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Read the text to find out about different types of business letters and their peculiarities

Business Correspondence

Business transactions usually start with inquiries. As a rale, the prospective Buyer gets the name and address of the prospective Seller either at an exhibition, from an advertisement, on a television or radio commercial. All these channels of information and advertising are very important. Inquiries can be sent by mail, by telex or by fax. Sometimes inquires can be made orally, by phone.

In the inquiry the prospective Buyer states in what goods exactly he is interested and asks for the details of the price and terms of sale.

When a Buyer wants to know at what price and on what terms he could buy the goods required by him, he usually sends out inquires

to firms, companies and organisations manufacturing such goods or dealing with them. Often the Buyer asks the Seller to enclose with the offer illustrated catalogues, price-lists or other publications and, if it is possible, samples or patterns of the goods he is interested in. When asking the Seller to send him a quotation or to make him an offer, the Buyer gives a detailed description of the goods required by him.

After considering the inquiry for some time the prospective Seller sends an offer in reply. The offer expresses the wish of the Seller to sell the goods. But it's not a legal document and the Seller may for this or that reason decide not to sell. The offer is only the first step in a contract. The offer usually quotes the price and stipulates terms of delivery and some other necessary details.

The Sellers may offer their goods to their regular customers or to those who may be interested in them without waiting for an inquiry. These are voluntary or free offers. They were formally called "without obligation (or engagement)". This kind of offer does not bind the Seller and therefore may be made to several potential Buyers.

Then there are firm offers (binding or with obligation or engagement). A firm offer is made by the Seller to the potential Buyer only and usually indicates the time during which it will remain open for acceptance. If the Buyer accepts the offer in full within the stipulated time, he is obliged to buy the goods at the price and on the terms stated in the offer. The Sellers have the rights to withdraw a firm offer at any time before it has been accepted.

There are also some other types of business letters (claims for instance, etc.).


A. Underline the main stress in each word. Practise saying the
words. Mind the stress shift in the pairs of words.

1) advertise — advertisement; 2) commerce — commercial; 3) quote — quotation; 4) oblige — obligation.

B. Circle the word in each line which has a different vowel
sound. Listen to the teacher and check your answers.

1) either inquiry detail bind

2) channel sale pattern transaction

3) therefore enclose phone quote

Word Study

A. Find international words in the text and write them out. Learn
their correct pronunciation.

B. Give English equivalents to the word combinations:

деловые соглашения; предполагаемый покупатель (продавец); из различных информационных и рекламных источников; интере­соваться ценой, условиями продажи, оплаты и поставки; товары, необходимые покупателю; на каких условиях он мог бы купить; выслать запрос; приложить иллюстрированные каталоги, прейску­ранты и образцы товаров; детальное описание товаров; после изу­чения запроса; послать предложение в ответ; постоянные клиенты; не ожидая запроса; отозвать предложение; время, в течение кото­рого предложение может быть принято.

C. Complete the chart with the missing forms where possible.


Nouns Verbs Adjectives
    manufactured/ manufacturing

D. Match the words from A with their opposites from B.


send, exactly, regular, interested, voluntary, formal, accept, first, legal, necessary, usually irregular, informal, unnecessary, seldom, obligatory, receive, illegal, approximately, last, reject, uninterested

Group pairs of antonyms according to the way they are formed.


E. Match the words from A with their synonyms from B.


advertisement, quotation, reply, buyer, exhibit, inquire, obligation, consider, manufacture, goods, transaction customer, answer, produce, duty, commodities, think over, ask, deal, show, commercial, price

Grammar Focus

A. Study the following speech patterns.


either... or

We will have eitherto launch the product now orwait till the spring. You can eithercome by bus ortake a taxi.


neither... nor

Unfortunately neitherthe documents northe letters are ready yet. We neithersell norrent equipment.

B. Make sentences with "either... or" and "neither... nor".


Example: They didn 't enclose illustrated catalogues or price-lists. They enclosed neither illustrated catalogues nor price-lists.

1. They got our address at an exhibition. They could also do it from an advertisement.

2. That man's name can be Richard or Robert. •

3. Philip is not the right candidate. Ann is also not suitable.

4. We can leave today or we can leave tomorrow — whichever you prefer.

5. The Buyer didn't accept the offer. And it didn't reject it. ►

6. I'm not sure where he is from. He can be Spanish or Italian.

7. The president didn't speak for or against the economic reform.

8. I can send an inquiry. Alternatively you can do it.

(>. You can send the enquiry by mail or you can fax it. 10. lie didn't write. He didn't telephone.

C. Complete the sentences by using one of the words on the left and combining it with one of the prepositions on the right. Prepositions can be used more than once. If necessary, change the form of the words on the left. In some cases there are several ways of completing sentences.


send sell buy with by for
deal offer interested at to in
wait make     on  

1. Don't forget to ... the letter ... an apology.

2. They agreed to ... the goods ... the terms stated in the contract.

3. The suggestion ........ him was accepted.

4. We must make sure to ... our products ... everyone interested.

5. ... what price do they ... these leather coats?

6. Shall we start the meeting, or should we.......... the others?

7. We have ....... the company for years.

8. We're not really......... their offer.

5. Diving Deeper

Answer the questions.

1. What are the two main types of business letters? 2. What kind of business letters do business transactions usually start with? 3. Where does a prospective Buyer get the name and address of a prospective Seller? 4. How can inquires be made? 5. What does the prospective Buyer state in the inquiry? 6. To what firms does a Buyer send his inquiries? 7. What does the Buyer ask the Seller to send him? 8. What kind of business letter does the prospective Seller send in reply for an inquiry? 9. What does an offer usually quote and stipulate? 10. May the Seller offer his goods to the Buyer without waiting for an inquiry? 11. What are the two main types of offers? 12. What's the difference between these two types of offers?

6. Speaking

Reread the text. Divide it into logical parts and make up its out­line. Tell your group-mates what you consider obligatory to know about business correspondence using your outline.

7. How to write a business letter

A. When you write a business letter you have to weigh many aspects of the situation. You have to consider ways to organise your letter effectively to maintain positive and productive customer's relations.

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