Booher's Book of Business Grammar
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Reader Reviews

"Dianna Booher nails it! Her insight into how we need to write and speak makes long-forgotten (or never learned) grammar lessons come to life. Speaking and writing correctly does much to enhance your ability to connect with others. The Memory Tips alone are worth the price of the book. This one's a gem."

- John Baldoni, author of Great Communication Secrets of Great Leaders and How Great Leaders Get Great Results

"Dianna Booher pulls off a deft and most impressive feat: In writing about tight, top-flight grammar, she shows those very same skills in abundance. This is a highly readable, expert volume. I'm going to read it again, as I expect to pick up some valuable pointers."

- Louis R. Carlozo, features staff writer, Chicago Tribune

"Bad grammar can be a stumbling block for individuals trying to advance their careers. Booher has collected 101 common mistakes that appear in business presentations, emails, and documents. Starting with some of the tricky irregular verb forms (lie v. lay) she moves on to modifiers, pronouns, and various comparatives (fewer and less), as well as punctuation and stylistic concerns. There are some fun facts, like the role of manual typesetting in creating the rules for which punctuation marks precede quotation marks; evidently, smaller punctuation marks fell out of the case unless they were held in place by the quotation marks. This book seems to be most useful as a desk reference for individuals, but it will also be of interest to public libraries with collections that support career development."

- Judy Solberg, , Seattle University Library for Library Journal

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Book Excerpts

Excerpt From Chapter 2 of Booher's Rules of Business Grammar
She Went Missing
Sucking the Life Out of Strong Verbs

The other extreme from creating new verbs on a whim involves smothering strong verbs with weaker ones.

Almost every day, TV broadcasters make announcements like this: "Sidney Lancaster went missing yesterday after leaving work at 6:00 in his red Toyota." Went missing? Is this like gone fishing or gone to the movies? Whatever happened to "Sidney is missing"? We don’t know that he went anywhere. In fact, he may have been dragged kicking and screaming by an ax murderer.

How many times a week do reporters tell you to "take a listen"? Is this like walking into a department store and taking a number?

Okay, okay, I'll lay off reporters and broadcasters. These phrases from the emails of your colleagues may sound familiar as well. The following are not errors; they just weaken your writing.

  • Call and make a reservation. (Call and reserve?)
  • Run a test to see if . . . (Test to see if?)
  • Carry out experiments to . . . (Experiment?)
  • Perform an analysis of . . . (Analyze?)
  • Provide for the elimination of . . . (Eliminate?)
  • They experienced a reduction in . . . (They reduced?)
  • Make a visual examination of . . . (Investigate? Examine? See? Inspect?)

Strong verbs deserve a life of their own. Why sap their strength by turning them into nouns?

Memory Tip

The next time you hear, "She went missing," think voluntarily? AWOL? Hear that phrase as a reminder for strong verbs of your own.

Excerpt From Chapter 22 of Booher's Rules of Business Grammar
Just Between You and I
The Case for Objective Pronouns

As the owner of a communication training company, I've literally been reading other people's mail for 27 years. By far, the most frequently misused pronoun is the one in a sentence like this:

Incorrect:

Just between you and I, we all know who runs this place.

Let's continue the understudy analogy further: The understudy pronoun I is playing the wrong role here. Hearing a pronoun error like this is equivalent to watching a play and having a 70-year-old male run on stage to play the part of the teenage girl.

Here are the actors that can stand in for subjects: I, you, he, she, it, we, they, who, and whoever.

These are the actors that can stand in for objects (primarily objects of prepositions and direct and indirect objects): me, you, him, her, it, us, them, whom, and whomever.

You'll notice that you and it can play either role—subjects or objects. They make the big bucks. Also, we have a whole slew of indefinite pronouns that can play both roles: anyone, everybody, none, some, all, many, one, them, these, those, this, that, what, any, each, both, nobody, few, others, several, and anyone. For the most part, these don't cause problems. It’s the actors that play only one role that create the headaches.

Back to "Just between you and I, we all know who runs this place": the I is standing in for an object of the preposition between, but the pronoun I can accept only "subject" roles. So the proper noun in this sentence is me. (For some reason, people seem to think that I sounds more sophisticated than me.)

Correct:

Just between you and me, we all know who runs this place.

Incorrect:

Please call Ebeneezer and I with the test results. (object of the verb—me has to be the stand-in here)

He mailed multiple invoices to Percival, three clients, and I. (object of the preposition—me has to be the stand-in here)

Leave the other people out of a sentence and let your ear do the work. The correct pronoun will become obvious. You would never say, "Please call I with the test results" or "He mailed multiple invoices to I."

Correct:

Please call me with the test results.

He mailed multiple invoices to me.

Memory Tip

Omit the other people in the sentence, and trust your ear to select the right objective pronoun.

Excerpt From Chapter 40 of Booher's Rules of Business Grammar
This Checkout—20 Items or Less
Less Versus Fewer

No matter which grocery checkout aisle is under discussion, the people in line don’t have 20 items or less. That’s not because you picked the wrong lane again. It’s just a point of grammar. If you can count the items, the people have fewer or more, not less. If the nature of any item makes it impossible to count, refer to it with the words less and more.

Example:

I have less time than I used to, less inclination to do what I don’t want to do, and less willpower to put up with poor customer service when traveling. But I get fewer opportunities than ever to kick back and take long vacations. In fact, fewer workers in all industries take their full vacations these days because of heavy workloads. Maybe if fewer employers were willing to give up personal time to check their BlackBerries, iPhones, or Treos hourly to stay in touch with the office, then there would be less stress and more peace around the place. Then when people returned to work, fewer hours would be wasted on nonproductive activities.

