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How to Become Fluent in English

To become fluent in English, you will have to do a number of different things. For every English learner, it could be a different combination of things but there are some common things that everyone who wants to be fluent in English needs to think about doing.

The first step to becoming fluent in English is learning how to think in English even when English is not your first language. This can be challenging to do for even the brightest and most motivated students. But rest assured that until you can think in English (and especially on a subconscious level without even trying) you will never be fluent in the language. That is to say, you must get to a point where you are not translating in your head from your language to English but you are hearing and processing and thinking in English from the first moment you hear the communication or speech.

The next question is bound to be “how  do I ‘think’ in English?”  That is a very good question and probably should be an independent post all to itself. But there is no question that one of the key ways to speed up that process is to immerse yourself in the language by traveling, hanging around native English speakers, consuming a huge amount of English material such books, movies, YouTube videos and magazines, and always and immediately looking up any English word you encounter that you do not know (if you have a mobile smart phone this can be a huge help because you can stop wherever you are and look up the word immediately.)

Another key thing you will have to do is learn English phrases such as phrasal verbs and idiomatic phrases. These are key to becoming fluent and speaking like a native. You have to know phrasal verbs and idioms.

Another key aspect of becoming fluent in English is verb tenses and modal verbs. Without taking the time to master these, you can kiss any pipe dream you have of becoming fluent in the language.

Finally, to become fluent in English you have to talk to yourself a lot in English. You have to role play a lot by yourself and talk to yourself in English. Also try reading English books aloud when you are alone to hear yourself speaking in English. This will build your English fluency fast!



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writing in English

Writing in English: 5 Common Writing Tasks That English Learners Fear and Tips for Conquering Your Fears


Below are 5 types of writing tasks that English learners can find daunting including college application essays, emails, letters, research articles, abstracts, memos and reports. We offer you advice on how to handle each. For an extensive discussion on memos and reports, please click here. Or read on below for tips on writing emails, business letters, research articles, abstracts and application essays.

In a previous article on writing business emails, our blog editor wrote “when English is not your ‘mother tongue’ writing effective emails in English can pose a challenge.” This is still true. But there are a few additional tips that might help you get better at the craft.

1. Understand that there are seven basic parts to an email:

  • The identification of the sender
  • The identification of the recipient
  • The subject line
  • The body of the email
  • The closing
  • The signature
  • The disclaimer

This format is probably universal in any language.

2. The purpose of your email should be stated in one sentence in the subject line of the email. For example, are you writing to:

  • Explain
  • Complain
  • Request
  • Thank
  • Apologize
  • Confirm
  • Invite
  • Decline?

3. The body of the email is the most important part.

  • Begin with a neutral and polite greeting – for example:

Dear Mr Smith or

Good morning Mr Smith.

  • Start with a polite phrase – for example:

“Thank you for….”

“please confirm that”

  • Keep the body of your message clear and concise by using short sentences, proper punctuation and by using grammar rules – especially tenses – correctly.

4. End with a polite closing such as:

  • Kind Regards
  • Sincerely yours
  • I remain at your disposal.
  • Yours Faithfully
  • Respectfully
  • Respectfully yours

5. Become acquainted with as much email vocabulary as you possibly can

  • Address
  • Attachment
  • Bcc
  • Disclaimer
  • Emoticon
  • File size
  • Flag
  • Format
  • Forward
  • High priority
  • Html
  • Importance option
  • Inbox
  • Mark as read
  • Pdf
  • Reply
  • Sender
  • Sender
  • Signature

6. Be sure your email uses the right level of formality and that you have put a legal disclaimer at the end of your email.[/tab][tab title=”Application Essays”]

  1. Think of your audience before you even begin and set the right tone.
  2. Be open-minded and express it in your writing
  3. Read the instructions carefully before you even begin so that you are answering the question asked and no the one you thought was asked.
  4. Be concise. Follow the KISS principle (keep it short and simple) where appropriate.
  5. Do not exceed the page limit.
  6. Be yourself but also try to be creative without going overboard; show that you have a sense of humor and can be edgy but remain cultured and intelligent.
  7. Begin with a question for maximum impact.
  8. Answer the WH questions: Who, What, When and How
  9. Be yourself.
  10. Proofread and edit your work before you send it off.



, you should write your abstract after you write the article or report. This is counterintuitive but all the experts agree that it is the most effective and efficacious way to write an abstract because that way you can capture exactly what the article is about and hit the main points. The purpose of the abstract is to provide the reader with enough but concise information that entices them to want to read more of your article.

Next, be concise. Follow the KISS principles: Keep it Short and Simple. Aim to use one paragraph to summarize the main points of the article. Crunch a maximum amount into each sentences (make every sentence count) without compromising the brevity rule.

Next, mention your hypothesis, method, findings and conclusion if possible in no more than two sentences. And keep your sentence length under 25 words per sentence.

Finally, summarize the summary in no more than two sentences.

[/tab][tab title=”Research article”]First, begin by consulting the journal for specific editorial requirements.

Then, begin to pre-plan your writing by organizing your ideas according to specific points you want to make.

Write your introduction. This should be limited to one page if possible and should adequately alert the reader about what you intend to prove or disprove and the methodology you plan to use. Your introduction should answer the “so what” question: Why is the research or article important? What question or issue does it address? What answers does it provide? What is your hypothesis. Is this a quantitative design or a qualitative study?

