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For now, this is the last of my mini-series on false friends for Spanish speakers of Business English. I’ve looked at linguistic low-lifes in the areas of Food and the Human Body, so to finish, here are the worst words that can trip you up in the ‘Business English’ that you use at work.

Where You Work

If you’re not part of a big group or corporation, you probably work for a company, not an enterprise, which is only used in formal English. Offices can be your whole workspace, but they can also be individual rooms occupied by a single, normally senior employee (Despatches is the part of a warehouse that sends goods outward).  To talk about your factory, you’re more likely to use facilities than installations, although both are possible, and there’s no such thing as a parking. Americans park in a parking lot while Brits use a car parkParking alone refers to the concept, and it’s often entirely theoretical…

Who You Work With

Unless your company is scarily hierarchical, everyone you work with is a colleague. Mate is a colloquial British word for a good friend and its professional use is normally in combination with other words, as in workmate or team-mate (which both mean the same as the more elegant colleague, anyway).  Bosses can be Managers, Directors or many other titles, but they can’t be Responsibles, which your corrector will tell you is impossible as a noun in English. If you’re not sure which word to choose, use Head (as in Head of Purchasing), which is nicely vague and non-hierarchical. And even if your Managers are Directors, as a collective, they are still the Management and they manage a Department or an Area. Direction is mainly reserved for physical movement in English (left and right, etc.).

What You Do

If you make things, it’s best to say that you manufacture or produce them. Fabrication usually sounds like you’re faking it. Reserve introductions for people who haven’t met each other and use insert for physical things like plugs or enter for your password and other data. Finally, if you’re unhappy with a product or service, you complain about it. Unless you win a prize, the only thing you’re likely to claim is compensation from your insurance company and best of luck with that…

Next time, I’ll be switching my focus completely with a look at words for containers and portions of things AND people…

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