Businesstipps Sprachen

The continuous tense: better than must

Das Wörtchen "muss" wird im Deutschen sehr gerne eingesetzt und deckt eine ganze Bandbreite an Bedeutungen ab. Ist das im Englischen auch so? Lesen Sie hier weiter.

The continuous tense: better than must

Dear Reader,

Which sounds better?

  1. I must tell you about using “must” correctly.
  2. I am going to tell you about using “must" correctly.

Hopefully, you chose b).

“I must tell you…" sounds really strange and overbearing from a native-speaker point of view. It makes me wonder what drastic consequence will come about if it does not happen. Will Frankenstein come into the room and cook me for dinner? I could fall into shock and totally forget to continue the conversation with you.

On the one hand, you can replace “must” with “have to” to show pressure, and we have discussed this alternative in an earlier article. On the other hand, you could just use the continuous tense whenever it is 99% sure that you are going to do something.

So, in Business English, instead of saying, “I must go to Munich today on a business trip,” use “I am going to Munich today on a business trip.” I could then show interest and ask, “How long are you staying?” or “Are you taking the train?”

Here are some more examples:

  • Replace “I must phone my chef” with
    I am going to phone my boss.
  • Instead of “I must inform the client of the delivery date” with
    I am going to inform the client of the delivery date.   OR
    I am informing the client of the delivery date later this afternoon.
  • How about saying, “I am going to lunch at one o’clock“ instead of “I must go to lunch at thirteen o’clock”?

Why? It makes you more effective and accepted among native-speakers.

I am now coming to an end.

All the best,
Nelly Thomas

PS: Qualitätsmanagement ist uns wichtig!

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