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2017-08-21 08:19 Language, Business English, Grammar

10 English mistakes that can ruin your professional image

It’s easy to make mistakes, even simple ones. Saying or presenting something incorrectly is bad enough but publishing flawed content online increases the potential exposure of your mistake enormously, which can lead to serious embarrassment.

Most of us instinctively shy away from using words we feel unsure of, especially if they are not commonly used or seem complicated. However, it’s the words that we think we’re using correctly that can really ruin our image. The following simple mistakes are also made by a lot of native English speakers.

1. Teach Vs Learn
You can teach yourself or other people but you cannot learn other people. People learn things themselves, which they can then teach to others.

2. There/their/they’re
These words sound the same but have different meanings.
• Use “there” to refer to a place that isn’t here – “over there”.
• We also use “there” to state something – “There are no chairs in the room”.
• “Their” indicates possession – something belonging to them, e.g. "their books are new".
• “They’re” is short for “they are” e.g ."they’re very happy to be on holiday".

3. I.e. and e.g.
I.e. is the abbreviation for “that is to say” and is used to add explanatory information.
Example: A synthetic shoe i.e. not made from leather.
E.g. is the abbreviation for “for example”.
Example: He loves fruit and vegtables  e.g. apples and carrots.

4. Me/myself/I
• When referring to yourself and someone else, put their name first in the sentence e.g. John and I are going to the cinema (Not “John and me are going to the cinema” or “Myself and John are going to the cinema” or “Me and John are going to the cinema”).
• You only use “myself” if you’ve already used “I”, making you the subject of the sentence e.g. “I’ll do it myself” or “I thought to myself”.

5. Your/you’re
“You’re” is short for the two words “you are”. The apostrophe stands for the omitted “a” of “are”.
E.g. You’re going to enjoy this.
“Your” is a possessive determiner and pronoun which means “belonging to you”.
E.g. What’s your name?

6. Its/it’s
The difference between these two words gets lots of people confused. Apostrophes should be used to indicate possession, but there is one exception to this rule, and that is the word “it”.
• “It’s” is usually used  short for “it is” e.g . "it’s raining". (Note:" It’s" is also short for "It has", e.g. it’s been a while…)
• “Its” indicates something belonging to something that isn’t masculine or feminine (like “his” and “hers”). E.g .the book looks great with its new cover.

7. Then/than
Confusion between “then” and “than” probably arises because the two look and sound similar.
• “Than” is used in comparisons e.g. “ John is taller than Jack” or “ It was more than enough”
• “Then” is used to indicate something following something else in time, as in step-by-step instructions, or planning a schedule “we’ll go to the cinema first and then to the restaurant”.

8. Affect vs. Effect
This is another easy enough mistake to make given how similar these two words look and sound, but there’s a simple explanation to help you remember the difference.
• Affect is a verb – “to affect” – meaning to influence or have an impact on something. E.g. He hoped the company’s excellent results would have a positive effect on his salary.
• Effect is the noun – “a positive/negative effect” – referring to the result of being affected by something. E.g his job was directly affected by the organisational change.
• There is also a verb “to effect”, meaning to bring something about – “to effect a change” but this is not commonly used.

9. Farther vs. Further

• Farther refers to physical distance, while further describes the degree or extent of an action or situation. “I can’t run any farther,” but “I have nothing further to say.”
• If you can substitute “more” or “additional,” use "further".

10. Imply/Infer

To imply means to suggest something without saying it outright e.g. "The reporter implied the politician was lying, without explicitly stating it". To infer means to draw a conclusion from what someone else implies e.g." From the facts in this report we can infer that there is a property bubble". As a general rule, the speaker/writer implies, and the listener/reader infers.

One mistake can be dismissed as a typo but making the same simple mistakes repeatedly looks very unprofessional. We strongly recommend getting someone to proofread important presentations and documents. Please feel free to contact us for a professional proofreading quote. You are also very welcome to follow us on LinkedIn or Facebook for regular updates and English language advice.

The London School of English offers high quality English language training for motivated adults from all professional backgrounds. We give you the tools and skills you need to communicate successfully in your field of expertise and to expand your business and career opportunities. Call us on +46 8 5999 4000or email us at info@londonschool.se for more information about our tailored tuition or simply take our online test to check your English level.
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