Cover Page

Related Titles

Thiemann, F., Cullen, P.M., Klein, H. (eds.)

Molekulare Diagnostik

Grundlagen der Molekularbiologie, Genetik und Analytik

Zweite Auflage

Print ISBN: 978-3-527-33502-2 (auch in elektronischer Form erhältlich)


Eckhardt, S., Gottwald, W., Stieglitz, B.

1 × 1 der Laborpraxis

Prozessorientierte Labortechnik für Studium und Berufsausbildung

Zweite Auflage

Print ISBN: 978-3-527-31657-1 (auch in elektronischer Form erhältlich)

Steven L. Hanft

Fachenglisch für Laborberufe

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When compared with English, the German language and its lengthy verbatim deals a blow to English speaking natives, but undeniably, English is the lingua franca for global business communication. Airlines and airport control personnel, international trade shows or sporting events (World Cup Football, Olympics, European-wide track and field, etc.), life sciences (medical, pharma, biotech), “Rock ‘n’ Roll” music, NATO, as well as the chemical industries rely on English as the common language.

In fact, Webster's Third New International Dictionary, together with its 1993 Addenda section includes some 470,000 word entries (vocabulary).

The Oxford English Dictionary, Second Edition, reports that it includes a similar or comparable number of words.

According to Goethe Institute's Web site, “The German language is constantly producing new words,” known as neologisms. Yet it may take several years for a word to be included in the Duden dictionary and various criteria also have to be fulfilled. It is a well-known fact that philologists are cautious to comment on how many words exist in the German language… 200 000, 300 000, or even 500 000? It's hard to say, is what you always hear.

But what is clear is that German, as well as French loan words exist in the English language. Some examples of German loan words to English are the following (further discussed in Section 75):

Fachenglische für Laborberufe (Technical English for Laboratory Personnel) is a practical instructing manual specifically for the German-speaking market and with its goal to support one's English communication skills for everyday use.

Target groups (Zielgruppen): Management, Science, and Technical Personnel, Administration Personnel

Customer Service Kundenbetreuung, Kundendienst
Documentation Dokumentation
Procurement, International Sales, and Marketing Einkauf Material- und Rohstoffeinkäufer
Production Produktionsleitung und -assistenten
Quality Departments: Quality Assurance, Quality Control, Quality Person Qualitätsleiter und Mitarbeiter
Occupational Safety Arbeitsschutz
R&D (lab managers, lab assistants-/technicians) F&E, Laborleiter, Laboranten,
Regulatory Affairs, Product Safety Bereichsverantwortliche für REACH, CPR, Produktsicherheit, Dokumentation, Kundendienst

Laboratory personnel from the following industries should consider using this book's practical approach:

Chemical industry Chemikalen Industrien
Life science industries; pharmaceutical, biotechnological, medical Life-Science-Industrien: Pharma and Biotechnologie, medizinisch personal
Food and nutrition Lebensmittel and Ehrnährungsmittel
Cosmetic, personal care, consumer health, household products Kosmetik-, Kőrperpflege, Verbraucher Gesundheit, Haushaltsprodukten
Testing laboratories Prüflabor

This practical innovative teaching manual will provide you with instruction and guidance for:

Authored by an English/German speaker, who is a certified NY State Biology Educator with decades of industry experience as a former specialty chemical sales and marketing manager for a top chemical processor in the New York City metro region; to our knowledge, no book of this kind exists for the German-speaking nations or regions of Europe.

Based on the author's professional experience in developing and implementing a proven curriculum for German-speaking laboratory personnel, this book's topics were selected because of practical work with German-speaking laboratory personnel.

