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  • Anna Zänkert

7 Tips to be formal in Business English

Do you know, how to use formal English?

So, you are very aware of the fact that you are not talking to the Queen and neither to a street gang member. But how should you talk to business partners in English?

We have 7 tips that you can apply in your everyday life.

1. Register

There are no two words that mean exactly the same. Consider the level of formality when choosing words. For example, swap sorry for apology or help for aid.

2. Use long versions for all abbreviations and contractions

Do not use constructions like don’t, use do not instead.

3. Consider your modal verbs

You can easily move from can to could or may and thereby lift the level of formality.

4. Erase informal fillers

We all need time to think. But try to think in silence and do not say words such as like 5 times while doing it.

5. Avoid phrasal verbs

Phrasal verbs such as put off are per se informal. Use “normal” verbs instead: put off --> postpone.

6. Pay attention to your transitions

This can mean to not begin a sentence with but or to change an and into an in addition.

7. Consistency

Remember to strive for consistency. For example, pay attention to the beginning or end of a letter, an email or meeting. If you start formal, keep it formal throughout.

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