Plan a rough number of paragraphs you want to write. Each paragraph should generally cover a separate point. Organize your p paragraphs logically and sequentially so that your work will flow smoothly once you have a finished product. Paragraph structure is very important.

Follow the rules of English grammar with regard to tenses, articles and tone. For example, use the present tense to report facts. Use the past tense to report findings and results. Active voice is preferred over passive voice. Use articles and determiners such as “a” “an” “the” “my” “these” and “those” appropriately .

Cite your sources appropriately using primary sources such as research articles over other secondary material such as websites if possible.

If this is a an empirical paper, state your design in a methodology section. Is this a quantitative or qualitative design?

Other tips

  • Use 12 point times Roman font unless otherwise instructed
  • Double space
  • Do not exceed the page limit
  • Number your pages consecutively

[/tab][tab title=”Letters”]Like emails, letters can be either formal or informal, although in a business context, letters are formal almost 100 percent of the time.

A. There are 8 basic parts to a business letter:

  • Date
  • recipient’s address
  • Sender’s address
  • Re
  • Salutation
  • Body of the letter
  • Closing
  • Signature
  • Enclosures (if any)

B. There are different approaches to writing a business letter as far as placement of the various parts in particular the date, signature, closing and addresses.

1. The date can be placed at the left margin or the right margin.

2. The recipient’s address is always placed at the left margin but your sender’s address can be omitted if there is a letterhead; or if there is no letterhead, it can go on the left margin above the recipient(s address. Or the writer can create a “fake” letterhead by putting his or her address at the top of the page.

3. After the the addresses, put the “re” line. This will state in a short phrase or sentence the purpose of the letter.

4. In the body of the letter, break up the points into paragraphs using only one paragraph per point.

5. The closing in a letter, like an email can be any of the following depending on the context and preference of the writer:

  • Sincerely
  • Faithfully yours
  • Yours, etc.
  • Yours truly
  • Kind Regards

6. Always type your name but leave space to insert a handwritten signature.

7. If you are enclosing something in your correspondence, write “”encl.” after your signature. If you are enclosing more than one thing write “encls.”


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In English, when you have two or more verbs in a sentence that are related to one another in that sentence, the form of the second verb can either be in gerund form “ing” (making it more like a noun than a verb, example “taking”)) or it can be in the infinitive form (example, “to take”). But how can you tell which is correct between the ING or infinitive?

For example, if you need to tell your child to take a shower you would say:

“You need to take a shower now. ”

Notice that the two verbs in that sentence are are “need” and “take.”

The first verb is conjugated normally. But the second verb is not conjugated. It stays in the infinitive.

In that sentence, you COULD NOT say “you need taking a shower now.” Not only because it sounds funny, which it does, but also because it is just grammatically not correct in English to follow the verb “to need” with the ING FORM.

Why? Because the first verb “need” is almost always followed by the infinitive in English. It is never followed by the gerund “ing” form of the verb.


ING or INFINITIVE? The General rules are as follows:

  • Some verbs MUST be followed by the infinitive form and others MUST be followed by a gerund.
  • Yet other verbs can be followed by either the gerund or the infinitive.
  • Sometimes, the form that follows can change the meaning of the second verb completely and the sense of the sentence completely.

Examples: “I remembered to give him the files.” vs “I remembered giving him the files.”

  • Sometimes an object comes between the first verb and the second verb (usually the infinitive form).

Examples: “I allowed John to take more cherries.”

  • *Note that phrasal verbs also follow this rule. Example: “She gave up expecting him to change.”
  • *Note also that certain nouns can also be followed by the infinitive form. Example: “He had the desire to slice off her nose.”



  1. Admit (example: I admit taking the car this morning)
  2. Appreciate (example: Did you appreciate seeing your brother?)
  3. Avoid
  4. Can’t help
  5. Can’t resist
  6. Can’t stand
  7. Carry on
  8. Consider
  9. Delay
  10. Deny
  11. Dislike
  12. Enjoy
  13. Excuse
  14. Fancy
  15. Finish
  16. Give up
  17. Given up
  18. Help, resist, face & Stand (with couldn’t and can’t)
  19. Imagine
  20. Involves
  21. Justify
  22. Keep, keep on, carry on
  23. Make
  24. Mention
  25. Mind
  26. Mind (negatives and questions in particular)
  27. Permits
  28. Postpone
  29. Practice
  30. Propose
  31. Put off
  32. Recommend
  33. Risk
  34. Spend time with
  35. Suggest
  36. Tolerate
  37. Worth




  1. Begin
  2. Bother
  3. Continue
  4. Forget
  5. Go on
  6. Hate
  7. Intend
  8. Like
  9. Love
  10. Mean
  11. Need
  12. Permits
  13. Prefer
  14. Propose
  15. Regret
  16. Remember * (this could sometimes take the ING form)
  17. Stand
  18. Start
  19. Stop
  20. Try




  1. Want
  2. Help
  3. Ask
  4. Decide
  5. Hope
  6. Choose To
  7. Demand
  8. Need
  9. Agree
  10. Arrange
  11. Refuse
  12. Expect
  13. Require
  14. Allow
  15. Offer
  16. Seem
  17. Appear
  18. Tend
  19. Manage
  20. Fail


