: Business Grammar Builder. : (.. .. )


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Unit 14 modals and related verbs 4


 Direct/indirect language A


 Choice of language often depends on the social situation. Direct language is typical of informal situations, for example conversations between

colleagues. Indirect language is typical of formal situations, for example first

meetings where we have to be polite. In general:

- present forms (can, will) are more direct than past forms (could, would)

- short forms (Can you) are more direct than long forms (I wonder if you could)


 Requests B


 To make a request (ask someone to do something) we use can, could, will, would. We can add the word possibly to make the request more polite. Could you (possibly) open the window, please?

Will/Would you give me a hand with these suitcases?


Question: My profession involves much socialising with middle/upper-class people. Can you recommend a small book in good modern manners and etiquette?


We use an indirect question to make the request more polite.

Do you think you could open the window?

Id be grateful if you could open the window.


 We can reply by agreeing to or refusing a request.


Agreeing: Sure. No problem/Yes, of course/Yes, certainly.

Refusing: Actually, its a bit inconvenient right now./Im sorry but thats not possible.


 Requests with mind C


 We can make a request with Would you mind... followed by an -ing form.

Would you mind repeating that?


 Questions with mind mean Is it a problem for you? So, to agree to a request we say no.

A: Would you mind opening the window?

B: No, of course not.



The company was set up last year.

(= establish)

To refuse we use a phrase like Well, Actually, To be honest and give a reason.

A: Would you mind opening the window?

B: Actually, Im feeling quite cold.


 Permission D


 To ask if we can do something we use can, could, may.

Can/Could/May I change my ticket?

Imagine a National Health Service in which patients are greeted at the door with a smile and a how may I help you? Fantasy? It may not be as far away as you think.


 We can use an indirect question to ask for permission.

Is it all right if I change my ticket?

I wonder if I could change my ticket?


 We can ask for permission with Do you mind if I... ? or Would you mind if

I...? Notice the form of the verb that follows.

A: Do you mind if I smoke? A: Would you mind if I smoked?

B: No, of course not. B: Actually, Id rather you didnt.


 We reply like in replies to requests. We often repeat the modal in the reply, but no when we reply to Could I... ? we say can not could.

A: Can/Could I speak to you for a moment?

B: Yes, of course you can.


 Offers and invitations E


 To offer help we use Can/Could/Shall I, Would you like me to, Ill and Let


Shall I make a copy for you?

Would you like me to give you a lift?

Ill give them a ring if you like.

Let me give you a hand.


 To offer things we use Would you like or short phrases with choices. We reply by expressing a preference.

A: Would you like tea or coffee? A: What would you prefer?

B: Id rather have coffee, please. . I dont mind.

A: Anything to drink? Tea or coffee?

B: Ill have coffee, please.



Can we bring the meeting forward to Monday?

(= move it to an earlier time)

 To invite somebody to do something we use Would you like to ...?

Would you like to come with us to the restaurant tonight?


 We can reply to offers and invitations by accepting or rejecting them.

Accepting: Thank you very much./Thanks. Id appreciate that./Thats

very kind of you.

Rejecting: Thats very kind of you, but ...../Thanks, but I can manage.


 Suggestions F


 To make a suggestion we use Could, Shall, What about, How about, I think we/you should/could and Lets. Notice the different forms:

We could/1 think we should/Lets have a short break now. (statement)

What/How about having a short break now? (question + verb with -ing)

Shall we have a short break now? (question)


 We often use the form of a negative question.

Couldnt we/Why dont we/Why not try to renegotiate this part of the


Describing my life takes hours. Why dont you buy the business-school

case history about us? Everything is there.- Nicolas Hayek, CEO of Swatch.


 We can reply to suggestions by accepting or rejecting them.

Accepting: Yes, I think we should do that /Thats a good idea./ Yes, lets do that.

Rejecting: Im not really sure about that./That sounds like a good

idea, but...



You go on ahead. Ill catch up with you later.

(= reach the same place as)




Exercise 1 (B, C, D, E, F)

Underline the correct words.


1 Im very busy. Would you mind to give / giving me a hand?

2 Would you / Should you help me carry these boxes, please?

3 Do you like / Would you like some more soup?

4 May I / Would I ask you a personal question?

5 How about we talk / talking to another supplier?

6 Are you having problems? Will I / Shall I help you?

7 Are you having problems? Let me / I shall help you.

8 Would I / Could I borrow your copy of the FT?

9 I think you should / you can spend less time playing golf.

10 Excuse me, could you / may you tell me which street this is?

11 Do you think could I/ I could open the window?

12 Do you mind if I open / opened the window?

13 Would you mind if I open / opened the window?

14 Would you sign / Please to sign your name here?


Exercise 2 (C, D, E, F)

George is visiting Fernando in São Paulo. Complete the dialogue with the phrases from the list below.


