Business English Grammar: Fundamentals
Business English grammar is quite different from that of everyday general English. It focuses rather on a formal and semi-formal one. Business English has its own frequently used grammar and vocabulary. Being able to produce a variety of sentences allows business persons to express themselves more clearly. Clearly, language is an important business tool and requires practice to perfect. To make matters clear, we begin by stating with general rules about how sentences are formed.
Phrases work magic!
Phrases are the base of the sentence. Every phrase has a head. All the words within a phrase are there to give more information about the head. In business English, phrases are very useful because they help providing lots of information in one sentence.
A simple sentence is generally comprised of a noun phrase and a verb phrase. The noun phrase is the subject of the sentence and the verb phrase is the predicate. The noun phrase can be very simple and only hold a noun and an adjective. It can also expand into a very long phrase, describing the noun in detail. The verb phrase consists of a verb and on or more phrases further describing the verb. The verb itself explains the action taken by or taken on the subject (active vs passive voice). We use NP to refer to noun phrase and VP to refer to verb phrase.
NP+ VP (noun phrase + verb phrase)
A Noun Phrase is a group of words that holds a noun as the head. All the words in the NP describe the noun. Therefore, the noun is considered the head. Noun phrases can be simple phrases that have several words attached to a noun. In some cases preposition phrases can be added to expand noun phrases. Even other phrase added to the main noun or noun phrase further describes the noun. Here are some examples:
In both examples 1 and 2, the head office is the main phrase and the word ‘office’ is the head. In the third example, all the words in the noun phrase describe the word ‘man’.
Just as the noun phrase can expand, so can the verb phrase. Verb phrases consist of a verb and one or more noun phrases and preposition phrases. A preposition phrase consists of a preposition as the head and other words attached to it. Here are three types of adverbs describing a verb:
The head office
The marketing department in the head office
The man with the blue coat behind the desk
is on the other side of the street.
is most active in summer.
carries out his job successfully.
The verb can be described using only one word or multiple phrases. The verb can be described in terms of time, place, or manner. In other words, to make the event or action more specific, we can explain when, where, and how it happened. In example 4, the location is specified. Example 5 explains the how and the when. The last example informs us how the subject performs the action.
Business settings require sharing lots of information and since time is invaluable to a business, forming good sentences can help transfer as much information as possible within a restricted amount of time. Since business English is mostly semi-formal, it is a necessity for business persons to become familiar with more complicated sentence forms, both to understand and to use them.