Grammar in business English

Some people believe that for effective business communication it is not necessary to have a good command of grammar as long as you have an extensive knowledge of technical vocabulary.

Let’s take a fairly simple example and see what sort of problems may arise from a lack of grammatical accuracy.

Dear Mr Martin, 
Our shop in Zagreb receive the delivery but it is problem with discount. It is possible to return them? 
Kind regards

In English, the title Mr is followed by a surname, whereas in Croatian it may also be followed by a first name. Since “Martin” can be both a first name and a surname in English, the incorrect use of the title may lead to confusion.

At Smart school we very often see students using verbs in the infinitive form instead of putting them in the right tense and the right form. An example of the incorrect use of the infinitive is given in the first sentence of the email. The reader will probably have some difficulties in understanding whether the shop “has already received the delivery” or whether the shop “is going to receive the delivery”.

Not only can the incorrect use of verbs lead to confusion, but also the use of pronouns. For example, what does “them” in the second sentence refer to? What does the sender of the email want to do, return the entire delivery or only part of it? Furthermore, the word order in the second sentence is not the word order typical of a question, so the recipient of the email may wonder whether the sender is asking a question or stating his/her intentions.

Using the correct grammatical structures will help you avoid misunderstandings. It is simply impossible to clearly express one’s ideas by relying only on the use of the correct vocabulary and the basic grammatical structures. In addition to that, we cannot ignore the fact that the use of good English grammar leaves a positive impression on other speakers, and making a good impression in a business setting may be just as important as the quality of the product you sell or the service you offer.

This is why business English courses at all levels focus on both grammar and vocabulary, and they are equally important in writing and in speaking.

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