  1. Agreement (example: We had an agreement to manufacture crystals)
  2. Arrangement
  3. Decision
  4. Demand
  5. Desire
  6. Failure
  7. Offer
  8. Plan
  9. Promise
  10. Refusal
  11. Tendancy
  12. Threat

Verbs that usually can take an object before the second verb:


  1. advise (example: “I advise you to toss him out of the car.”)
  2. allow (example: Mom allowed me to put a perm in my hair when I was thirty.)
  3. ask
  4. beg
  5. cause
  6. enable
  7. encourage
  8. expect
  9. force
  10. help
  11. intend
  12. invite
  13. mean
  14. order
  15. recommend
  16. remind
  17. take
  18. teach
  19. tell
  20. warn


English Transitional Words: Make your spoken and written English pop with these linkers and connectors


Transitional words and phrases are plentiful in English. Some modern English writing experts have advocated reducing the use of connectors and linkers. That is to say that the overuse or misuse of English transitional words  should be avoided. For English learners, these words serve a useful purpose or multiple purposes. These words help keep one’s thoughts, words and writing  clear;  and using them helps  the reader or listener to stay on the same page with the speaker or writer. Transitional words can be used as signposts. They enrich speech and written communication and makes the speaker or writer seem more intelligent or more fluent especially when the words are used correctly and judiciously. (One rule of thumb to remember is that you must almost always follow a transitional connector by a comma.)

Transitional words like “additionally,” “therefore,” and “moreover” are used to:

Below are a list of transitional words plus an audio and quiz. Free with a monthly pass or premium pass.

[section title=”#1 Showing Contrast”]

  • In contrast
  • Conversely
  • By contrast
  • However
  • Rather
  • Yet
  • But
  • Instead
  • Although
  • Even though
  • Nevertheless
  • Despite



1) In contrast with normal procedure, my boss asked us to ignore the fire alarm.

2) In contrast to normal procedure, my boss asked us to ignore the fire alarm.

3) The Picasso was expensive; by contrast, the Renoir was not.

4) Learning English is easy; conversely, Learning Sanskrit is hard.

5) The woman is beautiful; by contrast her daughter is totally unattractive.

6) The idea was to have a small wedding; however my mother had other ideas.

7) I dont think I can make it tonight; rather, I would prefer to go home and rest and see you tomorrow.

8) The attorney was insulted by the judge; yet she maintained her composure.

9) This situation is not ideal but I do not have a choice but to go forward with it.

10) The plaintiff did not want to settle the lawsuit; instead, she instructed her lawyer to prepare for trial.

11) Although this multinational has polluted the global environment, no international court has been able to find them liable for gross negligence.

12) Even though I am upset, I will still go through with the plan.

13) Nevertheless, we parted as friends.

14) Despite the urgency of the situation, the paramedics took their time to respond to the 911 call.


[section title=”#2 Adding information”]

  • Additionally
  • In addition
  • Added to that
  • Moreover
  • Furthermore
  • Likewise
  • Also
  • As well as
  • Incidentally
  • By the way
  • Notably
  • And
  • As if that was not enough
  • On top of that
  • Plus



1) Additionally, I am fluent in three languages.

2) In addition, I am fluent in three languages.

3) Added to that, I am fluent in three languages.

4) Moreover, this was not one of the terms agreed upon.

5) Furthermore, this was not one of the terms agreed upon.

6) Likewise, this situation is unacceptable.

7) Also, I would like to reiterate my interest in the position.

8) Chinese nationals, as well as Malaysians, were on the doomed flight.

9) Incidentally, nobody informed me that there would be a meeting this morning!

10) By the way, are you going to John’s bachelor’s beer night?

11) Notably, these results are inconclusive.

12) And, it was a grand disaster, if I may say so myself.

13) As if that were not enough, she then proceeded to where red stilettos.

14) On top of that, I was hungry and tired.

15) Plus, she paid for Google advertising.


[section title=”#3 Generalizing”]

  • Generally
  • In general
  • Normally
  • Usually
  • As usual
  • As always
  • Typically
  • Ordinarily
  • As a general rule
  • More often than not
  • In most cases
  • For the most part



1) Generally, I don’t like blond perms.

2) In general, PayPal is reliable.

3) Normally, cats and dogs do not get along.

4) As usual, she showed up late.

5) As always, she showed up late.

6) typically, men prefer to ask a woman to marry them; not the other way around.

7) Ordinarily, he is a lot more careful than that.

8) As a general rule, this company likes to avoid litigation.

9) More often than not, I am late for work.

10) In most cases, there appears to be no correlation.

11) For the most part, I am content with my life.


[section title=”#4 Expressing results”]

  • For this reason
  • As a result
  • As a consequence
  • Finally
  • Because of this
  • So
  • Thus
  • In the final analysis
  • In the end
  • Accordingly
  • Therefore
  • This is why



1) For this reason, I do not recommend this course of action.

2) As a result, the hypothesis is flawed.

3) As a consequence, I cannot make this recommendation.

4) Finally, the other side acquiesced.

5) Because of this, I think we should avoid this course of action.

6) So, it is not a good idea to proceed.

7) Thus, I can only conclude that this is not in our best interest.

8) In the final analysis, it is you who has to make the decision.

9) In the end, correlation appears to equal causation.

10) Accordingly, I propose that you suspend action till further notice.

11) Therefore, the marketing department should change its tactics.

12) This is why the results are the same.


