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Grammar essentials for pharma professionals: Avoiding Common Pitfalls


Ah, grammar ...

Think of it as the stabilizer of the language world - often overlooked, but when it's off, things can go wrong. In my role as a communication coach for pharma professionals, I've encountered grammar twists that could rival the most complex molecular structures.

Why bother with grammar in the world of pharmaceuticals, you might ask? Imagine a compound where a single atom's misplacement can change everything.

Now, translate that precision to language. In an industry where the smallest alteration in a sequence can have profound effects, the words you choose, and how you string them together, matter just as much.

As we delve into the world of grammar, we'll explore the common mistakes and the surprising misconceptions.

So let's dive into the fascinating, sometimes perplexing, but always essential world of grammar in the pharmaceutical industry.

Here, we'll explore some of these common errors and their impact on the industry.

Present Simple vs. Present Continuous:

Mistake: "We are manufacturing this drug regularly."

Correction: "We manufacture this drug regularly."

The Present Simple is used for habitual actions or general truths. The Present Continuous suggests an action happening now, so it's incorrect in this context.

Past Simple vs. Present Perfect:

Mistake: "We developed several medications in recent years."

Correction: "We have developed several medications in recent years."

The Present Perfect is used to describe actions that have a connection to the present, such as recent actions. The Past Simple would disconnect the action from the present.

Future Simple (Will) vs. Going to:

Mistake: "We will launch the product next month."

Correction: "We are going to launch the product next month."

"Going to" is used for planned future actions, while "will" is often used for spontaneous decisions or predictions.

Past Perfect Mistake:

Mistake: "Before the new guidelines, we complied with the previous standards."

Correction: "Before the new guidelines, we had complied with the previous standards."

The Past Perfect is used to show that one past action happened before another. It provides a clearer sequence of events.

Modal Verbs Mistake:

Mistake: "We could submit the report tomorrow."

Correction: "We should submit the report tomorrow."

"Could" expresses possibility, while "should" expresses recommendation or advice. The context here requires a recommendation.

Mixed Tenses Mistake:

Mistake: "The team was analyzing the data and creates a report."

Correction: "The team was analyzing the data and created a report."

Tenses must remain consistent within a sentence. Here, the correct tense is Past Continuous followed by Past Simple.

Conditional Tenses Mistake:

Mistake: "If we would have more data, we can make a better prediction."

Correction: "If we had more data, we could make a better prediction."

In the Second Conditional, "would" is incorrect in the if-clause, and "could" should be used in the main clause to express possibility.

Passive Voice Mistake:

Mistake: "The drug was being tested and showed promising results."

Correction: "The drug was tested and showed promising results."

The use of "being" here creates an unnecessary continuous form. The simple passive is more concise.

Consistent Tense Use Mistake:

Mistake: "The researchers collect samples, analyzed them, and will publish the findings."

Correction: "The researchers collected samples, analyzed them, and will publish the findings."

Tenses should match within a sentence, unless there's a specific shift in time. Here, the narrative requires the Past Simple and Future Simple.

Impact of Grammar Errors: Consequences in the Pharma Setting

In the pharmaceutical industry, even minor grammar mistakes can have significant consequences.

Regulatory Compliance: Incorrect tense usage might lead to misunderstandings in regulatory documents, potentially resulting in compliance issues or delays in approvals.

Scientific Communication: Mistakes in research proposals or clinical trial reports can hinder clear communication among scientists, possibly affecting the quality of the research.

Marketing and Sales: Errors in market analysis or promotional materials can create confusion, diminishing the impact of marketing efforts and possibly affecting sales.

International Collaboration: In an industry that frequently involves international collaboration, precise English communication is vital. Mistakes can lead to misunderstandings and inefficiencies, potentially affecting project timelines and results.

Patient Care: In materials aimed at healthcare providers or patients, clarity is paramount. Errors can lead to misunderstandings about medication usage or treatment guidelines, potentially affecting patient care.

By recognizing and correcting these errors, industry professionals can enhance communication, improve collaboration, and ultimately contribute to better health outcomes.

Strategies to Avoid Common Errors

Navigating the complex linguistic landscape of the pharmaceutical industry requires care and precision. Below, we'll explore strategies to avoid common errors, focusing on general approaches and specific tactics tailored to each identified mistake. We'll also consider how technology can be an ally in this endeavour without overshadowing human judgment.

Education and Training: Regular workshops and coaching sessions focusing on grammar can sharpen skills.

Peer Review: Encourage colleagues to review and provide feedback on written materials.

Reference Materials: Keep handy guides and cheat sheets that summarize key grammar rules.

Practice: Encourage the practice of writing, revising and speaking, as repeated exposure builds proficiency.

Detailed Strategies and Tools

Present Simple vs. Present Continuous

Train in recognizing habitual actions vs. ongoing actions, provide examples, and practice through exercises.

Past Simple vs. Present Perfect

Focus on understanding the connection between past actions and present relevance. Utilize exercises that emphasize time expressions like “already,” “yet,” and “recently.”

Future Simple (Will) vs. Going to

"Going to" is for planned future actions, while "will" is often for spontaneous decisions or predictions.

Practice distinguishing between definite future plans and spontaneous decisions. Use role-play and scenario planning.

Past Perfect

Explanation: The Past Perfect shows one past action happened before another.

Use timelines and examples to demonstrate sequences of past actions.

Modal Verbs

"Could" expresses possibility, while "should" expresses recommendation.

Study the various modal verbs and their meanings through exercises and contextual examples.

Utilizing Technology

In the era of technology, grammar-checking tools are valuable assistants. They offer immediate corrections and suggestions. However, it's essential to recognize their limitations:

Complement, Not Replace: Tools like Grammarly or Microsoft Word's spellcheck can catch basic errors but may not understand context-specific jargon or nuances. They complement human judgment, not replace it.

Customized Approaches: Some tools allow customization based on industry-specific terminology, aiding in accuracy.

Human Oversight: A final human review is crucial to ensure that the technology's suggestions align with the specific communication style and technical requirements of the pharma industry.

Ethical Considerations: While technology can streamline the process, relying solely on automated tools might lead to ethical issues, especially when dealing with sensitive information.


In the pharmaceutical field, clarity is not a luxury; it's a necessity. A misstep in grammar isn't merely a slip of the tongue or pen; it's a barrier that can obstruct the path of innovation, collaboration, and success.

But these barriers can be overcome.

Whether you're an individual seeking to elevate your communication skills or an organization aiming to enhance team synergy, the solution is within reach. With my tailored programs, designed for both individual mastery and group cohesion, you'll find a partnership that resonates with your unique needs and goals within the pharma industry.

This is more than grammar; it's about articulating your vision, conveying your dedication, and ensuring that your words align with the powerful work you do every day.

Don't let common mistakes dim the brilliance of your message. Reach out to me today, and together, we'll forge a path towards communication that's as impactful, precise, and groundbreaking as your work in the pharmaceutical field.

Whether it's one-on-one coaching or a group program tailored to your team's specific needs, let's transform challenges into opportunities. Let's make your words count.


If you have questions or wish to discuss your unique needs, don't hesitate to book a free call with me.

Your journey towards impeccable communication in the pharmaceutical field begins here.


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