Lexico-sementic chartersticcs of business letter correspondence ([])




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Content     1




  A sampling of contract phrases   7
  Foreign esoteric words     16
  Some words against passive 16


  Example 1.      18
  Example2  20
  Example 3.      22
  Example 4.      24
  Example 5 25
  Example 6.      27




The subject matter of the course paper is the role of lexics and semantics
in the case of business letter correspondence. The question of the history
of official communication, the main stages of business transactions, the
role of persons feeling for the proper use of phrases as well as his
knowledge of grammar are highlighted. Moreover, those phrases which are
more often used in business letters are examined from the point of view of
their appropriateness in different situations. The practical part contains
several examples of business letters; the occasions on which they were
written and some of their characteristics are observed.


      Letter writing - is an essential part of communication,   an  intimate
part   of   experience.   Each  letter-writer  has  a characteristic way  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  of
writing must be carefully and thoroughly learnt.
      A cheque,  a contract or any other business paper sent by mail  should
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  a
typical business  letter  which some people   call  "routine".   The  letter
may be short or long, it may contain some very important   and   much   less
important information -  every  letter   requires   careful   planning   and
thoughtful writing.
      In recent  years  English has become a universal business language. 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 casual conversation,
it   bears   only   the   same   power   of   thoughts,   reflections,   and
observations  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  massage is written.

         E.g.: "I wish to express to you my  sincere  appreciation for  your
   note of congratulation."

    "I am  sincerely happy that you were elected  President  of  Biological
      As you  see  such  formulations  show the attitude of the writer,  his
respect and sincerity.
      The language of business,  professional and semi-official  letters  is
formal,  courteous,  tactful, concise,  expressive,  and  to  the  point.  A
neatly 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  majority  of  letters
bear    mostly   a   semi-official   character   and   are  concerned   with
different situations  associated  with  scientific  activities  concentrated
around the organisation  of  scientific  meetings  (congresses,    symposia,
workshops,   etc.),    the arrangement of  visit,  invitation,  publication,
the exchange of scientific literature,  information, etc.  Letters  of  this
kind have a   tone  of  friendliness,  naturalism.  Modern  English  letters
should  not  be  exaggerated,    overburdened,   outmoded   with   time-worn
expressions.  The  key  note  is simplicity.  Modern  letters  tend  towards
using the language of conversational style.
      Writing is   not   only  a  means  of   communication   and  contract,
but also a record  of  affairs,   information,   events,  etc.  So   it   is
necessary to feel the spirit and trend of the style  in  order  to  write  a
perfect letter.
      Business-letter or  contract  law is a complex and  vastly  documented
subject,  only a lawyer  can  deal   with   it   on   a  serious  level.   A
number of basic principles,  however, can be outlined sufficiently  to  mark
of encounters that  require  the use of specialised English.
      Doing business means  working  out   agreements  with   other  people,
sometimes through  elaborate  contracts  and sometimes through  nothing  but
little   standard    forms, through exchanges of letters  and  conversations
at lunch.
      Nowadays more and more agreements are  made  in  English, for  English
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  writing  of
business   letters   generally.   In   the   main  there  are  three  stages
transactions 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  the
fourth are related only to the field  of  law.  A  typical  first  stage  of
contract is two or  more  people  having  drink  and  talking  about  future
dealing.  A second phase might be letters written in order to  work  out  an
      In these two early stages it  will  be  helpful   to   know  something
about rules of contract.  But  what  rules?   Different  nations  borrow  or
create different legal systems, and even within a single country  the  rules
may vary according to region or the kind of transaction involved.
      It is worth knowing that the distinctions in legal system  of  England
are mainly historical.
      The history  of  writing  business letters  is  undoubtedly  connected
with the history of development of  legal  language. English is  in  fact  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 way  they
may be  resolved usually  is  a problem for  lawyers.   With  contracts  the
applicable law may be the law of the place where the contract  is  made;  in
other cases it may be the law of the place  where  the  contract  is  to  be
performed. It is specified in preliminary negotiations   which   system   of
law is to apply.
      Diversity is characteristic feature of English; here is a  wide  range
of  alternatives  to   choose   from   in  saying  things,    although   the
conciseness 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 to mistakes.  English is less refined in  its  distinctions  than
French,  for example, and this makes it harder to be clear.
      That does not mean that English is  imprecise   for   all  things  are
relative.  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  and
      Here I  cannot help mentioning the  fact  that  as  contracts  are  so
unclear in what every side intends to  do,  a  contract can sometimes put  a
company out of business.
      Thus everybody who is involved in any  kind  of  business should study
  thoroughly   the  complex   science   of   writing  business  letters  and


