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Monday, November 19, 2018

Modal and Modal Phrases (Semi-Modals)

A modal is a type of auxiliary (helping) verb that is used to express: ability, possibility, permission or obligation. Modal phrases (or semi-modals) are used to express the same things as modals, but are a combination of auxiliary verbs and the preposition to. The modals and semi-modals in English are:
  1. Can/could/be able to
  2. May/might
  3. Shall/should
  4. Must/have to
  5. Will/would

Can, Could, Be Able To

Can, could and be able to are used to express a variety of ideas in English:

Ability/Lack of Ability

Present and Future:

can/can’t + base form of the verb
  1. Tom can write poetry very well.
  2. can help you with that next week.
  3. Lisa can’t speak French.
am / is / are / will be + able to + base form of the verb
am not/ isn’t / aren’t/ won’t be + able to + base form of the verb
  1. Mike is able to solve complicated math equations
  2. The support team will be able to help you in about ten minutes.
  3. won’t be able to visit you next summer.


could / couldn’t + base form of the verb
  1. When I was a child I could climb trees.
was / were + able to + base form of the verb
wasn’t / weren’t + able to + base form of the verb
hasn’t / haven’t + been able to + base form of the verb
  1. wasn’t able to visit her in the hospital.
  2. He hasn’t been able to get in touch with the client yet.
Note: Can and could do not take an infinitive (to verb) and do not take the future auxiliary will.
  • Incorrect: I can to help you this afternoon.
  • Correct: I can help you this afternoon.
  • Correct: I will (I’ll) be able to help you this afternoon.

Possibility / Impossibility

can / can’t + base form of the verb
  1. You can catch that train at 10:43.
  2. He can’t see you right now. He’s in surgery.
could + base form of the verb
  1. could fly via Amsterdam if I leave the day before.

Ask Permission / Give Permission

Can + Subject + base form of the verb (informal)
  1. Can you lend me ten dollars?
Can + base form of the verb (informal)
  1. You can borrow my car.
Could + subject + base form of the verb (polite)
  1. Could I have your number?
  2. Could I talk to your supervisor please?

Make a suggestion – To make a suggestion use:

Could + base form of the verb (informal)
  1. You could take the tour of the castle tomorrow.

May, Might

Formal Permission / Formal Prohibition

may / may not + base form of the verb
  1. You may start your exam now.
  2. You may not wear sandals to work.

Polite Request

May + subject + base form of the verb
  1. May I help you?

Possibility / Negative Possibility

may/ might + base form of the verb
  1. We may go out dinner tonight. Do you want to join us?
  2. Our company might get the order if the client agrees to the price.
may not / might not + base form of the verb
  1. Adam and Sue may not buy that house. It’s very expensive.
  2. They might not buy a house at all.

To Make a Suggestion (when there is no better alternative)

may as well / might as well + base form of the verb
  1. You may as well come inside. John will be home soon.
  2. We might as well take Friday off. There’s no work to be done anyway.

Polite Suggestion

might + base form of the verb
  1. You might like to try the salmon fillet. It’s our special today.

Shall, Should, Ought to

To Offer of Assistance or Polite Suggestion (When you are quite sure of a positive answer)

Shall + subject + base form of the verb
  1. Shall we go for a walk?
Note: Shall is only used with I or we. It is used instead of will only in formal English.

To Offer of Assistance or Polite Suggestion (When you are not sure of a positive answer)

Should + subject + base form of the verb
  1. Should I call a doctor?

A Prediction or Expectation that Something Will Happen

should/shouldn’t + base form of the verb
  1. The proposal should be finished on time.
  2. shouldn’t be late. The train usually arrives on time.

To Give Advice

should / ought to + base form of the verb
  1. You should check that document before you send it out.
  2. You ought to have your car serviced before the winter.

To Give Advice (about something you think wrong or unacceptable)

shouldn’t + base form of the verb
  1. James shouldn’t teach him words like those.

Must, Have to, Need to, Don’t have to, Needn’t

Necessity or Requirement

Present and Future:

must / have to / need to + base form of the verb
  1. You must have a passport to cross the border.
  2. Elisabeth has to apply for her visa by March 10th.
  3. need to drop by his room to pick up a book.


had to / needed to + base form of the verb
  1. had to work late last night.
  2. needed to drink a few cups of coffee in order to stay awake.
Note: have to and need to are often used in the same context, but many times, need to is used to express something that is less urgent, something in which you have a choice.

