WISHES AND CONGRATULATIONS
FINISHING THE LETTER
MAKING AND ANSWERING COMPLAINTS
ARRANGING AN APPOINTMENT
PROPOSALS AND PROMISES
USEFUL BUSINESS WRITING EXPRESSIONS
separate mail = отдельной
air mail = авиапочтой
our address = на наш адрес
block letters = печатными
handwriting = от руки
receive a letter = получить
letter of December 26 = письмо от
enclose (a booklet) = приложить
receive a reply from the letter dated… = получить
ответ на письмо
refer to (a letter) = ссылаться
fill in a form = заполнить
letter (registered letter) = заказное
paid envelope = конверт
letter = любезное
be in communication with… = поддерживать
are several questions I would like to ask. = У меня
received a fairly encouraging response. = Мы получили
hope to hear from you in response of my letter = Надеюсь
на свое письмо.
not hesitate to contact me. = Не стесняйтесь
look forward to your (early) reply. = Ждем
prompt reply will be appreciated. = Буду
notify that a reply is required by… without fail. =
for your kind reply we remain… = В ожидании
would gratefully appreciate the answer. = Будем
am pleased to… = Мне очень
am pleased to send you a copy of… = Я с
you know from our previous correspondence…= Как
вы знаете аз
letter crossed yours. = Наше письмо
pleasant surprise = приятный
thanks for… = Большое
thanks in advance = Заранее
was pleased to… = Мне было
am much obliged to you for… = Премного
are grateful for your co-operation. = Мы благодарны
accept my sincere (/deep) appreciation for your help. = Пожалуйста,
за Вашу помощь.
deeply appreciate… (you kind words of sympathy). = Я
is very kind of you to… = С вашей
let know (without delay) = поставить
дать знать (без
keep informed… = держать
confirm that… = подтвердить,
phone at …(567-98-76) = позвонить
am attaching some information about… = Прилагаю
is to inform you that… = Настоящим
will be in touch as soon as… = Я свяжусь
с вами как только…
will certainly contact you if… = Мы обязательно
свяжемся с вами
some data about… = Сообщите
take a note of… (our new address). = Пожалуйста,
на… (наш новый
special attention to… (the fact that…) = Обратите
(на тот факт,
addition to my cable I would like you to inform us… = В
к моей телеграмме
я бы хотел, чтобы
refer to our telephone conversation of… = Мы
reply to your telephone requiry… = В ответ
на ваш запрос
me inform you… = Позвольте
will keep you informed. = Я буду
information will be handled in confidence. = Информация
should be most happy to provide you with any further information you
may require. = Мы с удовольствием
would be very grateful if you would… = Мы были
бы очень благодарны,
если бы вы…
shall (/would) be glad … = Я буду
(был бы) рад…
you please … = Не могли
would be very much obliged… = Будем
wonder if you could…= Не могли
am writing to ask you for a favour. = Я пишу,
вас об одолжении.
accordance with law I request… = В соответствии
с законом требую…
me know if… = Дайте мне
am anxious to know… = Я срочно
should like you to send us… = Мы хотели
бы, чтобы вы
ask to wire us. = Просим
request to pay… = Требуем
wonder if you could help me. = Не могли
бы вы помочь
confirm the full address at which the package is to be sent. =
адрес, на который
invoice = просроченный
account = просроченный
account, credit account = кредитный
standing = кредитоспособность
of credit = аккредитив
and liabilities = актив и пассив
exchange = иностранная
of exchange = курс обмена,
price = средняя цена
expenses = текущие расходы
expenses = непредвиденные
expenses = дорожные
in one’s favour = чек на чье-либо
draw a check in my favour = выписать
чек на мое имя
in exchange (price) = падение
of charge, free of expense = бесплатно
due = просроченный,
half price = за полцены
the cost = ниже себестоимости
my expense = за мой счет
cash-on-delivery = оплата по
факту (при доставке)
ask for a price of … запрашивать
pay in advance = платить
buy on easy terms = купить на
raise the prise = поднять
reduce the price = снизить
cash a cheque = обналичить
по чеку, выдать
деньги по чеку
meet a bill = оплатить
convert pounds into dollars = перевести
фунты в доллары
draw money from a bank = взять деньги
have an account with a bank = иметь
счет в банке
charge to an account = записать
our account = на наш счет
our cost plus postage = наша оплата
cover expenses = покрыть
pay damages = оплатить
cover the actual cost price of producing = покрыть
bear a loss (expenses) = нести убытки
per account rendered… = в соответствии
pay somebody’s travel expenses to London = оплатить
expenses will be paid. = Путевые
would share with you the cost of paying for … = Мы
разделим с вами
us a check to the value of … roubles at this address. =
чек на… рублей
по этому адресу.
estimate the cost of… to be.. roubles. = По нашей
payment is (/to be) in US dollars. = Оплата
- (должна быть)
в долларах США.
agree to your payment of … roubles. = Мы согласны
на вашу оплату
в … рублей.
offer of … roubles is acceptable. = Ваше
в… рублей приемлемо.
request to pay… = Требуем
= К сожалению…
am afraid that… = Боюсь что…
must apologize that… = Должен
за то что…
accept my apologies for:… = Пожалуйста,
so long to answer your letter = …то, что
ответ на Ваше
coming = …то, что не
delay in… = …промедление
regret to inform you that… = С сожалением
must inform you with regret that… = С сожалением
my great regret I must inform you that… = С сожалением
sincerely regret that… = Искренне
forgive me for troubling you. = Пожалуйста,
am very sorry to have caused you so much trouble. = Извините,
are sorry about any inconvenience that I may have caused you. =
мы вам причинили.
am sorry that I missed the opportunity of meeting you. = Мне
жаль, что я упустил
reason for the present delay is… = Причина
в том, что…
WISHES AND CONGRATULATIONS
best wishes = С наилучшими
best regards = С искренним
best wishes (best regards) to… = Наши
congratulate on… = поздравить
wish good health = пожелать
warmest greetings on… to… = Мои
gives me a great pleasure to congratulate you on… = Я с
birthday greetings. = С поздравлениями
по поводу дня
warmest congratulations on your promotion. = Горячие
wishes from all of us on your new appointment. = Наилучшие
нас всех с вашим
wishes of further success in your work and of personal happiness. =
успехов в работе
и личного счастья.
Christmas greetings and all good wishes for the coming New Year. = С
в новом году.
we express our great sympathy on the death of… = Позвольте
в связи со смертью…
was with great sorrow that we learned of the death of… = С
узнали мы о
also convey my sympathy to his family. = Пожалуйста,
CLOSING THE LETTER
Yours = Искренне Ваш
Sincerely = Искренне
Yours = Искренне Ваш
Truly Yours = Искренне
= С уважением
( только от низшего
Yours = Сердечно Ваш
with love = Твой, с любовью
remain,.. = Остаюсь,…
forward to continue co-operation, I remain,.. = С надеждой
accept a position at another firm = принять
hand over responsibility for… to Mr… = передать
have extensive international experience = иметь
total salary would be… roubles = общая
collaboration = близкое
collaboration = более близкое
sign a licence contract = подписать
licence rights = лицензионные
and demand = спрос и предложение
mutual agreement = взаимным
an order = на заказ
further delay = без дальнейшего
regular basis = на регулярной
the following conditions = на следующих
per contract = в соответствии
do business = заниматься
do business with… = заниматься
put up to auction = выставить
place an order = разместить
alter an order = изменить
cancel an order = отменить
withdraw a proposal = снять предложение
find a proposal acceptable = найти
assume liability (obligation) = принять
be in force = быть в силе
remain in force = оставаться
confirm that… = подтвердить
carry on negotiations with… = проводить
decline propositions = отклонить
meet informally = встретиться
exchange ideas = обменяться
come to an agreement = прийти к
conclude a contract = заключить
break a contract = нарушить
give permission = дать разрешение
impose a restriction on… = наложить
insert an advertisement = разместить
provide with financial support = обеспечить
take further steps = предпринять
obey the law = подчиняться
have on hand = иметь в
further understanding and co-operation between… = к
Company was established in 1967. = Компания
в 1967 году.
firm will provide Mr… with financial support. = Наша
firm has already signed a similar contract with another company. =
Наша фирма уже
с другой компанией.
are pleased (willing) to accept your terms (offer). = Нам
feel that we should be able to come to a compromise. = Я
уверен, что мы
signed contract would be sent directly to you for co-signing. =
вам для консигнации.
conditions may be discussed after your positive decision. = Мы
того, как вы
terms are the following… = Наши
you find our terms acceptable… = Если
вы найдете наши
confirm the booking and tell me the terms. = Пожалуйста,
бронь и сообщите
order will have our best attention. = Мы отнесемся
к вашему заказу
с особым вниманием.
for your further commands. = Ждем ваших
have made a draft of the protest. = Я подготовил
thoroughly examined the project. = Мы всесторонне
would welcome the opportunity to co-operate with you. = Мы
reason for the present delay is… = Причина
в том что…
MAKING AND ANSWERING COMPLAINTS
mistake = по ошибке
have the legal right… = У меня
accordance with law I request… = В соответствии
с законом я
article… of Geneva convention (1948). = В соответствии
accordance with international practice… = В соответствии
cargo is in bad condition. = Груз в
extent of the damages is now under investigation. = Размеры
have to ask you to accept the responsibility for these damages (this
accident). = Я вынужден
принять на себя
за эти повреждения
am very disappointed about this fact. = Я очень
по поводу этого
are not happy about the terms you are suggesting. = Нам
have to decline all your claims. = Я должен
contents of your letter have surprised us. = Содержание
duly accept liability for… = Я должным
ARRANGING AN APPOINTMENT
kind invitation = любезное
be present (at/in…) = присутствовать
accept an invitation = принять
decline an invitation = отклонить
ask for an appointment = просить
fix the exact dates of arrival and departure = утвердить
reserve a single (double) room from… to… for… =
номер с… по…
look forward to seeing you. = Надеюсь
am sorry that I missed the opportunity of meeting you. = Мне
очень жаль, что
я упустил возможность
I have the pleasure of inviting you to visit our firm? Могу
ли я пригласить
should be pleased to know what dates would be convenient to you. = Я
бы хотел узнать,
будут для вас
travel arrangements for this visit will be made by our office. =
для этого визита
would welcome the opportunity to co-operate with you. = Мы
could come at any time convenient to you. = Я могу
для вас время.
am unable to accept your invitation. = Я не могу
letter of recommendation = рекомендация
am just writing a few lines to introduce Mr… = Пишу
gives me a great pleasure to introduce… = Я с
bearer of this letter, Mr…, is a… = Податель
м-р… , является…
will introduce Mr… who will be grateful for any help you may
be able to give him. = Настоящим
письмом я представляю
вам м-ра…, который
за любую помощь,
которую вы ему
can sincerely recommend Mr… as a highly responsible and
reliable man. = Я со всей
м-ра… как очень
is a diligent, loyal and trust-worthy in every way. = Он
доверия во всех
is my opinion that he would be a credit to your firm. = По
он будет … для
PROPOSALS AND PROMISES (top)
positive response on… = положительный
only two changes = только с
withdraw a proposal = снять предложение
the following conditions = на следующих
promised… = Как было
look forward to… = Мы надеемся…
we requested… = Как мы уже
should be very happy to… = Мне было
бы очень приятно…
is more possible for us to…= Для нас
you find our terms acceptable… = Если
вы найдете наши
case out proposal would be acceptable… = В случае,
если на предложение
the above idea is attractive to you… = Если
идея вас привлекает…
the idea appeal to you? = Вам нравится
would prefer to… = Мы бы предпочли…
would like to make some changes in… = Нам бы
shall do our best to… = Мы сделаем
hope you will not mind… = Надеюсь,
вы не будете
USEFUL BUSINESS WRITING EXPRESSIONS
persons concerned = все имеющие
к этому отношение
pleasant surprise = приятный
addition to… = в дополнение
far as = насколько…
order to… = для того
a certain degree = до определенной
a certain extent = до определенной
a great extent = в значительной
above = не более
follows = следующие…
to… = в соответствие
the ground that… = на том
view of the above said… = ввиду
connection with… = в связи
accordance with… = в соответствии
a result of… = как результат…
the fact that… = несмотря
на тот факт
for… = за исключением…
no case = ни в коем случае
= и так далее
example = например
general = в общем
called… = в дальнейшем
above = вышеупомянутый
the law = по закону
your convenience = как вам удобно
soon as possible = как можно
fail = непременно
case of necessity = в случае
the present time = в настоящее
and contra = за и против
and demand = предложение
of great importance = дело большой
take into account = принимать
take into consideration = принимать
draw your attention to… = привлечь
к тому что…
take the liberty of… = взять на
We are taking the liberty of… = Мы
берем на себя
As you may know… = Как вы,
We have no doubt of… (that…) = У нас
в … (том что…)
It is to be noted… = Необходимо
иметь в виду…)
