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English Verb Tenses – The Basic Four

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This is the first of many posts on Basic Business English.

Container Terminal - photo courtesy Wikipedia

How do we make sure that the right goods end up in the right place? – photo courtesy Wikipedia

A huge amount of international business goes on in English, and most of you don’t have English as your first language. The result can be confusion and misunderstandings. I also understand that most of you who use English as a common language in business don’t have the time or energy to keep on studying. So, to help you out, I am going to teach you to write clear, basic English that your non-native reader will thank you for.

In this post I am going to focus on verbs. How many verb forms are there in English? Estimates vary between 12 and 41! It depends on how you look at them. But you can manage with just four. I’ll show you how. You only need:

  • one for now
  • one for the past
  • one for the future
  • one for generalities

1. Talking about what is happening now
(using the present continuous)

I am attaching a photo of the damaged part.
We are checking the progress of your order.
The repair engineer is driving to your factory right now.
I am writing the report.

2. Talking about what happened in the past
(using the past simple tense)

We launched three new products last month.
Sales increased by 15% during the first quarter.
We dispatched a replacement part by courier this morning.
I met the client yesterday and he seemed very interested.

3. Talking about what will happen in the future
(using will + present simple)

We will launch three new products next month.
The new ad campaign will increase sales.
We will check the faulty part and will send a replacement by courier.
The new system will increase productivity by at least 20%.

4. Talking about things that happen often.
(using the present simple)

We launch three new products every month.
We review the effectiveness of our ad campaigns every week.
We check faulty parts and send replacements within 24 hours.
We continually improve productivity.

Of course, if you are comfortable using other verb forms also, then go ahead, but you don’t actually need them. You can get by very well with just these four – and not sound like Tarzan!

This website supports He For She

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Emma Watson’s wonderful speech at the United Nations has unfolded a mass of confusing but revelationary thoughts and feelings that I have yet to understand fully. That women should have equal rights and aspirations to men has always seemed obvious to me. I had never believed before that we men may also be trapped by the expectations that society has for us. I was brought up with the ‘men don’t cry’ belief. I was brought up with the ‘men must be strong’ belief. I was brought up with the ‘men must fix it’ belief. This last is the crux. The man comes home – his wife and kids share their worries, fears and problems, and the man thinks – I have to fix these. It is a huge burden that he often feels that he has to carry alone. Now I am beginning to share this feeling, and it’s not easy.

This is all that I am going to say today, because I feel that I have a revolution going on inside of me and I have Emma to thank for that. The world will be a such better place when all men and women (i.e. people) can be what they want, and not what they are expected to be.

Click HERE to go to the official He For She site.

 

Money talk – invoice or bill – what’s the difference?

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500 euro notes

This is actually a really easy one, as bills and invoices are the same thing. The difference only lies in usage. My Internet service provider sends me a ‘monthly telephony invoice’ (that’s what they call it). However, I would naturally call it a ‘phone bill’. If companies really want to sound friendly and on the same level as their customers, they should use their customers’ language. I mentioned in an earlier post that my bank has this kind of philosophy and, instead of having ‘debit’ and ‘credit’ columns in their statements, they have ‘money out’ and ‘money in’ columns. So, if you want to get close to your customers, speak their language!

Panglish?

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Photo courtesy of Wikipedia and NASA: http://visibleearth.nasa.gov/view.php?id=57723

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia and NASA:
http://visibleearth.nasa.gov/view.php?id=57723

“English as it is spoken today will have disappeared in 100 years and could be replaced by a global language called Panglish, researchers claim.

“New words will form and meanings will change with the most dramatic changes being made by people learning English as a second language, says Dr Edwin Duncan, a historian of English at Towson University in Maryland, in the US.”

Read the full article from the Daily Telegraph

25,000 hits! Thank you!

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Photo credit - Dreamstime

Photo credit – Dreamstime

Some time last night Malcolm’s English Pages received the hits that tipped the counter over 25,000. Here’s a big free-gift “thank you” to all my readers who have made it all seem so worthwhile.

For one week only (until 15th September) you can get my three eBooks absolutely free!
“How to Create and Deliver a Great Presentation”
“How to Write Great Emails”
“How to Write Great Instructions”

Just add your email address to the form below and I’ll send them to you. NOTE: I guarantee that your email address will be used for no other purpose, and shared with no other persons.

Finland returns to work

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Autumn
Well, the summer break in Finland is pretty much over and autumn is just around the corner. The kids have gone back to school and everybody has had the chance to catch up with their emails. Now is the time to get your English language web pages and other assorted documentation checked for perfect spelling, grammar and style. It’s so important to look good out there in the international market.

We offer extremely cost-effective and professional copy-editing and proofreading services at a budget €30 per thousand words of original text. You know it makes sense.

Click HERE for more details.

Presentation Tips 6 – What is the benefit?

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"Right guys! I have this idea. We need to go to the moon." You can bet that this idea needed some selling. The benefit was getting there before the Russians and staying on top. So what was the problem?

“Right guys! I have this idea. We need to go to the moon.”
You can bet that this idea needed some selling. The benefit was getting there before the Russians and staying on top. So what was the problem?

This is the critically important point that needs to be emphasised as part of your introduction.
How does your product, idea or proposal benefit the listeners?

Everybody who stands up in front of an audience to speak is really selling something – be it a product, an idea, a process – even just information. When I give a presentation about, for example, using emails more effectively, to an auditorium full of busy business people, many of whom perhaps were invited to attend (rather than signing up by choice), I’d better not waste their time.

Right up front I need to clarify what the problem is and how this problem is making their lives more difficult. I need to get them to relate to the problem and to realise that they are, in fact, suffering because of it. I then need to swiftly point out that I have a solution, and this solution is going to improve their lives. This involves me actually believing in what I am saying. It involves me actually getting excited about what I am saying. It is going to involve using strong positive adjectives and superlatives. I have to grab my audience’s attention by telling them what a huge benefit my ideas will be to them. Otherwise, they have no good reason to listen, or care.

This is a short extract from my ebook “How to Create and Deliver a Great Presentation“.

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