Almost 100% Certain

must + base form of the verb
  1. Thomas has lived in Paris for years. His French must be very good.

To Persuade

must / have to + base form of the verb
  1. You must try this wine. It’s excellent.
  2. You have to visit us while you’re in town.

Prohibited or Forbidden

must not / mustn’t + base form of the verb
  1. You must not drive over the speed limit.
  2. You mustn’t leave medicines where children can get to them.

Lack of Necessity

don’t /doesn’t /didn’t + have to + base form of the verb
  1. You don’t have to park the car. The hotel valet will do it for you.
  2. Tim doesn’t have to go to school today. It’s a holiday.
  3. You didn’t have to shout. Everyone could hear you.
needn’t + base form of the verb
  1. You needn’t worry about me. I’ll be fine.

Modals: Will / Would

will / won’t + base form of the verb

  1. John will pick you up at 7:00am.
  2. Beth won’t be happy with the results of the exam.

Polite Request or Statement

Will / Would + base form of the verb
  1. Will you please take the trash out?
  2. Would you mind if I sat here?
  3. I’d (I would) like to sign up for your workshop.

Habitual Past Action

Would/Wouldn’t + base form of the verb
  1. When I was a child, I would spend hours playing with my train set.
  2. Peter wouldn’t eat broccoli when he was a kid. He loves it now.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Step Up Your Business English Vocabulary with 25 Advanced Words and Phrases

Grab your coffee cup and I’ll grab mine.

Let’s make a toast to advanced business English learning!

The fact that you’re here reading this post means you’re ready to move up to mastering advanced business English.

As you know, English is fast becoming a requirement for anyone to work, communicate and compete in the international market.

Maybe you want to impress a potential employer, or you have a job that requires frequent international business travel. Or maybe you’ve set your sights on joining a multinational company. For these and any number of other situations, you need to be able to communicate at an advanced level of business English.

Before we get to the list of 25 very important business English words, here are some simple tips to help you add these new words to your everyday vocabulary.

1. Read and watch business news

Improving your business vocabulary takes more than just learning new words. You need to find out how they’re used. The fastest way for an advanced learner like you to do that is to read and watch business news often.

One easy way to start keeping up with the latest business news is to subscribe to The New York Times and try to read at least one article every day. Their Business Day section includes articles on a wide variety of business topics, and covers both U.S. and international business news.

2. Set a target to learn new words every day
You can pick up new business words all around you. Sometimes it’s as simple as talking to people or reading news sites. But don’t stop there. To learn business English vocabulary more quickly, set yourself a target to learn as many new words as you can every day.

One popular study option many learners like is to use flashcards or flashcard apps. You can go online to find existing sets of business vocabulary flashcards or templates to make your own flashcards. Even learning four or five new words a day can make a big difference over time!

3. Use the words you’ve learned
Learning new vocabulary is a good thing. But what’s more important is learning how and where to use these words. To do that, you need to actually use these words in your daily work. Apply them to different situations and contexts until you’re comfortable using them.

OK, let’s move on now to the 25 advanced business English words I have for you today. Many of these words have general meanings, but in this post, I’ll only be discussing them in the business context. Are you ready to get started?

1. Organize

The verb to organize means to arrange something in an orderly way (such as reports or products) or to plan for a certain function (such as business meetings or events).
Sample sentence:
Our sales and marketing team will organize the upcoming Annual Sales Convention in Las Vegas.

2. Guidance

The noun guidance comes from the verb to guide, which means to direct or lead the way. Therefore, guidance refers to the act of giving direction or help.
Sample sentence:
Martha, our manager, tells us we can go to her for guidance any time.

3. Expand

The verb to expand means to increase the size or amount of something. In business, we often talk about expanding a department or a business.
Sample sentence:
I hear that your company plans to expand to Europe and China next year.

4. Clause

In business law, the noun clause refers to a statement or term in the contract.
Sample sentence:
Our legal team has raised some questions about a couple of clausesin the contract.

5. Null and void

The phrase null and void refers to a contract or clause that’s invalid, non-binding or which has no legal force.
Sample sentence:
Our lease will become null and void in 30 days if we don’t renew it now.

6. Competitor

The noun competitor refers to another business that is trying to perform better than your business and others in the same market. You can also refer to all of your competitors as the competition.
Sample sentence:
Management is concerned about the number of new competitorsentering the market this year.