      From the lexicological point of view isolated  words  and phrases mean
 very little.  In context they  mean  a  great  deal,  and  in  the  special
context of   contractual   undertakings   they  mean  everything.   Contract
English  is  a prose organised according to plan.
      And  it   includes,   without  limitation,   the  right  but  not  the
obligation to select words from a wide variety  of   verbal  implements  and
write clearly, accurately, and/or with style.
      Two phases of writing contracts exist:  in the   first,  we  react  to
proposed contracts drafted by somebody else,   and  in  the  second,   which
presents greater challenge,  we compose  our own.
      A good contract reads like a classic story.  It narrates,  in  orderly
sequence,  that one part should do this and another  should  do  that,   and
perhaps  if  certain  events  occur,  the outcome will be  changed.  All  of
the 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 and mystical references are  almost  insulting  unless  organised  and
  defined.  Without  organisation  they   baffle,  without  definition  they
      In strong stance one can send back the offending document and  request
a substitute document in  comprehensible  English.  Otherwise  a  series  of
questions  may  be  put  by  letter,   and  the  replies  often  will   have
contractual force 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  entire
negotiations and contracts. a full glossary is  beyond  reach  but  in  what
follows there 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 in plausible contract sequence, not alphabetically.

      "Whereas" Everyman's idea of how  a  contract  begins.   Some  lawyers
dislike "Whereas" and use recitation clauses so marked to  distinguish  them
from the text in the  contract.  There  the real issue lies;   one  must  be
careful about mixing up recitals of history  with  what  is  actually  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  be  disputed.   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  follows  it  needs
particular care.

      "It is understood and  agreed"  On  the  one  hand,  it  usually  adds
nothing, because every clause in the contract is "understood and agreed"  or
it would not be written into it.  On the  other  hand, what it  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
ought to be banished.

      "Hereinafter" A  decent  enough little  word  doing  the  job  of  six
("Referred to later in this  document").  "Hereinafter" frequently sets   up
abbreviated names for the contract parties.

      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  may  exclude
others by implication. Thus,
      "You may  assign  your exclusive British and Commonwealth rights"
suggests that you may not assign other rights assuming you  have  any.  Such
pitfalls may be avoided by phrasing such as:
      "You may  assign  any   and   all   your   rights   including  without
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"   indulges   this

      "Assignees  and   Licensees"   These   are   important   words   which
acceptability depends on one's point of view
      "Knightsbridge, its assignees and licensees..."
suggests that Knightsbridge  may  hand  you  over  to  somebody  else  after
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 use this  phrase  all
by itself,  leaving the reader  intrigued.   "Without  Prejudice"  to   what
exactly?  Americans  spell  it  out  more elaborately, but  if   you   stick
to  American  way,  remember "Including Without  Limitation",   or  you  may
accidentally exclude something by implication.  Legal rights,  for  example,
are not the same thing as remedies the law  offers  to  enforce  them.  Thus
the American might write:
      "Without  prejudice  to  any  of  my  existing  or  future  rights  or
And this leads to another phrase.

"And/or" It  is an essential barbarism.  In the preceding 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 alternatives become  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 one to another might suggest that one obligation
is  stronger somehow than  another.  Perhaps,  one's position may determine
the choice. "You shall", 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 there is no agreement,
 "understanding" as a noun suggests the opposite or comes close to it.  .it
stands,  in fact, as a monument to unsatisfactory compromise.  The
softness of  the word conjures  up  pleasing  images.  "In  accordance with
our understanding..." can be interpreted in a number of ways.

