Business Writing: Commonly Misused Words

by Nicole Dean

We use writing every day in business. Does your writing make you look more professional or less professional?

There are some words that are commonly used interchangeably, when in fact they have different meanings. Here are a few of the words that are frequently used incorrectly.

You're and Your

The word "you're" is a contraction for "you are". Correct: You're a good friend. (you are)

The word "your" is used to imply possession or ownership. Correct: Is this yours? (possession) Correct: I like your new car.

Sale and Sell

The word "sale" and "sell" are not interchangeable. Sell is a verb, used to show what the noun (person, place, or thing) in the sentence is doing. "I am going to sell this."

Sale is most commonly used as a noun, such as in the sentence "There is a big sale at the mall."

Correct use of both words: "I am going to sell this shirt at a garage sale."

Too and Two

The word "two" is the number 2.

Correct: There are two flowers in that vase.

The word "too" usually means "also". Correct: I would like to swim, too. (I would like to swim, also.)

Prefixes Such As "Un", "In", and "Non"

Each word has only one correct prefix.

Correct: Unpleasant. Incorrect: Impleasant, nonpleasant.

Correct: Irreversible. Incorrect: Inreversible, nonreversible, unreversible.

A Lot and Alot:

The words "a lot" are correct. "Alot" is incorrect and there is never an occasion in which it should be used.

Good and Well

Good is an adjective. Adjectives are used to describe nouns. Correct: You are a good dog.

Well is an adverb. An adverb is used to describe a verb. Correct: You are behaving well.

You wouldn't wear a dirty shirt to a business meeting, so don't let your writing make you look bad, either.

About the Author

Nicole Dean is the owner of . She uses Article Marketing to get free advertising on websites and in newsletters worldwide. You can use articles to get free traffic, too. Visit to find out how.

more articles ...