11 Grammar Exercises for Business English

Grace Cuddy
Post by Grace Cuddy
Originally published August 24, 2022, updated August 24, 2022
11 Grammar Exercises for Business English

Correct, clean grammar in the English language is crucial for strong business writing. Major grammatical errors can confuse your readers and cause misunderstandings such as in a professional business email. Even minor mistakes chip away at the professionalism of your writing and overall business communication. 

Although there are lots of great tools that can help you catch these errors (we especially recommend Grammarly), the best tool to prevent mistakes is knowledge. In this article, we’ve created a grammar and usage quiz that tests your knowledge of many common errors, some basic, and some more complex. 

Let us know in the comments how it goes!

NOTE: The answer key and explanations are below, but no cheating! We recommend you mark your answers on a piece of paper before scrolling down to the answer key.

GRAMMAR EXERCISES

Please review these statements. Indicate if the sentence's grammar is correct or incorrect. If you believe the sentence is incorrect, make the correction(s).

  1. A selection of 3 appetizers are available at the dinner.

  2. Each 4-H member will have a chance to show their animal at the Fair.

  3. All charitable contributions made by October 1 will be matched by John and myself.

  4. We expect three things from our staff: Competence, loyalty and enthusiasm.

  5. Jose, our business leader, brought alot of strong ideas to the brainstorming session.

  6. For you and I to make that decision, we'd need additional information.

  7. I used to love spicy food, however, my doctor said it’s bad for my heartburn.

  8. I am looking forward to our all inclusive vacation. All the food will be gluten-free!

  9. For example, sautéing the vegetables in olive oil first.

  10. Looking forward to it!

  11. I can’t wait to see you, it’s been forever since the last time we had dinner. 

Related: English Grammar 101 for Business Writing

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ANSWER KEY

1. A selection of 3 entrees are available at the dinner. (Subject-verb agreement)

Correct alternative(s):

a. A selection of three entrees is available at the dinner.

b. A selection of three entrees will be (was, should be, etc.) available at the dinner. 

c. Three entrees are available at the dinner.

Explanation: There are two errors here: (1) The subject ("selection") is singular, and requires a singular verb. If the subject is plural (c.) the verb should be plural. (2) numbers lower than 11 should be spelled out. If the sentence starts with any number, it should be spelled out and capitalized.

Related: 17 Proofreading Techniques for Business Communication

 

2. Each 4-H member will have a chance to show his or her animal at the Fair. (Capitalization error + evolving grammar topic, formerly a subject-verb agreement error)

Correct alternative(s):

a. Each 4-H member will have a chance to show their animal at the fair.

b. Each 4-H member will have a chance to show his or her animal at the fair. (A bit outdated.)

Explanation: “Fair” is not a proper noun so shouldn’t be capitalized. Although “each” is singular and “their” is plural, style guides have shifted to approve of “their” as a gender-neutral, singular pronoun. It is more inclusive and less clunky. 

 

3. All charitable contributions made by October 1 will be matched by John and myself. (Me, myself, I)

Correct alternative(s): 

a. All charitable contributions made by October 1 will be matched by John and me. 

b. John and I will match all charitable contributions made by October 1. (more direct construction)

Explanation: When you have a doubt about me/myself/I usage, isolate the variables. Clearly, “... will be matched by myself” doesn’t sound right. "Myself" is very over-used. Use "myself" when you mean you will do something yourself, and not delegate it, or when you have a sentence like, "I see myself as ..."

Related: Me, Myself, and I - Business Grammar Rules Explained

 

4. We expect three things from our staff: Competence, loyalty and enthusiasm. (Capitalization after a colon and serial comma)

Correct alternative:

We expect three things from our staff: competence, loyalty, and enthusiasm.

Explanation: Two issues here: (1) Following a colon, only capitalize the first word if what follows is a complete sentence. If what follows the colon is not a sentence, but a series of things (as in this example), the first word should be lowercase, provided it is not a proper noun.

