Dressed in an Ann Taylor suit and heels, Stephanie drops in at a doctor’s office in the hope to speak with the decision maker. Her goal is to present her product line and establish a relationship that will lead to a sale, a new distributor sign-up or at least some referral business. Carefully groomed, our networking professional looks the part: credible, honest and reliable. But looks and demeanor go only so far. When Stephanie opens her mouth, her introduction is cluttered with convoluted phrases, misused words and mismatched subjects and verbs. She leaves the office empty-handed.

“Are you losing customers because of the Grammar Gremlin?” asks Dianna Booher in her latest book, Booher’s Rules of Business Grammar.

The proper use of language and appropriate word choice play a tremendous role in a person’s ability to lead and influence others. Poor written and oral communication can limit your credibility and stall your career—not to mention lose a sale, derail a project or destroy a relationship.

Are you allowing grammar errors to limit your success? Test your knowledge with some of the most common grammar mistakes seen and heard in business today. Select the correct answer for each statement below:

1) Carol, Timothy and (myself, I) are involved in that project.

2) You may send referrals to (whomever, whoever) you wish.

3) People do not buy products (which, that) seem overpriced.

4) (Fewer, less) employees are taking vacations due to heavy workloads.

5) Marla has (over, more than) twenty years of experience in network marketing.

Let’s see how you did.

The correct answers are: 1) I; 2) whomever; 3) that; 4) fewer; 5) more than.

These examples are adapted from Dianna Booher’s newest business grammar guide. To understand why these are the right answers and learn a memory tip so you’ll always remember them, you will need to pick up the book. (For a more thorough assessment of your grammar skills, take Booher’s free test at HowsYourGrammar.com.)

Good grammar is power. The importance of language to professionalism and social standing is, with few exceptions, a universal issue. People from all cultures insist that proper language separates the wealthy from the poor, the educated from the uneducated and—most importantly—the leaders from the followers.

Booher’s entertaining book focuses on the most common mistakes you hear every day. You and your team may find it very helpful.

“Bad grammar is like bad breath—even your best friends won’t tell you,” says Booher. “Go ahead, put on that nice suit and polish your shoes. But remember to polish your grammar, too. With increased awareness and commitment to breaking old habits, you can destroy the grammar gremlins.”

Paperback, 296 pages, $16.95;
McGraw-Hill, 2009