10 essential grammar tips for your business English
Being confident in English can help you progress in your career and benefit your business. Here are our essential grammar tips to help you succeed at work. The tips are divided into five key business skills.
1. Use conditionals
When we negotiate, we often use conditionals. When there is an ‘if’ clause, and a ‘would’ or ‘will’ clause, they are two separate parts of the sentence. For example:
‘I will join the meeting if you
will start it later’.
would placed a big order, we would give you a discount’.
If you can use these structures correctly, your English will sound pretty good.
2. Use conditionals without ‘if’
You can use alternatives to ‘if’, such as ‘as long as’, ‘provided that’, ‘providing’ and ‘on condition that’. These sound more formal, and firmer, than ‘if‘.
Skill: being polite
3. Use modal verbs
Politeness is important in building business relationships. We often use modal verbs such as ‘could’ and ‘would’ to be polite. For example:
‘Could you check this for me?’
‘Would you mind checking this for me?’
4. Use people’s names
In English, it polite to use someone’s name if you talk about them and they are present. For example:
‘I agree with what she Monica said’.
If you can’t remember the person’s name, you can say something like ‘I agree with what my colleague said’ or ‘I agree with that point’.
Skill: Being concise
Sometimes it’s good to be clear and quick (while being polite of course!). This makes your communication more effective.
5. Use modal verbs
Instead of saying ‘I am not able to’, you can say ‘I can’t’. Instead of saying ‘It is possible that it happens’, you can say ‘it’s possible’, or ‘it might happen’.
6. Make suggestions
This is the best way of making suggestions in English:
‘I suggest contacting the supplier’ (instead of ‘I suggest you to contact the supplier‘). Be careful: saying to someone ‘I suggest you do’ [something] can sound rude. ‘Could I/May I suggest we contact the supplier’ is the politest way.
You can also make suggestions using ‘let’s’. For example: ‘Let’s arrange a meeting for tomorrow.’
Skill: Checking information
7. Use question tags
In the workplace, sometimes you may have to make sure that information is correct by checking with colleagues or clients. Learning how to use question tags will help you to do this effectively. For example:
‘We need to place the order today, don’t we?’
We usually check a positive statement with a negative question tag, and vice versa. For example:
‘We don’t need to finish the report today, do we?’
The grammar rules are a bit complicated, so if you’re not sure which structure to use, you can just say ‘right’ – this is also standard in US English. For example: ‘That makes sense, right?’
8. Use phrasal verbs
To check information, you can use these phrasal verbs:
‘Can we go over those points again?’
‘I need to go through the information again’.
‘I’ll run through the data again’.
In meetings and daily interactions with colleague, you might want to emphasise your point.
9. Use ‘thing’
One very common way you can add emphasis is by using these expressions with ‘thing’. For example:
‘The thing is, that market is growing’.
‘Another thing you could try is asking for feedback’.
10. Use cleft sentences
To emphasise, you could also try is this structure:
‘I’d like to go over the figures again’.
‘What I’d like to do is go over the figures again’.
This structure is called a cleft sentence and is a typical way that native speakers add emphasis.
Present (adj): in the same room as you
Colleague (n.): someone you work with
Vice versa (adv.): the other way round
Phrasal verb (n.): a verb that consists of a verb and a preposition
Go over (phrasal verb): summarise
Go through (phrasal verb): look at the information again
Run through (phrasal verb): explain the information again
Emphasise (v.): make stronger, draw attention to
This blog has been written at level C2. Practise your reading skills and learn more about the benefits of improving your professional English by reading the blogs below:
- How to improve your telephone English (level C1)
- Business English for work and careers: 50 words you need to know (level C2)
- ‘Fake news’ expressions you should know (level C1)
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