Реферат: Lexico-semantic characteristics of business letter correspondence

Курсовая работа

Сдала студентка гр. РП -41 Юрченко М. В.


The subject matter of the course paper is the role of lexics andsemantics in the case of business letter correspondence. The question of thehistory of official communication, the main stages of business transactions,the role of person’s feeling for the proper use of phrases as well as hisknowledge of grammar are highlighted. Moreover, those phrases which are moreoften used in business letters are examined from the point of view of theirappropriateness in different situations. The practical part contains severalexamples of business letters; the occasions on which they were written and someof their characteristics are observed.


Letter writing — is an essential part of communication,  anintimate part   of   experience.   Each  letter-writer  has  a characteristicway of writing,  his style of writing,  his way of expressing  thoughts, facts,  etc.  but  it  must  be emphasised that the routine of the official or  semi-official business letters  requires  certain  accepted idioms, phrases, patterns, and grammar which are found  in  general  use  today.Therefore certain  skills  must  be acquired by practice,  and details ofwriting must be carefully and thoroughly learnt.

A cheque,  a contract or any other business paper sent by mailshould always be accompanied by a letter. The letter says what is  being  sent so that the recipient should know exactly what you intended to send.  It is atypical business  letter  which some people  call «routine».  Theletter may be short or long, it may contain some very important  and  much less  important information -  every  letter  requires  careful  planning  andthoughtful writing.

In recent  years  English has become a universal businesslanguage. As such,  it is potentially an instrument  of  order and clarity. But  words  and phrases have unexpected ways of creating binding commitments.

Letter-writing, certainly,  is  not  the  same as casualconversation, it  bears  only  the  same  power  of  thoughts, reflections, andobservations as in conversational talk,  but the form may be quite different. What  makes  the  letter  so attractive and  pleasing  is  not  always  the massage of  the letter, it is often the manner and style in which  the  massageis written.

E.g.: «I wish to express to you my  sincere  appreciation foryour note of congratulation.»


 «I am  sincerely happy that you were elected President ofBiological Society.»

As you  see  such  formulations  show the attitude of the writer,his respect and sincerity.

The language of business,  professional and semi-official lettersis formal,  courteous,  tactful, concise, expressive, and to the point. Aneatly arranged letter will certainly make a better impression on the reader,thus good letters make good business partners.

In the case of «scientific correspondence» the majorityof letters bear   mostly  a  semi-official  character  and  are concerned withdifferent situations associated with scientific activities concentrated  aroundthe organisation of scientific meetings (congresses,   symposia,   workshops,  etc.),    the arrangement of visit, invitation, publication, the exchange ofscientific literature,  information, etc. Letters of this kind have a   tone of  friendliness,  naturalism.  Modern  English letters should not beexaggerated,  overburdened, outmoded with time-worn expressions.  The  key note  is simplicity.  Modern letters tend towards using the language ofconversational style.

Writing is   not   only  a  means  of  communication  and contract,but also a record of affairs,  information,  events, etc. So  it  is  necessaryto feel the spirit and trend of the style in order to write a perfect letter.

Business-letter or  contract  law is a complex and vastlydocumented subject,  only a lawyer  can  deal  with  it  on  a serious level. A number of basic principles,  however, can be outlined sufficiently to mark ofencounters that  require  the use of specialised English.

Doing business means  working  out  agreements with  other people,sometimes through  elaborate  contracts  and sometimes through nothing butlittle   standard    forms, through exchanges of letters and conversations atlunch.

Nowadays more and more agreements are  made  in  English, forEnglish  is  the  nearest  thing  we  have  to a universal business language. Joint ventures,  bank loans, and trademark licenses frequently  are  spelled out  in  this language even  though it is not native to at least  one  of  the contracting parties.

As a beginning I am going  to  look  at  the  subject  of writingof business  letters  generally.  In  the  main there are three stagestransactions involving business contracts: first, negotiation of  terms, second,  drafting documents reflecting these terms,  and third,  litigation to enforce or  to  avoid executing of these terms. To my mind, a fourth might be added,the administration of contracts.

