What Is Proper Grammar?

Like any language, English varies by region and by country. It also evolves and changes over time. While there is no governing board for English language standards, scholars have established “Standard English” for use in formal writing and speaking in North America. This standard includes accepted rules for grammar, vocabulary, and spelling [1].

Why is Proper Grammar Important?

Proper grammar helps you communicate clearly and effectively. It also establishes a trusted reputation for you and your employer.

In a 2001 study by Larry Beason, business people concluded that employees who made writing mistakes were careless and uninformed writers, inadequate business people, and poor representatives of their employers [2]. A recent blog post on the Harvard Business Review reveals a potential consequence for these judgments: “[People who use poor grammar] deserve to be passed over for a job—even if they are otherwise qualified for the position” [3].

While extreme, these reactions demonstrate the importance of correcting the most common grammar errors to best represent yourself, your work, and your employer.

How Do I Improve My Grammar?

There are many tips and tricks for recognizing and avoiding the most common grammar errors. Understanding them ahead of time, or being able to recognize them while writing may save you valuable revision time later down the line.

The following resources provide a solid foundation for creating grammatically correct communications. As rules of thumb, you should:

  • familiarize yourself with the most common grammar errors and the rules for correcting them.
  • consult the style guide dictated by your employer or profession.
  • practice using proper grammar with online exercises.

What Are the Most Common Grammar Errors and How Can I Avoid Them?

A recent study found the most common grammar errors are related to spelling, punctuation, word choice, and sentence structure [4]. Click any of the links below to go to that section and learn about how it relates to proper grammar:


[1] Standard English. Wikipedia. [Online]. Available: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Standard_English

[2] L. Beason, “Ethos and error: How business people react to errors,” College Comp. and Commun., vol. 53, no. 1, pp. 33-64, Sep. 2001.

[3] K. Wiens. (2012, July 20). “I won’t hire people who use poor grammar. Here’s why.” Harvard Business Review. [Online]. Available: http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2012/07/i_wont_hire_people_who_use_poo.html

[4] A.A. Lunsford and K. J. Lunsford, “Errors are a fact of life: A national comparative study,” College Comp. and Commun., vol 59, no. 4, pp. 781-806, June, 2008.