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Examples and Analysis of Correct and

Incorrect Usage
Example Conversations - 1
This is a discussion about a business matter and the function of this conversation
is professional. Personal requests should not be included (i.e. - how about
dropping the Mr Peterson and calling me Bob). The informal tone is also
inappropriate when discussing a business report.

Mr Peterson is speaking to Ms Bank who is his direct supervisor. He would like to

ask Ms Bank to analyze a report he has done. The first conversation has a
number of errors in language usage based on the situation. See if you can spot
the mistakes:

Mr Petersen: Oh, Anne, come here.

Ms Bank: Yes, Mr Peterson. How can I help you?

Mr Petersen: Well, first of all, how about dropping the Mr Peterson and calling
me Bob.
Ms Bank: If you don't mind, I would prefer to talk about why you would like to talk
to me.

Mr Petersen: Come off it, don't be such a snob. Anyway, I finished the report you
demanded. Wanna take a look at it?
Ms Bank: Yes, I would as a matter of fact.

Mr Petersen: Well, here it is. Give it a good one over and tell me what you think.
Ms Bank: Thank you Mr Peterson. I'll get back to you tomorrow.

Domain Mistakes:

As a subordinate who has been requested to do a report, Mr Peterson is

responsible for presenting a report in a positive manner to the supervisor who
has asked for the report. The use of 'demanded' is much too strong in this case.
Also, supervisors generally set the standard for whether or not first names are
used between management and staff. However, it is true that in most business
settings in the US today, a more informal environment is preferred and first
names are generally used between most employees.

Register Mistakes:

Mr Peterson is clearly not aware of the fact that he is speaking to his boss. His
choice of informal language, imperative voice (tell me what you think, etc.) and
idiomatic usage (wanna take a look?) are all inappropriate register choices for
this conversation.

Urgency Mistakes:

While the message that Mr Peterson wants to get across is very important, his
choice of language detracts from the importance of the fact that the report is
finished. In this case, the most important business task at hand, i.e. the report,
might be ignored because of his improper use of language forMs

Conversation 1 - Corrections

Here is the same discussion with a more appropriate approach:

Mr Petersen: Excuse me, Ms Bank. Could I ask you to come over here for a
Ms Bank: Certainly, how can I help you?

Mr Petersen: I've finished the report you requested and I was wondering if you
wouldn't mind taking a look at it.
Ms Bank: That's good to hear. I'd be happy to look through the work you've

Mr Petersen: I'd also appreciate it if you could give me any feedback for future
Ms Bank: Certainly, I'll be sure to let you know what I think.

Mr Petersen: Thank you.

Ms Bank: Thank you Mr Peterson.

Examples and Analysis of Correct and

Incorrect Usage
Example Conversations - 2
Here is a discussion between two friends who work in the same building, but not
for the same company. They are on their lunch break:

Tom: Hello, Frank. How do you do?

Frank: Well, I'm fine. How are you?

Tom: I'm fine. Thank you very much for asking. I was wondering if you might be
able to help me with a problem. Do you think you might have some time for me
later today?
Frank: Sure Tom. I'm your best friend. Hey, what did you think of the game last

Tom: Oh, I thought that both of the teams played extremely accurate and well
executed games.
Frank: You mean they both were hot.

Tom: I guess you could say that.

Frank: By the way, what's the mtter with you today?
Here is a list of the mistakes in this conversation:

Language Function Mistakes:

This is an informal discussion between two friends at lunch.

Tom has a question, but the forms he uses are much too formal for the informal
purpose of this conversation. Finally, the question "How do you do?" is
completely inappropriate as the two friends are not being introduced, but, rather,
saying hello.

Domain Mistakes:

Tom and Frank are friends and are eating lunch together. In this situation,
informal discussion, idiomatic language and forms are absolutely normal. Asking
a question is certainly within the domain of this conversation. However, a formal
analysis of the way the teams played the night before (i.e. "both of the teams
played extremely accurate and well executed games") is not called for in this

Register Mistakes:

Tom and Frank should be using informal, direct language forms due to their
informal friendly relationship. Also the fact that it is lunch time calls for a more
relaxed, informal tone.

Urgency Mistakes:

The message is not so urgent. Two friends are passing time together during a
lunch break. The formal tone of the question and comment on the game make
these messages too important.

Conversation 2 - Corrections

Here is a more friendly, and appropriate, version of the conversation:

Tom: Frank. How are things today?
Frank: Great. Good to see you. How's the wife?

