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What is Business English?

business english speaking vocabulary Apr 25, 2021

Have you ever wondered what exactly Business English is? And why, therefore, your regular school English might just not be enough?

Merriam-Webster, a renowned English dictionary, defines it as follows: 'English as taught in non-English-speaking countries in courses that emphasize its commercial rather than its cultural importance and that are normally designed to produce conversational fluency within a limited vocabulary.'.

What does that mean?
It means Business English courses focus on language used in a business context, such as international trade, finance, banking, or simply in an office environment. It involves a certain clarity, particular vocabulary, and grammatical structures.

Learning English involves much more than simply studying grammar and vocabulary. We all talk differently to our grandparents or friends than we talk to our boss or business partner. And a WhatsApp message is written totally different from a technical report or business report.

Non-Native Speakers!
Often Business English is the lingua franca between business partners who are both not English native speakers. To avoid misunderstandings, Business English is usually short and to the point (we're not trying to win the Nobel Prize for Literature)!

Some examples:
⚠️ 'explode' instead of 'blow up' (phrasal words can be confusing)
⚠️ 'use' instead of 'utilize' (avoid long verbs)
⚠️ Avoid idioms (culturally-based expressions) as 'Cut him some slack.'

During a Business English class, you will also learn about cultural differences (e.g. that hierarchy is important to Austrians but frowned upon in the Netherlands).

Simple but effective grammar
Save complicated grammatical constructions for your next novel. Easily understandable English uses simple tenses (past, present, and future simple) and the present perfect. Words like 'first' and 'then' indicate the order of actions instead of complex grammatical structures (even though I do love the endless possibilities the 12 English tenses give you). We want our messages to be easy to grasp, saving time and money.

Next Question
What the heck is Business English for Engineers?
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