Business English Checklist

What is Business English?

Clients or customers, investors, and community peers expect business owners and managers to be clear and concise when they communicate in person and in writing.  You must be able to explain your products and services to others to make your business grow.  Business owners must be able to read and follow instructions to fill out all the paperwork for a business license, insurance, and taxes.  All these examples require a common language, and that language is called “Business English.”  Do you want to be taken seriously as a professional? Use Business English.

I found a terrific, succinct online 150-page book about Business English:  The Essential Handbook for Business Writing.  I recommend you download this to your computer and review it.

Quick Business English Checklist:

  • If you are answering a question, rephrase the question in your answer. For example, if the question is, “How long have you lived in Arizona?” Your answer might be, “I have lived in Arizona for three years.”  If you simply say, “Three years,” you have not rephrased the question in your answer.
  • Do not use contractions. “Don’t” becomes “do not.”
  • In English, apostrophes are only used in contractions or for possessive nouns.  We do not use contractions.  Never use an apostrophe to show a plural noun.  Please only use apostrophes for possession, such as the “puppy’s toy” for one puppy, or the “puppies’ toys” for lots of puppies.  
  • Spell out numbers less than one-hundred (100).  “99” should be “ninety-nine,” and an example of a fraction would be “one-half.”  If it is a percentage, “5%” is fine.
  • Do not use abbreviations. “123 E Main St.” becomes “123 East Main Street.”
  • Use complete sentences, and never use “yes” or “no.” Do not say, “Yes” if someone asks you, “Is this your umbrella?” You should answer, “This is my purple umbrella.”
  • A complete sentence must have at least one noun and one verb.  If you want to combine two complete sentences, you must use a comma after the first sentence followed by a conjunction, such as “and,” “but,” or “since.”  You may use a semicolon instead of the comma-conjunction combination.  Here are two samples:
    • “Bob likes raw carrots, but he does not like cooked carrots.”
    • “Mary likes raw carrots; she does not like cooked carrots.”
  • When you are asked to write a paragraph, use three, four, or five sentences to create a paragraph.
  • Type your answers using a word processing program with spellcheck. When typing online, use an add-on app such as Grammarly to proofread your writing.

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