[section title=”#5 Illustrating or emphasizing a point”]

  • That is
  • That means
  • That is to say
  • Incidentally
  • In particular
  • Especially
  • Most of all
  • Above all
  • In Fact
  • Actually
  • The fact is
  • Namely
  • For example



1) This is, the financial data is inaccurate.

2) That means, language Policy in the EU should remain an issue for each member state to handle.

3) That is to say, the foregoing was in error.

4) Incidentally, I never said that.

5) In particular, what happened in the meeting should never happen again.

* 6) Especially the first one.

7) Most of all, the tribesmen would like assistance with brokering a peace deal.

8) Above all, the primary consideration has to be the kids.

9) In fact, it was mentioned in two clauses in the contract.

10) Actually, this was not addressed in the boilerplate contract.

11) The fact is, you are wrong.

12) Namely, both groups contributed to the negligence.

13) For example, the blue and red colors have been known to oxidize.


[section title=”#6 Summarizing”]

  • Thus
  • In summary
  • To summarize
  • In conclusion
  • Therefore
  • In short
  • To sum it all up
  • In the end
  • In the final analysis
  • Overall
  • Globally
  • On balance
  • To sum
  • At the end of the day

1) Thus, my conclusion is that my hypothesis is correct.

2) In summary, this sort of thing should never happen again.

3) To summarize, let me begin by reiterating that the results are inconclusive.

4) In conclusion, environmental protection agencies need to get more aggressive with protecting the global environment.

5) Therefore, your position is unsupported by the facts.

6) In short, you cannot do that.

7) To sum it all up, 2014 was a banner year for us.

8) In the end, I must concede that I was wrong.

9) In the final analysis, there is no workable solution for this problem.

10) Overall, the team did okay.

11) Globally, the output was satisfactory but there were internal departments that need to show improvement.

12) On balance, this could have been a much worse scenario.

13) To sum it up, the red team wins.

14) At the end of the day, he gained more than he bargained for.


[section title=”#7 Repetition and emphasis”]

  • In other words
  • To put it mildly
  • Clearly
  • That means that
  • That is to say that
  • Briefly stated
  • Reiterated
  • Again
  • Put another way
  • Notably
  • Please take note that



1) In other words, this proposal lacks persuasion.

2) To put it mildly, I was shocked by their response.

3) Clearly, this can’t happen again.

4) That means that, barring any unforseen developments, I should complete my doctorate in 3 years.

5) That is to say that what you did here was not only unethical, it was also illegal.

6) Briefly stated, she felt threatened by her subordinate’s Superior intelligence.

7) Reiterated, you must have made a mistake.

8) Again, your leadership skills need some fine-tuning.

9) Put another way, I was grossly disappointed.

10) Notably, this center has always been at the center of Parisian culture.

11) Please take note that, effective immediately, I no longer want to a member of this institution.


[section title=”#8 Sequence, Order, Timing, Time Relations”]

  • First
  • Second
  • Next
  • After
  • Then
  • Last
  • Lastly
  • Finally
  • Before that
  • In conclusion
  • Contemporaneously
  • At the same time
  • Just then
  • Earlier
  • Later
  • Midway
  • Simultaneously



1) First, I have worked in Madrid.

2) Second, I speak Five languages which include Russian, Swahili, Chinese, French and English.

3) Next, he took his shirt off.

4) After, the boss yelled that she was an incompetent nincompoop.

5) Then, ,her mother started to cry.

6) Last, her husband asked for a divorce.

7) Lastly, I would just like to close by saying that I had a marvelous time and  would love to see you again.

8) Finally, please give my regards to your mom.

9) Before that, I worked at Ernst and Young.

10) In conclusion, I think what you did amounts to malfeasance.

11) The cars sped, contemporaneously, in opposite directions.

12) At the same time, I did not think she would have sunk so low as to spy on me from a key hole.

12) Just then, the doorbell rang.

13) Earlier, I plugged the keyhole with toilet tissue.

14) Later, the company hosted a cocktail soiree.

15) Midway through the conference, the speaker collapsed.

16) Simultaneously, the alarms sounded.


[section title=”#9 Comparisons, similarities and distinctions”]

  • Similarly
  • Likewise
  • In the same way
  • By contrast
  • Comparatively
  • Correspondingly
  • On the other hand
  • Conversely
  • In a like manner
  • On the flip side



1) Similarly, our firm should aim to be one of the top ten in the world.

2) Likewise, we should want to be the best.

3) In the same way, we should aim to be the best.

4) By contrast, the level of motivation needed to become the best is lacking in our firm.

5)  Comparatively speaking, these two languages could not be more different in terms of the amount of time it takes to achieve proficiency.

6) Correspondingly, the data for 2007 also shows a link between a change in administrative personnel and a drop in sales.

7) On the other hand, there is another way to interpret this data.

8) Conversely, when the same rules were applied in this situation, the outcome was not the same.

9) In a like manner, you should not do and say to others what you would not have them do and say to you.

10) On the flip side, social media advertising is very expensive.


[section title=”#10 Giving examples”]

  • For example
  • Example
  • Such as
  • For instance
  • To illustrate
  • Namely
  • Particularly
  • including
  • Notably



1) For example, this clause does not make sense.

2) Example: Mr Garrette was late 25 times this month.

3) I had numerous duties such as, responding to inquiries; doing research and assisting the director.