I am  going to look through the first two since the third and thefourth are related only to the field of law. A typical first stage of contractis two or more people having drink and talking about future dealing.  A secondphase might be letters written in order to work out an agreement.

In these two early stages it  will  be  helpful  to  knowsomething about rules of contract.  But what rules?  Different nations borrowor create different legal systems, and even within a single country the rulesmay vary according to region or the kind of transaction involved.

It is worth knowing that the distinctions in legal system ofEngland are mainly historical.

The history  of  writing  business letters is undoubtedlyconnected with the history of development of  legal  language. English is infact a latecomer as a legal language.  Even after the Norman  Conquest  court pleadings  in  England  were  in French, and before that lawyers used Latin. Perhaps,  some of our difficulties arise  due  to  the  fact  that  English was unacceptable in its childhood.

Contract in  English  suggest   Anglo-American   contract rules.The  main  point  is always to be aware that there are differences: the waythey may be  resolved usually  is  a problem for lawyers.  With contracts theapplicable law may be the law of the place where the contract is made; in othercases it may be the law of the place where the contract is to be performed. Itis specified in preliminary negotiations  which  system  of law is to apply.

Diversity is characteristic feature of English; here is a widerange of alternatives to  choose  from  in saying things,  although theconciseness is sometimes lacking.  Consequently,  the  use  of  English is  a creative  challenge. Almost  too many riches are available for   selection,  that   leads   occasionally    to masterpieces but more frequently tomistakes.  English is less refined in its distinctions than French,  forexample, and this makes it harder to be clear.

That does not mean that English is  imprecise  for  all things arerelative.  If we compare English with Japanese,  we will see  that  the latter  possesses  enormous   degree   of politeness to   reflect  the respectiveness  of  speaker  and listener as well as of addresser andaddressee.

Here I  cannot help mentioning the fact that as contracts are sounclear in what every side intends to  do,  a  contract can sometimes put acompany out of business.

Thus everybody who is involved in any  kind  of  business shouldstudy   thoroughly   the  complex  science  of  writing business letters andcontracts.

Businessletters throught lexics

From the lexicological point of view isolated  words  and phrasesmean  very little.  In context they mean a great deal, and in the specialcontext of  contractual  undertakings  they mean everything.  Contract English  is  a prose organised according to plan.

And it  includes,  without limitation,  the right but not theobligation to select words from a wide variety  of  verbal implements and writeclearly, accurately, and/or with style.

Two phases of writing contracts exist:  in the  first, we reactto  proposed contracts drafted by somebody else,  and in the second,  whichpresents greater challenge,  we compose  our own.

A good contract reads like a classic story.  It narrates, inorderly sequence,  that one part should do this and another should do that, and perhaps  if  certain  events  occur,  the outcome will be changed. All ofthe rate cards charts, and other reference material ought to be ticked off one after another according to the sense of it. Tables and figures, code words andmystical references are  almost  insulting  unless  organised and   defined. Without  organisation  they  baffle, without definition they entrap.

In strong stance one can send back the offending document andrequest a substitute document in  comprehensible  English. Otherwise a seriesof questions may be put by letter,  and the replies often will have contractualforce if the  document  is later contested.

A sampling of contract phrases

My observations about English so far have been general in nature.Now it appears  logical  to  examine  the  examples  of favourite contract phrases,  which  will help ease the way to fuller examination of entirenegotiations and contracts. a full glossary is beyond reach but in what followsthere is a listing of words and phrases that turn up in  great  many documents, with comments on each one. The words and phrases are presented inplausible contract sequence, not alphabetically.

«Whereas» Everyman's idea of how a contract begins. Some lawyers dislike «Whereas» and use recitation clauses so markedto distinguish them from the text in the  contract.  There  the real issuelies;  one must be careful about mixing up recitals of history with what isactually being agreed on. For example,  it would be folly to write:«Whereas A admits owing B $10,000...» because the  admission  may later  haunt  one,  especially if drafts are never signed and the debt bedisputed.  Rather less damaging would be:

«Whereas the  parties have engaged   in   a   series   of transactions   resulting  in   dispute  over  accounting  between them...»

On the whole «Whereas» is acceptable, but what followsit needs particular care.

