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.
- You are writing to a co-worker
- You are not making a special request
- You expect your request to be accepted
- You are writing to a customer, a stranger, or your boss
- You are trying to say something difficult or negative
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.
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.
- If you want to improve your English you need to use every opportunity to apply business writing skills when sending e-mails or casual office memos, and even when sending a text. Remember that every correspondence sent should imply a sense of business etiquette.
- Be pro-active by taking a course in business writing. A number of websites offer online podcasts and classes focusing on business writing. We offer real time English lessons on Skype or by telephone with native speakers of English who can go over your business correspondence with you and correct your work. This e-learning service is invaluable for business professionals needing to improve their English skills.
- Always keep your audience (the reader) in mind when writing a memo, business letter or proposal. As you compose your thoughts remember to ask what the reader wants to hear. Does the reader want to know the back story about your business, how it operates, or is s/he likely to prefer reading about facts and figures instead? In English – simple is best! Keep your message clear and use simple words which are comprehensible and give a clear message.
- Check and recheck your written work. Relying on a Spell Check to catch misspellings is foolish. Spell Check cannot detect homonym misuse, and it won’t catch all mistakes in punctuation.
- Be mindful of the emails you send. E-mails are commonly used in the workplace: keep them short but meaningful, with concise or pertinent information, and accurate contact information.
- Do not use informal or conversational language or phrases when writing an e-mail. Be professional tone and use a professional format.
- Remember that if you become a member of ‘The English Skype Room’ you can have a proof-reading service at your finger tips every month. A great safety net!
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:
- 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.”
- 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’!
- 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”.
- 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.
- 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?”
- 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.
- 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:
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!