Hello, how are you doing?

This is Marcela Harrisberger and this is another podcast by Inglês Bom Pra Negócio. In this episode we are going to look at common words used in business English.

To speak a language fluently and confidently, it’s important to pay attention to how the words are naturally combined by native speakers. For example, if you meet a French person invites you for coffee in Portuguese, but instead of saying: Você gostaria de tomar um café? the person said: Você gostaria de beber um café?, how would this sound to you? Of course you would understand the invitation, but you would most certainly feel there was something weird about this sentence. This is because of the common combination of words tomar and café. Although beber has the same idea, we don’t normally use it combined with café. This is what we call collocation, the natural way words are combined in a language.

Having said that, to reach fluency you must pay attention to how words happen together. Why is this important? Because when you are speaking English to foreign people, and you use unusual combinations of words, you might jeopardize understanding, people might have problems to interpret your ideas. In business, as in life, communication is always a challenge and anything can lead to misunderstandings, so we might as well try to avoid communication breakdowns altogether. And combining words appropriately is something you can do to minimize any troubles communicating.

Let’s look at common combinations with 3 of words frequently used in Business English:

  • Meeting
  • Goal
  • Contract 

With the word ‘meeting’, these are the most frequent words you will see combined:

  • Hold/have a meeting = fazer uma reunião (we don’t usually say ‘make’ a meeting, or ‘do’ a meeting)
  • Attend a meeting = participar de uma reunião
  • Schedule/arrange/set up a meeting = agendar/marcar uma reunião
  • Postpone a meeting = adiar uma reunião
  • Cancel/call off a meeting = cancelar uma reunião

With the word ‘target’, these are the most frequent words you will see combined (in the business context):

  • Achieve/reach/meet/accomplish a goal = cumprir uma meta
  • Set a goal = determinar uma meta
  • Pursue a goal = correr atrás da meta

And with the word ‘contract’, these are the most frequent words you will see combined:

  • Sign a contract = assinar um contrato
  • Negotiate a contract = negociar um contrato
  • Draw up a contract = redigir um contrato
  • Renew a contract = renovar um contrato
  • Extend a contract = estender um contrato
  • Terminate a contract = rescindir um contrato

I’m showing you how language naturally occurs. People will probably understand you if you happen to use another verb with a similar meaning, but it’s easier to reach your communication targets using language the way it’s normally used. What I am proposing here is that you open your eyes to pay attention to how language is usually used and try to incorporate this way into your own language repertoire in order to be more and more fluent and successful with your English.

Did you like this episode? Leave your comments and ideas and I’ll be happy to talk to you about this and other topics related to language learning.

Thank you for listening! I’ll talk to you next week.

Have a great day!


Marcela Harrisberger
Business English Trainer & Coach

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