It's been my observation that the method of instructing English is often attempted by non-native speaking educators and without international business experience; thus, the goal here is to stimulate the reader to learn technical English from a more focused perspective. With a little perseverance, you will enjoy and benefit rapidly from this approach, Der Mut verließ ihn, üben, üben, üben… Viele Glück/Good luck

Steven L. Hanft, M.A., President, CONUSBAT (

Symbols used in this book

aka = also known as
Ans.: = Answer
conc. = concentration
ex. = example
fyi = for your information
i.e. = id est (for instance)
Pt. = Point, as in freezing or boiling point (pt.)
TM = trade mark
vs. = versus (gegen)
§ = law, regulation

Grammar symbols used in this book

AmE American-English
BrE British-English
pl. plural
s. singular
n. noun
v. verb
adj. adjective
adv. adverb

Math symbols used in this book

increase or uptake as in Oxygen (O2)
decrease or poor intake as in Oxygen (O2)
greater than or equal to
less than or equal to


My deep gratitude and thanks goes out to the following people for helping me to write this book.

Firstly, I wish to thank my wife, Annelie Struessmann, who spent endless hours on what she says is my “hobby,” namely, business communication skills workshops for the German-speaking markets. As a Muttersprachlerin, Annelie's guidance, understanding of the German chemical industry and expertise in EU/Global chemical regulations helped immensely. How she put up with me during the time for writing this book remains a mystery!

Also, I wish to thank the following family members and mentors for their help, guidance, and support:

Grünenthal Pharma GmbH, Aachen, Germany laboratory personnel:

Two dear friends of mine from the New York City metro area:

Last but not least, guidance from two Wiley & Sons, Weinheim, Germany, employees:

So, I wish you the reader success in using this practical approach, üben, üben, üben!

.... “Alevivo,” a New York summer camp chant.

Steven L. Hanft, M.A., President, CONUSBAT, Aachen, Germany

English Grammar 101

1.1 Parts of Speech: Noun, Pronoun, Adjective, Verb, Adverb, and so on

When putting your words together to form sentences, would you agree that it is important to know “the parts of speech” used in the sentence or paragraph you are writing? This means knowing if the word in the sentence is a noun, pronoun, verb, adverb, adjective, gerund, conjunction, preposition, or interjection.


What parts of speech are the following words (noun, verb, adjective, etc.)?

  1. 1. analyzing ____________
  2. 2. beaker ____________
  3. 3. to measure ___________
  4. 4. red _________
Answers to the above:
  1. 1. Gerund, analyzing is an action word, where a verb is transformed into a noun.
  2. 2. Noun, a beaker is an object.
  3. 3. Verb, measure is used in its infinitive form.
  4. 4. Red describes the color of an object, and therefore is an adjective.

1.1.1 Noun = Subject (Person, Place, Thing)

  • The cat sat on the mat.
  • George Washington was America's first President.

1.1.2 Pronoun = Expresses a Distinction of a Person

Pronoun as subject Pronoun as object Possessive pronoun Reflexive pronoun
I Me Mine Myself
You You Yours Yourself
He Him His Himself
She Her Hers Herself
It It Its Itself
We Us Ours Ourselves
You You Yours Yourselves
They Them Theirs Themselves

1.1.3 Adjective = Words That Describe or Modify a Noun

  • The good, the bad, and the ugly.
  • The idea is cool, yet crazy!
  • She has five shirts, and two are red and the rest are green.

1.1.4 Verb = Action Word

  • She washed her automobile.
  • Did you bring your language dictionaries to this workshop?
  • To be or to have, shall/should, will/would, can/may, and so on.

Verb infinitives (the verb in its basic form: To be, to love, to have, to perceive, to say, to speak, to ski, to run, and so on. The Use of the Two Verbs; Can vs. May

Can (können) May (dürfen)
Can you work in my lab today? (ability) • You too may borrow my HPLC. (permission)
Can you do me a favor? (could) • Due to the late scheduling of the symposium,I may arrive late. (possibility)
• Reminder.…May, the month is a noun!(months are capitalized!)

When using the rules from above, the choice between can or may, is not so obvious in the sentences below.

  1. Which word would you choose?
    1. 1. Can or May I have food served in the conference room?
    2. 2. Yes, you can or may make arrangements with the onsite cafe.
    3. 3. Restaurant guests can or may have their parking tickets validated.
  2. For the sentences above, does the meaning involve ability, possibility, or permission?
  3. Some people would say each one involves ability. For example:
    1. 1. Am I able to have food served in the conference room?
    2. 2. Yes, you are able to make arrangements with the onsite cafe.
    3. 3. Restaurant guests are able to have their parking tickets validated.
  4. Yet, some people would say each one involves ability. For example:
    1. 1. Am I permitted to have food served in the conference room?
    2. 2. Yes, you are permitted to make arrangements with the onsite cafe.
    3. 3. Restaurant guests are permitted to have their parking tickets validated.

