Is your Business life an endless series of appointments and meetings?
Do you need to make appointments with colleagues, customers or Business partners in English?
If the answer is yes to these questions, these Business English tips for making appointments will help you manage your time better.
Plus, do not forget, using polite, positive and professional language when making that all important appointment can really set the tone for the meeting itself.
Here are some handy grammatical tips to get you started, plus a few useful phrases to add to your business English database.
Would, Could and Should
Firstly, I will give you some tips on important grammar aspects you need to consider when making appointments. They will ensure that you speak politely, formally and avoid common errors and misunderstandings that many English learners face.
It is always best to use Would, Could and Should for Polite Speech these are words that are crucial for setting the right tone, especially when you’re asking for favours and offering suggestions.
Compare these two sentences:
Can we meet at 10 o’clock tomorrow?
Could we meet at 10 o’clock tomorrow?
Can sounds more direct. It’s great for people you know quite well or have had previous communications with. But when you are not sure which is appropriate, it is always better to stay on the side of formality and use could.
Here’s another example:
I want to arrange a meeting with you to discuss…
I would like to arrange a meeting with you to discuss…
As in many languages, instead of using want, use ‘would like to’ to make your request. Want is very direct and can sound a little demanding.
Should is used to denote a sense of obligation (e.g. You should finish that report by Friday.) but it can also be used to give yourself some flexibility when accepting appointments.
Let’s look at these two sentences.
10 a.m. on Monday is fine.
10 a.m. on Monday should be fine.
Using should in this context gives you an option of being slightly off the mark, because as we all know, anything can happen! So, saying “Tomorrow at 10 should be fine” means, if nothing out of the ordinary happens, I’ll see you on Tomorrow at 10.
A common phrase you might hear is should work, as in, tomorrow at 10 a.m. should work for me.
IN, ON, or AT?
Prepositions of Time and Place These tiny little very often confuse my clients. Using the correct English prepositions, when making appointments, can be essential to avoid miscommunications.
In is used to talk about broader periods of time, such as in the morning, in June or in 2019.
One exception to this rule is at night.
At is used for more specific times, such as at 4 o’clock or at midday.
On is used with specific dates and days, such as on Thursday or on September the 10th.
Here is an Example using all of these prepositions together: Hello Scott, would you be available to meet on Friday? If so, I would suggest that we meet at 10:00 in the morning.
Prepositions of place can be a touch confusing for English learners, so here are some general rules to follow when stating a location for your appointment.
At is used for specific point of place, e.g. at the office, at the train station, at the airport.
In is for a more general area or space, such as in the city, in Leipzig, in the hotel lobby.
On is used for streets as well as spaces within buildings. For example, on Oxford street, on Baker Street, or on the 11th Floor. It is also used when we are talking about public transport such as on the tram, on the plane or on the bus, but not the taxi as this is classed as private and not public so in this case in is used e.g. I’ll be there in 5 minutes, I am in the taxi.
Here are some useful phrases to help you when making appointments in Business English
When would be a good time for you?
Will you be free…?
What is your availability on [date]…?
Would you be available on [date] at [time]?
Could we meet…?
LAST, THIS or NEXT
Would this/next Friday work for you? In English, when we say, “next Friday” we mean the Friday after the coming one. This Friday is when we are talking about the Friday of the same week.
Therefore, if it’s Tuesday and you want to arrange an appointment 2 days later days later, we say “this Thursday would be great.” However, if you would like to meet on the Thursday in the following week, say next Friday.
Last obviously refers to days in the past. If it’s Tuesday and you are talking about a meeting that you had the previous Friday, you would say “the meeting happened last Thursday”.
If you are ever unsure, play it safe and use the date of the appointment.
WHY DO YOU WANT TO MEET?
State the purpose of the appointment using concise and professional English. We use the preposition ‘to’ followed by the infinitive or base form of the verb (e.g. to discuss, to clarify, to explain, to plan) to indicate the reason for asking for an appointment.
I’d like to arrange an appointment with you to discuss……..
The purpose of the meeting is to clarify…….
We should get together to plan……..
Sometimes we have other appointments and so we need to Offer alternatives. When someone else makes a suggestion for an appointment, it might not always be suitable for you. Here’s how to offer other alternatives.
How about…?/What about…?
I would prefer…?
[date/time] would suit me better?
Could we meet at/on…… instead?
To agree to or confirm an appointment that is good and fits perfectly into your schedule! This is how you would respond?
That works for me.
That sounds good/great.
Yes, that suits me fine.
I’d like to confirm the appointment.
You can also add a friendly and polite phrase such as “I’m Looking forward to seeing you then!”
What happens when something unexpected or out of the ordinary comes up and you have no choice but to cancel an appointment? Here are some useful expressions which you can use to cancel an appointment politely.
I’m afraid I won’t be able to make it.
Unfortunately, something has come up and I won’t be able to…
Would it be possible to reschedule/move our appointment to a different time?
I’m very sorry, but…
I apologize for the inconvenience, but…