«It is understood and agreed» On the one hand, itusually adds nothing, because every clause in the contract is «understoodand agreed» or it would not be written into it.  On the  other  hand, whatit adds is an implication that other clauses are not backed up by this phrase:by including the one you exclude the other. «It is understood and agreed» oughtto be banished.

«Hereinafter» A  decent  enough little word doing thejob of six («Referred to later in this  document»). «Hereinafter» frequently sets  up abbreviated names for the contractparties.

For example:

«Knightsbridge International  Drapes and Fishmonger,  Ltd (hereinafter „Knightsbridge“).

»Including Without Limitation" It is useful and at times essential phrase.  Earlier  I've noted that mentioning certain things mayexclude others by implication. Thus,

«You may  assign  your exclusive British and Commonwealthrights»

suggests that you may not assign other rights assuming you haveany. Such pitfalls may be avoided by phrasing such as:

«You may  assign  any  and  all  your  rights  includingwithout limitation your exclusive  British   and Commonwealth rights».

But why specify any rights if all of them  are  included?Psychology is  the  main  reason;  people want specific things underscored in  the   contracts,   and   «Including   Without Limitation» indulgesthis prediction.

«Assignees and  Licensees»  These  are  important  wordswhich acceptability depends on one's point of view

«Knightsbridge, its assignees and licensees...»

suggests that Knightsbridge may hand you over to somebody elseafter contracts are signed.  If you yourself happen to be Knightsbridge, you will want that particular right and should use the phrase.

«Without Prejudice» It is a classic. The British usethis phrase all by itself,  leaving the reader intrigued.  «WithoutPrejudice» to  what  exactly?  Americans  spell  it  out  moreelaborately, but  if  you  stick  to  American  way,  remember «IncludingWithout Limitation»,  or you may  accidentally exclude something byimplication.  Legal rights,  for example, are not the same thing as remediesthe law  offers  to  enforce  them. Thus the American might write:

«Without prejudice to any of my existing or future rights orremedies...»

And this leads to another phrase.

«And/or» It  is an essential barbarism.  In thepreceding example I've used the disjunctive «rights or  remedies». This is not always good enough, and one may run into trouble with

«Knightsbridge or Tefal or either of them shall...»

What about both together?  «Knightsbridge and Tefal»,perhaps, followed by «or either».  Occasionally the alternativesbecome  overwhelming, thus   and/or   is   convenient   and  generally accepted, although more detail is better.

«Shall» If one says  «Knightsbridge  and/or  Tefal shall have...» or   «will   have...»,  legally  it  should make  no difference in the case you are consent in using  one  or  the other.«Shall»,  however,  is stronger than «will». Going from oneto another might suggest that one obligation  is  stronger somehow than another.  Perhaps,  one's position may determine the choice. «Youshall», however is bad form.

«Understanding» It is  a  dangerous  word.  If  you mean agreement you  ought  to  say  so.  If  you  view  of  affairs that thereis no agreement,  «understanding» as a noun suggests the opposite orcomes close to it.  .it stands,  in fact, as a monument to unsatisfactorycompromise.  The  softness of  the word conjures  up  pleasing  images. «In  accordance with our understanding...» can be interpreted in anumber of ways.

«Effect» Here  is  a   little   word   which   uses  are insufficiently praised.    Such   a   phrase   as   «We   willproduce...»  is inaccurate,   because   the  work   will    be subcontractedand   the  promise-maker  technically  defaults. Somebody else does theproducing. Why not say «We will produce or cause to be produced...»? This is in fact often said,  but it jars the ear.  Accordingly «We  will effect  production...» highlights the point with greater skill.

«Idea» This word is bad for your own  side  but  helpfulagainst others.  Ideas as such are not generally protected  by law. If you submit  something  to  a  company with any hope of reward you must find betterphrasing than «my idea».  Perhaps, «my format»  or possibly  «my  property» is more appropriate. Naturally, if you  can develop  an  idea  into  a  format  or protectable property,  the  more ambitious  phrasing  will be better justified.