7. Invoice

The noun invoice refers to an itemized bill showing the list of goods sold or services provided, their prices and the total amount to be paid.
Sample sentence:
Don’t forget that we need to pay within 45 days of receiving the invoice.

8. Counter offer

counter offer is an offer you make in response to an offer made by another party. If you’re unhappy with an offer someone has made to you, you may make a counter offer.
Sample sentence:
John offered to sell me his used car for $15,000. It’s a nice car but that’s a little too expensive. So I’m going to make him a counter offer.

9. Trademark

The noun trademark refers to an officially registered name, symbol or logo used to represent a product or firm. Trademark can also be used as a verb. It’s similar in some ways to a copyright or a patent, but not quite the same.
Sample sentence:
One of the most famous trademarks in the world today is the “Golden Arches,” the symbol of McDonald’s.

10. Consensus

The noun consensus refers to an idea or opinion that’s been agreed on by everyone.
Sample sentence:
After a four-hour meeting, the committee still couldn’t come to a consensus, so they’ll be meeting again next week.

11. Public relations

Public relations refers to the activities used to promote and create a good public image of your company so that people will view it in a positive way. It’s also common to use the abbreviation PR.
Sample sentence:
I feel that sponsoring the Fitness For All program will be an excellent public relations move.

12. Agenda

The noun agenda refers to a list of things to be discussed or done at a meeting or business event.
Sample sentence:
Are you sure we can cover everything on today’s agenda in 2 hours?

13. Visual aids

Visual aids are things like charts, pictures, maps, etc. that make it easier for your audience to understand something. You commonly use visual aids if you’re giving a presentation or when you’re in a meeting.
Sample sentence:
Your visual aids really helped me get a better picture of this complex construction project.

14. After-sales service

After-sales service refers to the service, such as maintenance and repairs, that you continue to provide after your customer buys your product or service.
Sample sentence:
Our company’s after-sales service is considered one of the best in the electronics market.

15. Strategy

The noun strategy in business refers to a plan that’s been carefully put together to achieve a certain goal.
Sample sentence:
Our corporate department is developing a strategy to place our company at the top of the tourism industry.

16. Estimate

The noun estimate refers to a general idea about the value, size or cost of something based on a rough calculation. Estimate can also be used as a verb, but the pronunciation is a bit different; click here to hear the differences.
Sample sentence:
The finance team is requesting estimates from several information technology companies to get an idea of the project cost.

17. Equipment

The noun equipment is used to talk about a set of tools or devices you need for a special purpose. For instance, office equipment may include photocopiers, cabinets, etc.
Sample sentence:
My manager thinks we should sell off the unused office equipmentto create more space.

18. Branch

The noun branch refers to the local office or shop of a company.
Sample sentence:
Our bank will be opening many new branches in smaller cities next year.

19. Dress code

The phrase dress code refers to a set of company rules about what clothing may and may not be worn at work.
By the way, if you want to do business internationally, it’s definitely a good idea to do some research about the dress codes (both for business and informal situations) for the country you’ll be working in. It may be very formal or strict compared to your home country—and some rules may surprise you!
It’s also a good idea to check out some pictures to see what business dress looks like in English-speaking countries, as well as clothing tips for all kinds of situations in countries all over the world.
Sample sentence:
Our company has a strict dress code that requires all customer service staff to wear a suit.

20. Guarantee

The verb to guarantee means to make an assurance, usually in written form, of the quality of your product or service. The noun guarantee refers to the assurance itself. If the guarantee also involves a physical document, that document is often called a warranty.
Sample sentence:
Don’t worry, all our products come with a guarantee against major defects.

21. Market research

The phrase market research refers to the research you do to collect information about what your customers need or prefer in a certain product or service.
Sample sentence:
New market research shows that food manufacturing is one of our country’s top income earners.

22. Authorization

The noun authorization comes from the verb to authorize, which means to give someone the legal or official approval to do something. Authorization refers to the approval itself.
Sample sentence:
A manager’s authorization is required for refunds over $500.

23. Penalty

The noun penalty refers to an official punishment, usually through a fine or other payment, for breaking a contract.
Sample sentence:
If you don’t pay your suppliers on time, there will be a penalty of 15%.

24. Headquarters

The noun headquarters refers to the head office where a company is controlled or managed from. It can be used with a singular or plural verb.
Sample sentence:
Apple’s new headquarters in Silicon Valley cost around $5 billion to build!