Reverse this logic to remember it: That is, you’d never say, “I have fewer help today than I’m going to need to finish my project.” “Pongo has fewer experience in management than he needs to be considered for this promotion.” “You have given fewer attention to these skills than is required to do a good job.”

So if you don’t use fewer with singular words like help, experience, or attention, neither do you use less with plural words like employees, hours, or cars.

Memory Tip

If you can count it, use fewer. If not, use less.

Excerpt From Chapter 87 of Booher's Rules of Business Grammar
Doing the Splits
Split Infinitives

An infinitive is the technical term for to plus a verb (an action word—what something does, has, or is). Examples: to go, to eat, to report, to murder, to review, to seize, to manage, to be, to enjoy.

Typically, it's taboo to tamper with these tidbits by putting words between the to and the action word if you can avoid it. Of course, if you have a good reason, such as to add emphasis, then go ahead and split the to from the verb. We'll let you be the judge of what you write—but English teachers everywhere are watching.

To control this situation really, a supervisor must be at the plant site. (awkward)

Really to control this situation, a supervisor must be at the plant site. (better)

To really control this situation, a supervisor must be at the plant site. (adds emphasis)

That approach will help you to effectively give employee feedback. (unnecessary split—a no-no)

That approach will help you to give employee feedback effectively. (better)

Percival told me to periodically delay the project until our suppliers can catch up with shipments. (unnecessary split—a no-no)

Percival told me to delay the project periodically until our suppliers can catch up with shipments. (better)

When someone angrily yells, "Go to —," you probably know the place they have in mind. But with infinitives, readers don't necessarily know what's to follow. Hence, the suspense. Generally, you should finish the action before you let other words interrupt.

Memory Tip

As surely as two plus two equals four, to plus a verb equals one unit of thought. Don't split it.

Booher's Book of Business Grammar: 101 Fast and Easy Ways to Correct the Most Common Errors by Dianna Booher

About the Author - Dianna Booher, CSP, CPAE

Download Dianna Booher's Bio

 

Dianna Booher talks about Booher's Rules of Business Grammar (Press the button above to watch)

"Dianna Booher has changed the way corporate America communicates."

- Dr. Mary Kay Kickels, Vice President of Corporate Training, Encyclopedia Britannica Educational Corporation

Dianna Booher helps organizations improve productivity through effective communication: oral, written, interpersonal, and organizational.

Prolific Author

As author of more than 40 books, Dianna has published with Simon & Schuster/Pocket Books, Warner, McGraw-Hill, and Random House. Her latest books include The Voice of Authority: 10 Communication Strategies Every Leader Needs to Know, Speak with Confidence!: Powerful Presentations That Inform, Inspire, and Persuade; E-WRITING: 21st-Century Tools for Effective Communication, Communicate with Confidence!, From Contact to Contract, and Get a Life Without Sacrificing Your Career. Several have been major book club selections. Her work has been published in more than 30 foreign editions.

Recognized Communication Expert

Dianna has been interviewed by Good Morning America, The Wall Street Journal, CNN, Fox, CNBC, USA Today, National Public Radio, Dr. Laura Radio Show, The New York Times, Forbes.com, Washington Post, New York Newsday, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Bloomberg, Boardroom Reports, Investor's Business Daily, Working Woman, Industry Week, McCall's, Cosmopolitan, Success, Entrepreneur, among other national radio, TV, and newspapers. Executive Excellence Publishing named her as one of the "Top 100 Thought Leaders" and one of the "Top 100 Minds on Personal Development." She holds a master's degree in English from the University of Houston.

Consultant and CEO

Dianna first began to lead organizations to increase their productivity through effective communication in 1980 as founder of Booher Consultants. Since then, Booher trainers have taken Dianna's communication principles and techniques to hundreds of organizations on six continents.

Programs offered by her firm include business and technical writing, proposal writing, presentation skills, customer service communication, interpersonal skills, resolving conflict, effective meetings, listening, and personal productivity.

Booher Consultants has received vendor-of-the-year awards from clients such as IBM and Frito-Lay for Booher's overall impact on the organization.

Dynamic Keynoter

Dianna's clients most often describe her and her programs this way:

"So many practical ideas I can use immediately"... "Inspiring—you make me want to go out and do it now!"... "High energy!"

Dianna delivers very focused programs addressing clients' specific communication issues as well as programs on personal growth topics.

Dianna has received the highest awards in the professional speaking industry, including induction into the CPAE Speaker Hall of Fame®. She is a member of the prestigious, invitation-only Speakers Roundtable. Additionally, Successful Meetings magazine named Dianna on its list of 21 Top Speakers for the 21st Century. To learn more about Dianna's keynote services, visit www.DiannaBooher.com.

Clients

Her clients include IBM, MCI, Hyatt Corporation, Nokia, Verizon, Hewlett-Packard, Texas Instruments, Siemens, Fujitsu, American Airlines, Boeing, Sabre, ExxonMobil, Occidental Petroleum, Merrill Lynch, Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Smith Barney, Shell Oil, Chevron, Principal Financial Group, Northwestern Mutual, Deloitte & Touche, Federal Reserve Banks, JCPenney, Wal-Mart, Hallmark, PepsiCo, Frito-Lay, M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, GlaxoSmithKline, Bristol Myers Squibb, Alcatel-Lucent, BP, Air National Guard, Lockheed Martin, Bell Helicopter, Air Liquide, U.S. Senate, U.S. Army, and NASA, among many others.