Here we go with my first 10 example GPS mistakes (Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling).
I’ve concentrated on instances where you use a computer, such as completing a tender, and the autocorrect function might not pick up the mistakes. If your particular software settings pick up some of these then great – these tips will come in handy anyway for everyday use and in social media.
I’m not being the grammar police. However, in a tendering situation you will want to create a good impression from the outset and be taken seriously as a professional outfit. Your role could well be public-facing and/or involve you providing written material in one form or another.
Based on lengthy experience as an evaluator and proofreader, I put some tendering-related text ideas into Word on my computer. These are all based on actual wording that I have seen in tender submissions. You might be surprised at the results. Autocorrect did not always pick them up.
English is a wonderful but complex language so try not to rely 100% on autocorrect. A computer program does not do context or, for example, industry-specific terms particularly well. Human input is always needed. If you’re not totally confident, have someone with solid literary skills compose and/or proofread your proposed tender or business documents.
This is the first of several posts on ‘GPS’ so please look out for more in the future!
Right, let’s see some mistakes and my suggested corrections…
- “We have a good relationship with – not only our customers – but also their ICT representatives.”
Instead say: “We have a good relationship with not only our customers but also their ICT representatives.”
Comment: Only use dashes (–) where the sentence would still make sense without the words within those dashes. So, if you take the ‘– not only our customers –’ bit out you are left with the nonsensical “We have a good relationship with but also their ICT representatives.”
- “Our team will not handover the job until it is satisfied.”
Instead say: “Our team will not hand over the job until it is satisfied.”
Comment: ‘Hand over’, as a verb, is the correct form here; handover as a single word is not a verb but can be used as a noun, as in “The handover was made to the client upon completion.”
- “We will be imputing the customers’ names and addresses onto our database.”
Instead say: “We will be inputting the customers’ names and addresses onto our database.”
Comment: The word ‘imputing’ has a separate meaning. To impute means to attribute something; imputation is a method used in statistics for filling in gaps in data. Neither of these apply to my example. ‘Input’ sounds like ‘imput’ (doh! – autocorrect has flagged this up as I thought it would) so this is one of those instances where you need to be careful about typing in according to its sound, e.g. “I should of (instead of have or ’ve) paid the bill” is a common mistake that you’ve no doubt come across.
- “Our representative will then affect a repair.”
Instead say: “Our representative will then effect a repair.”
Comment: ‘Effect’, meaning to carry out, is the correct word here; ‘affect’ means to have a bearing or influence on. If the sentence was “Our representative’s actions can affect a repair.” then it would be correct.
- “The visit comprises of a talk, handouts and a questions session.”
Instead say: “The visit comprises a talk, handouts and a questions session.”
Comment: ‘Comprises’ means ‘made up of’ in any case, so there is no need to insert an additional ‘of’. A similar mistake is using ‘revert back to’ instead of merely ‘revert to’ but this is something that autocorrect should pick up on.
- “This will ensure the stakeholders involvement.”
Instead say: “This will ensure the stakeholder’s involvement.”
Comment: The word “…stakeholder’s” here refers to one stakeholder. For more than one you would say “…the stakeholders’ involvement.” When denoting possession (or involvement, as in this example) involving more than one person or group, the general rule for plurals is this: for plurals already ending with an ‘s’, such as stakeholders, simply add an apostrophe – so it becomes “…stakeholders’ involvement.” For plurals that don’t end in an ‘s’ you add the apostrophe to the end of the plural word, and then an ‘s’, e.g. “children’s involvement”, “women’s involvement”, “people’s involvement”.
- “Me and the team would visit you every quarter.”
Instead say: “The team and I would visit you every quarter.”
Comment: Autocorrect sometimes changes the ‘Me’ to an ‘I’ in the above example, which is still wrong. To decide whether you say ‘Me’ or ‘I’, simply take the other party (“…and the team…”) out of the equation and the sentence should still make sense, i.e. “I would visit you every quarter.” not “Me would visit you every quarter.” The Queen famously, apparently, says “My husband and I” quite a bit, but it would be a mistake to think this is always correct, because it depends on the context. Thus: “My partner and I are pleased to meet you” is fine, whereas to answer the question “Who is attending?” with “My partner and I” is clearly wrong. Take the other party (your partner) out of the equation and ask yourself would you really answer “Who is attending?” with “I”?!
- “Proposals maybe checked for accuracy.”
Instead say: “Proposals may be checked for accuracy.”
Comment: Only use ‘maybe’ when you mean ‘perhaps’, e.g. “Will the tender be competitive enough?” … “Maybe.”
- “The customer has two choices: they can either pay for it, or return it.”
Instead say: “The customer has a choice: they can either pay for it, or return it.”
Comment: This is an extremely common mistake. A ‘choice’ means there is an alternative anyway! You can say ‘two options’ but not ‘two choices’.
- “John A. Jones Ltd now wishes to promote their core activities.”
Instead say: “John A. Jones Ltd now wishes to promote its core activities.”
Comment: Use ‘its’ not ‘theirs’ because an organised group of people such as a society or a company is effectively treated as a single entity – even though, for example, they may represent or employ many people. Examples are: (1) The council has prepared its annual statement; (2) The team is meeting at 4pm; (3) The committee is considering your application; (4) Swansea City F.C. has announced its quarterly profits.
More next time! ….
If you have any proofreading requirements, let me know below…