Grammar Growls: How to Write a Good Mystery Shop Report
Using proper grammar isn’t an option; it’s a must. Some people think proper grammar is just a fancy way to write or speak; it’s not. The definition of grammar is the study of the way words are utilized to construct sentences that make sense. Shoppers have to use proper grammar when they write their reports.
The Basics of Sentence Structure
For a group of words to qualify as a sentence requires three things:
1. The words must make sense and convey a complete thought:
INCORRECT: Flowers truck transport Jose.
CORRECT: Jose transports flowers by truck
2. Sentences begins with a capital letter and end with a period, exclamation point, or question mark:
INCORRECT: cats like fish
CORRECT: Cats like fish.
3. Sentences contains a predicate (verb) and a subject (noun). The predicate (verb) describes what the subject (noun) is doing.
INCORRECT: A funny joke about a pig.
CORRECT: Sally told a funny joke about a pig.
Sentences can be any length, as long as the above rules are applied.
Shopper reports often contain sentence fragments. Many fragments contain a subject and verb but lack other elements to make them sentences.
1. Eating slowly and happy.
This phrase has a verb (eating) but lacks a subject. Who or what is eating is unclear.
2. Goodwill’s tractor trailer, located in a field.
This is almost a sentence and even has nouns and verbs but it needs a connective word like was or is after trailer to make a complete, viable sentence.
3. Because the bartender was busy.
This would be a sentence without the word because. With that word, it’s a fragment begging for an explanation of what happened because the bartender was busy.
Most Common Grammatical Errors
1. I versus Me.
A good way to check if you’re using the right word is to remove the other person from the sentence and see how it sounds with both pronouns.
My guest and me took a seat in a booth. Since you wouldn’t (hopefully) say, “Me took a seat in a booth,” the correct pronoun is I.
She looked at my husband and I and said hello. Since, “She looked at I sounds wrong,” the correct pronoun is me.
2. Fewer versus Less
This error has plagued the English language for years and it doesn’t help that many supermarkets have grammatically incorrect signage that reads, “10 items or less” that should read, “10 items or fewer.”
- Fewer is used when describing countable things.
- Less is used when describing more abstract amounts that can’t be measured exactly but can be compared.
I had fewer items in my cart than the customer in front of me.
The clerk on the floor smiled less than the cashier.
3. Good vs Well and Bad vs Badly
Good and bad are adjectives, which modify nouns; well and badly are adverbs, which modify adjectives and verbs but never nouns.
When you are writing about the five senses (feel, taste, smell, hear, see) you should use the adjective instead of the adverb.
The waiter felt bad about being out of my favorite soft drink. Badly would imply the waiter was bad at feeling.
The scented candle smelled good. Well would mean the candle had a well-functioning nose.
Good grammar is not only essential in writing but also speaking. No one knows how many social interactions that have gone south or job opportunities that have been lost due to poor grammar. So pay attention to grammar and put your best face forward. Get more information about Mystery Shopping with RBG.