This is the next in my series of lessons on topic vocabulary for IELTS – this time featuring language to write about business. This is quite a technical area and I concentrate on showing you how to use some of the most common words and phrases. This means I do not simply give you lists of words and phrases but show you different forms of the words and some common collocations. There are also a number of different exercises for you to practise these words in context.
Compete – an example of word formation
A top tip is not to learn one word at a time but to learn the whole family of words. This way you learn 3/4 words at a time. That’s good. You can also use words much more flexibly. That’s even better. See how this works with the word compete – a key business concept
Market – an exercise in collocations
Another top tip is to learn phrases (or collocations) when you learn words. If you want to be able to use words for yourself, you need to know what other words it is normally used with. You should find that if you do this, it helps you understand the meaning of words far better than learning any dictionary definition.
Company and business
There are a variety words to describe a business in English:
Be careful with the word business. When we use it uncountably, it means the idea – to do business. If, however, we use it countably it describes a company like entity – a family business.
A company is used properly to describe a body that is a legal entity. Many businesses, particularly smaller businesses, are not legal entities – hence the term small businesses.
Corporation is used to describe larger companies and is more American than British.
The supply chain – products and services
You should also be familiar with the most common types of companies. Products and services reach the consumer through a supply chain. Put (very) simply products and services reach the consumer through a chain of supply. Manufactures use raw materials to produce products which are supplied to wholesalers who store those products and sell them to retailers (shops) where we buy them.
Customers, consumers and clients
This is a tricky one. It can be very difficult to distinguish between consumers, customers and clients. Typically, (and this not a rule) you find customers buying things in shops,but clients receive services. Consumer is a more general term and is often used when thinking more abstractly or legally (consumer rights).
There are of course many other more technical words we use here: patients in hospitals and passengers in transport for example.
There are many, many technical terms here. This is a small selection of the more general use words you should be comfortable using.
Pay careful attention to collocations in this area. In particular, think about “common” words such as reduce, increase, major, minor, high and low
People in businesses
In some ways, the key words here are employ, employment, employer and employee. These are a few more variations with some useful collocations.
Money and employment
Business is (partly at least) about individuals making money. These are some of the less technical words you should be familiar with.
salary and wage have the same essential meaning. Typically, skilled workers receive a salary and unskilled worked a wage.