Dakota State University
Madison, SD, USA

Communication Skills

The Importance of Communication Skills in Finance

In any field of finance effective and efficient communication is essential; it is as important as the financial skills. Glaring grammar and spelling errors detract strongly from the message intended. Lack of good communication skills can be a serious hindrance to one's career in finance. Therefore courses in finance at DSU emphasize communication skills as well as financial expertise. Communication within the courses on exams, assignments, and reports is expected to be in the proper, Standard English expected in financial circles.

The following list is "official" in the sense that misuse or misspelling of the following words or phrases or the commission of the common errors listed below, as applied to finance, may result in points being lost from the evaluation.

This list will grow. Students should check it frequently. 


Students are reminded of the extensive help available through DSU's OWL (On Line Writing Laboratory), which provides on-line assistance with grammar, spelling, and good writing. There are also links to on-line English handbooks at the OWL site.

      Abbreviations:    adj.            adjective
        	       	adv.		adverb
			n.		noun
   	              	prep.		preposition
                	v.t.		verb, transitive
                	v.i.		verb, instransitive

Commonly Confused Words

                Words or Phrases       	Meanings

                accept                  to receive; to agree to
                except                  other than, otherwise than, unless
                affect, v.t.		to influence
                effect, n.              a result
                (effect, v.t.		to bring about, to execute, to cause,
                                          e.g., measures to effect [cause]
		borrow			to receive on loan (temporary)
					  [Not "The bank borrowed him the
 					   money." Rather: "He borrowed
 					   the money from the bank."]
 		lend			to give on loan (temporary)
		loan			  ["The bank loaned him the
                by, prep.               with the use or help of; through
                buy, v.t.               to purchase 
		capital, n.		wealth
                capital, adj.		long-term
                capitol			a building in which legislatures meet

		company			one firm
		company's		belonging to one firm
		companies		more than one firm
		companies'		belonging to more than one firm

		country			one nation
		country's		belonging to one nation
		countries		more than one nation
		countries'		belonging to more than one nation

		its			belonging to "it"
		it's			contraction of "it is"

		know			to regard as true beyond doubt
		no			negative, none, zero
 		known			to be regarded as true beyond doubt
                none               	zero, no
                lie down		to recline, e.g., Now I lie down to rest.
                lay down, v.i.		past tense of to recline, e.g., An hour ago I lay down to rest.
                lay down, v.t.		to place something down, e.g., Now I lay down my briefcase.
                laid down, v.t.         past tense of to place something down, e.g., An hour ago I laid
                                   		down my briefcase.
                lose, v.t.		to mislay something, to be unprofitable (lose money)
                lose, v.i.		to be defeated
                loose, adj.             not tight, not strict, e.g., loose lending standards
                loose, v.t.   		to release, e.g., let loose a barrage of criticism
                loss, n.         	the amount lost, a defeat
		of			belonging to	
		off			not on

		period			one period
		periods			more than one period
		period's		belonging to a "period"
		periods'		belonging to more than one "period"

		personal		pertaining to one person
		personnel		a group of people employed

		principle		a rule
		principal		an amount of money

		rise, v.i.		intransitive verb, a subject
					  acting on its own, e.g.,
					  "Interest rates rise during
					   economic expansions."
		raise, v.t.		transitive verb, a subject
					   acting on an object, e.g.,
					   "The Fed will raise interest

		rise, n.		an increase in some value
		raise, n.		an increase in salary or wages

		security		a single security
		security's		belonging to one security
		securities		more than one security
		securities'		belonging to more than one

                stockholder             a single shareholder
                stockholder's           belonging to a single shareholder
                stockholders            more than one shareholder
                stockholders'           belonging to more than one

		there			not here
		they're			contraction of "they are"
		their			belonging to "them"

		to			a direction, e.g., "to the buyer"
		too			also; or a comparative, e.g., "too much"
		two			the number 2

                which			the one or ones previously mentioned
                witch			a female who practices sorcery
                who's                   contraction of "who is" or "who has"
                whose                   possessive form of who

                your			belonging to "you"
		you're			contraction of "you are"
		yore			time long since past

Commonly Misspelled Words

		Words			Meanings

 		accept			to receive; to consider true [not "accep"]
		analyze			to perform an analysis, to study in detail

		assets			resources [not "asets" or "assests"]

		correlate		to relate to

		depreciation		an allowance made for a loss in value

		dividend		cash or stock payments to stockholders [not "divident"]
                individual              separate [not "indivitual"]

		interest		cash payments to bondholders,[not "intrest"]

		liquidity		availability of cash to pay bills
                lost        		negative return [not "losed"]
                monetary		pertaining to money [not "monitary"]

		mortgage, n.		a pledge of property as collateral for a loan [not "morgage"]

		paid			past tense of "to pay" [not "payed"]

		portfolio		a collection of assets

		riskiness		property of being risky [not "riskyness" or "riskines"]

		volatile		subject to sudden changes

Common Grammar Errors

		Error			Explanation/Illustration

		"could of"		really "could've"
					better to use simply "could have"

		singular/plural		as in "The company lost their
		  mismatch		  president." 'Company' is
					  singular; 'their' is plural.
					  The sentence should read, "The
					  company lost its president."  

Practice In Communications Skills
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College of Business & Information Systems
Dakota State University
Madison, SD 57042
Page Manager: Jim Janke
Contact at: jim.janke@dsu.edu
Last update: September 17, 2010