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Unit 14

Corporate gift-giving
Top promotional items
• At some point, nearly all businesses give free promotional items to
their customers, and some of them can spend a lot of time deciding
on the best thing to give. But in this matter at least, it seems that
thinking out of the box is not always a good idea. I’ve carried out a
small survey among friends and colleagues and it seems that the
best promotional gifts are often the most obvious ones. Here are
my top three.
1. The promotional bag with your company name and logo on it. This
is probably the most common item and still the best. If it’s well
made and nicely produced, people will use it to carry their stuff in
the street, on the train and into their office, which is a great way
to advertise your company.
2. The memory stick. Everyone needs to back up their documents,
so a memory stick will almost certainly be kept and used, and the
cover can easily be customized. The disadvantage from the
company’s point of view is that not many other people will see it.

Top promotional items
3. The umbrella. Again a useful promotional gift, with lots of room for
your company’s branding. Like the promotional bag, if you live in a
country where there’s lots of rain, an umbrella will give people plenty
of opportunities to see your company’s name around town.

So if these are the top three, what are the ones to avoid?
Consumables like stationary don’t make good promotional items
because they are soon used and forgotten. The same goes for food
items like chocolate. You should also avoid sports equipment (not
everyone will use it) and goods which can break easily like glassware.
But my prize for the worst promotional item goes to the stress ball.
These little pieces of rubber are nearly always left at the back of
drawers of cupboards and then thrown away after a few months. Have
you ever seen anyone using one?

• To think outside the box – to think differently,
unconventionally, or from a new perspective
• To carry out / conduct a survey
• Stuff (things) vs. staff (personnel)
• Consumables – a commodity that is intended
to be used up relatively quickly; goods that
people buy regularly because they are quickly
used and need to be replaced often

Countable and uncountable nouns
• Countable nouns must have a, an or the in
front of them in the singular and can be used
in the plural
e.g. a bag, the bag, bags
• Uncountable nouns do not have a/an in front
of them in the singular and have no plural
forms. We use some (or any in questions and
negatives to refer to uncountable nouns).
e.g. sugar, oil, time, love
Sometimes the same word can be countable or
uncountable but with a change of meaning:

• Rubber (U) – the material

• A rubber (C) – something for removing pencil marks

• Time (U) – minutes and hours

• A time (C) – an occasion

• Room (U) – space

• A room (C) – a part of a building

• Chocolate (U) – the food or the drink

• A chocolate (C) – a small sweet covered in chocolate
Look at the words in bold in the article and write
them in the correct column in the table below

Countable Countable Uncountable

(singular) (plural)

Complete the sentences by writing
a/an or some in each gap
1. I saw ___ very interesting new equipment at the trade fair.
2. I would be grateful if you could send me ___ information.
3. I have ___ suggestion that might be useful.
4. He gave us ___ good advice about bookkeeping.
5. Could we rearrange the office to make ___ room for the
new desks?
6. I am writing to complain about ___ item of clothing I
purchased from your store.
7. I hope we can fix ___ time to meet soon.
8. Our department has just invested in ___ new software.

Decide if the plurals are correct. If not,
change them
1. The informations that you sent about the product were not all
2. Members of staff will be happy to answer your questions and to
give advices on products.
3. I am afraid that your ideas were not accepted by the board.
4. Please can you confirm that the equipments we requested are
5. All electrical devices need to be checked regularly.
6. The company spent a lot of money on travels last year.
7. We have managed to save the business but I’m afraid the works
have only just begun.
8. We can provide transports to and from the airport.
9. What are your responsibilities in the new job?
10. It’s only a weekend trip so I don’t need to take many luggages.

Choose the correct word
1. Please let me know if you need an / some overnight
2. I would like a / some help from the sales manager.
3. I think you’ve done a / some very good job.
4. We have a / some very important work to do.
5. We would like to offer you a / some language training.
6. We run a / some course in basic Chinese for business
7. Our company has developed a / some new software.
8. This is a / some rather inconvenient moment to call.
9. I have a / some free time on Wednesday morning.
10. Please could you give me an / some information by the
end of the week.
Gifts from Serbia
• Imagine you are going on a business trip from
your country to visit a Japanese company. You
need to take one special gift for the CEO and
six gifts for the rest of the team. What items
from your country could make good presents?
Decide with a partner what you would take,
then compare your ideas with another pair.

1. When we are talking in general, we use no article with uncountable
nouns and plurals:
- This is when companies might give presents to good customers.
- Light blue paper is the best choice.

2. When we are talking in general, we use a/an with singular countable

- You need to take a present for your hosts.

3. We use the when the person we are speaking to knows which thing we
are talking about. Often this is because it is the second time we have
mentioned it.
- It can be a problem if you’re bringing a present through customs, so it’s
often best to wrap the present while you’re there.

4. We also use the when a particular thing that has not been mentioned
before can be understood from something we have said previously:
- If your host suggests you open the present, you mustn’t tear the
paper (=the paper around the present).

5. We use no article in front of most countries, continents and languages

(plural countries like the United States are the exception):
- Presents in Japan are always wrapped.
- You mustn’t just tear the paper like we might do in Europe.
- In Japanese the word for four sounds like…

6. We use no article with some general words like life, society, etc.:
- It sounds like the word for death.

Put a/an, the or /
___ people often think that ___ gift will be more
appreciated if it is expensive. However, ___ studies
have found that this is not necessarily true. For
example, it seems that most fiancées feel just as
grateful for ___ modestly priced engagement ring
as for ___ expensive one. Likewise, in ___ business,
___ researchers have found that ___ companies
don’t need to give their staff ___ expensive
rewards. ___ small gift or token will be just as
effective if you want to show ___ appreciation. It
seems that ___ words of ___ old Beatles’ song are
true: ___ money can’t buy you ___ love.
Cultural awareness training
Whether you are participating in ___ joint project or
dealing with ___ overseas customer, it is very important
to know something about your partner’s culture. Our
company delivers ___ training in ___ cultural awareness
across ___ world. We guarantee that ___ knowledge you
gain will help you do ___ business in today’s global

‘It was ___ fantastic course and ___ tutor was really
‘It was one of ___ best training days I’ve experienced. ___
content was excellent and I really enjoyed ___ activities.
Saying thank you
• Helmut Schulz works for a German
engineering company which produces
irrigation equipment. He has just returned
from a business trip to Qatar, where he
demonstrated some of his company’s

Complete Mr Schulz’s thank you letter to his Qatari hosts
by putting a phrase from the box in the correct gap.
a. Finally thank you once Dear Mr Amin,
again __ for a most enjoyable visit to Doha. __ to
b. I am writing to thank see the city and __ the meal in your
you beautiful restaurant along the Corniche. All
c. I especially enjoyed of your staff were extremely courteous and
d. I look forward to hearing __ with their knowledge of irrigation
from you technology.
e. I was also very __ to see the desalination plant. __ to Mr
interested Ashraf Zanaty for taking so much time to
guide me round.
f. I was most impressed __ in due course regarding your decision on
g. In the meantime I our irrigation equipment. __ a few small
enclose promotional items from my company which
h. It was very interesting I hope you will find useful. __ for making my
i. Please extend a special stay in Qatar such a pleasant experience.
thanks Kind regards,
Helmut Schulz 17
Imagine you have just returned from a business trip
to (a city of your choice) to look at some possible
new products. Write a thank you letter to your host
similar to Mr Schulz’s. In the letter:

- Thank your host for their hospitality and a meal

or any other entertainment they provided
- Say how useful the visit was
- Say when you will be in touch with a decision
about the produts.