Learn English – 10 important lessons to know to sound professional!

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Sounding professional is what makes us all look a lot more appealing than the product we are selling would ever do. So, it is really important for us to use words which make sense, and leave a positive impact on the ones we communicate with. It is also important to make sure we taste long-term success in professional life.  But, often caring too much may lead us to a fall into an easier trap. 

If you are a teacher, it’s your job to correct students’ grammar. But while a professional writer needs to turn it a notch down when caring about grammar, a copywriter needs to be even simpler and clearer with the narrative.

So, if you don’t wish to be called a ‘grammar nazi’ for some cases, here are 15 minor errors which you need to start accepting. 

Further versus Farther

While ‘farther’ can be used to describe the ‘physical distance’ between, say, two places, ‘further’ is used in a more metamorphic sense.

For example – The North Pole is farther away from the South Pole.

You need to work further to complete the task in hand.

2. Lesser versus Fewer

Technically speaking, the use of ‘fewer’ pertains to when you talk about things that can be counted or numbered. ‘Lesser’ is used when things can’t be counted that easily.

Example – It’s better if you know fewer people.

The runners-up would be given a lesser reward.

3. Don’t skip the “-ly” in adverbs

Example – Think different.

What does this marketing campaign for Apple miss? The truth be told, this is grammatically a disaster to leave the -ly in an adverb. But who cares? 

4. That versus Who

‘Who’ is to refer to people, while ‘that’ refers to materials/things in general. 

Example – Jerry is the one who ate the food!

I want that car as a gift on my birthday.

4. Which versus That

You cannot just start to use a ‘that’ or a ‘which’ at the start of a clause in THE MIDDLE OF THE SENTENCE! Remember – if the meaning of the sentence changes by cutting the clause, use ‘that;’ and if it’s not that important, use ‘which’. If this confuses you, you’d remain the way you are now, sounding unprofessional.

Example – Remember the Dog which ate the cake? Well, he is back!

Here the use of which is a restrictive clause since it is an important clause to identify the dog.

The Finance Minister announced that he would be presenting the Budget on 1st February.

6. I versus Me

Mostly, we get it right when we are using singular pronouns. For example, in the sentence ‘I went to the mall’, or ‘I hope you clear the exam’, we combine reference made to ourselves with pronouns. 

What’s the shortcut?

Removing the ‘other person’ in a sentence and seeing what is making more sense, an ‘I’ or a ‘me’. 

7. Oxford commas

This is the most important and fascinating stuff which I read the other day while proofreading an assignment for a well-known company. First, you need to know that there are two kinds of people out there –

  • The ones who include a final comma while listing three items in a sentence.
  • The ones who don’t.

The former, in this case, are people who use the oxford comma.

So, in the following sentence –

  • I have bought myself a camera, a laptop, and a tripod.

The one comma is the blue colour is the oxford comma. 

Believe it or not, most people get worked up with the rule mentioned. Don’t be like them.

8. Overuse of the ‘Em-dash’

For me, there’s no such thing as ‘overuse of em dash’. While other punctuation might be technically correct often, I believe that it is an all-purpose punctuation fitting in present-day write-ups. 

Example – I had to re-write the book – Robert Vapor – ninety-times before the final copy.

Notice the difference between the -hyphen used in the numeral 99 and the em-dash after ‘book’ to denote a pause.

9. Irregardless (This is intentional Grammarly, stop with the recommendation!) 

This word is technically incorrect but it is so overused nowadays, that it has become a word the non-literally and informal way. But for the informal ones, ‘Everyone knows what you mean to say so shut up with the vocab-gyaan

9. Spaces – one or two, after putting a ‘period’ 

Making use of two spaces makes it look a bit old-fashioned way of speaking/writing things. The only reason why you were taught to do it is that the typewriters from the ’70s wanted those two ‘spaces’ in order to indemnify for a single-spaced type. 

10. In to or “into”?

Two distinct words, yet are used interchangeably by many. Technically, though, it is wrong as it can get. While ‘into’ is a transitive word, ‘in’ and ‘to’ are different adverbs which are followed by a preposition. 

Example – I want you to make this lemon into lemonade.

I just came in to get my computer fixed.

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