I hope… = Надеюсь…
Let me… = Разрешите
A. Ashley A
handbook of commercial correspondence; Oxford
University Press, 1992
B. J. Naterop, E. Weis, E.
letters for all;
Oxford University Press, 1994
A. Fowles, M. Miller, J. Stocker
English Language Teaching, 1995
R. Wincor Contracts
in plain English;
Princeton review, 1993
E. Gowers The
complete plain words;
Nelson ELT, 1995
L. Jones, R. Alexander New
International English Teacher’s
book; Cambridge University Press, 1996
M. Doherty, L. Knapp. S. Swift Write
Э.М. Басс Научная
Пресс", М., 1989
V. Hollett, Business
University Press, 1991
D. Horner, P. Strutt Words
at work. Vocabulary development for business
Cambridge University Press, 1996
P. O'Connor, A. Pilbeam Negotiating,
Longman Group UK, 1992
D. Davies, D. Pickett English
Longman Group UK, 1997
N. Brieger Advanced
Oxford University Press, 1993
В. В. Сафонова
In recent years English has become a universal
business language. As such, it is potentially an instrument of
order and clarity. A neatly arranged letter will certainly make a
better impression on the reader, thus good letters make good business
partners. But words and phrases have unexpected ways of creating
Letter-writing, certainly, is not
the same as casual conversation,
it bears only the same power of thoughts,
reflections, and observations
as in conversational talk, but the
form may be quite different. What makes the letter so
attractive and pleasing is
not always the massage of the letter,
it is often the manner and style in which the massage
In the case of "scientific correspondence" the
majority of letters bear mostly a semi-official character and
are concerned with different situations associated with scientific
activities concentrated around the organisation of scientific
meetings (congresses, symposia, workshops, etc.), the
arrangement of visit, invitation, publication, the exchange of
scientific literature, information, etc. Letters of this kind have a
tone of friendliness, naturalism. Modern English letters
should not be exaggerated, overburdened, outmoded with time-worn
expressions. The key note is simplicity. Modern letters tend
towards using the language of conversational style.
Writing is not only a means of communication
and contact, but also a record of affairs, information, events,
etc. So it is necessary to feel the spirit and trend of the style
in order to write a perfect letter.
Business-letter or contract law is a complex and
vastly documented subject, only a lawyer can deal with it on a
serious level. A number of basic principles, however, can be
outlined sufficiently to mark of encounters that require the use of
Your knowledge of Business English lexics is crucially
just the right amount of information in your letter. (But better to
include too much than too little.)
your letter before you start writing, to make sure it says
everything you want to say and says it in a logical sequence.
a simple but polite style of language. Beware of idioms.
letter should be clear and unambiguous. Take care with abbreviations
is important. Pay special attention to titles, names and addresses,
references, prices, and enclosures.
Writing of business letters is highly complicated
science. It is not enough for a good business letter writing
to know lexics and grammar, but you should comprehend the whole
range of such things as: occasions on which the particular letter is
written, the style of letter, useful expressions, and accepted
idioms. There are certain rules which not everybody could learn
since they have to be felt by correspondents. Letter writing
requires long practice and experience.
In spite of the difficulties of business correspondence,
we as teachers of the English language must be able to prepare our
students to be proficient in any sphere of the language.
In order to do that we must primarily know how to teach
the “golden rule” which must be followed by every
business correspondent that the official letter should be formal,
courteous, tactful, concise, expressive, and to the point.
The basic forms of communication
barriers to business communication………………………
of business communication …………………………………………....
writing (letters, memos and reports, other documents)…...
Types of business correspondence
(appointments; travel arrangements; invitations; job
applications; goodwill letters; etc) …………………………..
on business situations
quotations; sales letters; orders; complaints; acknowledging of
payment; etc) …………………………….
and lexical peculiarities of business letters …………………………
of a business letter ………………………………………..
of a business letter …………………………………………
3. Rules and manners
of writing a business letter ……………………..
4. Style of a business
of business letters
cliches; abbreviations, etc.) ……………..
of business correspondence ………………………………………………..
Название - Linguistic Background of Business Correspondence (на англ. языке)
Раздел - Иностранные языки (Английский) или Лингвистика (Лексикология)
Назначение - Дипломная работа
Формат - WinWord 97
Автор - Гадюкова Екатерина,
Использование - год сдачи - 2001, преподаватель - Булатова С. М., Алматинский ИнЯз, кафедра лексикологии, оценка 5.
Примечание - 1 - для студентов языковых вузов, особенно для Анг. Педагогических факультетов
2- часть материала четвертой главы взята из реферата Lexico-Semantic Characteristics of Business Letter Correspondence
О получении - пожалуйста, известите меня о получении и размещении моей дипломной работы
a man’s letters you know, Madam, his soul lies naked, his
letters are only the mirror of his breast, whatever passes within him
is shown undisguised in its natural process. Nothing is inverted,
nothing distorted, you see systems in their elements, you discover
actions in their motives. ----Samuel Johnson (1709–84), English
are above all useful as a means of expressing the ideal self; and no
other method of communication is quite so good for this purpose. …
In letters we can reform without practice, beg without humiliation,
snip and shape embarrassing experiences to the measure of our own
desires. … -----Elizabeth Hardwick (b. 1916), U.S. author,
is as much concerned in answering letters within a reasonable time,
as it is in returning a bow, immediately. ----Lord Chesterfield
(1694–1773), English statesman,
more than kisses, letters mingle souls.
For, thus friends absent
speak. -----John Donne (c. 1572–1631), English poet.
Letter writing - is an essential part
of communication, an intimate part of business and life
experience. Each letter-writer has a
characteristic way of writing,
his style of writing, his way of
expressing thoughts, facts, etc. But it must be
emphasised that the routine of
the official or semi-official business
letters requires certain accepted idioms, phrases,
patterns, and grammar which
are found in general use today.
Therefore certain skills
must be acquired by practice, and
details of writing must be
carefully and thoroughly learnt.
The choice of this topic for my diploma paper was mostly
conditioned by the fact that the students studying English at our
University are almost unable to write proper business letters and
that the problem of writing business letters is still not
I think that it is very important to
know a constituent part of modern business communication.
As nowadays more and more agreements are made in English, for
English is the nearest thing we have to a universal business
language. Joint ventures, bank loans, and trademark licenses
frequently are spelled out in this language even though it is
not native to at least one of the contracting parties.
The subject matter of the diploma
paper is the role of lexics and semantics in the case of business
letter correspondence. The question of the history of official
communication, the main stages of business transactions, the role of
person’s feeling for the proper use of phrases as well as his
knowledge of grammar are highlighted. Moreover, those phrases which
are more often used in business letters are examined from the point
of view of their appropriateness in different situations. The
practical part contains many examples of business letters; the
occasions on which they were written and some of their
characteristics are observed.
The aim of my diploma paper is to study business letters
from the lexicological point of view and make the matter of business
letter writing less complicated.
The objectives and purposes of the paper may be
formulated as follows:
Critical study of the material on
Exposure of the aims, place,
importance, role and contents of the aspect of letter-writing in the
course of Lexicology and Business English classes;
Defining the specificity of lexics
in different spheres of business correspondence;
Searching the peculiarities of the
structure, manners and styles of business letters;
Defining and stating the rules of
writing a business letter;
Arranging and classifying the
business letters according to the sphere of usage;
Giving useful tips and advice to
anyone interested in business letter writing.
To achieve the set aims I have
collected more then 100 letters on various issues of business
correspondence. Then, I made a thematic classification and
description of letters concerning different spheres of business
(trade, finance, industry, international inquiries and reports,
etc.). Having analysed each type separately, I came to the conclusion
that there are certain common rules which need through studying.
While searching the letters I mostly paid attention to the specific
usage of lexics, semantics, manners and styles of business letter
As resource for my paper I used a
list of business books, various reference books, dictionaries,
language textbooks, real pieces of business correspondence and
different sites of the Internet.
Nowadays, we have a great need of
Business English teachers and I do hope that my diploma paper could
be really useful especially for them. It also contains good material
for the students of language higher institutions, and could be as
well appreciated by any person interested in the course of business
My diploma paper consists of
Introduction, four chapters, Conclusion and Appendix.
Kazakh State University of
World Languages named after Abylay Khan
Linguistic Background of
Basic Forms Of Communication
As David Glass is well aware, effective communicators
have many tools at their disposal when they want to get across a
message. Whether writing or speaking, they know how to put together
the words that will convey their meaning. They reinforce their words
with gestures and actions. They look you in the eye, listen to what
you have to say, and think about your feelings and needs. At the same
time, they study your reactions, picking up the nuances of your
response by watching your face and body, listening to your tone of
voice, and evaluating your words. They absorb information just as
efficiently as they transmit it, relying on both non-verbal and
- Non-Verbal Communication
The most basic form of communication is non-verbal.
Anthropologists theorize that long before human beings used words to
talk things over, our ancestors communicated with one another by
using their bodies. They gritted their teeth to show anger; they
smiled and touched one another to indicate affection. Although
we have come a long way since those primitive times, we still use
non-verbal cues to express superiority, dependence, dislike, respect,
love, and other feelings.
Non-verbal communication differs from verbal
communication in fundamental ways. For one thing, it is less
structured, which makes it more difficult to study. A person cannot
pick up a book on non-verbal language and master the vocabulary of
gestures, expressions, and inflections that are common in our
culture. We don't really know how people learn non-verbal behaviour.
No one teaches a baby to cry or smile, yet these forms of
self-expression are almost universal. Other types of non-verbal
communication, such as the meaning of colors and certain gestures,
vary from culture to culture.
Non-verbal communication also differs from verbal
communication in terms of intent and spontaneity. We generally plan
our words. When we say "please open the door," we have a
conscious purpose. We think about the message, if only for a moment.
But when we communicate non-verbally, we sometimes do so
unconsciously. We don't mean to raise an eyebrow or blush. Those
actions come naturally. Without our consent, our emotions are written
all over our faces.
The functions of non-verbal
Although non-verbal communication can stand alone, it
frequently works with speech. Our words carry part of the message,
and non-verbal signals carry the rest. Together, the two modes of
expression make a powerful team, augmenting, reinforcing, and
clarifying each other.
Experts in non-verbal communication suggest that it have
six specific functions:
• To provide information, either consciously or
• To regulate the flow of conversation
• To express emotion
• To qualify, complement, contradict, or expand
• To control or influence others
• To facilitate specific tasks, such as teaching a
person to swing a golf club.
Non-verbal communication plays a role in business too.
For one thing, it helps establish credibility and leadership
potential. If you can learn to manage the impression you create with
your body language, facial characteristics, voice, and appearance,
you can do a great deal to communicate that you are competent,
trustworthy, and dynamic. For example, Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton
has developed a homespun style that puts people at ease, thereby
helping them to be more receptive, perhaps even more open.
Furthermore, if you can learn to read other people's
non-verbal messages, you will be able to interpret their underlying
attitudes and intentions more accurately. When dealing with
co-workers, customers, and clients, watch carefully for small
signs that reveal how the conversation is going. If you aren't having
the effect you want, check your words; then, if your words are all
right, try to be aware of the non-verbal meanings you are
transmitting. At the same time, stay tuned to the non-verbal signals
that the other person is sending.
2. Verbal Communication
Although you can express many things non-verbally, there
are limits to what you can communicate without the help of language.
If you want to discuss past events, ideas, or abstractions, you need
words—symbols that stand for thoughts — arranged in
meaningful patterns. In the English language, we have a 750,000,
although most of us recognize only about 20,000 of them. To
create a thought with these words, we arrange them according to the
rules of grammar, putting the various parts of speech in the proper
We then transmit the message in spoken or written form,
hoping that someone will hear or read what we have to say. Figure 1.1
shows how much time business people devote to the various types of
verbal communication. They use speaking and writing to send messages;
they use listening and reading to receive them.
