Monthly Archives: October 2013

Mendocino – north of San Francisco, California

Mendocino Rock“In California, I really appreciated Mendocino“, says Sophie Sainte-Marie, the Swiss traveler about her trip last year. “(It’s) a little and peaceful city in the north of San Francisco. The sunset above the ocean from the rock was stupendous; you can stay a long time their and simply admire the view. The houses with a “New England” style and their beautiful gardens were delightful!”

Sophie also got to jog along the Big River. “(It) is really a beautiful experience and makes you feel a little bit like an adventurer. Very nice landscape and colors. A good place to refuel!”

She and her partner stayed at the guesthouse, Nicholson House Inn, where she says they were ” welcoming and (they) really appreciated their home-made scones at breakfast!”

“I won’t forget this place and atmosphere.”

So maybe the next time you head to California, you may consider stopping by this enchanting town.  It definitely looks worth it.


What vs. Which


Question: When do I use “Which” and when “What” in questions?
Often problems arise when we directly translate word for word from one language into another. Sometimes this can work but many times it doesn’t.

Here we can see what happens when we directly translate from French or German into English. Let’s see which language gets us into more trouble!

mini happy face= perfect translation
mini sad face= maybe understandable but sounds unprofessional (some incorrect words and grammar used)
mini sad facemini sad face= not understandable (words and grammar completely wrong)

Let’s look at these examples:

a) What is your name?

German translation = Wie heissen Sie?
1) Wie = How 2) heissen=call or name 3) Sie = you
Word for word translation: How call you?mini sad face
French translation = Quel est votre nom?
1) Quel = What 2) est = is 3) votre=your 4) nom= name
Word for word translation: What is your name?mini happy face

b) What kind of car do you have?

German translation 1= Was für ein Auto hast du?
Word for word translation 1: What for a car have you? mini sad face
German translation 2= Welches Auto hast du?
Word for word translation 2: Which car have you? mini sad face
Note: “welches” = sometimes “which”; but not here.    
 French translation = Quel genre de voiture avez-vous?                                   Word for word translation:  What kind of car have you?  mini sad face

 c) Which camera do you prefer – the Nikon or the Samsung?  

German translation=Welche Kamera ziehen Sie vor – die Nikon oder Samsung?  
Word for word translation: Which camera pull you ago – the Nikon or Samsungmini sad facemini sad face 
French translation= Quel appareil photo préférez-vous – le Nikon ou le Samsung?
Word for word translation: What camera prefer you – the Nikon or the Samsung?mini sad face
choice of cameras

3 HELPFUL RULES Here are 3 rules for the 3 sample questions (a, b, c) to help you  use “what” and “which” correctly.

What is your name?
Rule 1: When you have many possible answers but you have no idea what the answer could be, we ask with “What?” i.e. I don’t know your name, so I ask: “What is your name?”

What kind of car do you have?
Rule 2: We can use “what” together with + “kind of”. Here again, we use when we have no idea “what kind of” car. We use “kind of” to ask someone to describe the style.

What kind of car – this can be any kind or “style” of car. A race car, an elegant car, an inexpensive car. These are all kinds or styles of cars.

Which camera do you prefer – the Nikon or the Samsung?
Rule 3: We use “which” ONLY when there is a known choice available. There can be 2 or  10: the number of choices doesn’t matter. In short, we use “which” when we see or know specifically the different ones to choose from.

Situation: You are standing in front of a shop window and can see 5 cameras. You ask: “Which camera do you like”? The person replies by pointing “That one looks nice.” There is a limited number of choices and they can be seen.

Final Comments:  So if you ask me, those who speak French win out here.  Don’t you think?

If there are any errors in the French or German translations, please let me know.  I am not completely fluent in French or German, but try my best!  (Thanks to Monika Haenggi for correcting my German.)

Practice Exercise: Fill in the blank with “which” or “what”.  (Answers provided below.

1. _________ time is it?  
2. _________ meeting would you like to attend – the morning or afternoon one?
3. ________ did they say about your report? Did they like it?
4. Can you tell me _________ is the correct answer?
5. __________ contestant do you think will win?  
 Answers to Practice Exercise:
1. What 2. Which 3. What 4. Which or What (Which – if you can see the choices; What – if there are none to choose from)  5. Which (there are a number of contestants you have seen perform)


Free E-Mail Sample: First Contact with a Potential Supplier

5 Steps:

Here are 5 steps that creates a well formed introductory e-mail to a supplier. I’ve listed 8 standard business phrases that are used for these steps:

  1. Introduce your company (No 1-2)
  2. Explain why you are interested in their company/products (No 3-4)
  3. Explain more specifically why you would like to meet (No 5-6)
  4. Request a meeting (No 7)
  5. Close politely (No 8)

8 Useful Formal Phrases:

  1. We will be launching (name of product/service)
  2. Our concept is to…
  3. As you (may) know, …
  4. We feel we have great potential…
  5. We noticed on your website …
  6. … we would be interested in learning more about …
  7. We hope to organize this meeting…
  8. We look forward to hearing from you soon.

E-Mail Sample:

  • To:
  • From: Sun and Shade Shoppe
  • Date:  15 March 20xx

Dear Comfy Home Representative,

We will be launching Sun and Shade Shoppe on Cape Cod at several locations this June.  Our concept is to offer environmentally friendly solutions to summer homeowners.

As you know, Cape Cod is a beach area which is a popular summer tourist attraction. We feel we have great potential in becoming successful if we can offer products that our competitors do not currently have available.

We noticed on your website that you offer several solutions for automatic blinds and awnings and would be very interested in learning more about them. Could we arrange a meeting with a Comfy Home sales representative to show us your latest technology?

We hope to organize this meeting by the end of the month so that our three shops can be fully stocked and employees trained by our launch date: 1 June 20xx.

We look forward to hearing from you soon.

Best regards,

Janice Prommer
Purchasing Manager
Sun and Shade Shoppe

Extra Notes:

The e-mail above  reflects a formal style of writing very similar to what would formerly be written in a letter.

To adapt it to a letter format, you would need to change the address, of course, but also the closing, too.  I would recommend using “Sincerely” instead of “Best regards”.


Feel free to submit your own version to: for corrections and tips.  Please put “E-Mail Sample: First Contact with a Potential Supplier” in the subject box.  I will correct the first 5 e-mails received for free.

If you’re not one of the lucky 5, corrections can be made for a fee of  USD 15.00/CHF15.00 within one week’s time.

Did you find this e-mail sample useful?