she/her; I/me.
F ormal: “She’s the one whom I resemble the most.”
Conversational: “She’s the one who I resemble the most.”
Or avoid: “She’s the one I resemble the most.”
F ormal: “Yes, that was he on the phone.”
Conversational: “Yes, that was him on the phone.”
Or avoid: “Yes, that was John on the phone.”
F ormal: “It was I who did it.”
Conversational: “It was me who did it.”
Or avoid: “I did it.”
• The rule about ending sentences with a preposition.
1) Over-correcting: “From where did the so-called rule about
ending a sentence with a preposition come?” See how
awkward that is?“Come from” is an expression (called a
phrasal verb) and needs to remain intact. So, yes, end that
sentence with the preposition!
2) The rule about prepositions originated with 17th century
Grammar Nazis who tried to make English follow the rules of
In Your Workplace
If you find yourself going through contortions to structure
a sentence, stop, drop and roll: Stop writing, drop your
pen and let your thought verbally roll off your tongue.
Used by permission.
Latin. They also pointed out that ending a sentence
with such “inconsiderable” words weakens the
impact of the sentence, which is a good point. If
you wish to come across as formal and rhetorically
forceful, you’ll follow the rule. But watch out for
those phrasal verbs, which apply in many cases!
The best course is to end sentences with
Formal: “To whom did you give it?”
Conversational: “Who did you give it to?”
• Singular vs. plural possessive pronouns:
Formal: “Everyone (singular) wants to have his or her
(singular) cake and eat it, too.”
Conversational: “Everyone (singular) wants to have
their (plural) cake and eat it, too.”
Or avoid: “Everyone wants to have cake and eat it, too.”
Successful business is about building real relationships.
The good news is that you get to be a real person with
everyone you correspond with. (... with whom you
correspond?) To build customer loyalty, write like a real
person! A good rule of thumb for business writing:
Write the way you speak – to your grandmother or
Summer Turner is the owner of Business
Writing Breakthrough LLC, “A full-service
consultant when workplace writing
excellence is a must!” Turner can be
reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
8/21/14 2:23 PM
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