Speaking and writing
When it comes to sending business messages, speaking is
more common than writing. Giving instructions, conducting interviews,
working in small groups, attending meetings, and making speeches are
all important activities. Even though writing may be less common, it
is important too. When you want to send a complex message of lasting
significance, you will probably want to put it in writing.
Listening and reading
It's important to remember that effective
communication is a two-way street. People in business spend more time
obtaining information than transmitting it, so to do their jobs
effectively, they need good listening and reading skills.
Unfortunately, most of us are not very good listeners. Immediately
after hearing a ten-minute speech, we typically remember only half of
what was said. A few days later, we've forgotten three-quarters of
the message. To some extent, our listening problems stem from
our education, or lack of it. We spend years learning to express our
ideas, but few of us ever take a course in listening.
our reading skills often leave a good deal to be desired. Recent
studies indicate that approximately 38 percent of the adults in the
United States have trouble reading the help-wanted ads in the
newspaper, 14 percent cannot fill out a check properly, 26 percent
can't figure out the deductions listed on their paycheques, and 20
percent are functionally illiterate. Even those who do read may not
know how to read effectively. They have trouble extracting the
important points from a document, so they cannot make the most of the
College student are probably better at listening and
reading than are many other people, partly because they get so much
practice. On the basis of our own experience, no doubt realise that
our listening and reading efficiency varies tremendously, depending
on how we approach the task. Obtaining and remembering information
takes a special effort.
Although listening and reading obviously differ, both
require a similar approach. The first step is to register the
information, which means that you must tune out distractions and
focus your attention. You must then interpret and evaluate the
information, respond in some fashion, and file away the data for
The most important part of this process is
interpretation and evaluation, which is no easy matter. While
absorbing the material, we must decide what is important and what
isn't. One approach is to look for the main ideas and the most
important supporting details, rather than trying to remember
everything we read or hear. If we can discern the structure of the
material, we can also understand the relationships among the ideas.
3. Language Barriers
If we're doing business in London, we obviously won't
have much of a language problem. We may encounter a few unusual
terms or accents in the 29 countries in which English is an official
language, but our problems will be relatively minor. Language
barriers will also be relatively minor when we are dealing with
people who use English as a second language (and some 650 million
people fall into this category). Some of these millions are extremely
fluent; others have only an elementary command of English. Although
you may miss a few subtleties in dealing with those who are less
fluent in English, we’ll still be able to communicate. The
pitfall to watch for is assuming that the other person understands
everything we say, even slang, local idioms, and accents. One group
of English-speaking Japanese who moved to the United States as
employees of Toyota had to enroll in a special course to learn that
"Jeat yet?" means "Did you eat yet?" and that
"Cannahepya?" means "Can I help you?"
Barriers to written communication
One survey of 100 companies engaged in international
business revealed that between 95 and 99 percent of their business
letters to other countries are written in English. Moreover, 59
percent of the respondents reported that the foreign letters they
receive are usually written in English, although they also receive
letters written in Spanish and French. Other languages are rare in
international business correspondence.
Because many international business letters are written
in English, North American firms do not always have to worry about
translating their correspondence. However, even when both
parties write in English, minor interpretation problems do exist
because of different usage of technical terms. These problems do not
usually pose a major barrier to communication, especially if
correspondence between the two parties continues and each gradually
learns the terminology of the other.
More significant problems arise in other forms of
written communication that require translation. Advertisements, for
example, are almost always translated into the language of the
country in which the products are being sold. Documents such as
warranties, repair and maintenance manuals, and product labels also
require translation. In addition, some multinational companies
must translate policy and procedure manuals and benefit plans for use
in overseas offices. Reports from foreign subsidiaries to the home
office may also be written in one language and then translated into
Sometimes the translations aren't very good. For
example, the well-known slogan "Come alive with Pepsi" was
translated literally for Asian markets as "Pepsi brings your
ancestors back from the grave," with unfortunate results. Part
of the message is almost inevitably lost during any translation
process, sometimes with major consequences.
Barriers to oral communication
Oral communication usually presents more problems than
written communication. If you have ever studied a foreign
language, you know from personal experience that it's easier to write
in a foreign language than to conduct a conversation. Even if the
other person is speaking English, you're likely to have a hard time
understanding the pronunciation if the person is not proficient
are another source of confusion. If you tell a foreigner that a
certain product "doesn't cut the mustard," chances are that
you will fail to communicate. Even when the words make sense, their
meanings may differ according to the situation. For example, suppose
that you are dining with a German woman who speaks English quite
well. You inquire, "More bread?" She says, "Thank
you," so you pass the bread. She looks confused, then takes the
breadbasket and sets it down without taking any. In German, thank
you (danke) can
also be used as a polite refusal. If the woman had wanted more bread,
she would have used the word please
Types of Business
The primary tools for communicating information in
business include e-mail messages, memos, letters, reports, phone
calls, meetings, and conversations. To determine which is the best to
use in a given situation, start by asking yourself the following
much information do I have to pass along?
many people will receive the message?
quickly does it need to reach them?
much time do the recipients need to respond to it?
formal should the presentation be?
· Is the
· How are
people likely to respond to it?
Because of its speed and informality, e-mail is ideal
for routine communication between coworkers. For instance, an e-mail
message is usually the best means of announcing a new policy,
introducing a recent hire, informing colleagues of a meeting time,
and reminding an employee of an approaching deadline.
E-mail messages are also useful for day-to-day
or extremely timely exchanges with people outside the company.
Because of their low cost, they often are preferred for communicating
with overseas contacts.
e-mail messages are now used instead of memos for most intercompany
communication, memos are still suitable for notes sent to people
higher in the company hierarchy, especially in conservative
The memo is also appropriate for lengthy, formal
communications to coworkers that may eventually be circulated to your
supervisors or to contacts in other companies.
letter is now used primarily for formal correspondence with clients,
customers, and others outside the company, particularly people you
have not met.
Imagine, for instance, that you need to ask for advice
or information from someone you do not know personally. The person
will likely give a letter more attention than an e-mail message
because a letter conveys an added element of formality and courtesy.
complex document of more than ten pages, especially one that will be
shown to outside contacts, is best presented as a report. A routine
report can be easily produced using a word processor and a laser
printer. Important reports for potential clients, stockholders, or
others you might want to impress usually should be professionally
designed and printed, often in full color on heavy or glossy paper.
Conversations, and Meetings
advantage of a phone conversation is that it allows both parties to
respond to each other immediately. If you and a coworker have several
questions for each other, asking them in a single phone call is
usually less time-consuming than exchanging a long series of e-mail
Personal matters or topics that might elicit a highly
emotional response are best discussed in person. As common sense will
tell you, sending an e-mail or memo reading “You’re
fired!” is not the most delicate or responsible way of dealing
with a difficult situation.
Face-to-face meetings are usually the safest way of
communicating confidential information. Meetings are also useful when
a quick group decision is needed on a particular problem or issue.
Important side benefits of meetings are that they allow employees in
different departments or divisions to become acquainted and can often
foster a sense of shared mission among coworkers.
Intercultural business writing falls into the same
general categories as other forms of business writing. How you handle
these categories depends on the subject and purpose of your message,
the relationship between you and the reader, and the customs of the
person to whom the message is addressed.
are the most common form of intercultural business correspondence.
They serve the same purposes and follow the same basic organizational
plans (direct and indirect) as letters you would send within your own
country. Unless you are personally fluent in the language of the
intended readers, you should ordinarily write your letters in English
or have them translated by a professional translator. If you and
the reader speak different languages, be especially concerned with
• Use short, precise words that say exactly what
• Rely on specific terms to explain your points.
Avoid abstractions altogether, or illustrate them with concrete
• Stay away from slang, jargon, and
buzz words. Such words rarely translate well. Nor do idioms and
figurative expressions. Abbreviations, tscfo-nyms
(such as NOKAI) and CAD/CAM), and North American product names may
also lead to confusion.
• Construct sentences that are shorter and simpler
than those you might use when writing to someone fluent in English.
• Use short paragraphs. Each paragraph should stick
to one topic and be no more than eight to ten lines.
• Help readers follow your train of
thought by using transitional devices. Precede related points with
expressions like in addition
and first, second, third.
• Use numbers, visual aids, and pre-printed forms
to clarify your message. These devices are generally understood in
Your word choice should also reflect the relationship
between you and the reader. In general, be somewhat more formal than
you would be in writing to people in your own culture. In many other
cultures, people use a more elaborate, old-fashioned style, and you
should gear your letters to their expectations. However, do not carry
formality to extremes, or you will sound unnatural.
In terms of format, the two most common
approaches for intercultural business letters are the block style
(with blocked paragraphs) and the modified block style (with indented
paragraphs). You may use either the American format for dates
(with the month, day, and year, in that order) or the European style
(with the day before the month and year). For the salutation, use
Dear (Title/Last Name).
Close the letter with Sincerely or Sincerely
yours, and sign it personally.
If you correspond frequently with people in foreign
countries, your letterhead should include the name of your
country and cable or telex information. Send your letters by air
mail, and ask that responses be sent that way as well.
Check the postage too; rates for sending mail to most
other countries are not the same as rates for sending it within your
In the letters you receive, you will notice that people
in other countries use different techniques for their correspondence.
If you are aware of some of these practices, you will be able to
concentrate on the message without passing judgement on the writers.
Their approaches are not good or bad, just different.
The Japanese, for example, are slow to come to the
point. Their letters typically begin with a remark about the season
or weather. This is followed by an inquiry about your health or
congratulations on your prosperity. A note of thanks for your
patronage might come next. After these preliminaries, the main idea
is introduced. If the letter contains bad news, the Japanese begin
not with a buffer, but with apologies for disappointing you.
Letters from Latin America look different too. Instead
of using letterhead stationery, Latin American companies use a cover
page with their printed seal in the centre. Their letters appear to
be longer, because they use much wider margins.
Memos and reports
Memos and reports sent overseas fall into two general
categories: those written to and from subsidiaries, branches, or
joint venture partners and those written to clients or other
outsiders. When the memo or report has an internal audience, the
style may differ only slightly from that of a memo or report written
for internal use in North America. Because sender and recipient have
a working relationship and share a common frame of reference, many of
the language and cultural barriers that lead to misunderstandings
have already been overcome. However, if the reader's native language
is not English, you should take extra care to ensure clarity: Use
concrete and explicit words, simple and direct sentences, short
paragraphs, headings, and many transitional devices.
If the memo or report is written for an external
audience, the style of the document should be relatively formal and
impersonal. If possible, the format should be like that of reports
typically prepared or received by the audience. In the case of long,
formal reports, it is also useful to discuss reporting requirements
and expectations with the recipient beforehand and to submit a
preliminary draft for comments before delivering the final
Many international transactions involve
shipping and receiving goods. A number of special-purpose
documents are required to handle these transactions:
price quotations, invoices, bills of
lading, time drafts, letters of credit, correspondence with
international freight forwarders, packing lists, shipping documents,
and collection documents. Many of these documents are standard forms;
you simply fill in the data as clearly and accurately as possible in
the spaces provided. Samples are ordinarily available in a company's
files if it frequently does business abroad. If not, you may obtain
descriptions of the necessary documentation from the United States
Department of Commerce, International Trade Administration,
Washington, D.C., 20230. (For Canadian information, contact the
Department of External Affairs, Trade Division, Ottawa, Ontario,
When preparing forms, pay particular attention to the
method you use for stating weights and measures and money values. The
preferred method is to use the other country's system of measurement
and its currency values for documenting the transaction; however, if
your company uses U.S. or Canadian weights, measures, and dollars,
you should follow that policy. Check any conversion calculations
of Business Correspondence
on social situations
and Travel Arrangements
personal meetings, talks take priority over writing, yet appointments
and travel arrangements often involve correspondence. Even if
appointments have been made verbally it is wise to confirm them in
writing, as a letter is clearer to all parties concerned than a
telephone message, where it is easy to misinterpret dates and places.
arrangements can, of course, be made without writing letters.