1.1.5 Adverb = Words That Modify a Verb

  • Quickly, the oil flowed through the drilling pipe.
  • The meeting went well.
  • The concert was beautifully performed.
  • Sam asked Jean, “How are you doing after surgery?” Jean replied, “I'm doing incredibly well! Good (adj.) vs. Well (adv.)

Two special words, which are easily confused

Incorrect usage Correct usage
I did good on the test. I did well on the test.
She played the game good. She played the game well.
Usage of Good versus Well – exceptions
  1. 1. “Well” may be used when describing if something is proper, healthy, or suitable. As in, “I am well (healthy) today.” However, an exception to this is the following: How are you feeling? I feel good. (think of James Brown's soul song, “I Feel Good”)
  2. 2. Another way well may be used is when starting a sentence such as, “Well, that explains everything.” In this case, well means “Of course” or “Yes.”

1.1.6 Gerund = Using -ing, an Action Word, a Verb Becomes a Noun

Swimming and reading are both fun!


1.1.7 Prepositions Indicate a Relation Between Things

Common prepositions used: of, in, with, on, about, beneath, against, beside, over, during, throughBrE versus thruAmE.

  • The weather in May in Chicago is generally quite pleasant.
  • On Tuesday, she was declared the winner of the election.
  • The biochemistry book was taken away from the student. Between (zwischen) vs. Among (unter); two confusing prepositions

  1. 1. between (used with either two people or things)
    1. a. Between you and me, I think we can solve the problem easily!
    2. b. The Pyrenees mountain chain lies between Spain and France.
  2. 2. Among, amongst (used with three or more people or things).
    1. a. Among the three of us, I am sure we can resolve the issue between them.
    2. b. Living in the rain forest amongst other wild animals, gorillas continue to endure.

1.1.8 Conjunctions Connect Two Words, Phrases, or Clauses

  • And: presents non-contrasting item(s) or idea(s); “They gamble, and they smoke.”
  • But: presents a contrast or exception; “They gamble, but they don't smoke.”
  • Nor (neither): presents a non-contrasting negative idea; “They don't gamble, nor do they smoke.”
  • Or: presents an alternative item or idea; “Every day they gamble, or they smoke.”
  • Yet: presents a contrast or exception; “They gamble, yet they don't smoke.”
  • So: presents a consequence; “He gambled well last night, so he smoked a cigar to celebrate.”
  • For: presents a reason; “He is gambling with his health, for he has been smoking far too long in his life.” (though “for” is more commonly used as a preposition).

1.1.9 Interjections: Words of Exclamation, Interjections or Expressions of an Emotion or Sentiment

Some examples of interjections:

  • Cheers! Congratulations! Hooray!
  • Oh my! Oh dear! Oh my God!
  • Uh? Ha! Hey, that's mine!
  • Excuse me! Sorry! No thank you!

1.2 Practical Usage of Adjectives and Their Comparative and Superlative Forms

1.2.1 Citius, Altius, Fortius! (Faster, Higher, Stronger!)

Such is the motto of the modern day Olympics, and a good way to look at this chapter's topic, Comparative and superlative adjectives. In German language, one is familiar with these examples of comparatives and superlatives:

  1. 1. gut, besser, am besten.
  2. 2. hoch, höher, am höchsten.
  3. 3. kalt, kälter, am kältesten.

In English grammar, the comparative and superlative of an adjective or adverb is the greatest form it can have, which indicates that something has some feature to a greater degree than anything it is being compared to in a given context.

Example of using a superlative: Adam is 45, Bess is 35, and Chris is 25; thus, Adam is the oldest of the three.