«As between us» It is useful,  because people are always forgetting or   neglecting   to  mention  that  a  great  many interestsmay  be  involved  in  what  appears  to  be  simple dialogue. «I reservecontrol over...» and «You have the final power of decisionover...» sound like  division  of  something into spheres,  but frequently  «I» am in turn controlled by my investors and«You» — by a foreign parent company,  making the language of divisioninaccurate. Neither of us really controls anything, at least ultimately.

Thus  it  will  be  useful  to say, «As between us, Icontrol...» and so on.

«Spanning» Time  periods  are  awkward  things:"...for  a period commencing August,1 and  expiring  November,15..." is clumsy; "...from  August,1 to November,15..." is skeletal wheninforming how long a contract obligation endures.

But  during  particular time  periods  one  may be reporting forwork,  for example, three days out of every five, or doing something else thatis within but not completely parallel to the entire time period involved.

A happy solution is the word «Spanning». It goes thisway:

«Throughout the period spanning August,1 — November,15inclusive you will render services  as  a   consultant three days out of everyfive.»

It will  be  useful to put «inclusive» at the end forwithout it you may lose the date, concluding the period being spanned.

«Negotiate in Good Faith»  The  negotiators  have worked until late at night,  all points but one have been worked out, thecontract will never be signed without resolution  of  some particular impasse. What is there to do?

Agree to «Negotiate in Good Faith» on the disputed pointat  later  time. This  is done frequently,  but  make no mistake about theoutcome. The open point remains open. If it happens to be  vital  you  may haveno  contract at all.  «Negotiate in Good Faith» is one of thoseevasions that must be used sparingly. At the right time it prevents collapse,at the wrong time it promotes it.

«Confirm» It suggests, of course, that something hasbeen agreed upon before. You are writing now only to make a record of it.«I write to confirm that you admit  substantial  default  indelivery» Frequently we encounter it in ordinary correspondence:«Confirming your order», «Confirming the main points of ouragreement», and so on.

«Furnish» It is a handy word which  usefulness  lies  inthe avoidance  of worse alternatives. Suppose you transact to deliver a varietyof elements as  a package.

«Deliver»  leaves out, even  though  it  may  well  beimplied,  the preliminary purchase or engagement of these elements, and at theother end it goes  very far in suggesting responsibility for getting thepackage unscathed to where it belongs.

Alternatives also  may go wrong,  slightly,  each with its ownimplications.

«Assign» involves legal title;  «give» is lame  and  probably  untrue; «transmit» means  send.

Thus  each word misses some important — detail or impliesunnecessary things.

«Furnish»  is  sometimes useful when more popular wordsfall short or go too far. It has a good professional ring to it as well:

«I agree to furnish all of the elements listed on Exhibit Aannexed hereto and made part hereof by incorporation.»

Who is  responsible for non-delivery and related questions can be dealt  with  in  separate  clauses.

«Furnish»  avoids jumping the  gun.  It keeps away fromwhat ought to be treated independently but fills up enough space  to  stand firm.

The word is good value.

«Right but Not  Obligation»  One  of  the  most  splendidphrases available. Sometimes the  grant  of  particular rights carries with itby implication a duty to exploit them. Authors, for example,  often feelbetrayed by their publishes, who have various rights «but do nothing aboutthem.» Royalties decrease as a result; and this situation, whether or notit reflects real criminality,  is repeated in variety  of  industries  andcourt cases. Accordingly it well suits the grantee of  rights to make  clear atthe very beginning that he may abandon them. This possibility is moreappropriately dealt with in  separate clauses reciting the consequences. Still,contracts have been known to  contain  inconsistent  provisions,  and preliminary correspondence may  not  even  reach the subject of rights. A quickphrase helps keep you out of trouble: «The Right but  NotObligation». Thus,

«We shall have the Right  but  Not  Obligation  to  grantsublicenses in Austria»(«But if we fail, we fail»).

Even this magic phrase has its limitations  because  good faithmay require having a real go to exploiting the rights in question. Nevertheless«Right but Not Obligation» is useful, so much so   as  to  become incantation  and  be  said  whenever circumstances allow it. I the other side challenges these words, it will  be  better  to  know  this  at  once  and  work  out alternatives or finish upthe negotiations completely.