25. Commercial

The noun commercial refers to a paid advertisement on radio or TV.
Sample sentence:
Our marketing department has a brilliant idea for our next Super Bowl commercial.

Remember, if you want to master this advanced business English vocabulary, you need to practice using the words in your daily work.
Apply the tips I mentioned and you’ll soon be adding even more new advanced vocabulary to what you’ve just learned here.
Keep up your good work!

To view the original article, please visit here.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

English Grammar: I, Me, Myself, and My

Why are the smallest words in English so difficult to master? Even native speakers get very confused with the English pronouns Imemyself, and my!
Why do we have so many different words to describe the same person? Each word is a different part of speech and has a different role to play in a sentence.

I is a subject pronoun. Use it before the verb.

A subject does the action of a verb in a sentence.
I run.
I spoke to my friend yesterday.
I went to the movies last night.
When you have a double subject that includes I, always use and I.
My mom and I love movies.
NOT: I and my mom love Christmas movies.
My mom and I or my mom and me?
If you are not sure if you should use I or me with another person, remove the other person from the sentence and check if the sentence is correct:
My mom and I love Christmas movies.
My mom and me love movies.
Me love movies is not a correct English sentence. The subject should be I, so you should say my mom and I.

Me is an object pronoun. Use it after the verb.

An object receives the action of the verb in a sentence.
He asked me a question.
She gave me her camera.
My dad told me to call.
Important note: Not all verbs are followed by an object. This is why it’s so important to focus on learning sentences. You can’t use me after certain verbs. For example, 
He suggest me ...
She say me …
Can you explain me … ?
Me can also be the object of a preposition. After prepositions, use me.
Are you talking to me?
When you talk about two or more people including yourself, you can use me and … or … and me.
This is a photo of me and my brother.
This is a photo of my brother and me.
You will hear a lot of native speakers use me as a subject pronoun and say, “Me and my mom love movies.” It is common to hear this in informal, spoken English. However, many people consider this to be incorrect.
When I research grammar lessons, one of the books I use is a reference book called Practical English Usage by Michael Swan. It is published by the Oxford University Press, and it is considered the “bible” for English teachers. (That means it’s a very important book!) Here’s what Swan has to say about using me and as a subject (page 404):
These structures are often condemned as ‘incorrect’, but they have been common in educated speech for centuries. (There are examples of me in double subjects in Jane Austen’s novels, written around 1800.) They are, however, restricted to a very informal style. They are not correct in formal speech or writing.
Don’t say me and in the subject of a sentence when you are at work, or if you are taking any kind of English test (TOEFL, IEFLTS, etc.). If you do say it in informal conversation, be aware that some people may correct you.

Myself is a reflexive pronoun.

It refers back to the subject of the sentence.
Use myself instead of me when the object is the same person as the subject. In other words, use myself when you have already used I in a sentence, but you are still talking about yourself. Myself becomes the object.
I bought myself a new car!
I gave myself a manicure.
Don’t worry. I’m not going to hurt myself.
Use myself after a preposition when the object of the preposition is the same as the subject of the sentence, or the when object of the preposition and the object pronoun are the same person.
I am proud of myself!
I did it all by myself!
He asked me some questions about myself.
When I was researching this topic, I discovered a strange guideline: Don’t use myselfafter a preposition of place. Use me. Don’t ask me why.
I put my bag down beside me.
I closed the door behind me.
I put my book down in front of me.
I told my friend to sit next to me.
You may hear a lot of native speakers say myself instead of I or me. Native speakers can’t remember when to use I or me, but they are so afraid of using the wrong pronoun that they use myself instead. This is very common, even though it is grammatically incorrect. Don’t do this.

My is a possessive pronoun.

It shows who possesses or owns the noun. It used to be called a possessive adjective.
That’s my car!
Have you met my family?
What if you want to talk about something that you and another person have or possess?
This is my mother’s and my favorite movie!
That’s correct. You could rewrite the sentence.
My mother and I love this movie! It’s our favorite!
I included my in this lesson because I noticed native speakers writing something very strange recently. Here’s a sentence I saw recently on Facebook. This is not the first time that I have noticed a native speaker writing this:
It’s my husband’s and I’s first date alone since our son was born.
Remember the trick to determine what the correct word is? Take away the other person in the sentence.
It’s my husband’s and I’s first date
No, that’s not correct. You can’t make I possessive. Here how the sentence should have been written:
It’s my husband’s and my first date alone since our son was born.
It’s our first date alone since our son was born.


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