The Seven Lethal Grammatic Sins in the Office


Grammar pet peeves are just few of the many things that can really fuel my muse. This explains why I occasionally make a blog post about them.

The first time I blogged about grammar pet peeves was when I was in the academic world. That blog post is titled “Masteral and Other Filipino Concoctions“, which talked away some of the most commonly used grammar bugbears that I find most grinding to the ears and eyes. Leaving the four corners of the university for the time being to work as an executive assistant in one of the reputable companies—whose lifeblood is in the form of emails—in the Middle East, gave me the chance to discover another interesting batch of grammar pet peeves. Needless to say my job entails receiving an array of bearable and unbearable grammar pet peeves, which I want to call lethal grammatic sins this time.

For more than three years of working “here”, I was able to sieve the seven most lethal grammatic sins in the office (from a gazillion of emails in my box). Complete with explanations and screenshots, here they are in no particular order:

•the usage of with regards to

For years, I was unaware that the subject idiom is beyond question under the balls of nonstandard usage until I attended a three-day workshop about Assertive Communication three years ago. In one of the topics, the idiom was discussed. According to the lecturer, Standard American English considers with regards to as another bastard of solecism. The standard usage is with regard to, without the s at the end of the word regard. For example, “With regard to your email below, are they based in the Head Office?”

Anyway, if you are one of those who cannot bear the thought of losing the precious –s sound in the word regard, do not fret because reliable dictionaries have as regards to, which bears the same meaning, for you to use.

•the usage of request preceded by for when used as a verb 

Yes, it is grammatically correct to use the phrase request for if the word request functions as a noun as in this example: “I have submitted a request for three female secretaries to my line manager today.”  The exception is, when request is used as a verb. The rule dictates that request should never be followed by the preposition for when it is used that way because of its meaning at that form: to express a desire for or to ask for. So to correct the sentence in the picture, for should be omitted as in, “Sonyboy Fugaban of Sales Division requested ABC envelopes.”

To get more familiar with the proper usages of request as a verb and a noun, please refer to the following examples:

 request as a verb

  1. May we request your comments on the above subject?
  2. He requested permission to speak.
  3. My line manager did not request any of these stuff.

request as a noun

  1. There have been many requests for Fugaban’s Collection of Commonly Misused/Redundant Idioms, Verb Phrases, and Words.
  2. Our request for the transfer of one of our employees has already been taken care of.
  3. Our division’s most important policy regarding requests for stationery is that requesters must fill out the Stationery Log Sheet.

•the usage of in behalf of to imply as representative of someone

Leading dictionaries and Grammar Nazis concur that on behalf of is the correct idiom to use if what we mean to say falls under any of the following: as a representative of, as an agent of, or on the part of. For example, “On behalf of Mr. S, I would like to inform you that the visas are to be sent today.”

On the other hand, in behalf of means for the benefit or favor of someone as in, “We raised money in behalf of the earthquake victims.”

•the usage of return back

It has been said and written countless times but the fact remains: return back is redundant. The word return is enough when we mean sending something or someone back or going back to a former place, position or state. For example, “Please proceed with the flight before 1:00 p.m. and the same goes for the return as in the email below.”

•the usage of stationeries as the plural form of stationery

First of all, stationeries is a nonexistent word. Secondly, stationery is a collective noun. Some collective nouns such as stationery and money do not require the –ies rule in spelling to form their respective plural concepts. And lastly, reliable dictionaries attest that stationery refers to office supplies such as packets of bond paper, pens, ink, envelopes, and the like.

•the usage of attached as a noun

It should be noted that the sentence in the photo is as common as these sentences in the office:

  1. Please see attached for your reference.
  2. As requested, please see attached.

The rule says the past participle of a regular verb (i.e., ending in ed), can only function as either the past tense or as the adjective of a particular regular verb. Be that as it may, attached–in this case–can not and can NEVER function as a noun; it can ONLY describe a noun (e.g., bruised face, mangled pair of sunglasses, and attached file). Therefore, the correct word for the sentence in the photo is attachment as in, “Could you please check the attachment and forward the TRA…”

Grammarians, particularly at dailywritingtips.com, say that anything attached to an email is called attachment (pl. attachments).

the usage of below as an attributive word

As can be gleaned from photo, the usage of below attributively is like a staple food for the eyes. In any case, below cannot be used as an attributive word or adjective. In other words, it cannot be used before a noun to qualify it. The sentences in the photo all fell into the electric chair.

On a side note, below can function as an adverb as in, “Mr. S is asking for the approval of the request below.” Also, as a preposition (e.g., below the knee).

At this point, I am planning to circulate a memo containing these lethal grammar sins with explanations and screenshots in the office.  That is, of course, a serious joke. Pun really intended.

I pride myself on my knowledge of the English language considering that it is not my native tongue but I will not go beyond blogging about lethal grammar sins. Like I said before, I am well aware that I still need to do a lot of digging in the English language.

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40 thoughts on “The Seven Lethal Grammatic Sins in the Office

    • Making someone laugh is a difficult task, so I’m giving a kudos to myself. See, I did my best to inject a little humor in this post. I couldn’t help thinking that I succeeded then. Yehey!

