English Grammar for Business

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Subject-Verb Agreement & Tenses in Emails

The Power of Words in Professional Emails

In the realm of business, email stands as a pivotal medium of communication, seamlessly bridging geographical and hierarchical gaps. This digital correspondence not only facilitates swift exchanges but also embodies the professional image of the sender and, by extension, their organization. The essence of Business English in emails, therefore, transcends mere communication, acting as a marker of professionalism and clarity. In this light, mastering the nuances of grammatical accuracy—particularly subject-verb agreement and the correct application of tenses—becomes paramount.


Clarity in business emails ensures that the message is comprehensible, reducing the likelihood of misinterpretations and the consequent need for clarifying follow-ups. It contributes to the efficiency of business operations, where actions and decisions often hinge on the information conveyed via email. Professionalism, reflected through well-structured and grammatically sound emails, reinforces the sender’s credibility and the seriousness with which they approach their work. It sets the tone for the engagement, influencing how recipients perceive and respond to the message.


Subject-verb agreement, the syntactical rule requiring the verb to match its subject in number and person, stands as a cornerstone of clear expression. Misalignments here can lead to confusion, obscuring the intended message. Meanwhile, the adept use of tenses provides temporal clarity, crucial for setting expectations, scheduling, and recounting events or actions accurately. Together, these grammatical aspects ensure that emails are not only understood as intended but also reflect a level of professionalism that aligns with business standards.


This discussion aims to unravel the complexities of subject-verb agreement and tense application in business emails. By offering insights into common pitfalls and practical tips for navigating these grammatical terrains, we strive to enhance your email writing skills, ensuring your messages are both clear and professional.

Understanding Subject-Verb Agreement

Subject-verb agreement forms the bedrock of English grammar, dictating that the verb must match its subject in number and person. In essence, if the subject is singular, the verb used must also be singular. Likewise with plural, if the subject is plural, the verb must reflect that plurality. This rule is vital for constructing clear and grammatically correct sentences, serving as a fundamental principle that underpins the coherence of written communication.

Importance in Business Communication

In the domain of business communication, where precision and clarity are paramount, subject-verb agreement assumes a critical role. A single grammatical slip can not only muddy the intended message but also inadvertently cast doubts on the writer’s attention to detail and competence. Such errors, albeit minor in isolation, can cumulatively undermine the professional image of an individual or organization. Therefore, mastering subject-verb agreement is not merely about adhering to grammatical norms but about ensuring that business correspondences convey the intended message with clarity and authority.

Common Mistakes and Examples

  • Mistaking the Main Subject: One of the most common errors is misidentifying the main subject of a sentence, especially in sentences with complex structures or intervening clauses. 


    • Incorrect: “The team of developers work on various projects.”
    • Correct: “The team of developers works on various projects.”


In the incorrect example, the verb “work” mistakenly aligns with “developers” rather than with the true subject “team,” which is singular.


  • Collective Nouns Confusion: Collective nouns (e.g., team, committee, staff) refer to a group but are often treated singularly, leading to confusion.


    • Incorrect: “The staff are attending the meeting today.”
    • Correct: “The staff is attending the meeting today.”


Although “staff” represents multiple individuals, it is considered a singular entity in this context.


  • Indefinite Pronouns: Pronouns such as everyone, someone, each, neither, etc., always take a singular verb, a rule frequently overlooked.


    • Incorrect:Everyone have finished their tasks.”
    • Correct:Everyone has finished their tasks.”

Tips for Ensuring Correct Subject-Verb Agreement

  • Identify the True Subject: Before deciding on the verb form, pinpoint the main subject of your sentence, especially in sentences with prepositional phrases or additional clauses.



  • Singular vs. Plural: Remember the basics—singular subjects must take singular verbs, and the same with plural subjects, they should take plural verbs. Keep this rule at the forefront of your mind, especially when sentences grow in complexity.


  • Collective Nouns: Pay close attention to collective nouns and determine whether they act as a single unit or refer to individual members within a group. This determination will guide your verb choice.


  • Indefinite Pronouns: Memorize the rule that most indefinite pronouns are singular and should be matched with singular verbs, a common source of errors.


  • Proofread and Edit: Always take the time to proofread your emails, focusing specifically on subject-verb agreement. This practice can catch and correct most errors before your message is sent.


By keeping in mind to these guidelines, you can efficiently enhance the clarity and professionalism of your business communications. Subject-verb agreement, though a fundamental aspect of grammar, plays an important role in ensuring your messages are perceived as intended, bolstering your professional standing and facilitating effective business interactions.