However, correspondence is necessary if accommodation is to be booked
abroad, or if one is to travel further from places outside one's own
mentioned in my letter of 9 August, I am planning to spend a few days
in London next month, on my way to the United States. The dates are
now settled: I shall at Heathrow on Wednesday, 3 September (Flight BA
602 15 30) and leave on Friday night. I shall be staying at the
Cumberland Hotel, Marble Arch, London W1.
September 3 I already have some appointments, but could come to your
office any time on Thursday, 4 September. Would you kindly leave a
message at my hotel letting me know what time would suit you.
of the most important matters to be discussed is the percentage of
commission you could give us for distributing your SELECT copier in
Egypt. As we have already indicated, 10% is unacceptable to us: we
require at least 12% if we are to do a good job of selling this
equipment in Egypt.
the hope that we can come to terms, and looking forward to meeting
you, I am,
Accepting and Declining
formal invitation, usually in the form of a letter or printed card,
is written in the third person, and replies also follow the same
style. Other invitations are written less formally. Any written
invitations should be answered in writing too, not by phone.
distinction is made between a formal invitation, a semi-formal and
informal invitation, and the correct form of reply to each is
behalf of the Russian Academy of Sciences and the Organizing
Committee of the 10th
International congress on brain surgery I have the honour and
pleasure of extending to you an invitation to participate in the work
of Congress and to give a lecture at the Plenary Session covering
your area of research.
early reply to this letter would be appreciated.
of the Organizing Committee
very much regret that I am unable to accept your kind invitation to a
Reception to be held in Hotel Ritz at seven o’clock on Friday,
the tenth of March, 2000, as I have already accepted a previous
invitation for that date and time.
and Jane Doe
are pleased to accept the kind invitation of
and Jane Smith
to join them in celebrating the graduation of
their daughter, Jane
Saturday, the twentieth of June, at 4
at the Riverside Country Club, 4500 Riverside Drive
for Hospitality, Requests, Complying with a Request
is a matter of courtesy to write to your host personally if you have
enjoyed his/her company's hospitality. Here you can see how to
express thanks for the fulfilment of other requests, too.
August 29, 1999
was a pleasure meeting you today, Mr Smith. You couldn't have chosen
a better restaurant. The food was superb.Thank you.
am glad we had plenty of time to discuss the construction project.
You helped clear up almost all the questions I had. And you pointed
me in the right direction to find the answers to the few queries I
look forward to meeting you again in the near future. I will call you
when I return from my trip to the head office and then it will be my
pleasure to treat you to lunch.
Dr. J. R Ewing
August 29, 1999
SUBJECT: Marriage Benefits
on getting married, Jim. Best wishes to you and your bride for a long
and happy life together.
that you are changing your status, we need to discuss your health
insurance and retirement plans. As well, I would like to explain our
company policies as they affect you and your wife. Could you drop by
my office as soon as you return from your honeymoon so that we can
Applications, Letters of Recommendation, Giving
writing a letter of application, the applicant would like to say what
job and conditions he or she would like to have. But a good letter of
application should contain facts the prospective employer wants to
know, for instance what experience the applicant has, how useful he
or she will be to the company. If he has held several positions, it
would be advisable for the applicant to submit a personal data sheet,
the curriculum vitae, containing full personal details and
information on the past experience, education and certificates or
degrees, special qualifications, and possibly references.
letter then can serve to draw the reader's attention to the
candidates' suitability for the vacancy. If you are starting your
career and have had one or two jobs, or none at all, all the
particulars can be included in the letter itself.
contract of employment defines the conditions of work, the working
hours, holidays allowed, responsibilities and notice. It may contain
a job description and give information on fringe benefits such as
company pension scheme, bonuses, expenses and commission where
applicable. When employment is terminated by either party, notice has
to be given in writing and the set period observed.
letter is in response to your advertisement in the Financial
for a position
I have three years experience in the field of market research.
am ready for long hours and travel required to be an effective
resume is attached for your resource.
have been working for “Newborn
years and I always enjoyed and valued my job. As well I always
enjoyed and valued my salary.
the total crisis in the country and the recent ruble inflation make
me ask for a certain adjustment of my salary which is now 8.000
rubles. Three months ago this sum equaled to approx.
US dollars while today it is less the 200
into consideration the above calculations I am requesting a salary
adjustment of 17.000
rubles. Thank you in advance for your prompt consideration of this
work has been excellent. However, your absentee record is now
overshadowing your work record. I realize that your health has been
poor but one of our job requirements is regular attendance. We have
difficulty scheduling when we cannot depend on your attendance.
have discussed this subject with you several times before. Now your
attendance must meet our requirements or we will have to terminate
letters: Congratulations, Introductions, Condolence, Christmas and
New Year Wishes
goodwill letter, as its name implies, is not written to obtain an
order, or to collect outstanding bills. It is intended to pay for
itself in another way, by building up goodwill. It is difficult to
measure its value, but if this could be done businessmen would
probably write goodwill letters more often.
give both the reader and writer pleasure when the occasion arises to
enclose a gift, to send good wishes, to express thanks or to remember
an anniversary. Letters of introduction can also be a great help,
both to a young person starting out n a particular field of business
and to the established businessman wishing to expand his operations.
letters let customers feel that they are in tough - in good times and
bad - when business friends show sympathy, when they offer
assistance, and when congratulations are due.
want to introduce you to Ms
who worked with me at Connaught
is a person of great
intellect and work ability.
is currently involved in a project which might be of interest to you,
and he shall be contacting you soon to arrange a meeting.
am sure you will benefit if you agree to see her.
wife and I are coming to Delhi for a fairy long stay, as I have
business there that will keep me several months. I know you have
lived in Delhi for several years, and I wonder if you would kindly
give us some introductions.
I shall be very occupied, my wife may feel lonely at times. If she
knew one or two people whom she could visit now and again, it would
be very pleasant for her.
would be most grateful for your help. If there is anything I can do
for you - either here in the states or when I am in Delhi - please do
not hesitate to let me know.
American Press Office
Office Equipment Inc.
Box 295 Nassau
the close of another year, we would like to take this opportunity of
thanking our friends and customers for their continued confidence and
send you and your families our best wishes for Christmas and a very
prosperous New Year.
Correspondence on business situations
inquiry (also spelt enquiry) is sent when a businessman wants some
information, especially about
businessman will save unnecessary correspondence by giving full
details that are relevant.
a prospective customer approaches suppliers for the first time, it
is useful to tell them something about his own business, the kind of
goods he needs and for what purpose they are required. In this case
of customers of long standing or repeat orders, the inquiry may be
very simple. Often a phone call or a postcard will do.
GRANT & CLARKSON
saw your women's dresses and suits at the London Fashion Show
held in New York on October 17. The lines you showed for teenagers,
the "Swinger" dresses and trouser suits would be most
suitable for our market.
you kindly send us your quotation for spring and summer clothing
that you could supply to us by the end of January next. We would
require 2,000 dresses and suits in each of the sizes 10-14, and
500 in sizes 8 and 16. Please quote c.i.f. Chicago prices. Payment
is normally made by letter of credit.
you for an early reply.
Victoria Cycle Works
business agents in India have asked us for quotations for 10,000
bicycles, to be exported to Sri Lanka, India, Pakistan and Nepal.
let us know what quantities you are able to deliver at regular
intervals, quoting your best terms f.o.b. Brisbane. We shall handle
export formalities, but would ask you to calculate container
transport to Brisbane for onward shipment.
quotation in reply to an inquiry may be a simple one, containing
simply the prices and other information asked for. The
sales-conscious businessman, however, will take the opportunity to
stimulate his correspondent's interest in his goods or services by
including a sales message and the assurance that the customer will
receive personal attention.
are also sent without a preceding inquiry when a supplier wants to
draw the attention of customers and new customers to a special
product or range of goods. A firm
offer is subject
to certain conditions, a deadline for the receipt of orders, or a
special price for certain quantities.
(export quotation: firm offer, reply to the first inquiry example)
Matthews & Wilson
Mr. P. Wilson, Jr.
are pleased to make you an offer regarding our ‘Swinger’
dresses and trouser suits in the size you require. Nearly all the
models you saw at our fashion show are obtainable, except trouser
suits in pink, of which the smaller sizes have been sold out. This
line is being manufactured continuously, but will only be available
again in February, so could be delivered to you in March.
other models can be supplied by the middle of January 1998, subject
to our receiving your form order by 15th
of November. Our c.i.f. prices are understood to be for sea/land
transport to Chicago. If you would prefer the goods to be sent by
air freight, this will be charged extra at cost
suits sizes 8-16 in white, yellow, red,
navy blue, black
12,14 also in pink per 100 $2,650.00
dresses sizes 8-16 in white,
red, turquoise, black per 100 $1,845.00
valid until 31st
by irrevocable letter of credit or cheque with order
will be receiving price-list, cutting of our materials and a colour
chart. These were airmailed to you this morning.
hope you agree that our prices are very competitive for these good
quality clothes, and look forward to receiving your initial order.
reply to your letter of 21st
November, we have pleasure in enclosing a detailed quotation for
bathroom showers. Besides those advertised in the "Builders'
Journal", our illustrated catalogue also enclosed shows various
types of bathroom fittings and the sixes available. Most types can
be supplied from stock. Four-six weeks should be allowed for
delivery of those marked with an asterisk. Building contractors all
over Britain have found our equipment easy to install and attractive
orders you place with us will be processed promptly.
Direct advertising, in the form of letters to a
selected group of readers, is an effective way to promote sales.
Such sales letters should appeal to the potential customer. They
arouse the reader's attention
create desire to make use of your offer
convince him that these products or services are the
best ones for him
activate him to place an order
Almost any communication can be used
as a sales letter. Announcements
to customers and others or important
changes can be
used to make your company, your products or services better known to
the public, and to attract buyers.
the field of fruit preserves, English jams marmalades have been
regarded as the best for the century and a half. Their reputation is
spread by everyone who tastes them: they are recommended by word of
mouth to relatives, friends and many prospective customers. English
fruit farmers supply FARMARES with the best quality produce from
their orchards and gardens. Fresh citrus fruits are imported from
Spain and Israel all year round.
refer to the enclosed price-list, and let us know your requirements
on the form attached. You may be able to profit from special terms
on your initial order. Delivery can be made shortly after we receive
your order. FARMERS look forward to hearing from you soon
A buyer need not accept the prices
and terms offered by the seller unconditionally. There will often be
good reason to make a counter-proposal
with the object of
obtaining better prices or terms, or a shorter time of delivery. As
a result of these negotiations, the supplier could make a
particularly for an introductory sale, or if the customer places a
Rio de Janeiro
you for your letter of 10th
November, enclosing your price-list. The 2 lb tins of marmalade
would not be suitable for our customers, but we should like to buy
15,000 1 lb jars. However, there is one disadvantage when compared
with local produce. Housewives here are used to a jar containing 500
grammes; the English pound is only 454 grammes. Therefore we would
ask you to reduce the prices quoted for quality A2 by ten per cent.
far as the settlement is concerned, we would suggest paying half the
amount against your invoice on receipt of the goods, and the second
half within 30 days, deducting 2 per cent discount.
samples arrived yesterday, and we must admit that your marmalade is
delicious. Would you kindly let us know as soon as possible if you
can supply us on the terms mentioned.
Orders, Order Acknowledgements
In comparison to the correspondence
so far, placing an
order is simple
from the point of view of letter-writing. Very often the purchasing
department or the buyer fills in an order form, although he may
prefer to write a letter to make certain points quite clear. There
could be special import regulations, which make it necessary to
complete formalities, or he may want to stress delivery instructions
or other matters.
The supplier sends an order
promptly, to thank his customer for the order. If prices or delivery
times have changed, the customer must be notified. If the goods
ordered are no longer available, a substitute may be offered.
you for your quotation of October 30. We have pleasure in placing an
order with you for
‘Swinger’ dresses at Price:
the colours and sizes specified below:
air freight, c.i.f., Chicago
shall open a letter of credit with your bank as soon as we receive
your order acknowledgement. Please arrange for immediate collection
and transport since we need the dresses for Christmas.
Dispatch, Packing, Transport
When the supplier has made up the
order and arranged shipment, the customer is informed of this in an
advice of dispatch.
