In business writing, getting your grammar right is not just about projecting a professional image. It is also about conveying your message accurately, and not having it distorted by grammar mistakes.
Consider this sentence extracted from an actual email:
- On receiving the customer’s instructions, they cancel the order and refunded the money to the customer.
Some will argue that this is a small mistake. Just amend the tense form and the tenses will be consistent.
But is it really that simple? Which verb needs to be amended – “cancel” or “refunded”?
There are two possibilities:
(1) If the issue is now over, and the writer is recounting a past event, the correct sentence should be:
- On receiving the customer’s instructions, they cancelled the order and refunded the money to the customer.
(2) If the issue is still ongoing, and the writer is referring to it as a standard procedure, then the sentence should be:
- On receiving the customer’s instructions, they cancel the order and refund the money to the customer.
The differing tense forms (“cancel” and “refunded”) can confuse the reader. This is not a small mistake, and the writer has the responsibility to convey the message clearly.
Your readers cannot read your mind; they can only read your writing.
This is just one example of how using grammar wrongly can change the intended meaning in your message.
Use grammar correctly in your business writing. If you don’t, it could just mean embarrassment, or it could result in a confusing message leading to miscommunication.