5 typical German mistakes to avoid to make your letters and emails even more professional

Ein englischer Geschäftsbrief mit ein paar Fachausdrücken und Redewendungen macht noch kein perfektes Business English. Deutsche Muttersprachler erkennt man häufig an der holprigen Grammatik, Rechtschreibfehlern und "deutschen" Formulierungen.

Secretary Today zeigt Ihnen, wie Sie typische Fehler vermeiden und gelungene Briefe und E-Mails schreiben.

Do you want to sound really professional when you write letters and emails? Of course you do! Unfortunately, I keep seeing the same mistakes being made over and over again by German speakers – even those whose English is otherwise really excellent. Here are five typical ones. Do this test to see if you make these mistakes in written English – then read how to avoid them.

Find the correct sentence, a, b, or c from these alternatives

Question 1
a) I am really looking forward to go to the sales conference.
b) She said she was looking forward to going to the sales conference.
c) Are you looking forward to go to the sales conference?

Question 2

a) Will we be meeting us at the same time tomorrow?
b) Shall we meet us at the same time tomorrow?
c) Are we meeting at the same time tomorrow?

Question 3
a) Please confirm that you are attending the conference by the end of March.
b) We need the confirmation that you will attend the conference until the end of March.
c) We need confirmation of your conference attendance until the end of March at the latest.

Question 4
a) I am writing to ask you to appoint a date for me with your CEO.
b) I am writing to ask if you could arrange a date for my boss with your CEO.
c) I am writing to ask if you can tell me the date of my next appointment
with the CEO?

Question 5
a) We are pleased to announce the opening of our new british headquarters.
b) We are looking for a computer specialist who speaks french and
c) We are writing to ask if you have any information written in German.

Secretary Today
Perfekte britische und amerikanische Korrespondenz, Gespräche, Telefonate, Geschäftsbesuche und sicherer Small Talk


Question 1 – If 'to look forward to' is followed by a verb, that verb has to be in the –ing form. So answer b is correct.

Question 2 – In German the verb 'treffen' is often reflexive (Wir treffen uns). In English, it isn’t. So the only correct sentence is c.

Question 3 – There are two words for the German 'bis': 'until' (bis einschließlich) and 'by' (bis spätestens). So the correct sentence is a.

Question 4 – If you say 'I’m asking for a date,' it means a romantic meeting – 'ein Date', as you say in German. So the correct answer is c.

Question 5 – This one is easy. With a few exceptions like french fries or plaster of paris, words derived from proper names are always spelled with a capital letter. So the only correct sentence is c.