Give advice on the problems with reports


The language of advice and reports practice

Give advice on the problems with reports

with the advice phrases and reports vocabulary

Choose one problem from the next page and give advice on how to solve it. Your partner will react to your advice and suggest their own advice. Discuss it for as long as you like, then take turns choosing topics to do the same with. 

Useful language for making recommendations

We would (definitely/ greatly/ probably/ really/ significantly) benefit from…

We have (absolutely/ almost/ virtually) no choice but to…

could (conceivably/ possibly/ potentially) ameliorate…

I (also/ do/ really) think it would be a good idea to…

It is (extremely/ incredibly) important to…

We (absolutely/ really) must ensure that…

We (almost certainly/ also/ clearly/ desperately/ probably/ really) need/ require

The only (feasible/ other/ realistic) option is to…

If that is unsuccessful, another possibility (worth looking into) is to…

I (highly/ personally/ strongly/ thoroughly/ wholeheartedly) recommend

My (chief/ main) recommendation would be to…

In my (personal/ professional) view, we should

One (long-term/ popular/ possible/ practical/ short-term) solution is to…

… would (fully/ partially) solve

After…, the (logical/ obvious) next step would be to…

I (humbly) suggest that we...

… is (absolutely/ utterly) vital/ essential/ crucial in order to achieve…

It is (definitely/ probably/ well) worth considering…

Ask about any problems you don’t understand, can’t think of advice for, etc, then do the language tasks below.  

Use similar language to give advice on other kinds of business writing, for example:

advertising copy                                                                                   agendas

catalogues                                                                                             contracts

CVs/ resumés                                                                        direct mail/ spam

emails                                                                                                    leaflets/ pamphlets

(technical/ instruction) manuals/ handbooks                     mission statements

memos/ memorandums/ memoranda/ group emails       minutes

newsletters                                                                                            performance review/ job review

press releases                                                                        (job) references

social media content (tweets, etc)                                       web content


  • The course of action suggested in your report’s first draft will mean a lot more work for your section.
  • You are not sure which of the main aims of the report to focus on
  • When you brought an issue to your boss’s attention you were asked to write a report on it, but the report is likely to be ignored.
  • You are not sure if you should mention the conflict that is the background to your report being commissioned.
  • You are not sure how many bullet points you can or should use.
  • You have 20 bar charts, pie charts and line graphs that you want to include.
  • Explaining the root causes of the problem will involve blaming one particular person.
  • It’s difficult to make strong recommendations based on your final conclusion.
  • There is a lot of detailed data to include but your boss has asked you to be concise.
  • You want to distribute the report in a way that makes it most likely to be read.
  • You want to strongly emphasise something without being too forceful (so maybe without using bold script or underlining to highlight the key points).
  • You are sure your final conclusion is correct, but have little concrete evidence.
  • You’ve read contradictory advice on the best font and font size for internal reports.
  • You are not sure if you should use rather boring standard section headings or more interesting, creative ones.
  • You are not sure if you should put optional extra information such as tables of data in appendices, footnotes, or the body of the report.
  • You’ve been asked to write a report on an ongoing issue which might have changed between finishing the report and being able to distribute it.
  • The vast majority of staff will disagree with your conclusions.
  • You’ve heard different recommendations for the most logical order for your report.
  • You’ve been asked to give an overview of the huge area such as HR worldwide.
  • You need to quickly pad out a report.
  • You want to give your personal perspective but still seem unbiased/ objective.
  • You want to be persuasive without seeming subjective.
  • You are not sure what the best step-by-step process will be to complete your report.
  • You aren’t confident of your ability to proofread your English report.
  • Only half of the customer satisfaction questionnaire responses will have arrived by the deadline for writing the report.
  • The report will have less impact if the negative comments are only anonymous quotes, as was originally planned.
  • People keep asking you for gossip on a confidential report.
  • You don’t understand some jargon in a financial report you’ve been asked to read.
  • You are not sure about the right level of (in)formality for an internal report.
  • Most progress reports in your company are pointless wastes of time.
  • You don’t trust the market research findings you have to base your report on.
  • Being too realistic about the long-term consequences of the current situation will make you seem too negative.
  • You think not many readers will make it as far as a final summary, but if you put an executive summary at the start then they probably won’t even look at the body.


Longer recommendations phrases

Write at least one word someone in the middle of each phrase below (= not before the first word and not after the last word).

We would benefit from…


We have no choice but to…


could ameliorate…


I think it would be a good idea to…


It is important to…


We must ensure that…


We need/ require


The only option is to…


If that is unsuccessful, another possibility is to…


I recommend


My recommendation would be to…


In my (personal/ professional) view, we should


One solution is to…


… would solve


After…, the next step would be to…


I suggest that we...


… is vital/ essential/ crucial in order to achieve…


It is worth considering…


Use the mixed answers below to check and give you ideas, then check with the first page above.


Mixed answers word by word

Many can be used more than once.

  • absolutely
  • almost
  • almost certainly
  • also
  • chief
  • clearly
  • conceivably
  • definitely
  • desperately
  • do
  • extremely
  • feasible/ other/ realistic
  • fully/ partially
  • greatly
  • highly
  • humbly
  • incredibly
  • logical
  • long-term
  • main
  • obvious
  • personal
  • personally
  • popular
  • possible
  • possibly
  • potentially
  • practical
  • probably
  • professional
  • really
  • short-term
  • significantly
  • strongly
  • thoroughly
  • utterly
  • virtually
  • well
  • wholeheartedly
  • worth looking into


Mixed answers line by line

  • absolutely/ almost/ virtually
  • absolutely/ really
  • absolutely/ utterly
  • almost certainly/ also/ clearly/ desperately/ probably/ really
  • also/ do/ really
  • chief/ main
  • conceivably/ possibly/ potentially
  • definitely/ greatly/ probably/ really/ significantly
  • definitely/ probably/ well
  • extremely/ incredibly
  • feasible/ other/ realistic
  • fully/ partially
  • highly/ personally/ strongly/ thoroughly/ wholeheartedly
  • humbly
  • logical/ obvious
  • long-term/ popular/ possible/ practical/ short-term
  • personal/ professional
  • worth looking into


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