This may be done on a special form or in a letter.
di Pietra Papa, 00146 Roma
(06) 681 5473
Crane, Chief Buyer
would like to advise you that your order has been shipped on the SS
and should reach you within the next ten days.
our bank has forwarded the relevant documents and sight draft for $
1, 445.60 to the Northminister Bank Birmingham.
are sure you will be pleased with the consignment and look forward
to your next order.
have pleasure in notifying you that your credit was confirmed by our
bank yesterday, 19th
November. We have had the 1900 ‘Swinger’ dresses
collected today for transport by British Airways to Chicago on 25th
is our invoice for the goods in question plus the extra charges for
air freight, packing list to facilitate customs clearance at your
end, certificate of origin, air waybill and insurance policy.
that this initial order will lead to further business, we are
Payment and Reminders
Customers usually settle their
accounts by cheque when payment is due, according to the terms of
payment. However, some overlook the date and have to be reminded of
the amount outstanding. The first letter is written in a friendly
tone, as the delay may have been due to an oversight. When payment
has not been
received in reply to this reminder,
the creditor will write again in a firmer tone. If the debtor gives
no reason for non-payment
and sends no remittance, the last course is to use the services of a
collection agency or to take legal actions.
may be good reasons for a customer's inability to pay. Where
possible he should at least make a part payment, and agree to settle
the balance of his account within a reasonable time.
settlement of your invoice No. 20015, we enclose our cheque for
$870. May we add that we are pleased with the way you executed this
order. The furniture arrived exactly on time, and could be put on
sale without delay.
were pleased to receive your check for $870. It has been credited to
your account, which is now completely clear.
give us an opportunity of serving you again in any way we can.
Complaints, Handling complaints
Mistakes may occur in day-to-day
business, and these give cause for complaints.
There might have been a misunderstanding about the goods to be
supplied; perhaps the warehouse clerk made an error in addressing
the parcel; sometimes a consignment is dispatched too late or delays
are caused in transit; damages may have occurred during delivery; a
manufacturing defect is discovered when a machine is used. The
customer is understandably annoyed.
He will get better results if he takes the trouble to
explain his complaint clearly, and to propose ways in which matters
can be put right. His company may make mistakes too: firms often
have to manage with insufficiently trained personnel or to contend
with staff shortage, so mistakes and accidents happen.
It is particularly necessary to
exercise tact in handling
disappointed customer cannot be put off with mere apologies –
he is entitled to know how the mistakes will be remedied: when he
will receive the goods ordered; what he is to do with the wrong
consignment or the damaged goods he received; when he will receive a
replacement for his defective machine, or if it can be repaired
you for your delivery of ‘Swinger’ dresses which were
ordered on November 4. However we wish to draw your attention to two
the red dresses supplied one lot of 100(size 12) included clothes of
a lighter red than the other sizes. Since we deliver a collection of
various sizes to each store, it would be obvious to customers that
the clothes are dissimilar. In addition the red belt supplied does
not match these dresses. We are returning two of these by separate
mail, and would ask you to replace the whole lot by 100 dresses size
12 in the correct colour.
far as your charges for air freight are concerned, we agree to pay
the extra costs which you invoiced. However your costs for packing
and insurance must have been lower for air cargo, and we request you
to take this fact into consideration and to make an adjustment to
the invoice amount. Would you please send us a rectified invoice,
look forward to your dealing with these questions without delay.
colour of the dresses about which you complain is indeed lighter
than it should be. Apparently this was overlooked by controller
responsible. Please accept our apologies for the oversight.
are sending you a new lot by air this week, and would ask you to
return the faulty clothes at your convenience, carriage forward.
Alternatively you may keep this lot for sale as seconds at a reduced
price of &1,120.
are perfectly correct in saying that packing and insurance costs are
normally less for cargo sent by air. May we remind you, however, in
this case your request to send the goods by air was made at very
short notice. It was not possible for us to use the lighter air
freight packing materials, as most of the dresses were ready for
shipment by sea freight (please see our letter of 9th
November). Furthermore, our insurance is on an open policy at a flat
rate, and depends on the value of the goods, not the method of
transport. For these reasons our invoice No.14596 dated 15th
November 1996 is still valid, and we look forward to receiving your
remittance when due.
Part IV. Structural and lexical peculiarities of a business
London SE23 1JF
the attention of the Sales Manager
Dear Sir or Madam,
would you sent me details of your quadrophonic sound system, which
the April edition of "Sound Monthly"?
of the letter
I am particular
interested in the Omega
range of eguipment
that you specialize in.
E. Gadyukova (Ms)
p.p. D. Sampson
Structure of a business letter
correspondence that does not have a printed letterhead, the sender's
address is written on the top right-hand side of the page.
In the UK, in contrast to the practice in some
countries, it is not usual to write the sender's name before the
date is written below the sender's address, sometimes separated from
it by a space. In the cases of correspondence with the printed
letterhead, it is also usually written on the right-hand side of the
The month in the date should not be
written in figures as they can be confusing; for example, 11.01.1998
January 1998 in the UK, but 1st
November 1998 in the US. Nor should you abbreviate the month, e.g.
Nov. for November, as it simply looks untidy. It takes a moment to
write a date in full, but it can take a lot longer to find a
mis-filed letter, which was put in the wrong file because the date
Many firms leave out the
abbreviation 'th' after the date, e.g. 24 October instead of 24th
October. Other firms transpose the date and the month, e.g. October
24 instead of 24 October. These are matters of preference, but
whichever you choose you should be consistent throughout your
(or receiver's) address
is written below the sender's address and on the opposite side of the
page, i.e. the left-hand one.
If you know the surname of the person
you are writing to, you write this on the first line of the address,
preceded by a courtesy title and either the person's initial(s) or
his/her fist given name, e.g. Mr
J.E. Smith or Mr
John Smith, not Mr
titles used in addresses are as follows:
(with or without a full stop; the abbreviated form 'mister' should
not be used) is the usual courtesy title for a man.
(with or without a full stop; no abbreviated form) is used for a
(not an abbreviation) is used for an unmarried woman.
(with or without a full stop; no abbreviated form) is used for both
married and unmarried women. Many women now prefer to be addressed
by this title, and it is a useful form of address when you are not
sure whether the woman you are writing to is married or not.
Messrs (with or without a full stop;
abbreviation for Messieurs, which is never used) is used
occasionally for two or more men, e.g. Messrs
P. Jones and B.L. Parker)
but more commonly forms part of the name of a firm, e.g. Messrs
Collier & Clerk & Co.
titles, which should be included in addresses are many. They
or medical titles, e.g. Doctor (Dr.), Professor (Prof.)
titles, e.g. Captain (Capt.), Major (Maj.), Colonel (col.)
aristocratic title, e.g. Sir (which
means that he is a Knight; not be confused with the salutation 'Dear
Sir' and always followed by a given name - Sir
John Brown, not
Sir J. Brown
or Sir Brown),
Dame, Lord, Baroness, etc.
Esq (with or without a full stop;
abbreviation for Esquire) is seldom used now. If used, it can only
be instead of 'Mr' and is placed after the name, e.g. Bruce
Hill Esq., not Mr
2. Title known
you do not know the name of the person you are writing to, you may
know or be able to assume his/her title or position in the company,
e.g. the Sales Manager, or the Finance Director, in which case you
can use it in the address.
you can address your letter to a particular department of the
company, e.g. The Sales Department, or The Accounts Department.
if you know nothing about the company and do not want to make any
assumptions about the person or the department your letter should go
to, you can simply address it to the company itself, e.g. Soundsonic
Ltd., Messrs Collier & Clerke & Co.
of inside addresses
the name of the person and/or company receiving the letter, the order
and style of addresses in the UK and in the US, is as follows:
Black & Sons,
International Trading Company
A. Flores Street
New York, NY 11011
Addressing an individual
Hongkong and Shanghai
Mahmound & Son
Addressing an individual
Miller & Sons Pty. Ltd.
East Jewelry Co.
Queen's Road East
Standard Oil Company
and punctuation of addresses
the addresses may be 'blocked' (i.e. each line is vertically aligned
with the one above) or 'indented', as below:
no rules stating that one style or the other must be used, though
blocking, at least in addresses, is more common. In any case you must
be consistent, i.e. do not block the sender's address and then indent
the inside address.
punctuation is used, each line of the address is followed by a comma,
except the last line. But, the majority of firms now use open
punctuation, i.e. without any commas.
the attention of'
alternative to including the recipient's name or position in the
address is to use an 'attention of'.
the attention of Mr. R. Singh (British English) or
Mr. E.G. Glass, Jr. (American English)
Sir opens a letter
written to a man whose name you do not know.
Sirs is used to
address a company. Note: in the US - Gentlemen.
Madam is used to
address a woman, whether single or married, whose name you do not
Sir or Madam is
used to address a person you know neither the name nor the sex.
you do not know the name of the person you are writing to, the
salutation takes the form of Dear followed by a courtesy tille and
the person's surname. Initials or first names are not generally used
in salutations: Dear
Mr Smith, not
Dear Mr J. Smith.
The comma after the salutation is optional.
body of the letter
be indented or blocked. It is as matter of choice. Whichever style
you use, you must be consistent and use that style all through the
usual to leave a line space between paragraphs in the body of the
letter; if the blocked style is used, this is essential.
information concerning the linguistic aspect of writing the body of
the letter, consult the following chapters of my diploma paper.
the letter begins with Dear
Sir , Dear Sirs, Dear Madam, Dear Sir or Madam,
it will close with
the letter begins with a personal name - Dear
Mr James, Dear Mr. Robinson -
it will close with Yours
closing with old-fashioned phrases such as We
remain your faithfully, or
that Americans tend to close even formal letters with Yours
truly or Truly
yours, which is
unusual in the UK in commercial correspondence. But a letter to a
friend or acquaintance may end with Yours
truly or the
casual Best wishes.
after the complimentary close is optional. The position of the
complimentary close - on the right, left or in the center of the page
- is the matter of choice. It depends on the style of the letter
(blocked letters tend to put the close on the left, indented letters
tend to put them in the centre) and on the firm's preference.
type your name after your handwritten signature and your position in
the firm after you typed signature. This is known as 'the signature
block'. Even though you may think your signature is easy to read,
letters such as 'a', 'e', 'o', and 'v' can easily be confused.
It is, to some extend, a matter of
choice whether you sign with your initial(s), e.g. D.
Jenkins, or your
given name, e.g. David
whether you include a courtesy title, e.g. Mr., Mrs., Miss, Ms. In
your signature block. But if you give neither your given name nor
your title, your correspondent will not be able to identify your sex
and may give you the wrong title when he/she replies. It is safer
therefore, to sign to sign with your given name, and safest of all to
include your title.
titles in signatures is, in fact, more common among women then among
men, partly because many women like to make it clear either that they
are married (Mrs.) or unmarried (Miss) or that their martial status
is not relevant (Ms.), and partly because there is a tendency to
believe that important positions in a company can only be held by
men. It would do no harm for men to start including their titles in
The term 'per pro' (p.p.) is
sometimes used in signatures and means 'for and on behalf of'.
Secretaries sometimes use p.p.
when signing a letter on behalf of their bosses.
writing on behalf of your company, it is useful to indicate your
position in the firm in the signature.
If ther are many enclosures, e.g.
leaflets, prospectus, etc., with the letter, these may be mentioned
in the body of the letter. But many firms in any case write Enc.
At the bottom of the letter, and if there are a number of documents,
these are listed, e.g.
of landing (5copies)
certificate (1 copy)
of exchange (1 copy)
further features of a business letter
phrase may be written at the head of a letter above salutation, and
more importantly on the envelope, in cases where the letter is
intended only for ht eyes of the named recipient.
are many variations of the phrase - 'Confidential', 'Strictly
Confidential' - but little difference in meaning between them.
firms open their letters with a subject title (beneath the
salutation). This provides a further reference, saves introducing the
subject in the first paragraph, immediately draws attention to the
topic of the letter, and allows the writer to refer to it throughout
It is not necessary to begin the
subject title with Re:
e.g. Re: Application
for the post of typist.
(= carbon copies) is written, usually at the end of the letter, when
copies are sent to people other than the named recipient.
(=blind carbon copies) is written at the copies themselves, though
not, on the top copy, when you do not want the named recipient to
know that other people have received the copies as well.