«Exclusive» It’s importance in contract English is vast,  and its omission   creates  difficulties  in  good  many  informaldrafts. Exclusivity as a contract term means that somebody  is -barred fromdealing with others in a specified area. Typically an employment may beexclusive in that the employee  may  not work for  any  one else,  or a licensemay be exclusive in the sense that no competing licenses  will  be  issued.

Antitrust problems cluster  around  exclusive  arrangements butthey are not all automatically outlawed.

It follows that one ought to specify whether or    not  exclusivity   is   part   of   many transactions. If not,  the  phrase «nonexclusive»  does  well enough. On  the  other hand,  if aconsultant is to be engaged solely by one company,  or a distributorshipawarded to nobody else except  X,  then  «exclusive»  is  a  word that deserves recitation. «Exclusive Right but Not Obligation» is anexample that combines  two  phrases  discussed  here.

The  linking of concepts is a  step  in  building  a  vocabulary of  contract English.

«Solely on  condition that» One of the few phrases thatcan be considered better than its short counterparts. Why not just  «if»? Because  «if»  by  itself  leaves  open  thepossibility of open contingencies:

«If Baker delivers 1,000 barrels I will buy them» isunclear if you will buy them  only  from  Baker.  Therefore what about«only if»? Sometimes this works out, but not always.

«I will buy 1,000 barrels only if Baker delivers them»is an example  of «only if» going fuzzy.  One possible meaning is«not more than 1,000 barrels» with «only» assimilated withthe wrong word. Here then a more elaborate phrase is justified.

«I will buy 1,000 barrels solely on condition that  Bakerdelivers them» makes everything clear.

«Subject to»  Few  contracts  can do without thisphrase. Many promises can be made good only if certain  things  occur. Theright   procedure   is   to   spell  out  these  plausible impediments to thedegree  that  you  can  reasonably  foresee them.

«We will deliver these subject to our receiving  adequatesupplies»;

«Our agreement is subject to the laws of Connecticut»;

«Subject to circumstances beyond our control ».

Foreign esoteric words

Every now  and then a scholarly phrase becomes accepted inbusiness usage.  «Pro  rate»  and  «pari  passu»   are  Latin expressions but concern money.  «Pro rata» proves helpful whenpayments are to be in a proportion reflecting earlier  formulas in a contract.  «Pari  passu» is used when several people are paid at thesame level or time out of a  common  fund.  Latin, however, is not the onlysource of foreign phrases in business letters.

«Force majeure»  is a French phrase meaningcircumstances beyond one's control.

English itself  has plenty of rare words.  One example is«eschew»; how  many  times  we  see  people  struggling   withnegatives such  as «and  we  agree not to produce (whatever it is) for aperiod of X». The more appropriate phrase would be

«we will eschew production».

But here it should be mentioned  that  not  everyone  canunderstand such  phrases.  Therefore rare words should be used only once in along  while.  Those  who  uses  them  sparingly appears to be reliable.

Some words against passive

Until now the  study  of  writing  business  letters  hasconsisted largely  of  contract  phrases  accompanied by brief essaysevaluating  their  usefulness.  The   words   are   only samplings and arepresented mainly to conduce writing business letters in a proper way.  It willbe wrong,  however, to bring this list  to an end without mention of a moregeneral problem that arises in connection with no fixed word pattern at all. Itarises, rather from using too many passives. Such phrases as «The materialwill be delivered»;

«The start date is to be decided»;

«The figures must be approved» are obscure ones leavingunsettled who it is that delivers, who decides,  and who does the approving. Which side it is to be? Lawsuits  are  the  plausible  outcome  of  leaving itall unsettled. Passives used in contracts can  destroy  the  wholenegotiations. «You  will  deliver»  is better for it identifies theone who will do delivering.  Certainly,  «must be approved by us»violates other canons.  «We shall have the right but not the obligation toapprove» is less unfortunate.  There  is  no doubt that passives do notsuit business letters,  and if they go all the way through without addingsomething like «by  you» or «by us» they are intolerable. Once in a long while one may find passives used purposely to leave something unresolved.  In those circumstances  they  will be in class with«negotiate in good faith», which I've examined earlier.