You're going to ask, so let's discuss that comma after "loyalty" and before "and." This is called a serial or Oxford comma, and it’s a style issue — not one of correctness. It has probably caused more arguments than any other point of punctuation in history. Using the serial comma is consistent with formal, academic, and business writing styles; the absence of that serial comma is consistent with journalism and informal style. Take your choice, but be consistent. We recommend using a serial comma.

Related: Capitalization Rules for Professional Business Writing

 

5. Jose, our business leader, brought alot of strong ideas to the brainstorming session. (Spelling)

Correct alternative:

Jose, our business leader, brought a lot of strong ideas to the brainstorming session.

Explanation: "Alot" may be runner-up for the most frequently misspelled word. "A lot" is two words.

 

6. For you and I to make that decision, we'd need additional information. (Me, myself, I)

Correct alternative: 

For you and me to make that decision, we'd need additional information.

Explanation: "For" is a preposition, therefore, the objective case "me" should be used. Now that we have the technical explanation out of the way, just test the sentence the same way you did for #3. You would not say "For I to make that decision ..."

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7. I used to love spicy food, however, my doctor said it’s bad for my heartburn. (Run-on sentence)

Correct alternative(s):

a. I used to love spicy food. However, my doctor said it’s bad for my heartburn.

b. I used to love spicy food; however, my doctor said it’s bad for my heartburn. 

Explanation: This is a run-on sentence. This example is a type of run-on called a comma splice. Run-ons occur when two complete sentences are squashed together without appropriate conjunction to connect them or correct the ending punctuation of the first sentence.

Related: Avoid Run-On Sentences in Your Business Writing

 

8. I am looking forward to our all inclusive vacation. All the food will be gluten-free! (Hyphen usage)

Correct alternative:

I am looking forward to our all-inclusive vacation. All the food will be gluten free.

Explanation: There are two hyphen usage errors in this example. When two words work together to modify a noun and appear before that noun, you must use a hyphen. This is called a compound modifier. When those same words come after the noun, no hyphen is needed.

Related: How to Use Hyphens Correctly in Business Grammar

 

9. For example, sautéing the vegetables in olive oil first. (Sentence fragment)

Correct alternative:

For example, sautéing the vegetables in olive oil first creates a richer flavor.

Explanation: All complete sentences must contain three elements: a subject, a verb, and a complete thought. Without mentioning what happens to the vegetables after being sautéed in olive oil, the reader is left hanging so the thought is not complete.

 

10. Looking forward to it! (Sentence fragment)

Correct alternative(s):

a. I’m looking forward to it!

b. (We’re/She’s/He’s/They’re) looking forward to it!

Explanation: Even though this is a common construction, it’s incorrect! It’s a sentence fragment because it’s missing a subject (“I”). All complete sentences must contain a subject, a verb, and a complete thought.

 

11. I can’t wait to see you, it’s been forever since the last time we had dinner. (Run-on sentence). 

Correct alternative(s):

a. I can’t wait to see you. It’s been forever since the last time we had dinner.

b. I can’t wait to see you; it’s been forever since the last time we had dinner.

Explanation: Again, this is a run-on sentence because there are two complete sentences fused together by a comma. Either a period or a semicolon would be correct to separate the two sentences, but the period will always create two less complex sentences instead of one more complex sentence.

Related: Business Grammar: Run-Ons, Fused Sentences, and Comma Splice Errors
 

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Grace Cuddy
Post by Grace Cuddy
Originally published August 24, 2022, updated August 24, 2022
Grace supports Instructional Solutions' online courses and also works with individuals and groups in the U.S. and across Europe as a business writing coach. She is bilingual in English and Spanish and has traveled extensively, providing a keen sensitivity to global writing. She has a strong background in corporate communication and management and successfully developed cross-functional writing and communication processes in a large corporate team so she understands both business and writing. She is also a successful blogger. She holds a B.A. in International Business and Communication from Elon University, has completed graduate studies in writing and communication at Universidad Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona, and completed an intensive professional ESL Education Certification Program with Canterbury Consulting. She enjoys yoga, travel, and dance. She splits her time between New York City and Madrid.

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