Naturally, the goal of this book is to help apply one's technical English with practical situations that may arise in the laboratory and beyond. Thus, some examples of comparatives and superlatives expressed in a fictional laboratory situation or setting might be:

  • The substance in the graduated cylinder is colder than the liquid in the beaker.
  • Of all the other potential ingredients used in the formula, this sugar is the sweetest in taste, and whitest in color.
  • A six-carbon chain (hexane) is longer than the five-carbon chain (pentane).
  • The precipitate from the reaction is the least amount produced from the three pilot runs performed today! One-Syllable Adjectives

Form the comparative and superlative forms of a one-syllable adjective by adding -er for the comparative form and -est for the superlative.

One-syllable adjective Comparative form Superlative form
Cool/warm Cooler/warmer Coolest/warmest
Cold/hot Colder/hotter Coldest/hottest
Long/short Longer/shorter Longest/shortest
Old/young Older/younger Oldest/youngest
Rich/poor Richer/poorer Richest/poorest
Sweet Sweeter Sweetest
Tall/short Taller/shorter Tallest/shortest
  • Mary is richer than Max.
  • Of all the students, Joan is the tallest and the coolest.
  • That history lesson is the longest one I've ever heard.
  • Of the three workers, Mary is the oldest.

If the one-syllable adjective ends with an e, just add -r for the comparative form and -st for the superlative form.

One-syllable adjective with final -e Comparative form Superlative form
Large Larger Largest
Wise Wiser Wisest
  • Mary's car is larger than Max's car.
  • Mary's house is the tallest of all the houses on the block.
  • Max is wiser than his brother.
  • Max is the wisest person I know.

If the one-syllable adjective ends with a single consonant with a vowel before it, double the consonant and add -er for the comparative form; and double the consonant and add -est for the superlative form.

One-syllable adjective ending with a single consonant with a single vowel before it Comparative form Superlative form
Big Bigger Biggest
Fat Fatter Fattest
Sad Sadder Saddest
Thin Thinner Thinnest
  • My dog is the biggest of all the dogs in the neighborhood.
  • Max is thinner than John.
  • Of all the students in the class, Max is the thinnest.
  • My mother is fatter than your mother.
  • Mary is the fattest person I've ever seen. Two-Syllable Adjectives

With most two-syllable adjectives, you form the comparative with more and the superlative with most.

Two-syllable adjective Comparative form Superlative form
Beautiful More beautiful Most beautiful
Careful More careful Most careful
Peaceful More peaceful Most peaceful
Pleasant More pleasant Most pleasant
Thoughtful More thoughtful Most thoughtful
  • This morning is more peaceful than yesterday morning.
  • Max's house in the mountains is the most peaceful in the world.
  • Max is more careful than Mike.
  • Of all the taxi drivers, Jack is the most careful.
  • Jill is more thoughtful than your sister.
  • Mary is the most thoughtful person I've ever met.

If the two-syllable adjectives ends with -y, change the y to i and add -er for the comparative form. For the superlative form change the y to i and add -est.

Two-syllable adjective ending with -y Comparative form Superlative form
Angry Angrier Angriest
Busy Busier Busiest
Funny Funnier Funniest
Happy Happier Happiest
Pretty Prettier Prettiest
  • John is happier today than he was yesterday.
  • John is the happiest boy in the world.
  • Max is angrier than Mary.
  • Of all of John's victims, Max is the angriest.
  • Mary is busier than Max.
  • Mary is the busiest person I've ever met.

Two-syllable adjectives ending in -er, -le, or -ow take -er and -est to form the comparative and superlative forms.

Two-syllable adjective ending with -er, -le, or -ow Comparative form Superlative form
Narrow Narrower Narrowest
Gentle Gentler Gentlest
  • The roads in this town are narrower than the roads in the city.
  • This road is the narrowest of all the roads in California.
  • Big dogs are gentler than small dogs.
  • Of all the dogs in the world, English Mastiffs are the gentlest. Adjectives with Three or More Syllables

For adjectives with three syllables or more, you form the comparative with more and the superlative with most.

