Correctness (16)

In deze korte zomercursus grammatica volgt hier Deel 3 (voor Deel 1: klik hier, voor Deel 2, klik hier). We nemen hierna een korte vakantie en keren eind augustus weer terug. Heeft u een onderwerp waar u meer over wil weten? Laat het ons weten. Prettige vakantie en tot in augustus!

  1. The subjunctive

The following are common (and understandable) mistakes:
* We advise that the client reconsiders the offer
* We suggest that Mr Jones signs the contract as soon as possible

It should actually be:
* We advise that the client reconsider the offer
* We suggest that Mr Jones sign the contract as soon as possible.

Use of verbs such as suggest, recommend, propose, request etc. often require the use of a structure known as the Present Subjunctive which is used with verbs that express
opinion, belief, intention and desire. The subjunctive is formed with the base form (or
infinitive without ‘to’) of the verb.

For example:
* We request that the defendant be present at the meeting.
* We recommend that Mr Jones file a complaint.

I can imagine this is a strange concept for a Dutch speaker, but you will be relieved to hear that many native speakers make mistakes with this. I will be writing a more detailed blog on this particular language area in the autumn.

  1. Standard phrases for emails and letters

Business correspondence in English is typified by use of ‘standard phrases’; so standard, that we don’t really like people playing around with them. Dutch writers are prone to
several mistakes with these phrases due to direct translation and a misconceived understanding of their usage. Here are some examples of mistakes I often come across:

Unlike Dutch, you can start a business email or letter with ‘I’ or ‘we’. Moreover, avoid
archaic words such as ‘hereby’ and ‘herewith’ in modern business correspondence.

  • Hereby I attach …                                         I am attachingOR Please find attached

Send – sent:

  • I have send it by courier.                                 I have sent

The Past Particle of to send is sent, with a -t: to send – sent – sent.

Be so kind as to:
For some reason, a lot of Dutch writers omit the word ‘as’ from this phrase.

  • Would you be so kind to reschedule the meeting?             Would you be so kind as to …    

Look forward to:
An understandable mistake. However, this construction falls into the area of English
grammar known as ‘gerunds and infinitives’. Note that the second verb always takes the gerund from (verb + -ing)

  • I look forward to hear from you                     I look forward to hearing from you.
  • I am looking forward to hear from you      I am looking forward to hearing from you.

Dutch writers are very fond of ‘kindly’. Firstly, it is not very common in business
correspondence. Secondly, if we were to use it, then only in requests e.g. I kindly request that ….

  • Kindly be advised that …                     Please be advised that …
  • I kindly refer to …                                    I would like to refer to…
  • I kindly note the following …             I would like to note the following …

Voldoende geïnformeerd?
I hope to have informed you sufficiently  is not the way to say “Ik hoop u voldoende te hebben geïnformeerd”. This is a direct translation from Dutch. It is much better to write (for
example): Please do not hesitate to contact me should (OR if) you have any further questions.

More on standard phrases? Click here.

Happy writing!

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