Content of a business letter
long should a letter be? The answer is as long as necessary and this
will depend on the subject of the letter.
It may be a simple subject, e.g. thanking a customer for
a cheque, or quite complicated, e.g. explaining how a group insurance
policy works. It is a question of how much information you put in the
letter: you may give too little (even for a brief subject), in which
case your letter will be too short, or too much (even for a
complicated subject), in which case it will be too long. Your style
and the kind of language you use can also affect the length. The
right length includes the right amount of information.
The three letters that follow are written by different
people in reply to the same enquiry from a Mr. Arrand about the
1. Too long
you very much for your enquiry of 5 November which we receive today.
We often receive enquiries from large stores and always welcome them,
particularly at this time of the year when we know that you will be
stocking for Christmas.
have enclosed our winter catalogue and are sure you will be extremely
impressed by the wide range of watches that we stock. You will see
that they range from the traditional to the latest in quartz
movements and include ranges for men, women and children, with prices
that should suit upper-market bracket priced at several hundred
pounds. But whether you buy a cheaper or more expensive model we
guarantee all merchandise for two years with a full service.
you will also find our price-list giving full details on c.i.f.
prices to London and explaining our discounts which we think you will
find very generous and which we hope will take full advantage of.
are always available to offer you further information about our
products and can promise you personal attention whenever you require
it. This service is given to all our customers throughout the world,
and as you probably know, we deal with countries from the Far East to
Europe and Latin America., and this fact alone bears out our
reputation which has been established for more than a hundred years
and has made our motto a household world - Time for Everyone.
again may we thank you for your enquiry and say that we look forward
to hearing from you in the near future?
There are a number of things wrong with a letter of this
sort. Though it tries to advertise the products and the company
itself, it is too wordy.
There is no need to explain that stores or shops are
stocking for Christmas; the customer is aware of this. Rather than
draw attention to certain items the customer might be interested in,
the letter only explains what the customer can already see, that
there is a wide selection of watches in the catalogue covering the
full range of market prices.
In addition, the writer goes on unnecessarily to explain
which countries the firm sells to, the history of company and its
rather unimpressive motto.
2. Too short
you for your enquiry. We have a wide selection of watches which we
are sure you will like. We will be sending a catalogue soon.
There are number of points missing
from this letter, quite apart from the fact that, since the writer
knew the name of his correspondent he should have begun the letter
Dear Mr Arrand
and ended Yours
sincerely. There is
no reference to the date or reference number of the enquiry.
Catalogues should be have sent with a reply to the
enquiry; it is annoying for a customer to have to wait for further
information to be sent. Even if a catalogue is sent, the customer's
attention should be drawn to particular items that would interest
him/her in the line of business. He/she might be concerned with the
upper or lower end of the market. He might want moderately priced
items, or expensive ones.
3. The right length
Here is a letter that is more suitable:
Mr Arrand, Thank you for your enquiry of 5 November.
have enclosed our winter catalogue and price-list giving details of
c.i.f. London prices, discounts and delivery dates.
you will see we offer a wide selection of watches, may we draw your
attention to pp. 23-28, and pp. 31-37 in our catalogue, which we
think might suit the market you are dealing with? And on page 34 you
will notice our latest designs in pendant watches, which are becoming
fashionable for both men and women.
you are probably aware, all our products are fully guaranteed and
backed by our world-wide reputation.
there is any further information you require, please contact us.
Meanwhile, we look forward to hearing from you soon.
Let's sum up the basic rules concerning the letter
The letter should be neither too long nor too short. It
is better to include too much information than too little. Your
reader cannot read your mind. If you leave out vital information, he
won't know what he wants to know, unless he writes back again and he
may not bother to do that.
If you include extra information, at least he'll have
what he wants, even though he may irritated by having to read the
unnecessary parts. Provided, of course, that you include the vital
information as well as the extras: the worst letter of all is the one
that gives very piece of information about the product, except for
Order and sequence
As well as containing the right amount of information,
the letter should also make all the necessary points in a logical
sequence, with each idea or piece of information linking up with the
previous one in a pattern that can be followed. Do not jump around
making a statement, switching to other subjects, then referring back
to the point you made a few sentences or paragraphs before.
1. Unclear sequence
Consider this badly-written letter. There is no clear
sequence to the letter, which makes it difficult to understand.
are interested in your security system. We would like to know more
about the prices and discounts you offer.
business associate of ours, DMS (Wholesalers) Ltd., mentioned your
name to us and showed us a catalogue. They were impressed with the
security system you installed for them, so we are writing to you
about it. Do you give us guarantees with the installations?
your catalogue we saw the 'Secure 15' which looks as though it might
suit our purposes. DMD had the 'Secure 18' installed, but as we
mentioned, they are wholesalers, while we are a chain of stores. We
would like something that can prevent robbery and shoplifting, so the
'Secure 15' might suit us.
long would it take to install a system that would serve all
departments? Could you send us an inspector or adviser to see us at
you can offer competitive prices and guarantees we would put your
system in all our outlets, but initially we would only install the
system in our main branch.
would like to make a decision on this soon, so we would appreciate an
Here is a better version of the same letter, in which
the ideas and information are in logical order.
are a chain of retail stores and are looking for an efficient
security system. You were recommended to us by our associates DMS
(Wholesalers) Ltd. for whom you recently installed an alarms system,
the 'Secure 18'.
need an installation which would give us comprehensive protection
against robbery and shoplifting throughout all departments; and the'
Secure 15' featured in your catalogue appears to suit us. However, if
one of your representatives could come along to see us, he would
probably be able to give us more advice and details of the available
we will test your system in our main branch, and if successful, then
extend it throughout our other branches, but of course a competitive
quotation and full guarantees for maintenance and service would be
reply as soon as possible as we would like to make a decision within
the next few months. Thank you
The first sentence or paragraph of a letter is an
important one since it gets the tone of the letter and gives your
reader his first impression of you and your company. Generally
speaking, in the first paragraph you will thank your correspondent
for his letter (if replying to an enquiry), introduce yourself and
your company if necessary, state the subject of the letter, and set
out the purpose of the letter. Here are two examples:
you for your enquiry dated 8 July in which you asked us about our
range of cosmetics. As you have probably seen in our advertisements
in fashion magazines, we appeal to a wide age-group from the teenage
market trough to more mature women, with our products being retailed
in leading stores throughout the world.
you for your letter of 19 August which I received today. We can
certainly supply you with the industrial floor coverings you asked
about, and enclosed you will find a catalogue illustrating our wide
range of products, which are used in factories and offices throughout
This is the main part of your letter and will concern
the points that need to be made, answers you wish to give, or
questions you want to ask. As this can vary widely with the type of
letter that you are writing, it is dwelt in other parts of my diploma
It is in the middle paragraphs of a letter that planning
is most important, to make sure that your points are made clearly,
fully and in logical sequence.
When closing the letter, you should thank the person for
writing, if your letter is a reply and if you have not done this at
the beginning. Encourage further enquiries or correspondence, and
mention that you look forward to hearing from your correspondent
soon. You may also wish to restate , very briefly, one or two the
most important of the points you have made in the main part of the
letter. Here are some examples:
again thank you for writing to us, and please contact us if you would
like any further information. To go briefly over the points I have
made - all prices are quoted c.i.f. Yokahama; delivery would be six
weeks from receipt of order; and payment should be made by bank
draft. I look forward to hearing from you soon.
hope I have covered all the questions you asked, but please contact
me if there are any other details you require. May I just point out
that the summer season will soon be with us, so please place an order
as soon as possible so that it can be met in good time for when the
season starts. I hope to hear from you in the near future.
are sure that you have made the right choice in choosing this
particular line as it is proving to be a leading seller. If there is
any advice or further information you want, we shall be happy to
supply it, and look forward to hearing from you.
Rules and manners for writing
a business letter
Writing an effective business letter is an important
skill for every manager and business owner.In this brief overview we
will examine the five main steps in creating an effective business
Clearly establish what you want
to achieve from the letter- whether it is to win back a dissatisfied
customer or to reprimand an employee.Whatever the aim, create your
letter from these goals.
Make sure you have the relevant
accurate facts available. For a late payer,this might include
relevant invoices, complaint forms, talks with your sales department
and any previous correspondence from the customer.
the recipient of the letter:
in the language of your recipient. Try to put yourself in the
position of the recipient. Read it from his point of view. Is the
letter clear or open to misinterpretation.
If you know the recipient, use this
knowledge to phrase the letter to generate your desired response.
a sample Copy:
established your aims, amassed the relevant facts with a conscious
view of the recipient- write down the main points of your letter.
on Physical layout of letter.
physical appearance of a letter consists of the paper and the
first thing a recipient sees is the envelope. It is essential that it
is of suitable quality with the name and address spelt
correctly.Quality envelopes and paper suggest a professional company.
It is wise to make sure the envelope
matches the size of the paper.While you will use 81/2 x 11 inches(A4
size) sized paper for the majority of letters - a 4 x 6 inches(A5)
can be used for specific shorter letters.But insist that properly
sized envelopes are used for this A5 size paper,allowing you maintain
and convey an coordinated image.
Technical layout of letter:
will include your company's name, address, telephone number, fax
number and email address. Include your web address if available.
Other information may be required depending on the legal status of
your business formation.Contact your legal adviser for exact details.
Always include the
recipient's name, address and postage code. Add job title if
approriate. Double check that you have the correct spelling of the
recipient 's name .
date your letters.Never abbreviate January to Jan. 31.
are optional.They are a good idea if you have a large volume of
correspondence.These day modern word processors made this an easy
task to complete and maintain.
type of salutation depends on your relationship with the recipient.
Always try to personalise letter thus avoiding the dear sir/madam
this is optional, but its inclusion can help the recipient in dealing
successfully with the aims of your letter. Normally the subject
sentence is preceded with the word Re: It should be placed one line
below the greeting.
will contain a number of paragraphs, each paragraph dealing with one
point and one point only.
signature should be clear and legible-showing you are interested in
the letter and consequently the recipient.Your signature should also
be followed underneath by a typed version of your name and your job
you include other material in the letter, put 'Enclosure','Enc', or'
Encs', as appropriate, two lines below the last entry.
A letter's style:
Previously we created the main points of
our letter, now we must transform this into a final version.To do
main considerations are necessary.
are three main formats: blocked, semi-blocked and indented.
The former has all entries tight against the left -hand
margin.The semi-blocked format sets the references and the date to
the right margin for filing and retrieval purposes, with the
remaining entries placed against the left margin.
The indented format follows the same layout as either of
the above, but indents each paragraph by five or six spaces.
of communication is the primary goal.
Don't use technical jargon if the
recipient is unlikely to understand it. Short sentences are less
likely to be misunderstood or misinterperted.
Be precise , don't ramble. Check each
sentence to see if it is relevant.Does it add to the point ?
try to personalise your letters. Always try to be civil and friendly
even if the subject matter is stern and sensitive.Give the impression
to the recipient that some effort and thought has gone into the
the final version of the letter has been created, polish it off with
a final spelling and punctuation check.
Always make sure you start and end your letters
correctly. If you are writing to Mrs Jane Smith then you should start
the letter 'Dear Mrs Smith' and finish it with 'Yours sincerely' -
N.B. 'sincerely' does not start with a capital 'S'.
Particular care is required when you are writing to a
woman. If she has just written her name as Jane Smith do you start
the letter 'Dear Jane' or 'Dear Ms Smith'. She might be offended if
you refer to her as 'Ms' and you might not feel comfortable writing
'Dear Jane' as it sounds too familiar. To get round this problem all
you have to do is ring the company and ask them how she likes to be
addressed. If there is not a telephone number for the company in the
advertisement just call Directory Enquires (dial 192 in the UK). When
you ring the company all you have to say is that you are writing to
Jane Smith and you would like to know whether she is a Ms, Mrs or
Miss so your letter can be correctly addressed.
If the advertisement just says reply to J.
Smith how would you address the letter? Dear Sir? or Dear Madam? Dear
Mr Smith? You would be well advised to ring the company and find out
J. Smith's full name and title (Mr/Mrs/Ms/Miss). Remember politeness
costs you nothing, but
it can really pay dividends and you will
probably be the only person who has bothered to find out. This may
distinguish you from everyone else who applied - being noticed is the
key to writing a potential interview-winning covering letter.