4) For instance, she lied Under oath.

5) To illustrate, lets suppose the two cars collided.

6) Namely: the high bulbs with high resolution tend to last longer than the others.

7) Particularly curious was the fact that he went surfing in weather such as that.

8) Including: shirts, pants and blouses.

9) Notably, this only happens on Wednesdays.


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business calls in English

Business Calls in English: 8 Tips for Mastering the Art of Telephoning in English with a Business purpose

Business calls in English can run the gamut from routine to very serious from friendly to hostile.  How you handle a business call will obviously depend on who, what, where, when and why you are communicating with the other person or persons.

Under normal circumstances, when people make business calls in English (or any other language, really)  it is usually to:

  1. confirm
  2. clarify
  3. inquire
  4. discover
  5. verify
  6. participate
  7. explain
  8. facilitate
  9. negotiate
  10. plan
  11. collaborate
  12. dispute

Depending on the reason for your call, your tone and actual words of communication will differ. Obviously, for instance, you would speak differently if you are “disputing” than if you are “collaborating.” And so forth.

If your English skills are below fluent and you have an important business telephone call to make, consider practicing or rehearing the call beforehand or role play with a friend or colleague whose English is better than yours.

This post is based on busines calls that lean more towards the friendly side than to the hostile side. While it does not cover every possible contingency, the goal is to give you at least a basic primer for making business calls in English.

8 Tips for Making Business Calls in English that Make the Professional Grade

  1. At the start of the call, identify yourself by name and if appropriate, by company, or the department in which you work.

For example, “Hello, this is John Smith with Merrill Lynch. I am calling from the asset management department. May I speak with Allain Duroc, Please? I need confirmation that the Lagos conference has been cancelled.”

2. Get familiar with modal verbs because it is impossible to have a business telephone conversation without them. (Obviously, you need to work on this long before you even make the call.)


  • May I speak with your supervisor, please?
  • Would you mind re-sending the fax? We were unable to read the last few lines.
  • Would that be all the information you need? Is there anything I can clarify further?
  • Can I help you with anything else? Keep in mind that the company never agreed to participate in this survey so my authority to give you more information is limited.
  • Should I include that report in the presentation? Do you think this would help to better explain the findings?
  • When will you arrive in Brussels? Should I make reservations for dinner?
  • Could you repeat that? I don’t know if I fully understood your line of reasoning.
  • Who was supposed to handle this client’s account? Because I’m afraid this person will be fired.
  • Where might I find the stock accounts in the file, do you know?

3. Review auxiliary verbs DO, BE and HAVE as these verbs are vital to business telephone conversations (obviously, you would need to do this long before you need to be making the business calls in English!)

Examples with BE (3 tenses)

  • I am delighted to speak with you finally after such a long time emailing each other.
  • I was in New York on business and apologize that I missed the meeting yesterday.
  • I will not be in the office next week so I would need to reschedule the conference call.

Examples with DO

  • I do believe I received your last email but I don’t remember if you answered this specific question.
  • Do you agree that this contract is one sided?
  • I don’t think Ariane is the right person for this assignment. We should send Paul instead.

Examples with HAVE

  • Hello Roman, this is Mike Dubke, do you have a minute for a quick discussion about the powerpoint?
  • Hello Janice, I am calling because I just realized you have not sent in your timesheets.
  • Have you got the updated files on a disk?

4. Review WH words (who, what, where, when, how) as these words are integral to conversation including Business calls in English.


  • Who might I say is calling?
  • What can I do for you?
  • Where are you calling from exactly?
  • When would be a good time to follow up with another phone call?
  • How can I help you?

Business calls in English

5. If you need the call to remain short and brief, ask closed ended questions (so that you can get a “yes” or “no” response); or say something like:

  •  “I received the latest figures. I can get this back to you on Friday. Would this work for you?”
  • “Hi John, I am calling to have a quick word on the new contract negotiations but I would like to keep it brief due to a meeting. Can you please clarify clause 5 on the second page?”



6. If you need to transfer the call:

  • Tell the person you will transfer him or her.
  • Give the person the extension number to which they are being transferred as well as the person they are being transferred to.
  • Alert the person receiving the transfer who is on the line and why they are being transferred.

7. Watch your manners and etiquette

For example:

  • Smile when possible as it can be heard in your voice
  • Say please, thank you, good morning, good evening, etc., when appropriate
  • Don’t yell and scream
  • Apologize when necessary
  • remain calm and classy
  • Don’t eat and chew gum
  • Use language and tone appropriate to the conversation
  • Turn off other interruptions such as cellphones, pagers, music and other devices
  • Avoid putting the person on hold to talk with colleagues.
  • Listen without interrupting

8. End the call in a professional manner

For example:

  • “Thank you for calling, have a good day.”
  • Thank you for you time this was very helpful.”
  • OK that sounds good. What is the best way to reach you if I have further questions?
  • It was good to speak with you, I will let the boss know that you called.
  • It is going to be great to collaborate with you on this project. Shall we talk tomorrow as scheduled just to finalize everything?
  • It’s confirmed. Thank you, goodnight.
  • I will verify that and get back to you ASAP. Take care, goodbye.
  • Ok Great, let’s talk again soon.
  • OK, I’ve got to run. Thank you for your assistance. Have a good day. Bye.
  • Have a nice day!

