Grammatical stuff-ups……they happen to us all

by EA , updated on August 24, 2013

This is my first Interview IQ blog and I’m taking the bold step of making a confession about grammar.

As a self-appointed grammar queenegg-on-face it irks me to no end when I see grammatical stuff-ups. You know the ones which make you roll your eyes and let out a huff. In my former life as a communications professional I’ve not had any hesitation ‘red penning’ people’s work when required.

That is why this confession is so shocking!

I published a grammatical error online. Worst of all it was on behalf of a friend. I was helping her with her LinkedIn profile. My error was at the top of my friend’s profile (practically flashing in neon lights) with nowhere to hide.

Before I get into the gnarly details of my grammatical woes, it got me thinking that most of us have at some point in our lives made grammatical stuff-ups when it matters most.

Think about that dream job you’ve applied for only to find you’ve written ‘there’ instead of ‘their’, or ‘effect’ instead of ‘affect’. Perhaps you’ve spelt the company name wrong (yes I’ve done this also – sorry Kellogg’s). Rest assured most of us have at some point been there.

My stuff up was a pretty creative one.

I wrote that my friend had ‘flare’ instead of ‘flair’.

Shamefully I’d Googled the correct spelling before publishing the profile. Misguided perhaps, but I got it wrong. Some might think I was creatively using the word flare to signify that my friend was a bright flame. I love this because it’s true and it cleverly covers up my mistake.

Unfortunately I was not being creative or poetic, I simply got it wrong.

I have since been forgiven and with my reputation intact I have moved on.

So what are some of the common mistakes and how can we avoid them?

Here’s a handy list.

  • You’re vs. Your – You’re = “You are welcome”. Your = “Thank you for your time”
  • Their vs. They’re vs. There – Their = “Their abilities were outstanding”. They’re = “They are continually improving”. There = “There were three members of the team”
  • Effect vs. Affect – Effect = (a result or to bring about) “The team had a profound effect on productivity”. Affect = (to influence or act on) “The experience affected my ability to perform”
  • It’s vs. Its – It’s = “It is easy to see why we achieved so much”. Its = “The team had its own direction”
  • That vs. Who – That = (referring to objects) “I’ve identified several offices that have the most space”. Who = (referring to people)“Employees who are affected can phone us”

To avoid these common mistakes:

– always read over your work and if it sounds wrong it probably is
– get someone else to proofread your work
– run a spelling and grammar check
– run a search online for anything you are not sure about
– be consistent, for example, if you’re writing in the first person stick to it
– if you’re not sure, think of a different way to express yourself

Ok, so  now I’ve fessed up.

I’d like to feel better about myself – please tell me you’re – sorry, your mistakes 🙂

Oh, and just by the way – my friend’s creative flare shone more brightly than the mistake on her profile.

She was headhunted for a role in Dubai!


After 10 years in corporate government roles Emma is now consulting to Interview IQ and helping people show their true potential through professional resumes, LinkedIn profiles and job applications. With a background in strategic business communications, Emma understands how to draw out the best in people, highlight what’s important and make an impact where it matters.

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