University of Southern Indiana
5 common business writing errors and how to correct them

5 Common Business Writing Errors and How to Correct Them

By Chaze Patrick, Outreach and Engagement Marketing Assistant

1. The usage of "I" vs. "Me"

These sentences are often seen in business emails, but they are wrong:

  • Thanks for meeting Steven and I for lunch yesterday.
  • Please send the latest files to John and I.
  • The invitation for lunch was for John and I.

Me is such a tiny word, yet people seem terrified to use it. Here’s a fast, simple trick to always get it right: just take out the other person in the sentence and see how it sounds.

2. The "I.E". vs. "E.G." argument

I.e. and e.g. are both abbreviations for Latin terms that are confused with each other. Many people think they mean the same thing and are interchangeable, but they’re actually different. i.e. means “in other words,” and e.g. means “for example.”

3. “Use” VS. “Utilize,” Which one to use?

Good writing means that you shouldn’t use a long word where a short, simple one will do. Many people write “utilize” in business emails and memos because they think it sounds fancy, impressive and intelligent. But it’s actually needless, overblown jargon. “Use” is a perfectly good word and works just as well.

4. Unnecessary apostrophes

Apostrophes should be used to show possession (company’s presentation) and contractions (you’ll). But don’t use the apostrophe with an “s” to make regular nouns plural (ideas, not idea's), and don’t use it with verbs (gets, not get’s).

5. Dangling participles

“You can think of a participle as simply an ‘-ing’ phrase, and they’re usually caught dangling at the beginning of a sentence. They should apply to the word that comes next,” says Fogarty. However, when they modify the wrong noun in the sentence, you can end up with some awkward and confusing sentences.

Do you need a refresher on business writing? Learn more about our Certificate in Business Writing at USI.edu/BusinessWriting

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