NEXT: Business English Role Play for Negotiation


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For, Since, During, While: What is the Difference Between These English Puppies? + QUIZ

Use “For” when:

You are talking about a duration of time that is non-specific. For example:

“I lived there for five years.” In this sentence, the speaker does not specify which five years he or she is talking about. Is it from 2001 – 2006? Is it five years during his or her teens? Was it a five year period ten years ago?

Consider this other sentence: “The meeting lasted for six minutes.”

Again, the speaker does not give a specific time frame, only a duration.  The listener does not know specifically when those six minutes began and ended.

For, Since, During, While
When do I use “For” “During” “Since” or “While”???

You use “since” when you:

Want to specify the time frame that something started or began. That thing is likely still continuing in the present time.  Note that “since” is often used with the present perfect and present continuous tenses. Remember that in English, the present perfect tense/present perfect continuous is used to talk about something that started in the past but has a connection to the present. However, also note that since can be used in other contexts/tenses as well. Since can be either a conjunction, adverb or preposition in English. As Tiphaine Borredon would say, “it’s complication!”

Read the examples below. Note that in each example, the action began at a time in the past but it is understood that the action continues to the moment the speaker is speaking:

  • Since when have you been jogging at midnight? (adverb)
  • I have been jogging at midnight since last year. (preposition)
  • I have despised broccoli since I was a child.  (preposition)
  • Since you have refused to remove your car from the parking spot for disabled people, I have no choice but to call the police. (conjunction)
  • I have taken French lessons since the age of eighteen. (preposition)

You use “during” when you:

Are referring to a specific period of time that has a specific beginning point and a specific ending point. During is a preposition and is usually followed by a noun or a noun clause in English.

So for example:

“I will go sightseeing during my vacation.” In this sentence the speaker (and probably the listener) knows exactly when the vacation will begin and end.


  • “I cry during sad movies.”
  • “I learned to cheat on tests during college.”
  • During the summer, I often go to Bretagne to visit my grandmother.
  • Are you free during lunch?
  • I have observed that during fire drills Peter goes into an asthma attack.
  • Come on, let’s go! You can eat during the car ride.
  • You will have a chance to see the Great Wall during the tour tomorrow.

You use “while” when you:

Talk about two actions that occur during the same span of time.  The two actions may be unrelated but they occur or will occur in the same time frame.  This use of while is as a conjunction. But “while” has many uses in English. It can be a conjunction, adverb, noun, verb or even sometimes a preposition! (Tiphaine! Complication!)


  • While you take a nap, I will cook dinner. (conjunction)
  • You can go for a walk while she is being interviewed. (conjunction)
  • Did you pass out while all of this was going on? (conjunction)
  • While John is prone to outbursts, Jason his twin brother is very calm. (conjunction)
  • My college years were a time for me to while away my youth (verb)
  • The hour while you wait for the doctor to update you is the hardest part of this medical procedure (adverb)
  • We can sit here for a while. (noun)

Note that “while” and “during” can often be used in the same sense but the structure of your sentence would change. For example:

  • While you take a nap, I will cook dinner.
  • During your nap, I will cook dinner.
  • You can go for a walk while she is being interviewed
  • You can go for a walk during her interview.
  • Did you  pass out while all of this was going on?
  • Did you pass out during all of this?



Read more on Since, While, For and During here.

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Business Lunch English: All the Common Phrases for Invitation, Small Talk, Starting Conversations, Ending the Lunch

Let’s talk Business Lunch English

Business Lunch English
What is your favorite cuisine?

Business Lunch English is the type of English you speak at a business lunch. Obvious, right? So, imagine you have a power business lunch scheduled with a business colleague, business partner or potential business partner.  Whether you are the host or the guest, if your first language is not English you are bound to be a little bit nervous. There is no need to be. In many ways, meeting for a business lunch is easier than, say, taking a conference call in English when you are not face to face with the person.

In this post, you will find a lot of helpful phrases for inviting someone to the meal conversations during lunch and follow up emails. Keep in mind that these lists are the bare minimum. There are innumerable ways to discuss business over lunch in English.

If you are the one to invite the person to lunch, be sure to ensure that the restaurant you choose – if you choose the restaurant – is appropriate to the occasion. You don’t want a place that is too packed or too loud if you intend to have an actual conversation during the lunch or dinner.

In some circumstances, it may be appropriate to make it clear if you will be paying. Say “it’s my treat.” If you don’t intend to pay, then just don’t say anything. You would never say to the person “you will have to pay for yourself,” as this is obviously rude.

Another thing to do just to be on the safe side is find out if the person has any preferences for the lunch or any allergies and things like that because the last thing you need is to schedule a business lunch where the person can’t eat because they are allergic or because they hate the cuisine you picked.

Business Lunch English
What are you going to have?

The key to a successful business lunch is to relax, enjoy your guest and your meal and throw in a little business with the pleasure. It is literally the one time when mixing business and pleasure is expected and allowed. However, one caveat: It probably is not a good idea to have alcohol during lunch unless you are very sure that you can handle your liquor with class and finesse at that time of the day. Even so, it is usually better not to drink at lunchtime and especially not during a business lunch.



