Effective Business Writing

Foreign Phrases to Know…


Avoid that uncomfortable feeling of “What exactly does that mean?” by becoming familiar with these four foreign expressions commonly used in the business world:

  • De facto: This means “actual” when used as an adjective, and “in practice” when used as an adverb.
  • Example: Although her title was Executive Assistant, we considered her the de facto head of the office.
  • Vis-à-vis: This is used to mean “compared with” or “in relation to.”

  • Example: The new supervisor made some negative remarks vis-à-vis: our informal dress code.
  • Per se: This means “by itself” or “intrinsically.”
  • Example: The problem is that we don’t really have a dress code per se.

Meanings can change

  • Ad hoc: Used as an adjective, this means “formed or created with a specific purpose.”  When it’s an adverb, it means “for the specific purpose or situation.”
  • Example: Minor policy decisions are made through ad hoc committees.



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