Navigating the proper use of tenses in business emails is akin to steering through the temporal dynamics of communication. This segment of our exploration into Business English zeroes in on the critical aspect of tenses—present, past, and future—elucidating their definitions, usage, and providing examples to illuminate their application in business emails. Understanding and choosing the right tense not only aids in conveying your message with precision but also enhances the clarity and professionalism of your communication.

Overview of Tenses Used in Business Emails

The fabric of business communication is often interwoven with a variety of tenses, each selected to accurately reflect the timing of actions, plans, and events. The present tense describes current states or habitual actions, the past tense recounts completed actions or states, and the future tense projects actions or events that are yet to occur. Mastery over these tenses enables professionals to articulate their thoughts clearly, manage expectations, and maintain a coherent narrative in their correspondence.

Present Tense

Definition and Usage: The present tense is our go-to for describing things that are unfolding right now, or things that hold true no matter the time. In business emails, it’s often employed to state facts, describe current situations, or discuss habitual actions.



  • “The team meets every Thursday to discuss progress.”
  • “Our company values sustainability and community engagement.”


These examples demonstrate the use of the present tense to describe ongoing actions and established truths.

Past Tense

Definition and Usage: We use the past tense to tell stories about things that have already occurred. In the context of business emails, it is essential for reporting past achievements, completed projects, or outcomes of previous meetings.



  • “We completed the project ahead of schedule.”
  • “The previous meeting highlighted the need for more efficient communication.”


These sentences illustrate the application of the past tense in recounting completed actions and drawing on historical data to inform current discussions.

Future Tense

Definition and Usage: The future tense lets us peer ahead and talk about what has yet to come. In business emails, it’s crucial for planning, making commitments, or setting deadlines.



  • “We will launch the new product line next quarter.”
  • “The team will review the proposal and provide feedback by Friday.”


These examples showcase how the future tense sets expectations and outlines plans or commitments that are yet to be fulfilled.

Choosing the Right Tense for Your Message

Selecting the appropriate tense is pivotal in ensuring your message is both understood and acted upon as intended. Here are a few guidelines to help you choose the right tense:


  • Think about when! When you describe something, ask yourself: is it happening right now, did it already happen, or will it happen someday? Choose the tense that reflects that timing.


  • Be Consistent: Once you’ve chosen a tense, maintain consistency throughout your message to avoid confusion.


  • Future Plans and Commitments: Use the future tense to discuss upcoming actions or deadlines, setting clear expectations.


  • Past Actions and Achievements: Employ the past tense to provide updates or report on completed work, grounding your message in tangible outcomes.


  • Current States or Policies: Utilize the present tense to describe existing conditions, policies, or habitual actions, establishing a sense of immediacy and relevance.


Mastering the art of tense selection not only clarifies your message but also reinforces its purpose, guiding your recipients through the temporal landscape of your communication with ease and precision. By carefully navigating tenses, you ensure that your business emails are a testament to your professionalism and attention to detail, fostering effective and efficient communication within the professional sphere.


The practical application of subject-verb agreement and correct tense usage in business emails is crucial for effective communication. Through real-world scenarios and examples, we’ll explore how these grammatical aspects influence the clarity, professionalism, and overall perception of business correspondences. This section will showcase before and after examples of emails to highlight common errors and demonstrate the positive impact of grammatical precision.

Scenario 1: Project Update Email

Before Correction:

Subject: Update on the Marketing Campaign

Dear Team,

The project team is making good progress and have implemented several key initiatives. Since the beginning, they works tirelessly to meet our objectives. By next month, they plans to launch the new advertising campaign, which will targets both our existing and potential customers.


[Your Name]


Errors to Note:

  • Incorrect subject-verb agreement: “team…have implemented” should be “team…has implemented.”
  • Mixed tense usage: “works” and “plans” should be “work” and “plan” respectively, to maintain present tense consistency. “will targets” should be “will target” for future tense accuracy.


After Correction:

Subject: Update on the Marketing Campaign

Dear Team,

The project team is making good progress and has implemented several key initiatives. Since the beginning, they have worked tirelessly to meet our objectives. By next month, they plan to launch the new advertising campaign, which will target both our existing and potential customers.


[Your Name]


Impact of Corrections:

The corrected email is not only grammatically accurate but also presents the information in a clear, professional manner. It reinforces the team’s credibility and the seriousness of their efforts, enhancing the recipient’s confidence in the project’s success.

Scenario 2: Meeting Recap Email

Before Correction:

Subject: Recap of This Morning Meeting

Dear John,

In today’s meeting, we discusses the quarterly sales report and it was decide that new strategies need to be implement immediately. The team was enthusiastic and are ready to take on the challenge. Please ensures that the action items we talked about is followed up on.