Examiningenglish business letters

Now let's turn to the practical point of writing business letters.They  may be divided into official and semi-official. The first kind of lettersis characteristic  of  those  people working in  business:  an executive,  adepartment manager,  a salesman, a  secretary  or  a  specialist  in  business   and technology. But also many people may want to buy something, toaccept an invitation or to congratulate somebody — this  is  a kind ofsemi-official letters.  The first kind  of letters may in turn be subdividedinto such groups as:  inquiries, offers, orders, and  so  on.  I  am  going  toexamine this group more carefully looking at the correspondence of Chicagobusinessmen and English manufactures.


Example 1.


Ladies' Clothing

421 Michigan Avenue

Chicago, III.60602


148 Mortimer Street

London WIC 37D

England                                  October 21, 1993


We saw  your  women's  dresses  and suits at the London FashionShow held in New York on October 17.  The lines you showed for teenagers, the «Swinger»  dresses  and trouser suits would be most suitable for ourmarket.

Would you kindly send us your quotation for spring and  summerclothing that  you  could  supply  to us by the end of January next. We wouldrequire 2,000 dresses and suits in each of  the sizes 10-14,  and  500 in sizes8 and 16.  Please quote c.i.f. Chicago prices. Payment is normally made byletter of credit.

Thank you for an early reply.

Very truly yours,




This is undoubtedly an import inquiry letter. In the first part ofa  letter  there  is  a  kind  of  introduction  as  a prospective customer approaches supplier for the first time ,and it  is  from  this  part  that  we found  out  that   the correspondents are engaged in textile industry.

The second   part   expresses   request   for   detailed informationabout the goods in question, their prices and terms of possible transaction.

In this   example   we   come   across  the  abbreviationconcerning the terms of delivery, that is commonly accepted  in the business world.  It is interesting to know what this kind of abbreviations means:

c.i.f. — cost, insurance, freight.

If consignment  is  to  be  delivered  according to c.i.f., thenthe supplier insures  the  goods  and pays for the whole delivery.

f.o.b. — free on board.

If consignment  is  to  be  delivered  according to f.o.b., then the  supplier pays for transportation to port,  steamer or air shipment anddispatch; and the customer  pays  for  onward  transportation and insurance.

f.o.r. — free on rail.

It is   the   same   as  f.o.b.,  but  for  railwaytransportation.

c & f — cost and freight.

If consignment  is  to  be  delivered  according to c & f,then the supplier pays for the whole delivery and the customer — for insurance.

It is worth mentioning here  that  the  whole  letter  is writtenin  a  highly  polite  way,  nevertheless  it is quite precise and sticks tothe point.




148 Mortimer Street

London W1C 37D


Ladies' Clothing

421 Michigan Avenue

Chicago, III.60602                                   30th October,1996

Dear Sirs,

We are pleased to make you an offer regarding our ‘Swinger’dresses and trouser suits in the size you require. Nearly all the models yousaw at our fashion show are obtainable, except trouser suits in pink, of whichthe smaller sizes have been sold out. This line is being manufacturedcontinuously, but will only be available again in February, so could bedelivered to you in March.

All other models can be supplied by the middle of January 1997,subject to our receiving your form order by 15th of November. Our c.i.f. pricesare understood to be for sea\land transport to Chicago. If you would prefer thegoods to be sent by air freight, this will be charged extra at cost

Trouser suits sizes 8-16 in white, yellow, red, turquoise, navyblue, black

Sizes 12,14 also in pink                      per 100 $2,650.00

Swinger dresses sizes 8-16

in white, yellow, red, turquoise, black           per 100$1,845.00

You will be receiving price-list, cutting of our materials and acolour chart. These were airmailed to you this morning.

Yours faithfully,


Export Department

As you can clearly see it we face  the  second  phase  of businesscorrespondence  -  the  answering letter.  It is very important, because itadjusts the  relationships  between  two partners. It does not onlycharacterise the company,  but also advertises it.  The purpose of the letteris to  persuade  the partner that you are the best in business.