Tom: Just fine. Listen, can you pop by the office and give me a hand later today?

Frank: Sure, no problem. Hey, how about the game last night?

Tom: Incredible! Both teams were really on.

Frank: Were they ever! They couldn't miss a shot!


As you can see from these simple example conversations, good English usage
also depends on judging the situation well. Grammar is important. Knowing how
to use various forms of the language in different situations can make the
difference between communicating and communicating effectively.

Business meetings in English


The following dialogue is an example of a typical business meeting. As you can

see from the dialogue, a typical business meeting can be divided into five parts:

This example business meeting is followed by the two sections which provide key
language and phrases appropriate for typical business meetings.


Meeting Chairman: If we are all here, let's get started. First of all, I'd like you to
please join me in welcoming Jack Peterson, our Southwest Area Sales Vice

Jack Peterson: Thank you for having me, I'm looking forward to today's meeting.

Meeting Chairman: I'd also like to introduce Margaret Simmons who recently
joined our team.

Margaret Simmons: May I also introduce my assistant, Bob Hamp.

Meeting Chairman: Welcome Bob. I'm afraid our national sales director, Anne
Trusting, can't be with us today. She is in Kobe at the moment, developing our
Far East sales force.

Reviewing Past Business

Meeting Chairman: Let's get started. We're here today to discuss ways of
improving sales in rural market areas. First, let's go over the report from the last
meeting which was held on June 24th. Right, Tom, over to you.

Tom Robbins: Thank you Mark. Let me just summarize the main points of the
last meeting. We began the meeting by approving the changes in our sales
reporting system discussed on May 30th. After briefly revising the changes that
will take place, we moved on to a brainstorming session concerning after sales
customer support improvements. You'll find a copy of the main ideas developed
and discussed in these sessions in the photocopies in front of you. The meeting
was declared closed at 11.30.

Beginning the Meeting

Meeting Chairman: Thank you Tom. So, if there is nothing else we need to
discuss, let's move on to today's agenda. Have you all received a copy of today's
agenda? If you don't mind, I'd like to skip item 1 and move on to item 2: Sales
improvement in rural market areas. Jack has kindly agreed to give us a report on
this matter. Jack?

Discussing Items

Jack Peterson: Before I begin the report, I'd like to get some ideas from you all.
How do you feel about rural sales in your sales districts? I suggest we go round
the table first to get all of your input.

John Ruting: In my opinion, we have been focusing too much on urban

customers and their needs. The way I see things, we need to return to our rural
base by developing an advertising campaign to focus on their particular needs.

Alice Linnes: I'm afraid I can't agree with you. I think rural customers want to
feel as important as our customers living in cities. I suggest we give our rural
sales teams more help with advanced customer information reporting.

Donald Peters: Excuse me, I didn't catch that. Could you repeat that, please?

Alice Linnes: I just stated that we need to give our rural sales teams better
customer information reporting.

John Ruting: I don't quite follow you. What exactly do you mean?

Alice Linnes: Well, we provide our city sales staff with database information on
all of our larger clients. We should be providing the same sort of knowledge on
our rural customers to our sales staff there.

Jack Peterson: Would you like to add anything, Jennifer?

Jennifer Miles: I must admit I never thought about rural sales that way before. I
have to agree with Alice.

Jack Peterson: Well, let me begin with this Power Point presentation (Jack
presents his report).

Jack Peterson: As you can see, we are developing new methods to reach out to
our rural customers.

John Ruting: I suggest we break up into groups and discuss the ideas we've
seen presented.

Finishing the Meeting

Meeting Chairman: Unfortunately, we're running short of time. We'll have to

leave that to another time.

Jack Peterson: Before we close, let me just summarize the main points:

Rural customers need special help to feel more valued.

Our sales teams need more accurate information on our customers.
A survey will be completed to collect data on spending habits in these areas.
The results of this survey will be delivered to our sales teaMs
We are considering specific data mining procedures to help deepen our

Meeting Chairman: Thank you very much Jack. Right, it looks as though we've
covered the main items Is there any other business?

Donald Peters: Can we fix the next meeting, please?

Meeting Chairman: Good idea Donald. How does Friday in two weeks time
sound to everyone? Let's meet at the same time, 9 o'clock. Is that OK for
everyone? ... Excellent. I'd like to thank Jack for coming to our meeting today and
giving the presentation. The meeting is closed.