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English for Business Training:  Most common mistakes

Business English is a vast area of the English language.  It encompasses both the social side of English with its use of idioms, expressions, metaphors and phrasal verbs and the more formal side of English with presentations, reports and negotiations where one has to make use of embedded questions, conditionals and the passive voice.

 

In this blog post, Unique's tutors look at a few errors we have seen being made by our students and which you might be making during your own discourse.  

 

PRESENT PERFECT

Business English instructors are so happy to hear sentences such as "We have been to the new storage facility..." but the smile turns sour when it is occasionally followed by "last week."  

 

If you are talking about anything in the past, use the simple past tense:  "We went there last week..."  If you do not wish to specify a time then use present perfect:  "We have been there many times."

 

CULTURAL DIFFERENCES

The British are a nationality who cannot say "no".  We can manage every other word close to it, but no is difficult for us.  This can lead to a great deal of confusion and the mistaken belief that we are "two-faced".  That is usually not the case, but rather we are trying to be diplomatic.

 

If your British guest answers you with a "maybe" or a "we shall see" then in all probabilities he is saying no.  He just doesn't want to hurt your feelings.

 

PREPOSITIONS

"Telephone TO"  "Ask TO"

Prepositions are niggly little words that non-native speakers occasionally leave out of sentences.  Examples include "to", "in", "out" and "after".  Granted, if you omit to use these words then they are unlikely to change the meaning of the sentence but they will certainly alter the fluency of your statements.

 

Work on phrasal verbs and dependent prepositions with your English teacher or get a good book on the subject and attempt to learn as much of these as you can.  

 

DISCOURSE MARKERS

These are the two or three words that are occasionally added to the start of sentences to indicate a change of subject or to include additional information.  They include words such as "by the way", "incidentally" and "quite honestly".  

 

A Business English student should be seeking to include these in conversations as naturally as possible.  Your teacher should have exercises to do this.

 

TAG QUESTIONS

Tag questions such as "You live here, don't you?" are great for informal occasions to check information.  They should be used sparingly and as naturally as possible.  

 

At an old language school of mine in central London we used to have a student called "Tag Man" who used tags for every sentence.  We loved the guy but despite us telling him to stop using them so much he still used them.  So please use them only when absolutely necessary.

 

Would you like to learn Business English with Unique Language Training?  Please telephone 020 3566 0145, e-mail us or fill in the form on this page.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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