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Business English Attitudes Overview

Introduction and Function

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Participating effectively in a Business English environment not only requires a solid grasp of English grammar, but also an understanding of key communication factors. This feature focuses on key points to take into consideration each time you are using English. The following sections also give helpful language hints as to the most appropriate forms of English to be used in each situation.

Here is a list of the principle factors that need to be understood in each communication situation:

Function: What is the main purpose of the conversation?
Domain: What is my position in this conversation? What is my role?
Register Use: Who am I speaking with?
Urgency: How important is what I have to say?

Function

Function refers to the purpose of the conversation. Is the conversation about making a serious decision? Is the conversation entertaining?

Take the following statement for example:

You've got to be joking!

In a serious conversation this statement would mean that the person does not take you, or what you have to say, seriously. This is obviously a bad sign and calls for you to explain your position in more detail.

However, if this comment was made during a lunch while you were telling a funny story, the statement means that the person finds what you have to say amusing. You may want to even continue telling more of the story.

Obviously, this is a simple example. However, taking into consideration the language function being employed helps you decide which forms and expressions to use. Generally, language functions which include negotiations, interviews, presentations, etc. call for more formal language structures. Informal occasions call for more informal language, in fact, informal occasions allow you the possibility to show off your knowledge of idiomatic language. It's best to not use colloquial or idiomatic language when using formal language functions.

Explore useful phrases and proper language use in these business English articles:

Introduction and Example Meeting Dialogue

Phrase Reference Sheet for Participating in a Meeting

Phrase Reference Sheet for Running a Meeting

Formal or Informal? Appropriate Language in Business Situations

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