Let me

shall we

would you like

would you like to

do you mind

of course

would you mind

would you like me to

I dont mind

I should

of course not

Id appreciate that


FERNANDO: Please, come in. (1) .. take your coat. Its good to see you!

GEORGE: Its very nice to be here in São Paulo. Thank you so much for your invitation to come and see your company. It was very kind.

FERNANDO: Not at all. Its my pleasure. (2) .. some coffee? Or mineral water perhaps?

GEORGE: Id prefer mineral water, please.

FERNANDO: Still or sparkling?

GEORGE: Oh, (3) .. , either would be fine. (4) .. if I just make a quick call



We need to cut back/down on our spending.

(= reduce)

I didnt get a chance earlier.

FERNANDO: (5) .. . Go right ahead.

GEORGE: Oh, theres no signal. Never mind. Um, you have a wonderful building here. It looks really impressive from the outside.

FERNANDO: Its very new - we only moved in last year. Its designed by one of our most famous architects, Cesar Pelli. (6) .. show you around later?

GEORGE: Thanks. (7) .. .

FERNANDO: Now then, (8) .. get down to business (9) .. telling me a little about your interest in our market? What exactly are your long term objectives here in Brazil?

GEORGE: Er, perhaps (10) .. begin by explaining a little about the history of our company. I have a short presentation on my laptop. (11) .. see it?


FERNANDO: (12) .. .


Exercise 3 (B, C, D, E)

Read the following impolite dialogue between a hotel receptionist and a guest



1 Give me your name.

3 Spell it.

5 Leave your passport.

7 Of course.

9 Its from seven thirty until ten.


11 Do you want a pen?



2 Its Jessop.

4 Its J-E-S-S-O-P.

6 OK. I want an early morning call.

8 When is breakfast?

10 Also. I must leave a message for a colleague.

12 Thank you.



Now rewrite the following lines from the dialogue. The words in brackets will help you.


Line 1 (May/have/name please) .. Line 3 (Could/spell/that/me please) .. Line 5 (Would/mind/your passport) ..

Line 6 (Do/think/bock me/early morning) .. Line 8 (I wonder/you/tell me when) ..

Line 10 (Would/mind if I/message/colleague) ..



Lets drop in on David while were in London.

(= make a short, informal visit)

Line 11 (Would/like me/lend/a pen) ..


Exercise 4 (B, D, E, F)

Match situations 1-6 with questions a)-i).



1 Making a request

2 Asking for permission


3 Offering help


4 Offering something


5 Inviting somebody

6 Making a suggestion





a) Would you like a coffee?

b) Would you like me to carry your coffee for you?

c) Would you like to come with us for a coffee?

d) Could you get me a cup of coffee from

the canteen?

e) Shall we break for coffee now?

f) Is it all right if I help myself to coffee?


Now match situations 7-13 with replies g)-m). You can look back at the questions in the previous part to help you.


7 Agreeing to a request


8 Refusing a request

9 Expressing a preference

10 Accepting an offer of help

11 Accepting a suggestion

12 Rejecting an offer of help

13 Rejecting a suggestion







g) Actually, I think Id rather have water if you dont mind.

h) Of course, no problem.

i) Actually, Im really busy at the moment. j) Im not sure thats a good idea.


k) OK, lets do that.

l) Thanks, Id really appreciate that.


m) Thanks, but I can manage.



Exercise 5

This exercise includes many of the modal verbs covered in the previous units. Match each sentence 114 with a meaning a) n)



I get on with my colleagues very well.

(= have a friendly relationship with)

1 I should do it.

2 I shouldnt do it.

3 I can do it.

4 I cant do it.

5 I mustnt do it.

6 I dont have to do it.

7 I have to do it.

8 Ill do it.

a) Its necessary to do .

b) Its not necessary to do it. c) Sorry, its impossible.

d) Its forbidden.

e) I have the ability to do it. f) Im offering to do it.

g) Its a good idea. h) Its a bad idea.

9 Ill do it.

10 I might do it.

11 Would you like to do it?

12 Could you do it, please?

13 May I do it?

14 Shall I do it

i) Im inviting you.

j) Im asking permission.

k) Im requesting that you do it. l) I promise.

m) Perhaps S will do it.

n) Im making a suggestion.




Lets get on with the meeting.

(= continue after stopping)

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