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    • “Grammar is relevant for all companies. Yes, language is constantly changing, but that doesn’t make grammar unimportant. Good grammar is credibility, especially on the internet. In blog posts, on Facebook statuses, in e-mails, and on company websites, your words are all you have. They are a projection of you in your physical absence. And, for better or worse, people judge you if you can’t tell the difference between their, there, and they’re” Kyle Wiens’ I Won’t Hire People Who Use Poor Grammar. 🙂

      Like

  1. I am with you on that, Russel. Nevertheless, I believe that communicating with clarity is absolute. It still pays to be grammatically attentive to what you write and say at the end of the day.

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  2. next on your list should be, the proper use of punctuations. when to use the apostrophe and when not to. i also noticed in some of the textbooks being used recently, it used the word “equipments” and “furnitures”. and most of the time many get confused when to use the tenses, like they always seem to add “ed” even in present tense. gone are the days when you can read a decent write up or post. almost everyday a new word is coined and its making the kids get more confused than ever.

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    • Mac, I’m going to cook something like what you suggested soon. Blog posts like this are actually for my students. That is why they are always tagged when I post them on FB.

      When I was still in the academe, I always see to it that my students learn something “not common” from me. Nothing makes me feel fulfilled than hearing students say things like, “Sir, we never knew that masteral is not a word until we met you.” or “Sir, thank you so much for ‘butchering’ our essays. ”

      On the other hand, nothing hurts me more than hearing students say things like, “Sir, according to other instructors, English matters such as correcting essays is not included in their job descriptions.”

      I believe that correcting students’ grammar mistakes, especially the “fatal ones”, can be done by any teacher. Hence, I am–still–digging the English language.

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      • the english language is such a challenge to us because there is this culture among the youth these days that if you speak in CORRECT grammar and pronunciation you are automatically tagged as “MAYABANG”, “MAARTE”, “SHOW-OFF” and the like. which to me i find really stupid.

        speaking of “stupid” (actually, i’m not really speaking but more of writing- hahaha!), would you believe that i used to NOT be good in the language? had it not been for my friend from high school who introduced me to the work of j.r.r. tolkien “the book of the duncow” (which by the way is one of my dream, i.e., to have my own copy because i only borrowed the book from her). there were so many words i didn’t know or understand, “basilisks”, but the way he used the words to describe them, i could imagine how they looked like. it encouraged me to befriend the dictionary.

        anyway, i am blabbing so, in a nutshell, culture has a lot to do with the current situation of our students when it comes to the english language whether verbal or written.

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      • Including me! I learned it from you sir. It’s funny because some students here in DLSU mostly engineering still believe that the word “Masteral” exists.

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  3. Hahaha. 🙂 I have read your first batch of “invented words” and I can’t help but chuckle with this post. I am now teaching part-time in a small private college and I think that I should discuss this topic in class. Anyway, to be honest about it, it’s hard to teach students about the technicalities of English usage especially if their foundation on the language is poor. I handle graduating students and the problem persists.

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  4. Bro, kamusta? Just read your Summertime post at San Fabian. Fun, fun, fun! It is always happy time with family and friends at the beach or any Nature place with great food. You always create the most amazing images with inspiring words to go with them. God bless to you and your family. As for grammar…you are my guru on this. I was more like into Art stuff when I was younger. Great post!

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  8. I just realized that the title seemed off. Should it have been entitled THE SEVEN LETHAL GRAMMATICAL SINS WHEN COMPOSING EMAIL CORRESPONDENCES

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    • Hi, Mac. The usage of grammar as attributive noun (i.e., grammar errors) falls under standard usage according to absolutewrite.com. After reading the thread of the long debate regarding grammatical vs. grammar as premodifiers though, I decided to use grammatic (of or pertaining to grammar). That way we can avoid
      suggesting in the phrase “grammatical error” because what is grammatical cannot be a mistake.

      The bottomline is, both usages are fine. In fact, people nowadays tend to prefer “grammar errors” because that results in a paralel structure. The confusion comes from the terminology of traditional grammar, which would simply call a noun that describes another noun an adjective. Besides, we would always say “grammar class” or “grammar book” not “grammatical class” or “grammatical book”.

      Be that as it may, your suggestions more so comments are always appreciated.

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  9. “The first time I blogged about grammar pet peeves was when I am still in the academe.”

    I think the proper construction would use the word “is” instead of “was”.

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    • Hi, Tristan.

      My sincere apologies for getting back to you this late. The reason why I used “was” instead of “is” is because the phrase “The first time” needs to be followed by a relative clause that will substantiate why it is the first of the contextually relevant instances/times. Therefore, “was” is the correct linking verb.

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  10. I enjoyed reading this and I remembered my College English Teacher she is a Grammar Nazis.
    I’m guilty with some of your examples and its funny that I continue to use it out of habit and because it’s been the trend here at my workplace.

    I just hope that I can cut the cycle and be able to compose grammatically correct emails in the future. However, being in a Korean Company english words is so limited.

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