Do You Make These 5 Common Business English Mistakes?
Business English is a language all of its own in terms of industry specific phrases and vocabulary; however, standard English grammar rules still apply – and can often be more important in demonstrating your professionalism to coworkers or business partners. Often, knowing how to present yourself both in written and spoken interactions can help set a precedent for your employers, coworkers or business partners on how well versed you are in the industry, and how well you carry yourself as a professional.
Those looking to learn business English shouldn’t be discouraged if they find themselves making a lot of mistakes - surprisingly even native speakers use incorrect grammar and wording when communicating in professional environments. So what are some of the common errors people make with business English? We’ve outlined five below!
Business English Mistakes to Avoid
You’ll learn a lot if you study business English, but going into any courses already having some of the basics down will put you ahead of the game. The five mistakes below occur often in business communications, and making sure you don’t make them will set you apart in your field.
1. “I look forward to hear from you”
A common mistake seen often at the end of email correspondence, the correct way to tell someone that you are awaiting their reply in this case would be “I look forward to hearing from you”. The verb cannot stay in its infinitive form in this sentence.
2. “Best regard”
There are a few problems people run in to with “regard” – in this case, it is best if it is made to be plural (reading “Best regards”). Regard comes up often in business English, and it is important to use the proper form in each context. For instance, take the sentence “I am bringing this up in regard to…” that is used when introducing topics that are connected. Here regard is presented in the singular as opposed to the plural we saw before.
Another example is shown in the sentence “I am contacting you regarding…” as a formal way of introducing your reasons for reaching out to a colleague or business partner, where regard is presented as a gerund.
3. “The meeting was very interesting, the speaker presented on a lot of informations regarding the new product we’re launching.”
It is a common mistake for people to put certain nouns in their plural form, when they should be presented singularly. The sentence above should use information, even if the speaker presented on multiple topics. Other common words this occurs with include knowledge, research, evidence and money (if you wanted to talk about a quantified amount of money, you could use dollars for example).
Nouns that fall into this grouping are known as uncountable nouns – meaning literally they are two abstract to physically count - you couldn’t count an amount of information, thus leaving it singular, but you could count a number of ideas – changing the above sentence to “the speaker presented a few ideas” for example.
4. Mixing up effect and affect in your writing.
Anyone who works in the field of business knows that a large majority of your time is spent emailing clients or writing reports – as such, it is important to make sure that you are always using correct grammar to maintain a professional appearance.
A common mistake, with both native and non-native speakers of English, is mixing up the words effect and affect. Effect is a noun referring to the impact something had, for example “The new marketing campaign had the intended effect, more people are signing up for our product demo.”
Affect on the other hand refers to the action of something having an impact, for example “The goal of the new marketing campaign is to affect the perception people have of our current brand, and make it more positive.”
5. Not capitalizing the correct words in your writing.
The English language has special rules when it comes to capitalizing, and although it doesn’t necessarily change the meaning of what you write, it demonstrates a basic understanding of the language that is expected in the business world. In general, proper nouns should always be capitalized – this includes brand names, countries, companies, languages, names of people and holidays to name a few.
It is also standard to capitalize the first word at the beginning of each sentence, and a person’s title if it comes before his or her name.
While these may be the basics for business English training, they are some of the most important rules to understand from the very beginning. Once you understand common grammar rules, you can more comfortably move on and learn business English phrases and vocabulary terms that are more difficult.
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