This letter  contains  the  quotation  in  reply  to   an inquiry.In lots of similar letters the quotations are simply prices and anotherinformation asked for.  But this sample  is quite the  opposite:  it  shows the  customer that he met the sales-cautious businessman,  who  uses  every opportunity   to stimulate his   correspondents   interest   in  his  goods  byincluding the  sales  message. And  the  assurance  that   the customer will receive  personal attention is read between the lines. In order to draw the attentionof the customer  to  the products in  question  the  supplier  offers «cuttings of our materials and a colour chart».  On the whole a firm offer  is subject to  certain  conditions,  a deadline for the receipt oforders, or a special price for certain quantities.

Example 3.

A business  transaction often starts with an inquiry which maylater be followed by an order.

Both inquiry  and  order are meant to arose and stimulate businessactivity on the part of recipient. They are typically asking letters.  Orders convey  the  writer's intention to do business with his correspondent,  usuallyto  buy  some  goods from them.


Ladies' Clothing

421 Michigan Avenue

Chicago, III.60602


148 Mortimer Street

London W1C 37D                                      November 4,1996


Thank you for your quotation of October 30. We have pleasure inplacing an order with you for

1,900 ‘Swinger’ dresses                             at Price:$38,745

in the colours and sizes specified below:

Quantity Size Colour 50 8,16 white 100 10,12,14 white 50 8,16 turquoise 100 10,12,14 turquoise 50 8,16 red 100 10,12,14 red 50 16 yellow 100 10,12,14 yellow 50 16 black 100 10,12,14 black

Delivery: air freight, c.i.f., Chicago

We shall open a letter of credit with your bank as soon as wereceive your order acknowledgement. Please arrange for immediate collection andtransport since we need the dresses for Christmas.

Very truly yours,



It is indisputably an import order,  and as we can notice placingorders is simple from the  point  of  view  of  letter writing. The  fact  is that usually the purchasing department or the buyer  fills  in  an  order form.  But  in  this  case the correspondent  prefers  to write a letter inorder to make certain points  quite  clear.   There   are   special   importregulations which  are touched upon in the last paragraph:  it is necessary tocomplete formalities and  to  stress  delivery instructions.

It should  be  mentioned  here  that  the  supplier must sendorder  acknowledgement as an answer to order promptly  to thank his customerfor the order and to confirm it.

If some conditions have  changed,  the  customer  must  benotified. In   the  case  the  goods  ordered  are  no  longer available, asubstitute may be offered.

Example 4.

What follows the order acknowledgement is the  advice  ofdispatch.


148 Mortimer Street

London W1C 37D


Ladies' Clothing

421 Michigan Avenue

Chicago, III.60602                     20thNovember,1996

Dear Sirs:

We have pleasure in notifying you that your credit was confirmedby our bank yesterday, 19th November. We have had the 1900 ‘Swinger’ dressescollected today for transport by British Airways to Chicago on 25th November.

Enclosed is our invoice for the goods in question plus the extracharges for air freight, packing list to facilitate customs clearance at yourend, certificate of origin, air waybill and insurance policy.

Hoping that this initial order will lead to further business, weare

Yours faithfully


Export department

The first  thing  to be done before writing such a letter is toexamine carefully whether the partners account is  valid or not.  So in thefirst paragraph we come across phrase «your credit was confirmed by ourbank yesterday».  Air shipment for «Swinger» dresses is alsomentioned here.

The next paragraph deals with  the  documents  which  arenecessary while   importing   goods:  Invoice  packing  lists, certificate oforigin, air waybill and insurance policy. As it is the  initial  order  by MATTHEWS  &  WILSON,  the  GRANT & CLARKSON hopes to encourage them toplace further  orders,  so their last phrase sounds very polite.

Example 5

No matter  how  efficient  a  business  firm tries  to be,mistakes will happen.  There might be a misunderstanding about the goods   to be  supplied;  sometimes  the  consignment  is dispatched too late or delaysare caused in transit; defect is discovered when  the equipment is put intooperation and so on.

Therefore a letter with the complaint expressed is sent.


