From March, 2013

English Lessons Writing Business Emails

English lessons Direct VS. Indirect Language

In this group of English lessons we will continue our study of writing business e-mails. There are two main styles when writing a business e-mail. One is formal and the other is informal. When writing a formal e-mail, your language will be more indirect. An informal e-mail contains language that is direct. 

In the UK, most people use a business-like and polite tone that is fairly direct. The point or purpose is stated briefly, clearly and quickly. When writing in English try to be aware of the different styles.

Use direct English if:

It’s okay to use very direct language if you are writing to your employee or someone who works for you.

Use indirect English if:

Example: Very direct English – This needs to be done today.

Less direct – Please do this today.

Indirect – We need this tomorrow, so I’d appreciate your getting it done as soon as possible.

Here are some other examples of direct vs. indirect English.

1) Very direct – Send them to me right away.

Less direct – Please send them to me right away.

Indirect – I would appreciate it very much if you could send them to me right away.

2) Very direct – Let me know what you think.

Less direct – I would like to know what you think.

Indirect – I welcome your questions and comments.

3) Very direct – We do not have the item in stock.

Less direct – We are sorry that we do not have the item in stock.

Indirect – We regret to inform you that we do not currently have the item in stock.

4) Very direct English – I’ll see you at the meeting.

Less direct – I look forward to seeing you at the meeting.

Indirect – It is with great pleasure that I look forward to seeing you at the meeting on Thursday.

Remember to always use a tone that is friendly, whether they are important customers or just colleagues. It’s important to treat everyone with respect. I hope this English lesson in the series of lessons has been useful.

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The 100 Most Common Words In English

Here are the most common words in the English Language but how useful would it be to learn these words? If you want to learn English you must get to grips with the structure or grammar of the language and use it as a skeleton  or framework to hang your new vocabulary onto.

1. A,an

2. After

3. Again

4. All

5. Almost

6. Also

7. Always

8. And

9. Because

10. Before

11. Big

12. But

13. (I) can

14. (I) come

15. Either/or

16. (I) find

17. First

18. For

19. Friend

20. From

21. (I) go

22. Good

23. Good-bye

24. Happy

25. (I) have

26. He

27. Hello

28. Here

29. How

30. I

31. (I) am

32. If

33. In

34. (I) know

35. Last

36. (I) like

37. Little

38. (I) love

39. (I) make

40. Many

41. One

42. More

43. Most

44. Much

45. My

46. New

47. No

48. Not

49. Now

50. Of

51. Often

52. On

53. One

54. Only

55. Or

56. Other

57. Our

58. Out

59. Over

60. People

61. Place

62. Please

63. Same

64. (I) see

65. She

66. So

67. Some

68. Sometimes

69. Still

70. Such

71. (I) tell

72. Thank you

73. That

74. The

75. Their

76. Them

77. Then

78. There is

79. They

80. Thing

81. (I) think

82. This

83. Time

84. To

85. Under

86. Up

87. Us

88. (I) use

89. Very

90. We

91. What

92. When

93. Where

94. Which

95. Who

96. Why

97. With

98. Yes

99. You

100. Your

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Seven Things You Should Know About British And American English

There are lots of lexical differences between British and American English. Only the other day I was confused when one of my young Japanese students told me that she ‘finished school last year’….school = college / high school / university? I guessed correctly that it meant ‘university’ to my British brain! There are so many vocabulary differences that I have focused here on pronunciation and grammar. Here are my 7 ‘must haves’ to help you with your learning:

  1. First, in words like “demand,” “laugh,” and “dance,” most Americans use the sound /æ/ (think of the “a” in “fat”) in places where RP speakers use the sound /a/, sometimes called the “ah” sound, as in the word “father.”
  2. Another significant pronunciation difference is in the sound /r/. In RP, the sound /r/ disappears when it’s followed by a consonant or appears at the end of a word, such as in the words “cart” and “father.”  Think of words like iron: in British English it sounds like ‘eye on’!
  3. For speakers of British English, the American tendency to change the sound /t/ to the sound /d/ in front of an unstressed syllable can be confusing. Most Americans pronounce “butter” as “budder” and “united” as “unided”.
  4. In British English, nouns that describe groups of people, like “committee” or “army,” are often used with plural verbs, as in, “The committee are meeting now.” Americans would use “is” in that sentence.
  5. British English speakers tend to use the present perfect more consistently, especially with adverbs like “yet,” “already,” and “just.” Americans switch back and forth between the simple past tense and the present perfect tense. A British speaker may ask someone in the early afternoon, “Have you had your lunch yet?” or “Have you eaten lunch?” An American would say, “Did you eat yet?”
  6. The verb “to get” is used rather differently; for example, British English speakers might say either, “I have a car.” or “I have got a car.” Americans use both, but prefer the sentence without “got.” In addition, for British English speakers, the past participle for “get” is “got”, Americans use “gotten” as the past participle.
  7. American English and British English have other differences in their past participles. Many verbs in English have two possible past tense and past participle forms, a regular form with “ed” and an irregular form. A few of them are listed below:

Present            Regular Past       Irregular Past

learn                  learned                 learnt

dream               dreamed              dreamt

spell                  spelled                 spelt

British English speakers use both forms. Americans tend to use only the regular forms, although both forms are considered correct.  My advice is to be aware of the differences, accept both but be careful to use the spelling and grammar appropriate for each country. Have your work proof-read if in doubt! 

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