  • Are you free Friday around lunchtime for lunch?
  • Would you like to have lunch next Tuesday to discuss this?
  • Any plans for lunch tomorrow? Would you like to meet?
  • I will be in your neck of the woods next week and wondered if you would like to join me for lunch?
  • Let’s make a lunch date.
  • Let’s do lunch soon. When are you free?
  • Would you like to grab a salad with me tomorrow around lunchtime?
  • Let’s have lunch!
  • We need to get together over lunch and hash this out. Are you free this Thursday?
  • There’s a great Italian restaurant near my office would you like to join me for lunch there sometime?



  • Are there any types of food or cuisine you absolutely don’t want to eat?
  • Do you have any preferences as far as cuisine?
  • Is there a particular place you would like to go?
  • Would you like me to pick the place or shall we play it by ear?
  • Are there any types of food that you are allergic to or anything like that
  • Would you care to try the new Trinidadian restaurant that just opened up?
  • What do you like to eat?
  • Would you like to pick the restaurant?
  • Any particular place you would like to go?
  • Are you vegan or vegetarian or anything like that?


When you talk to a wait person in a restaurant, you will be using a lot of modal verbs such as “may” “could” “should”  “would”  “will” and “going to”

You might say TO THE WAITER:
  • May I have another glass of water?
  • Could I have another fork, please?
  • Would you please point me to the restroom?
  • I will have the grilled steak.
  • I think I’m going to pass on dessert. But I would like some coffee please.

    Business lunch English
    Would you like some coffee?
  • I would like another glass of wine, please (although, as noted previously, drinking during your business lunch is probably best avoided.)
You might say to your lunch partner (or they to you)
  • What are you going to have?
  • May I ask you to explain what this is?
  • Do you think I should order the beet salad?
  • Will we have time for dessert?
  • Could you pass the salt, please

Business Lunch English Conversation and small talk


  • Your English is quite excellent, where is the accent from?
  • Is the weather any better in your neck of the woods than what we have going on here?
  • Anything good planned for the weekend?
  • Did you watch the football game last night?
  • Have you seen the latest exhibit at the Tate?
  • How are you adjusting in this new city? Do you miss home?
  • Is this your first time in New York?
  • How do you like Chennai?
  • Why did you decide to become an art dealer?


  • So how long have you actually been with the company?
  • How much decision-making authority do you actually have in this company?
  • Tell me more about this proposal you and I have been discussing. Sell me on the idea.
  • What do you think would be the greatest challenge as far as getting this project to completion?
  • How far along are you as far as getting the necessary financing?
  • What are the next steps?


  • Wow, look at the time! I really must be heading back to the office now.
  • This was lovely, we should try to do this again soon.
  • Thanks for very pleasant meal but I have to get going.
  • I’m sorry but I’ve got to bolt, I have a meeting in half hour back at the firm. I hope you don’t mind?
  • It’s time to head back to the office, I’m afraid. But this was really nice.

So, these Business Lunch English phrases are just a few of the ones you can use to invite someone to lunch or to converse with someone and have small talk over lunch (or dinner).  Remember the list here is not exhaustive. It is not meant to be a script. The key is to act naturally and to be attentive to your guest and to enjoy  your meal while remaining professional.

Don’t forget to send a follow up email after. It can be the same day or a few days later but not more than seven days later. Some key phrases you could use:

  • It was a pleasure to have met you on Friday for lunch
  • I think we had a very constructive discussion over lunch yesterday and I would very much like to follow up with a meeting with my boss next week.
  • Glad we finally had a chance to meet and talk. We should do that again soon.
  • I hope you enjoyed our lunch as much as I did. You have shed a lot of light on a few things for me and I really do appreciate it immensely.


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NEXT: Business English Role Play for Negotiation


Contact us to schedule Business Lunch English role play by Skype, Facetime or WhatsApp. 2 hour minimum.



They're or There?

THEY’RE or THERE? OR THEIR? Even for native English speakers, it can sometimes be difficult to choose between these three words. What is the difference between these three words (homophones) which are pronounced exactly the same?  When speaking, there is no difference and no need to worry but when writing you definitely want to choose the right one because there is a huge difference between them.

“Their” is a possessive adjective that signifies ownership, belonging or association. It is usually followed by a noun. For example:

  • Their house
  • Their children
  • Their car
  • Their mistake
  • Their thoughts

“There” is an adverb of place or it can be a pronoun depending on how it is used in the sentence For example as a pronoun:

  • There is a book on the table
  • There are plenty left
  • There can’t be this many obstructionists in this organization!
  • There must be a way

As for usage of “there” as an adverb often when speaking about a location or place:

  • I will not go there.
  • The forest is over there
  • Put it there
  • Take the road through there

Finally, “they’re” is a contraction or shortened form of “they are.” Examples of its usage are:

  • I am not sure if they’re coming
  • They’re late again
  • They’re an item
  • They’re two of the highest mountains in the world.
  • Do you know if they’re the right ones?

Are you ready to quiz yourself on THEY’RE or THERE or THEIR?




Many Business English students have asked for business English role play exercises. This business English role play is the first of many to come.  It involves a negotiation between two business men in the Emirates.

Imagine that Mr Smith is an American businessman who has arrived in Abu Dhabi to meet with Mr Khan who heads an oil and gas company in the Middle East.  The two gentlemen will be discussing a deal to build a pipeline in Subsaharan Africa to drill for oil. Get a partner and role play this discussion.

For an example of the type of discussion you could have, see below:



Mr Khan: So did you find your way here okay without any problems?

