General and Business Language
General and business English don’t have many significant differences regarding grammar. All the rules you have learned in the grammar of everyday language are applied for business communication as well.
What you need to pay special attention to are synonyms for the words and phrases you already know, and which you need to use in formal and informal situations. In other words, when you speak to your family members, friends and close colleagues, you will use vocabulary for informal communication. This segment belongs to the general style. On the other hand, in case there is a more formal occasion, let’s say with your boss, other superior managers at the company, in written communication with foreign co-workers who you don’t know well or don’t know at all, it is expected to use a more formal language, which we call business style.
What are synonyms?
Synonyms are different words with a similar meaning. For example, the words bill and invoice are synonyms. However, these two words are used in different situations. Bill is a piece of paper which we get at a cafe or a restaurant, and which says how much we need to pay. Invoice is also a piece of paper (or today it is in electronic form), which says how much one company is supposed to pay to another one for certain services. For more examples, you can take a look at the Macmillan Dictionary section about Prices and Costs and compare their different use in various situations.
In the picture below you can see how we use synonyms for certain verbs in formal and informal style.
1. I want to tell you about our new client.
1. I would like to inform you about our new client.
2. Can you tell Susan that the finance department needs the latest invoices?
2. Could you, please, tell Susan that the finance department requires the latest invoices?
3. Do you think you could help us in the next project?
3. Do you think you could assist us in the next project.
4. We must give our customers more choice.
4. We must provide our customers with more choice.
5. Did you get my e-mail yesterday?
5. Did you receive my e-mail yesterday?
6. Just a moment, I have to check your order.
6. One moment, please, I have to verify your order.
7. A lot of our buyers are asking about seasonal discounts.
7. A lot of our buyers are enquiring about seasonal discounts.
Change the underlined words with a synonym to sound more formal.
1. I would like someone to help me with this report, please.
One of our clients asked for a discount. Could you, please, see what we can do?
3. I’m really sorry, but we haven’t got any of your invoices yet.
4. Thank you all for coming to this meeting. First, I’d like to tell you something about our latest product.
5. John, before you meet our partners at the airport, make sure you check their flight number.
6. This toy needs 2 batteries, which are not included in the packaging.
7. This kind of curtains will give you additional intimacy.