If the advertisement just says write to the Personnel
Department or reply to Box Number 55 it may not be possible for you
to find out who will be handling your reply. In these cases you will
have to start your letter 'Dear Sir/Madam' and finish the letter with
'Yours faithfully'. Please note that 'faithfully' does not start with
a capital 'F'.
Striking the Right Tone
An underlying goal of most
business letters you write is to promote goodwill between you and
your reader. Especially when writing to someone for the first time,
you should use a tone that will encourage that person to listen to
you and want to work with you now and in the future
If your letter is primarily informational or contains
good news, a direct approach is usually best. State your point or
offer your news immediately and briefly, and then explain any other
information the reader needs to know.
Finding the proper tone is more difficult if you are
delivering bad news. In this case, taking an indirect approach may be
a better strategy. In the first few sentences, for example, you could
begin on a positive note by stating how much you want to work with
the reader’s company or by reminding the reader of times you
accommodated his or her requests in the past. When you do get to your
point, try to minimize the reader’s disappointment or anger by
delivering the message in carefully considered language that conveys
your news clearly but tactfully.
Establishing a Courteous Tone
The fast pace of letters makes it easy to send a message without
fully considering the nuances of its tone. If you do not take the
time to think about your words and how they may be perceived, your
letters may seem overly blunt or even
A simple rule can keep you from writing inadvertently
Always ask yourself how you would feel if you received the message
you are sending. If you would bristle at its terseness, you can
assume the reader will as well. If you are unsure how the message
might be taken, ask for someone else’s opinion, or let it sit
overnight and read it again the next morning with a fresh eye.
If someone sends you a rude
e-mail message (or “flame,” in
e-mail slang), take a moment to calm down before responding. The best
way to douse a flame is to write back using the most neutral and
measured tone you can muster. In some cases it’s best not to
respond to a flame.
of a business letter
Now I will deal
with some common writing problems that do
not involve rules of grammar. These problems—of parallelism,
redundancy, and the like—are more rhetorical than grammatical;
that is, they involve choices you must make as a writer trying to
create a certain style of expression. You must determine what
stylistic choices will afford greater clarity and cogency to each of
your efforts to communicate. We all make different choices when faced
with different communicative tasks depending on what we feel will be
most effective. An expression that is appropriate for a formal letter
may be utterly off-putting in an informal message.
A successful and distinctive writing style is an elusive
bird of paradise. It is unmistakable once you see it but difficult to
find. It involves many things: creating an appropriate voice for your
purpose, choosing the right words for the subject and audience,
constructing elegant sentences whose rhythm reinforces their meaning,
presenting an argument in a logical fashion that is both engaging and
easy to follow, finding vivid images to make thoughts accessible to
your readers. You can probably add to this list. You may, for
example, want to shock or jolt your audience rather than court it,
and this strategy requires stylistic features that are quite
different from those you would use for gentle persuasion.
Most memorable writing has as one of its recognizable
features the ample use of parallel grammatical structures. A basic
guideline about parallel constructions is to make sure that all the
elements in a balanced pair or in a series have the same grammatical
form. That is, if you start with a that-clause, stick with
that-clauses; if you start with an infinitive, stick with
infinitives; if you start with a participle, stick with participles;
and so on. What you don’t want is a mixed bag, as in She had a
strong desire to pursue medicine and for studying literature or The
scientist asked for volunteers with allergies but who had not given
A second point is to make sure that once you have
chosen the kind of grammatical forms you want to make parallel, you
structure them symmetrically. Remember that an initial article,
preposition, auxiliary verb, or modifier will tend to govern all
elements in the series unless it is repeated for each element. For
example, if you set up a series of nouns with the first modified by
an adjective, the reader will expect the adjective to modify the rest
of the series as well. Thus you should say The building has new
lighting, plumbing, and carpeting but not The building has new
lighting, plumbing, and different carpeting. The same is true for
articles: He brought the rod, reel, and bait. If you want to restrict
a modifier to only one noun, repeat the article for each noun: He
brought the light rod, the reel, and the bait.
When you spot a faulty parallel, recast the structure
to give all the elements equivalent treatment. If your new parallel
construction does not seem much of an improvement, rewrite the
sentence completely to avoid the parallel construction. Better to
have no parallel structures than to have parallel structures that
sound overblown or stilted.
Faulty parallelism is all around us. We see and hear
it every day—often without taking notice. How many times have
you heard Please leave your name, number, and a brief message? After
waiting for the tone, have you ever objected to the imperfect
symmetry of this sentence? In our most recent ballot we presented
some sentences with questionable parallelism to the usage panelists
to see how tolerant they would be. As we expected, they had a range
Crafting sentences with flawless parallelism takes
effort and practice. Even if your readers don’t notice or
object when you make mistakes, balance and symmetry are worth
striving for in your writing. There are certain constructions that
are notorious for throwing things out of whack. I listed
some of them below.
both … and …
comparisons with as and than
either … or / neither … nor
not only … but also
Writing handbooks usually include warnings about the
passive voice—it is wordy and clumsy and leads to static rather
than dynamic writing. There is truth to this, certainly, but the
passive voice also has legitimate uses, and in many instances it is
preferable to the active voice.
Such phrases as "The
date is to be decided"; "The figures must be approved"
are obscure ones leaving unsettled who it is that delivers, who
decides, and who does the approving. Which side it is to be?
Lawsuits are the plausible outcome of leaving it all unsettled.
Passives used in contracts can destroy the whole negotiations.
"You will deliver" is better for it identifies the one
who will do delivering. Certainly, "must be approved by us"
violates other canons. "We shall have the right but not the
obligation to approve" is less unfortunate.
There is no doubt that passives do not suit business
letters, and if they go all the way through without adding something
like "by you" or "by us" they are intolerable.
Once in a long while one may find passives used purposely to leave
A certain amount of redundancy is built in to the
English language, and we would never consider getting rid of it. Take
grammatical number, for instance. Sentences such as 'He
drives to work'
contain redundant verb forms. The -s of drives indicates singularity
of the subject, but we already know the subject is singular from the
singular pronoun he. Similarly, are indicates a plural subject, which
is already evident from the plural pronoun we. Number is also
indicated redundantly in phrases like this book and those boxes,
where the demonstrative adjective shows number and the noun does as
But there are redundant ways of saying things that can
make the rest of your writing seem foolish. Many of these are common
expressions that go unnoticed in casual conversation but that stick
out like red flags in writing. Why say at this point in time instead
of now, or because of the fact that when because will do? Something
that is large in size is really just large. The trouble lies less in
the expressions themselves than in their accumulated effect. Anyone
can be forgiven for an occasional redundancy, but writing that is
larded with redundancies is likely to draw unwanted laughs rather
Listed below are some of the more problematic
but … however
consider as / deem as
rarely ever / seldom ever
reason is because
In a world in which efficiency has become a prime value,
most people view economy in wording as a sign of intelligence. Its
opposite, therefore, is often considered a sign of stupidity. Most of
us are busy and impatient people. We hate to wait. Using too many
words is like asking people to stand in line until you get around to
the point. It is irritating, which hardly helps when you are trying
to win someone’s goodwill or show that you know what you’re
talking about. What is worse, using too many words often makes it
difficult to understand what is being said. It forces a reader to
work hard to figure out what is going on, and in many cases the
reader may simply decide it is not worth the effort. Another side
effect of verbosity is the tendency to sound overblown, pompous, and
evasive. What better way to turn off a reader?
It is easy to recommend concision in expression but much
harder to figure out how to achieve it. In general, wordy writing has
three distinguishing characteristics: weak verbs, ponderous nouns,
and lots of prepositional phrases. The three are interconnected.
The key to writing clearly and concisely is to use
strong active verbs. This means that you should only use the passive
voice when you have a solid reason for doing so. If you look down a
page you have written and see that you are relying on forms of the
verb be and other weak verbs like seem and appear, you can often boil
down what you have written to a fraction of its size by revising with
Here is an example:
is essential to acknowledge that one of the drawbacks to the
increased utilization of part-time employees is that people who are
still engaged full-time by the company are less likely to be
committed to the recognition and identification of problems in the
This passage has 45 words. We can boil it down to 14
by cutting out the unnecessary words, using active verbs, and using
noun modifiers to do the work of prepositional phrases:
more part-time employees often makes full-time employees less willing
to report production problems.
A certain amount of repetition and redundancy has
its uses. It never hurts to thank someone and add that you appreciate
what was done. The recapitulation of the major points in a
complicated essay can be a generous service to the reader, not a
needless repetition. If you keep focused on what you are trying to
accomplish and on what will help your readers or your listeners, you
will have less need to remember formal rules of good writing. You
will be able to trust your instincts and your ear.
Lexics of business letters
From the lexicological point of view isolated words
and phrases mean very little. In context they mean a great deal,
and in the special context of contractual undertakings they mean
everything. Contract English is a prose organised according to
And it includes, without limitation, the right but
not the obligation to select words from a wide variety of verbal
implements and write clearly, accurately, and/or with style.
Two phases of writing contracts exist: in the first,
we react to proposed contracts drafted by somebody else, and in the
second, which presents greater challenge, we compose our own.
A good contract reads like a classic story. It
narrates, in orderly sequence, that one part should do this and
another should do that, and perhaps if certain events occur,
the outcome will be changed. All of the rate cards charts, and other
reference material ought to be ticked off one after another
according to the sense of it. Tables and figures, code words and
mystical references are almost insulting unless organised and
defined. Without organisation they baffle, without definition
In strong stance one can send back the offending
document and request a substitute document in comprehensible
English. Otherwise a series of questions may be put by letter, and
the replies often will have contractual force if the document is
Now it appears logical to examine the examples of
favourite contract phrases, which will help ease the way to fuller
examination of entire negotiations and contracts. A full glossary is
beyond reach but in what follows there is a listing of words and
phrases that turn up in great many documents, with comments on
each one. The words and phrases are presented in plausible contract
sequence, not alphabetically.
Everyone's idea of how a contract begins. Some lawyers dislike
"Whereas" and use recitation clauses so marked to
distinguish them from the text in the contract. There the real
issue lies; one must be careful about mixing up recitals of history
with what is actually being agreed on. For example, it would be
folly to write: "Whereas
A admits owing B $10,000..."
because the admission may later haunt one, especially if drafts
are never signed and the debt be disputed. Rather less damaging
e.g. "Whereas the parties have engaged in a
series of transactions resulting in dispute over
accounting between them..."
On the whole "Whereas" is acceptable, but what
follows it needs particular care.
is understood and agreed"
On the one hand, it usually adds nothing, because every clause in the
contract is "understood and agreed" or it would not be
written into it. On the other hand, what it adds is an implication
that other clauses are not backed up by this phrase: by including the
one you exclude the other. «It is understood and agreed»
ought to be banished.
A decent enough little word doing the job of six ("Referred to
later in this document"). "Hereinafter" frequently
sets up abbreviated names for the contract parties.
e.g. "Knightsbridge International Drapes and
Fishmonger, Ltd (hereinafter "Knightsbridge").
It is useful and at times essential phrase. Earlier I've noted
that mentioning certain things may exclude others by implication.
e.g. "You may assign your exclusive British
and Commonwealth rights"
suggests that you may not assign other rights assuming
you have any. Such pitfalls may be avoided by phrasing such as:
e.g. "You may assign any and all your
rights including without limitation your exclusive British and
But why specify any rights if all of them are
included? Psychology is the main reason; people want specific
things underscored in the contracts, and "Including
Without Limitation" indulges this prediction.
These are important words which acceptability depends on one's
point of view
"Knightsbridge, its assignees and licensees..."
suggests that Knightsbridge may hand you over to
somebody else after contracts are signed. If you yourself happen to
be Knightsbridge, you will want that particular right and should use
is a classic. The British use this phrase all by itself, leaving the
reader intrigued. "Without Prejudice" to what exactly?
Americans spell it out more elaborately, but if you stick to
American way, remember "Including Without Limitation",
or you may accidentally exclude something by implication. Legal
rights, for example, are not the same thing as remedies the law
offers to enforce them. Thus the American might write:
"Without prejudice to any of my existing or
future rights or remedies..."
And this leads to another phrase.