"Effect" Here  is  a   little   word   which   uses   are insufficiently
praised.    Such   a   phrase   as   "We   will produce..."  is inaccurate,
  because   the  work   will    be subcontracted and   the  promise-maker
technically  defaults. Somebody else does the producing. 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  helpful against 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 better
phrasing 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 interests may  be  involved
in  what  appears  to  be  simple dialogue. "I reserve control over..." and
"You have the final power of decision over..." 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
division inaccurate. Neither of us really controls anything, at least
Thus  it  will  be  useful  to say, "As between us, I control..." and so

"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 when informing how long a contract
obligation endures.
But  during  particular time  periods  one  may be reporting for work,  for
example, three days out of every five, or doing something else that is
within but not completely parallel to the entire time period involved.
A happy solution is the word "Spanning". It goes this way:
"Throughout the period spanning August,1 - November,15 inclusive you will
render services  as  a   consultant three days out of every five."
It will  be  useful to put "inclusive" at the end for without 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, the contract will never be
signed without resolution  of  some particular impasse.  What is there to
Agree to "Negotiate in Good Faith" on the disputed point at  later  time.
This  is done frequently,  but  make no mistake about the outcome. The open
point remains open. If it happens to be  vital  you  may have no  contract
at all.  "Negotiate in Good Faith" is one of those evasions 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 has been agreed upon
before. You are writing now only to make a record of it. "I write to
confirm that you admit  substantial  default  in delivery" Frequently we
encounter it in ordinary correspondence: "Confirming your order",
"Confirming the main points of our agreement", and so on.

"Furnish" It is a handy word which  usefulness  lies  in the avoidance  of
worse alternatives. Suppose you transact to deliver a variety of elements
as  a package.
"Deliver"  leaves out, even  though  it  may  well  be implied,  the
preliminary purchase or engagement of these elements, and at the other end
it goes  very far in suggesting responsibility for getting the package
unscathed to where it belongs.
Alternatives also  may go wrong,  slightly,  each with its own
"Assign" involves legal title;  "give" is  lame  and  probably  untrue;
"transmit" means  send.
Thus  each word misses some important - detail or implies unnecessary
"Furnish"  is  sometimes useful when more popular words fall 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 A annexed 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 from what 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  splendid phrases
available. Sometimes the  grant  of  particular rights carries with it by
implication a duty to exploit them. Authors, for example,  often feel
betrayed by their publishes, who have various rights "but do nothing about
them." Royalties decrease as a result; and this situation, whether or not
it reflects real criminality,  is repeated in variety  of  industries  and
court cases. Accordingly it well suits the grantee of  rights to make
clear at the very beginning that he may abandon them. This possibility is
more appropriately 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 quick phrase helps keep you out of trouble: "The Right
but  Not Obligation". Thus,
"We shall have the Right  but  Not  Obligation  to  grant sublicenses in
Austria"("But if we fail, we fail").
Even this magic phrase has its limitations  because  good faith may 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 up the negotiations completely.

"Exclusive" Its importance in contract English is  vast,  and its omission
  creates  difficulties  in  good  many  informal drafts. Exclusivity as a
contract term means that somebody  is -barred from dealing with others in a
specified area. Typically an employment may be exclusive in that the
employee  may  not work for  any  one else,  or a license may be exclusive
in the sense that no competing licenses  will  be  issued.
Antitrust problems cluster  around  exclusive  arrangements but they 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 a consultant is to be engaged solely
by one company,  or a distributorship awarded to nobody else except  X,
then  "exclusive"  is  a  word  that deserves recitation. "Exclusive Right
but Not Obligation" is an example that combines  two  phrases  discussed
The  linking of concepts is a  step  in  building  a  vocabulary  of
contract English.

"Solely on  condition that" One of the few phrases that can be considered
better than its short counterparts. Why not just   "if"? Because  "if"  by
itself  leaves  open  the possibility of open contingencies:
"If Baker delivers 1,000 barrels I will buy them" is unclear 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 with the wrong word. Here then a more
elaborate phrase is justified.
"I will buy 1,000 barrels solely on condition that  Baker delivers them"
makes everything clear.

"Subject to"  Few  contracts  can do without this phrase. Many promises can
be made good only if certain  things  occur. The right   procedure   is
to   spell  out  these  plausible impediments to the degree  that  you  can
 reasonably  foresee them.
"We will deliver these subject to our receiving  adequate supplies";
"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 in business usage.
"Pro  rate"  and  "pari  passu"   are   Latin expressions but concern
money.  "Pro rata" proves helpful when payments are to be in a proportion
reflecting earlier  formulas in a  contract.  "Pari  passu" is used when
several people are paid at the same level or time out of a  common  fund.
Latin, however, is not the only source of foreign phrases in business
"Force majeure"  is a French phrase meaning circumstances beyond one's
English itself  has plenty of rare words.  One example is "eschew"; how
many  times  we  see  people  struggling   with negatives such  as "and  we
 agree not to produce (whatever it is) for a period of X". The more
appropriate phrase would be
"we will eschew production".
But here it should be mentioned  that  not  everyone  can understand such
phrases.  Therefore rare words should be used only once in a long  while.
Those  who  uses  them  sparingly appears to be reliable.

