What is Business English?

What is Business English?

Written communication skills have always been important. The COVID-19 pandemic made them even more important because suddenly large numbers of people were working from home and having to communicate through the written word (more so than they previously did).

Writing in a business environment can appear challenging, but if you follow these hints you will see that it really is not that difficult. So just how do you write in Business English?


You may hear a great deal of talk about “Business English,” but you do not always hear good definitions. It is certainly needed to get ahead in your career. English is generally recognized as the international language used in business. While this is not always the case, it is certainly true much of the time. Business English is a type of English that is specifically designed for use in international business (including international trade, finance, and other commerce). It is usually used in any type of business correspondence, business reports, or summaries, as well as meetings (both general business meetings and sales presentations). There is no real accepted definition of “Business English.” There are a few things that are generally accepted as necessary in the business environment.

Below are several suggestions that will help you navigate your way through the “Business English” maze.


When writing Business English, you should not be trying to impress anyone (especially if English is not your native language). Keep it simple. Write short sentences, that are straightforward and to the point. Your ideas should be clearly expressed in a direct manner. You can almost consider your writing to be in bullet points: say what you need to say and move on.

Start out with the main point that you want to make. Tell them what you are writing about. Make it simple and clear. Do not act as if you are talking to the person in a pub. Be direct.


If you do not know something, ask about it in a clear, straightforward manner. Do not beat around the bush. Tell them exactly what you need to know.


Your communication should include common courtesy. Use the words “please” and “thank you” as necessary. It is OK to say, “I’m sorry, but I don’t understand…” Make sure to thank them at the end of the communication. Again, be simple and direct. You do not need to give them well wishes (“I hope you have a great weekend”). Just say, “Thank you.”


English can be a tricky language to learn. Even native speakers make grammatical errors in writing. If you follow the previous suggestions, you will already be “keeping it simple.” If you are unclear on the grammar, it will help by writing short, straightforward sentences.

Figure out what you do not know and avoid it. For example, even native English speakers have problems with the semi-colon (;). My advice to them is to avoid it. You can go your entire career and never use it. Just “write around it.” Write sentences that do not require it. The same applies to anything that you find difficult. There is always another way to write something in English.


Do not let the words “Business English” intimidate you. It is formal. It has rules. But most importantly, you can make it work simply by keeping things simple and straightforward.

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