It is an essential barbarism. In the preceding example I've used
the disjunctive "rights or remedies". This is not always
good enough, and one may run into trouble with
"Knightsbridge or Tefal or either of them
What about both together?
perhaps, followed by "or
Occasionally the alternatives become overwhelming, thus and/or
is convenient and generally accepted, although more detail is
If one says "Knightsbridge
and/or Tefal shall have..."
legally it should
make no difference
in the case you are consent in using one or the
however, is stronger than "will".
Going from one
to another might suggest that one obligation is stronger
somehow than another.
Perhaps, one's position may determine the
however is bad form.
It is a dangerous word. If you mean
agreement you ought to say
so. If you view of affairs that
is no agreement,
as a noun suggests the
opposite or comes close to it. .it stands, in fact, as a
monument to unsatisfactory
compromise. The softness of the word
conjures up pleasing images. "In
can be interpreted in a number of ways.
Here is a little word which uses are
Such a phrase as "We will
inaccurate, because the work will be
subcontracted and the
promise-maker technically defaults.
Somebody else does the
producing. Why not say "We
or cause to be
This is in fact often said, but it
jars the ear. Accordingly "We
will effect production..."
highlights the point with greater skill.
This word is bad for your own side but helpful against others.
Ideas as such are not generally protected by law. If you submit
something to a company with any hope of reward you must find
better phrasing than "my
is more appropriate. Naturally, if you can develop an idea into
a format or protectable property, the more ambitious phrasing
will be better justified.
between us" It
is useful, because people are always forgetting or neglecting
to mention that a great many interests may be involved in
what appears to be simple dialogue. "I
reserve control over..."
and "You have
the final power of decision over..."
sound like division of something into spheres, but frequently
am in turn controlled by my investors and "You"
- by a foreign parent company, making the
language of division
inaccurate. Neither of us really controls
anything, at least ultimately.
Thus it will be useful to say,
"As between us,
and so on.
Time periods are awkward things: "...for
and expiring November,15..."
is clumsy; "...from
is skeletal when informing how long a contract obligation endures.
But during particular time periods one may be
reporting for work, for example, three days out of every five, or
doing something else that is within but not completely parallel to
the entire time period involved.
A happy solution is the word
It goes this way:
"Throughout the period spanning August,1 -
November,15 inclusive you will render services as a consultant
three days out of every five."
It will be useful to put
at the end for without it you may lose the date, concluding the
period being spanned.
in Good Faith"
The negotiators have worked until late at night, all points but
one have been worked out, the contract will never be signed without
resolution of some particular impasse. What is there to do?
Agree to "Negotiate
in Good Faith"
on the disputed point at later time. This is done frequently, but
make no mistake about the outcome. The open point remains open. If
it happens to be vital you may have no contract at all.
Good Faith" is
one of those evasions that must be used sparingly. At the right time
it prevents collapse, at the wrong time it promotes it.
It suggests, of course, that something has been agreed upon before.
You are writing now only to make a record of it. "I
write to confirm
that you admit substantial default in delivery"
Frequently we encounter it in ordinary correspondence: "Confirming
main points of our agreement",
and so on.
It is a handy word which usefulness lies in the avoidance of
worse alternatives. Suppose you transact to deliver a variety of
elements as a package.
leaves out, even though it may well be implied, the
preliminary purchase or engagement of these elements, and at the
other end it goes very far in suggesting responsibility for getting
the package unscathed to where it belongs. Alternatives also may go
wrong, slightly, each with its own implications. "Assign"
involves legal title; "give"
is lame and probably untrue; "transmit"
Thus each word misses some important
- detail or implies unnecessary things. "Furnish" is
sometimes useful when more popular words fall short or go too far.
It has a good professional
ring to it as well:
agree to furnish all of the elements listed on Exhibit A annexed
hereto and made part hereof by incorporation."
Who is responsible for non-delivery
and related questions can be dealt with in separate clauses.
"Furnish" avoids jumping the gun. It keeps away from
what ought to be treated independently but fills up enough space to
stand firm. The word is good value.
but Not Obligation"
One of the most splendid phrases available.
the grant of particular
rights carries with it by implication a duty to exploit them.
Authors, for example, often feel betrayed by their publishes, who
have various rights "but do nothing about them." Royalties
decrease as a result; and this situation, whether or not it reflects
real criminality, is repeated in variety of industries and court
it well suits the grantee of rights to make clear at the very
beginning that he may abandon them. This
possibility is more appropriately dealt with in separate clauses
reciting the consequences. Still,
contracts have been known to contain inconsistent provisions, and
preliminary correspondence may not even reach the subject of
quick phrase helps keep you out of trouble:
"The Right but Not
shall have the Right but Not Obligation to grant sublicenses in
Austria"("But if we fail, we fail").
Even this magic phrase has its
limitations because good faith may require having a real go to
exploiting the rights in question. Nevertheless "Right but Not
useful, so much so as to become incantation and be said
whenever circumstances allow it.
I the other
side challenges these words, it will be better to know this at
once and work out alternatives or finish up the negotiations
It’s importance in contract English is vast, and its omission
creates difficulties in good many informal drafts. Exclusivity
as a contract term means that somebody is -barred from dealing with
others in a specified area. Typically an employment may be exclusive
in that the employee may not work for any one else, or a license
may be exclusive in the sense that no competing licenses will be
Antitrust problems cluster around exclusive
arrangements but they are not all automatically outlawed. It follows
that one ought to specify whether or not exclusivity is part
of many transactions. If not, the phrase "nonexclusive"
does well enough. On the other hand, if a consultant is to be
engaged solely by one company, or a distributorship awarded to
nobody else except X, then "exclusive" is a word
that deserves recitation. "Exclusive Right but Not Obligation"
is an example that combines two phrases discussed here. The
linking of concepts is a step in building a vocabulary of
on condition that"
One of the few phrases that can be considered better than its short
counterparts. Why not just "if"? Because "if"
by itself leaves open the possibility of open contingencies:
Baker delivers 1,000 barrels I will buy them"
is unclear if you will buy them only from Baker. Therefore what
about "only if"? Sometimes this works out, but not always.
"I will buy 1,000 barrels only if Baker delivers
them" is an example of "only if" going fuzzy. One
possible meaning is "not more than 1,000 barrels" with
"only" assimilated with the wrong word. Here then a more
elaborate phrase is justified.
will buy 1,000 barrels solely on condition that Baker delivers them"
makes everything clear.
contracts can do without this phrase. Many promises can be made good
only if certain things occur. The right procedure is to
spell out these plausible impediments to the degree that you
can reasonably foresee them. E.g. :
will deliver these subject to our receiving adequate supplies";
"Our agreement is subject to the laws of
"Subject to circumstances beyond our control ".
This word is often used in cables to emphasize a negative,
not REPEAT not send order 18551.
Or to emphasize an important detail,
delayed by six REPEAT six hours.
Every now and then a scholarly phrase becomes accepted
in business usage.
are Latin expressions but concern money. "Pro
helpful when payments are to be in a proportion reflecting earlier
formulas in a contract. "Pari
used when several people are paid at the same level or time out of a
common fund. Latin, however, is not the only source of foreign
phrases in business letters.
majeure" is a
French phrase meaning circumstances beyond one's control.
English itself has plenty of rare
words. One example is "eschew";
how many times we see people struggling with negatives such
as "and we agree not to produce (whatever it is) for a period
of X". The more appropriate phrase would be "we
will eschew production".
But here it should be mentioned that not everyone
can understand such phrases. Therefore rare words should be used
only once in a long while. Those who uses them sparingly
appears to be reliable.
can be useful because they are quick to write and easy to read. But
both parties need to know what the abbreviations stand for.
The abbreviations c.i.f.
for example, are recognized internationally as meaning cost,
insurance, and freight
and free on board.
But can you be sure that your correspondent would know that o.n.o
means or nearest
international organizations, e.g. NATO, are know in all countries by
the same set of initials, but many are not, e.g. EEC (European
Economic Community) and UNO (United Nations Organization). National
organizations, e.g. CBI (Confederation of British Industry) and TUC
(Trades Union Congress), are even less likely to be known by their
initials in other countries. So, if you are not absolutely certain
that an abbreviation will be easily recognized, do not use it.
The International Chamber of
Commerce uses a set of terms for delivery in overseas contracts -
these are called Incoterms.
Now let me examine some of the abbreviations most
frequently used in business correspondence.
- cost, insurance, freight.
If consignment is to be delivered according to
c.i.f., then the supplier insures the goods and pays for the whole
- free on board.
If consignment is to be delivered according to
f.o.b., then the supplier pays for transportation to port, steamer
or air shipment and dispatch; and the customer pays for onward
transportation and insurance.
- free on rail.
It is the same as f.o.b., but for railway
c & f
- cost and freight.
If consignment is to be delivered according to c &
f, then the supplier pays for the whole delivery and the customer -
( Carriage Paid To) named place of destination
Delivery happens when goods are given to the carrier (if
more than one, the first carrier, or a freight forwarder). The seller
pays the costs of delivery to the named place and the buyer's risks
start from here.
(Carriage and Insurance Paid) named place of destination
Delivery occurs, as in CPT with the buyer's risks being
the same. The only change is the exporter pays the cost of cargo
at Frontier) named place
Delivery happens when the buyer gets the goods at a
named place on the frontier, cleared for export, but not cleared for
import. The buyer assumes risks from here. The exporter pays all the
costs to this point, but does not pay for unloading or import
(Delivery Ex Ship) named port of destination
Delivery happens when buyer gets goods at named port. He
then assumes all risks, but the exporter pays all costs to that
point, but not unloading or import clearance.
(Delivery Ex Quay - Duty Paid) named port of destination
Delivery happens when the buyer gets the goods on
his/her quay (dock) and assumes all risks from that point.
can only be used for sea and inland waterways.
(Delivery Duty Unpaid) named place of destination
Delivery takes place when the buyer gets the goods at
the named place in the importing country and takes all the risks
thereafter. The seller pays all costs to this point, but not duties
(Delivery Duty Paid) named place of destination
Delivery happens as in DDU, with the buyer taking the
same risks. The seller pays all costs to this point including duties
(EXW) e.g. from the
factory or warehouse
Seller packs and prepares goods for dispatch with
delivery taking place at his/her factory or warehouse. The buyer now
takes all transit risks.
named place e.g. where the carrier - the plane or ship etc., pick up
occurs when the seller gives the goods to the carrier (airline,
shipping company, or freight forwarder) who is named by the buyer.
The seller will pay all the costs up to the point, including export
formalities and licences. From this point the buyer takes the risks
for the goods and transit.
Alongside Ship) with
port of shipment named e.g. where the goods are leaving from
occurs alongside the ship named by the buyer at the named port of the
shipment. The buyer has the expense of loading. The seller pays costs
up to and including delivery alongside the ship, including all
documentation. This term is only used for sea and inland waterways.
is list of abbreviations not mentioned above:
a/c acc. - account current
- advertisement, pl- ads
- ante meridiem, afternoon
soon as possible
- air way bill
B.E., b.e. - bill of exchange
B.L., b/l, b.l., - bill of landing
cc - copies
-chief executive officer
- confer, compare
- cash on delivery
- 1.currency, 2. Current
- 1.dated; 2.delivered
dept., - department
- document,( pl-docs)
dz. - dozen
- except as otherwise noted
- exempli gratia, for example
encl., - enclosed, enclosure
excl. - except, exception, exclude, exclusion
- 1.figure (1,2 ,3 ); 2.picture, scheme
- fiscal year
- hoc anno- this year
HQ, h.q. - headquaters
- idem- the same
ie -id est- that is
incl. - including
inc - incorporated
- I owe you
l.c. l/c - letter of credit
- limited liability company
ltd. - limited
- letter of commitment
- merchandise, goods
m.o. - 1. mail order, 2. Money order
- metric ton
- merchant (motor) vessel
- not applicable
NB - nota bene- an important note
N.C., n/c - no charge, free
- our letter
- power of attorney
per annum - per year
PLC - public limited company
- post office
p.p. per pro- on behalf of
- quod vide- see there
- research and development
- 1 regarding, 2. Reply
- rependez s'il vous plais- reply please
- value-added tax
- very important person
- vide supra- see above
- vice versa-
- at (when stating a unit price)