Mind your language at work

Despite the ready availability of free spelling and grammar checkers, 60 per cent of all business correspondence still contains grammar or spelling errors, according to the results of a study by WhiteSmoke, the English writing software solutions developer

Many of the errors can be traced to free word processing checkers that do not perform context-based text modifications. The findings are based on WhiteSmoke's survey of 5,000 pages of business texts.

Liran Brenner, vice president of R&D, WhiteSmoke, said: "The most prevalent error type has turned out to be 'missing words', with 32 per cent of writers failing to use all the words needed for a grammatically correct sentence."

He went on to say that words most likely to be missed are verb auxiliaries (be, have, do), prepositions (in, on, at) and determiners (a, an, the, this), and missing nouns. For example, 'I would happy to meet you', instead of, 'I would be happy to meet you'.

Further data from the survey shows that 28 per cent of mistakes relate to punctuation: knowing when to use a full stop, comma or question mark. Agreement between sentence elements relates to 8 per cent of the data. For instance, 'One of the guy turned around' instead of 'One of the guys turned around'. More problem areas are spelling, using the wrong word, repeating words and misusing verb tenses.

Brenner explains: "The types of errors people typically make when they write business documents help guide our Natural Language Processing experts in directing their efforts to improve our grammar engine."

Vice president of Marketing & Sales Amit Greener added: "As part of raising the writing standards in organisations, every email or memo sent by a staff member should be proofed. Correct language shows customers and colleagues that you value them."

Image: Simple errors can easily creep in to work documents

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