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How to avoid embarrassing grammatical mistakes in estate agency

Common grammatical mistakes

Common grammatical mistakes

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I'm amazed by the poor use of grammar in estate agency. I could almost forgive a greengrocer for their amusing but ignorant apostrophes when selling apple's and pear's, but not professional sales and lettings agents! 

Poor grammar can suggest an inadequate grasp of language, a lack of respect for the reader or a disregard for detail. It could even determine whether or not a prospective client would use you.

Here's my overview of the most common mistakes and how to avoid them:

  • “We’d like to invite yourself to the office to discuss the offer.” This unnecessary use of the reflexive pronoun “yourself” causes me great pain. I often hear this used by shop assistants trying to make themselves sound elegant. They always fail; it sounds pretentious and is plainly wrong – and I’ll bet they don’t use that construction with their friends and family at home! How can “we” invite “yourself”, when only you can do something to or for yourself?

  • “The team wish you good luck in your new home.” Every time I see an example of this classic verb-noun disagreement I have to re-read the sentence, such is the affront to fluidity. Even the BBC get it wrong (as I did just then) with eg. “the army are preparing to…”, “the government have announced plans for….” It’s one team, one BBC, one army, one government, so it’s the team wishes, the BBC gets, the army is, the government has.”

  • “I bought a green woman’s coat for my wife.” Unless my wife is actually green, this misplaced modifier can give the wrong impression.

  • “When the agent found a tenant for John’s house, he was so relieved.” Who was relieved here; the agent, the tenant or John? Do try to avoid such confusion.

  • “Emma was delighted that her offer had been excepted” Such incorrect choice of words really does affect me, except after a few drinks! Offer ACCEPTED!

  • Its versus It’s: “It’s” is ALWAYS an abbreviation of “it is” and is, oddly, never possessive (unlike Estate Agent's commission).

  • Speaking of apostrophes: Many people struggle with this. An apostrophe has two uses - either as an abbreviation for a missing letter/s eg cut’n’paste, or to signify possession, depending on singular or plural, eg “the girl's house” (one girl) or "the girls' house" (the house in which several girls live).

  • There -v- Their versus They’re: Come on guys - there should never be any confusion over their meaning, but watch out for automatic spell checkers – they’re the worst offenders!

  • Fewer -v- Less: “I earned less commission last year, because there were fewer transactions." If you can count them it’s fewer, but for an uncountable quantity such as rain, sugar, money (as opposed to coins), it’s less.

  • i.e. versus eg: These are frequently confused but easily sorted. “IE” is the abbreviation of the Latin phrase “id est”, meaning “that is”. Eg. “the snowman was history, ie he melted!” The use of “eg” is to announce that an egxample follows. Incidentally, strictly speaking, an abbreviation should be followed by a full stop, eg. like this. However this appears to be falling out of use, especially with common abbreviations such as eg and ie as a full stop can also signify the end of a sentence. I'd say use whichever works best for the flow of words.

  • Could of, should of: These could have, or ideally should have, been written like this. However, as "could have", (especially in its contracted form could’ve) sounds similar to "could of", some people write it this way too, which is grammatically incorrect and looks silly.

Although English is continually evolving, some of the above errors can actually change the meaning of words and phrases which, surely, is not the intention. 

Our job is to clearly articulate what we are trying to say. (And I make no apology for starting a sentence with “and” and splitting an infinitive in the previous sentence!)

Just because others fall into the above traps, may I strongly suggest you avoid doing the same. Always get a colleague to proof read and challenge your material before it is published – your reputation is at stake! 

Why not make sure you get it right, every time, by letting me provide you with relevant, meaningful and well-written content for your blogs, newsletters, or social media.


Or see HERE for details of my pack of over 100 estate agency template letters and persuasive prospecting material.

If you'd like to discuss - you know who to call!

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