Mr Smith: Yes. It was a smooth taxi ride from my hotel. No complaints whatsoever, Mr Khan. Thank you for asking.

Mr Khan: Good. Are you enjoying the weather? Too hot for you? Just right?

Mr Smith: Oh, splendid.  I am sun and sea type of a guy myself born and raised in Corpus Christie. I enjoy the outdoors, this is definitely my kind of weather.

Mr Khan: Oh good. Sometimes Westerners find our climate a bit too hot. Good to know you can handle it. So let’s cut to the chase, shall we. So as you know we are close to closing a deal with the government of Eritrea to build a new pipeline in the north of the country that will allow us to drill hundreds of tons of crude oil without too much environmental impact. It’s expected to be a bonanza and everybody wants in on this deal. We’ve got some Chinese partners who are interested in partnering up on this and as a matter of fact we are scheduled to meet today.  We are pretty close to a deal. But we wanted to talk with you guys first before we talk with them. Are you ready to make a deal?

Mr Smith: Yes indeed.

Mr Khan: We are looking for an initial investment of USD $200 MILLION in cash wired to our account in Dubai at Emirates bank within 24 hours of closing on the deal.

Mr Smith: We are very interested in making a deal. We’ve done all the due diligence and it looks like a solid project, it does check all the boxes for us but of course it will depend on the final terms. We would like a minimum of 45 percent stake in order for this to make sense for us.

Mr Khan: 45 percent? That is totally out of the question. The maximum we can offer you is 25 percent.

Mr Smith: There seems to be some kind of mistake. Clearly 25 percent is way below what you are authorized to offer and what I am authorized to accept.

Mr Khan:  Thirty percent then. That is our best and final offer, take it or leave it.

Mr Smith: Excuse me, Mr Khan but my understanding from my superiors is that the final decision for this project rests with Mr Karim Nadel Al Khomeni. And Mr Nadel just this morning before I arrived at your office personally assured me that a 45 percent stake was within the realm of possibility for this project. Now, I know Mr Nadel is currently in Qatar and cannot personally attend this meeting in person-

Mr Khan: I’m sorry, excuse me, Mr Smith. You spoke with Mr Nadel this morning from his home in Qatar and he informed you that a 45 percent stake in this project was possible?

Mr Smith: yes, indeed.

Mr Khan: This is news to me, Sir. I am afraid I will have to speak with Mr Nadel before further talks on this matter.

Mr Smith: I’ve got his contact details we can call him now and put him on speaker phone I am sure he won’t mind.

Mr Khan: No, no, no, no, no. I don’t think that would be a good idea. I would need to speak with Mr Nadel privately and get back to you on this matter. Would you mind if we postpone further discussions till tomorrow?

Mr Smith: Well, I suppose not however I was in fact scheduled to fly back to Texas tomorrow evening. I guess I can always cancel the flight if need be.

Mr Khan: Thank you for your understanding, Mr Smith and do excuse this confusion.

Mr Smith: Of course it’s no problem. Shall we reconvene tomorrow then?

Mr Khan: Yes, tomorrow.

Both men get to their feet and shake hands.



Now it is your turn to act out your own business English role play. You do not have to use the same approach you can be totally creative and original. Have fun with it and focus on having a “natural” dialogue.


NEXT: Welcoming a visitor in English to your country

AFTER: Business Lunch English


10 Resources to Help You Improve Your English Pronunciation

Improve Your English Pronunciation Now!


Improve your English pronunciation with these resources and techniques:

The best and most effective way to improve your English pronunciation is to use your ears. That’s right. Listening well is the key to improving your English pronunciation. But who should you listen to? It depends on your goals. If your goal is to improve your pronunciation so that you sound like a native English person from the UK, you need to listen to native English person from the UK. If your goal is to improve your English pronunciation so you sound more like your teacher,  (whatever his or her English accent may be) then by all means you have to spend more time listening to your teacher. If you want an American accent, then listen to Americans. The idea is that you have to spend time listening to the speakers you would like to sound like.

In addition to listening, if you want to improve your English pronunciation, you also have to practice actually speaking and hearing yourself speak so it is a good idea to read aloud to yourself and tape record yourself as you speak. Keep in mind that good pronunciation will always mean speaking with clarity so that the listener understands perfectly what you say. No point in having the cutest accent in the world if you are not understood. Good pronunciation means that you are understood.

To avoid a gobbled sound when you speak, practice speaking as slowly as you can without being ridiculous. In other words, there is slow and then there is ridiculous. Avoid the latter.

You may want to invest some time watching videos on English pronunciation such as the INTERNATIONAL PHONETIC ALPHABET which gives you the rules for English pronunciation.

Below are 10 resources  ONLINE ARTICLES, PODCASTS, APPS, POEM and VIDEOS that should go a long way towards helping you improve your English pronunciation:

  1. Poem: The Chaos by Gerard Nolste Trenité
  2. Article: How to Improve your English Pronunciation in 8 Steps
  3. Article: The Sound of English: Tim’s Pronunciation Workshop – BBC Learning English
  4. Article: 8 Tongue Twisters to Improve English Pronunciation
  5. Article: English pronunciation practice for Arabic learners
  6. Podcast: English pronunciation podcasts
  7. App: Google Android English pronunciation app
  8. App: English Practice App – Engvarta
  9. Video: British Council English Pronunciation 
  10. Video: English Pronunciation Training

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