[Your Name]


Errors to Note:

  • Incorrect subject-verb agreement: “discusses,” “was decide,” “are ready,” “ensures,” and “is followed up on” showcase errors in matching the subject and verb.
  • Inconsistent tense usage: The email inconsistently uses past and present tenses.


After Correction:

Subject: Recap of This Morning’s Meeting

Dear John,

In today’s meeting, we discussed the quarterly sales report and decided that new strategies need to be implemented immediately. The team was enthusiastic and is ready to take on the challenge. Please ensure that the action items we talked about are followed up on.


[Your Name]


Impact of Corrections:

The corrections ensure that the email accurately reflects past events and current actions, making it clear and easy to understand. This level of clarity and attention to detail can significantly enhance the recipient’s perception of the sender’s competence and reliability.

The Importance of Proper Grammar

The examples above demonstrate how subject-verb agreement and correct tense usage play a pivotal role in the effectiveness of business emails. Errors in these areas can lead to misunderstandings, detract from the message’s professionalism, and potentially diminish the sender’s credibility. Conversely, emails that adhere to grammatical rules reflect a high level of professionalism, enhancing the recipient’s perception of the sender and their organization.


In the fast-paced world of business, the clarity and accuracy of communication are paramount. Taking the time to proofread emails for grammatical accuracy can have a significant positive impact on business relationships and operations, reinforcing the value of mastering these fundamental aspects of Business English.


Enhancing one’s grasp of grammar, particularly for business communications, is a continuous journey. Fortunately, a wealth of tools and resources are available to aid in refining grammar skills, ensuring that your emails reflect professionalism and clarity. This section highlights a selection of recommended software, online tools, books, and websites designed to support your quest for grammatical excellence in email writing.

Recommended Software and Online Tools

  • Grammarly: A widely acclaimed writing assistant, Grammarly offers real-time suggestions for grammar, spelling, punctuation, tone, and clarity improvements for texts, including emails. Its intuitive interface and comprehensive feedback make it a favorite among professionals.


  • Hemingway Editor: This tool focuses on enhancing the readability of your emails. It identifies complex sentences and suggests simpler alternatives, encouraging clear and concise writing.


  • Microsoft Editor: Integrated within Microsoft 365, this tool provides spelling, grammar, and stylistic suggestions across various applications, including Outlook, ensuring your emails are polished before sending.

Books and Websites for Reference

  • “Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation” by Lynne Truss: A humorous yet informative guide to punctuation, vital for crafting coherent and professional emails.


  • Purdue OWL (Online Writing Lab): This website is a treasure trove of writing resources, offering guides on grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, and style, tailored for varying levels of expertise.

Continuous Learning and Practice

Embracing continuous learning and regular practice is key to mastering grammar in business emails. Here are a few tips:


  • Daily Writing Practice: Incorporate writing into your daily routine. Whether drafting emails, journaling, or blogging, consistent practice sharpens your grammatical skills.


  • Peer Reviews: Engage with colleagues or peers by reviewing each other’s emails or written work. This collaborative approach offers new perspectives and insights into common grammatical pitfalls.


  • Online Courses and Webinars: Many platforms offer courses ranging from basic grammar to advanced business writing. Enrolling in these can provide structured learning and keep you updated on best practices.


By leveraging these tools, resources, and practices, you can significantly improve your grammar, ensuring your emails not only convey the intended message with precision but also uphold the professionalism expected in business communication. Remember, the journey to grammatical proficiency is ongoing, and having a mindset of continuous improvement will serve you well in all your professional endeavors.


In the journey through the nuances of subject-verb agreement and the correct use of tenses in business emails, we’ve explored foundational grammatical principles that are pivotal for clear, professional communication. The ability to craft grammatically sound emails not only enhances the clarity and coherence of your messages but also reinforces your professionalism and credibility in the business realm.


Recall the importance of aligning subjects with their corresponding verbs to ensure your sentences flow smoothly and logically. Remember, too, the significance of selecting the appropriate tense to accurately convey past, present, and future actions. These elements, when mastered, are instrumental in eliminating confusion and misunderstanding in business communications.


We encourage you to apply these principles diligently in your daily email correspondence. Leverage the recommended tools and resources to refine your skills and embrace the path of continuous learning and practice. Your commitment to grammatical excellence will undoubtedly yield positive impacts on your professional interactions and overall business success.


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Subject-Verb Agreement & Tenses in Emails

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