Some words against passive

Until now the  study  of  writing  business  letters  has consisted largely
 of  contract  phrases  accompanied by brief essays evaluating  their
usefulness.  The   words   are   only samplings and are presented mainly to
conduce writing business letters in a proper way.  It will be wrong,
however, to bring this list  to an end without mention of a more general
problem that arises in connection with no fixed word pattern at all. It
arises, rather from using too many passives. Such phrases as "The material
will be delivered";
"The start date is to be decided";
"The figures must be approved" are obscure ones leaving unsettled 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 it all
unsettled. Passives used in contracts can  destroy  the  whole
negotiations. "You  will  deliver"  is better for it identifies the one who
will do delivering.  Certainly,  "must be approved by us" violates other
canons.  "We shall have the right but not the obligation to approve" is
less unfortunate.  There  is  no doubt that passives do not suit business
letters,  and if they go all the way through without adding something 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.


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 letters
is characteristic  of  those  people working in  business:  an executive,
a department manager,  a salesman, a  secretary  or  a  specialist  in
business   and technology. But also many people may want to buy something,
to accept an invitation or to congratulate somebody - this  is  a kind of
semi-official letters.  The first kind  of letters may in turn be
subdivided into such groups as:  inquiries, offers, orders, and  so  on.  I
 am  going  to examine this group more carefully looking at the
correspondence of Chicago businessmen 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 Fashion Show held
in New York on October 17.  The lines you showed for teenagers, the
"Swinger"  dresses  and trouser suits would be most suitable for our

Would you kindly send us your quotation for spring and  summer clothing
that  you  could  supply  to us by the end of January next. We would
require 2,000 dresses and suits in each of  the sizes 10-14,  and  500 in
sizes 8 and 16.  Please quote c.i.f. Chicago prices. Payment is normally
made by letter of credit.

Thank you for an early reply.

                                                           Very truly yours,
This is undoubtedly an import inquiry letter. In the first part of a
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 information about
the goods in question, their prices and terms of possible transaction.
In this   example   we   come   across  the  abbreviation concerning 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., then the
              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 and
           dispatch; and the customer  pays  for  onward  transportation and
f.o.r. - free on rail.
         It is   the   same   as  f.o.b.,  but  for  railway transportation.

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 written in  a
highly  polite  way,  nevertheless  it is quite precise and sticks to the


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 you saw at our
fashion show are obtainable, except trouser suits in pink, of which the
smaller sizes have been sold out. This line is being manufactured
continuously, but will only be available again in February, so could be
delivered 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. prices are
understood to be for sea\land transport to Chicago. If you would prefer the
goods to be sent by air freight, this will be charged extra at cost

Trouser suits sizes 8-16 in white, yellow, red, turquoise, navy blue, 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 a colour
chart. These were airmailed to you this morning.
                                                           Yours faithfully,
                                                           Export Department

As you can clearly see it we face  the  second  phase  of business
correspondence  -  the  answering letter.  It is very important, because it
adjusts the  relationships  between  two partners. It does not only
characterise the company,  but also advertises it.  The purpose of the
letter is 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 another information
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
 by including the  sales  message. And  the  assurance  that   the customer
will  receive  personal attention is read between the lines. In order to
draw the attention of 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 of orders, or a special price for certain quantities.

Example 3.

A business  transaction often starts with an inquiry which may later be
followed by an order.
Both inquiry  and  order are meant to arose and stimulate business activity
on the part of recipient. They are typically asking letters.  Orders
convey  the  writer's intention to do business with his correspondent,
usually to  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 in placing 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 we receive your
order acknowledgement. Please arrange for immediate collection and
transport since we need the dresses for Christmas.
                                                           Very truly yours,
                                                                   P. Wilson
It is indisputably an import order,  and as we can notice placing orders 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 in order
to make certain points  quite  clear.   There   are   special   import
regulations which  are touched upon in the last paragraph:  it is necessary
to complete formalities and  to  stress  delivery instructions.
It should  be  mentioned  here  that  the  supplier must send order
acknowledgement as an answer to order promptly  to thank his customer for
the order and to confirm it.
If some conditions have  changed,  the  customer  must  be notified. In
the  case  the  goods  ordered  are  no  longer available, a substitute may
be offered.

