With the deepening of economy reforms, the enterprises of china have more chances to exchange and cooperate with foreign companies. Therefore, using business correspondence plays an important role in communication. However, because of the historical and linguistic factor, Chinese companies can hardly use a non-native language as well as those foreign ones.

The following comparison and analysis are set out from different angles. We may find out our shortage and the difference between the companies at home and abroad in using vague language in business correspondence.

Take a business letter from foreign trade company at home first:

Dear Mr. John,

We really regret writing this type of letter. However, since your account for US.$565 is more than two months overdue, we have no choice but to remind you of this fact. For the past ten years, during which we have mutually done business, we have counted you as one of our most reliable customers.

We, therefore, much regret the delay of payment which has occurred this time and we urge you to protect your excellent credit rating by sending your remittance soon. Chances are that you have only overlooked it, or the payment may be on its way now. In this case, please excuse us for this reminder.



Chinese merchants would like to use Chinese traditional courtesy to deal with business correspondence. This business letter reflects this regulation. There are a lot of necessary vague words and expressions in it. The using of vague words “most reliable” can release tension and promote politeness.

The addresser’s has one intention—to get the delayed money. Apparently, the account is more than two months overdue, the customer cannot ignore it. The act of using the vague worlds “overlook” and “have no choice” helps addressee find a reason and give him a step which creates a harmonious atmosphere.

In this negative bad-news letter, the addresser needs to maintain the addressee’s goodwill. Therefore, creating a good atmosphere is really important. Because of the Chinese merchants ‘modest and friendly quality, they can easily cool down the conflict.

Let’s see another example:

Dear Ms. Tina,

We understand your concern about the packing bag of soybean flour you returned on March.15. We will do as much as we reasonably can to make things right.

What we can do in each instance is determined by the facts of the case. With returned goods, we will generally recheck. Of course, to meet our obligations to our customers for quality merchandise, all packing should be unquestionably hermetical. We have confidence in our products. After the detection, we will inform you our result. We are really sorry for the inconvenience and look forward to your reply.



Vague expressions are frequently used in this letter. The addresser uses vague words such as “as much as we reasonably can” and “make things right” to break the ice and show his sincerity in dealing with the matter.

Although the result of inspection is unknown, the addresser uses “inconvenience” and “look forward” to show his politeness. At the same time, the act of using vague expressions “unquestionably” and show his confidence in his products. All in all, by using these vague expressions, the addresser shows his politeness well and creates a harmonious atmosphere.

These acts ease the addressee’s anger and do well to future business. According to these examples, we can find that Chinese merchants care courtesy more. They’d like to show their emotional politeness and do business in a harmonious atmosphere by using vagu.