When you’re communicating in English in a business context when it is your second language people will be forgiving of your mistakes. Being able to speak two languages already shows your skill, and no one is going to be too concerned about some minor grammatical errors. But if you want to brush up your skills and continue improving your business English here are some common mistakes that are easy to avoid.
What are the most common business English mistakes?
If English isn’t your first language then these are some of the most common mistakes you could make:
- Personal vs personnel. The noun personnel refers to a company’s workforce and is pronounced per-so-NEL. It can be common to confuse this with ‘personal,’ which is an adjective with a very different meaning. Personal basically means something that is related to that person and it is pronounced with the emphasis on the first syllable - PER-son-al. Given the very different meanings and uses of these two words it’s important to make sure you’re using the right one.
- ‘Presentate.’ This is a word that is often used but will always be a mistake because it actually isn’t a word at all. People tend to use this when trying to find the verb form of ‘presentation’ but there isn’t one. Instead of using ‘presentate’ you can instead say something like ‘present information’ or ‘give a presentation.’
- The pronunciation of ‘executive.’ Putting the stress on the wrong part of this word when you say it can make it sound like you’re changing the meaning completely. For example, a common error is to emphasise the ‘u,’ which can give the impression that you’re saying ‘execute,’ a word that means to kill.
- Using uncountable nouns. Words such as ‘advice,’ ‘knowledge,’ and ‘information’ are all considered to be uncountable nouns. One of the most frequent mistakes made with these nouns is to add an ‘s’ to the end of them when you’re talking about a plural. Instead you would say ‘he gave me lots of advice’ as opposed to ‘he gave me advices’.
- ‘Headquarters’ always has an ‘s.’ Non-native English speakers often use the word ‘headquarter’ without an ‘s’ on the end. This is a very common mistake that is easy to avoid if you always remember that the ‘s’ needs to be there.
- Finish your emails or letters in the right way. The final word of an email or letter is the impression that you’ll leave whoever is reading it with. One of the most common errors is to write ‘I look forward to hear from you.’ In this context the word you need to use is ‘hearing’ and although this may seem to make little sense it’s the phrase that is always used.
If you’re new to the English language these mistakes are common and forgiven by native English speakers as there Italian is likely non-existent but if you want to begin to perfect your English are some of the most common mistakes that are the easiest to avoid.