Example 4.

What follows the order acknowledgement is the  advice  of dispatch.

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 confirmed by our
bank yesterday, 19th November. We have had the 1900 Swinger dresses
collected today for transport by British Airways to Chicago on 25th
Enclosed is our invoice for the goods in question plus the extra charges
for air freight, packing list to facilitate customs clearance at your end,
certificate of origin, air waybill and insurance policy.
Hoping that this initial order will lead to further business, we are
                                                            Yours faithfully
                                                           Export department
The first  thing  to be done before writing such a letter is to examine
carefully whether the partners account is  valid or not.  So in the first
paragraph we come across phrase "your credit was confirmed by our bank
yesterday".  Air shipment for "Swinger" dresses is also mentioned here.
The next paragraph deals with  the  documents  which  are necessary while
importing   goods:  Invoice  packing  lists, certificate of origin, air
waybill and insurance policy. As it is the  initial  order  by  MATTHEWS  &
 WILSON,  the  GRANT & CLARKSON hopes to encourage them to place 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 delays
are caused in transit; defect is discovered when  the equipment is put into
operation 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 were ordered on
November 4. However we wish to draw your attention to two matters.
Of the red dresses supplied one lot of 100(size 12) included clothes of a
lighter red than the other sizes. Since we deliver a collection of various
sizes to each store, it would be obvious to customers that the clothes are
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
replace the whole lot by 100 dresses size 12 in the correct colour.
As far as your charges for air freight are concerned, we agree to pay the
extra costs which you invoiced. However your costs for packing and
insurance must have been lower for air cargo, and we request you to take
this fact into consideration and to make an adjustment to the invoice
amount. Would you please send us a rectified invoice, reduced accordingly.
We look forward to your dealing with these questions without delay.
                                                           Very truly yours.

If this   kind   of   letter  is  sent  the  customer  is understandably
annoyed,  nevertheless there  is  no  reason  to write an  angry letter of
complaint.  In the EXAMPLE 5 there are two complaints:  the first is about
the "Swinger"  dresses colour and  the second - about the fact that air
freight seems too expensive to MATTHEW & WILSON.
From this  letter  we see that the results are better for the correspondent
takes the trouble to explain  his  complaint clearly and proposes ways in
which matters can be put right.

Example 6.

Letters that  are  written  in  response to claims may be called
adjustments. These letters are among the most difficult to write  as  they
require  under all circumstances patience, tact, and diplomacy.  You will
not lose 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 indeed lighter than
it should be. Apparently this was overlooked by controller responsible.
Please accept our apologies for the oversight.
We are sending you a new lot by air this week, and would ask you to 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 insurance costs are
normally less for cargo sent by air. May we remind you, however, in this
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, as most of the dresses were ready for shipment by sea freight
(please see our letter of 9th November). Furthermore, our insurance is on
an open policy at a flat 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 express their
willingness to adjust it.  They say exactly what steps they are going to
take,  because a disappointed customer cannot be put off with mere
apologies - he is entitled to  know how the mistake will be remedied.  The
supplies convince their partners that they are really interested in
maintaining  good will. They  try  to  avoid negative statements,  and what
even worse, accusations;  they  never  forget  that  it  is   their
customer who keeps them in business.
Even when they  write  their  customers  about  rejecting their claim  on
air freight,  they try to give logical reasons for the refusal.


The conclusion  that  therefore  suggests  itself is that writing of
business letters is highly complicated science.  It is not  enough  for  a
good  business  letter writing to know lexics and grammar,  but you should
comprehend the whole range of such things as: occasions on which the
particular letter is written, the style of letter, useful expressions, and
accepted idioms.
There are certain rules which not everybody  could  learn since they  have
to  be  felt by correspondents.  Letter writing requires long practice and
experience.  Those who write letters should always remember,  that what
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
which the message is written.
The "golden rule" that must be followed by every business 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. ..
3.GOWERS, ERNEST The complete plain words
4. ..
Business Letters for All.

"Lexico-sementic chartersticcs of business letter correspondence ([]) "