Grammar for Professionals… and the Rest of Us

Jan 10, 2017 | Communication, Home, News, Opinion, SJCC

A friend recently sent me this link to a grammar website, Grammarly.  Grammarly gives you tips, tricks, and some plugins to help keep your grammar in check. Honestly, I don’t know if it’s any better than the next, but I do know one thing. I know that the majority of engineers and construction professionals cannot put together a paragraph void of grammar mistakes. It’s excusable to communicate without finesse but untenable to consistently do it sloppily.

If you are unable or unwilling to improve your spelling and/or grammar, or to use a site like, at least take away these tidbits of grammar helpers:

  • It’s versus its – the apostrophe is only used when you are forming a contraction.  So, “it’s” to mean anything other than “it is” is incorrect.  “It’s” is not to be used to show possession.
  • Affects versus effects – affects is a verb and effects are things.
  • Their/there/they’re – They’re headed to town to see their daughter who used live in that house over there; these are all correct uses of these words.
  • Should of versus should have – “We should have poured that concrete yesterday” is correct.  “We should of poured that concrete yesterday” is incorrect.
  • Colon (:) versus semi-colon (;) – the colon is used to start a series while the semi-colon is used as a break between two sentences, but not a full stop.
  • Further versus farther – Further is not a distance and cannot be measured while farther is related to a measurable distance.
  • A lot versus allot versus alot – A lot is a large amount or number of people or things or can be used to modify a noun; it can also be used as an adverb meaning very much or very often. Allot is a verb which means to give for a particular purpose. Alot is not even a word.
These are just some of my pet peeves.  But, in closing, I must point out one of the worst displays of the English language is on the Fox and CNN sites – not a single article is error-free.  They all have a spelling error or grammatical error in them!


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