Ladies' Clothing

421 Michigan Avenue

Chicago, III.60602                      November 22, 1996


148 Mortimer Street

London W1C 37D


Thank you for your delivery of ‘Swinger’ dresses which wereordered on November 4. However we wish to draw your attention to two matters.

Of the red dresses supplied one lot of 100(size 12) includedclothes of a lighter red than the other sizes. Since we deliver a collection ofvarious sizes to each store, it would be obvious to customers that the clothesare dissimilar. In addition the red belt supplied does not match these dresses.We are returning two of these by separate mail, and would ask you to replacethe whole lot by 100 dresses size 12 in the correct colour.

As far as your charges for air freight are concerned, we agree topay the extra costs which you invoiced. However your costs for packing andinsurance must have been lower for air cargo, and we request you to take thisfact into consideration and to make an adjustment to the invoice amount. Wouldyou please send us a rectified invoice, reduced accordingly.

We look forward to your dealing with these questions withoutdelay.

Very truly yours.


If this   kind   of   letter  is  sent  the  customer  isunderstandably annoyed,  nevertheless there  is  no  reason  to write an  angryletter of complaint.  In the EXAMPLE 5 there are two complaints:  the first isabout the «Swinger»  dresses colour and  the second — about the factthat air freight seems too expensive to MATTHEW & WILSON.

From this  letter  we see that the results are better for thecorrespondent takes the trouble to explain  his  complaint clearly and proposesways in which matters can be put right.

Example 6.

Letters that  are  written  in  response to claims may be calledadjustments. These letters are among the most difficult to write  as  they require  under all circumstances patience, tact, and diplomacy.  You will notlose your customer  if  you react at his claim promptly.


148 Mortimer Street

London W1C 37D


Ladies' Clothing

421 Michigan Avenue

Chicago, III.60602                   2nd December, 1996

Dear Sirs:

The colour of the dresses about which you complain is indeedlighter than it should be. Apparently this was overlooked by controllerresponsible. Please accept our apologies for the oversight.

We are sending you a new lot by air this week, and would ask youto return the faulty clothes at your convenience, carriage forward.Alternatively you may keep this lot for sale as seconds at a reduced price of&1,120.

You are perfectly correct in saying that packing and insurancecosts are normally less for cargo sent by air. May we remind you, however, inthis case your request to send the goods by air was made at very short notice.It was not possible for us to use the lighter air freight packing materials, asmost of the dresses were ready for shipment by sea freight (please see ourletter of 9th November). Furthermore, our insurance is on an open policy at aflat rate, and depends on the value of the goods, not the method of transport.For these reasons our invoice No.14596 dated 15th November 1996 is still valid,and we look forward to receiving your remittance when due.

Yours faithfully


The suppliers  show  their understanding of situation and expresstheir willingness to adjust it.  They say exactly what steps they are going totake,  because a disappointed customer cannot be put off with mere apologies — he is entitled to  know how the mistake will be remedied.  The suppliesconvince their partners that they are really interested in  maintaining  goodwill. They  try  to  avoid negative statements,  and what even worse,accusations;  they  never  forget  that  it  is   their customer who keeps themin business.

Even when they  write  their  customers  about  rejecting theirclaim  on air freight,  they try to give logical reasons for the refusal.


The conclusion  that  therefore  suggests  itself is that writingof business letters is highly complicated science.  It is not  enough  for  a good  business  letter writing to know lexics and grammar,  but you shouldcomprehend the whole range of such things as: occasions on which the particularletter is written, the style of letter, useful expressions, and accepted idioms.

There are certain rules which not everybody  could  learn sincethey  have  to  be  felt by correspondents.  Letter writing requires longpractice and experience.  Those who write letters should always remember,  thatwhat makes the letter attractive and therefore  promotes  one's  business  is not  always  the message of the letter, but it is the manner and style in whichthe message is written.

The «golden rule» that must be followed by everybusiness correspondent is that the official letter  should  be  formal,courteous, tactful, concise, expressive, and to the point.


1.WINCOR, RICHARD Contracts in plain English

2.БАССЭ.М. Научная и деловая корреспонденция

3.GOWERS, ERNEST The complete plain words

4.ГромоваН.М. Основы деловой переписки

5.Naterop Business Letters for All.

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