Adjective with three or more syllables Comparative form Superlative form
Dangerous More dangerous Most dangerous
Generous More generous Most generous
Important More important Most important
Intelligent More intelligent Most intelligent
  • John is more generous than Jack.
  • John is the most generous of all the people I know.
  • Health is more important than money.
  • Of all the people I know, Max is the most important.
  • Women are more intelligent than men.
  • Mary is the most intelligent person I've ever met. Exceptions – Irregular Adjectives

Irregular adjective Comparative form Superlative form
Bad Worse Worst
Far Farther Farthest
Good Better Best
Little Less Least
Many More Most
  • Italian food is better than American food.
  • My dog is the best dog in the world.
  • My mother's cooking is worse than your mother's cooking.
  • Of all the students in the class, Max is the worst.

Some two-syllable adjectives follow two rules. These adjectives can be used with -er and -est as well as with more and most.

Two-syllable adjective Comparative form Superlative form
Clever Cleverer Cleverest
Clever More clever Most clever
Gentle Gentler Gentlest
Gentle More gentle Most gentle
Friendly Friendlier Friendliest
Friendly More friendly Most friendly
Quiet Quieter Quietest
Quiet More quiet Most quiet
Simple Simpler Simplest
Simple More simple Most simple
  • Big dogs are gentler than small dogs.
  • Of all the dogs in the world, English Mastiffs are the gentlest.
  • Big dogs are more gentle than small dogs.
  • Of all the dogs in the world, English Mastiffs are the most gentle.

1.2.2 QUIZ YOURSELF: Practical Usage of Adjectives and Their Comparative and Superlative Forms Part I: Answer the Following Questions in the Space Provided

  1. 1. Write the comparative: for example, old, older, oldest
    1. a. good, ______ best
    2. b. strong, ______ strongest
    3. c. happy, _____ happiest
    4. d. important, _____ most important
    5. e. large, ________ largest
    6. f. bad, ________ worst.
  2. 2. Complete the sentences with a superlative: for example, This building is very old. It's the oldest building in the town.
    1. a. It was a very happy day. It was __________ of my life.
    2. b. “Casablanca” with Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman is a very good film. It's ________ I've seen.
    3. c. That was a very bad mistake. It was _________ in my life.
    4. d. Yesterday was a very cold day. It was _________ of the year.
    5. e. She's a popular singer. She's _________ in the country.
  3. 3. Complete the sentences with the correct form of the adjective in [brackets]: for example, We like wearing the [late] clothing fashion. We like wearing the latest clothing fashion.
    1. a. These trousers are ____________________ [comfortable] than those jeans.
    2. b. She is ______________________ [happy] now than he was last year.
    3. c. You are the ________________________ [pretty] girl in class.
    4. d. The red dress is the ______________________ [attractive] in the shop.
    5. e. Your hair is ____________________ [curly] than my hair.
    6. f. My hair is ______________________ [short] than yours. Part II: Quiz Based on Text Below – First Read the Paragraph Below and Then Write the Adjective in [Brackets] into its Correct Comparative or Superlative Form in the Spaces Below

The fortune 500 firm's quarterly report shows that sales figures were 1[high] than the previous quarter. Due to the growing economy of our nation, this is no surprise, but what is 2[interesting] is the addition of clients coming from other industry sectors. Although 3[cheap] products exist on the market from other 4[big] suppliers, service is the 5[important] factor for the consumer.

  1. 1. ___________
  2. 2. ___________
  3. 3. ___________
  4. 4. ___________
  5. 5. ___________

1.3 Use of Questioning Words for the Inquisitive Lab Worker

Would you agree that in your line of work, asking pertinent questions are important? I'm sure you answered, Yes! Since questions are required for research and the results they provide, lets explain in detail how questioning words are used to ask about specific qualities, times, places, people, and so on, especially as improving daily usage of these words as parts of speech will make your interaction with your English speaking colleagues much easier. Firstly, questioning words are different from Yes/No questions such as:

Is it your birthday? Thus, would you like an HPLC wrapped as a gift for your birthday? Joking here, but hope you get the point that these are considered Yes/No questions.

1.3.1 What are the Questioning Words Used in Speech?

What are Typical Questioning Words?

  • Who versus Whom: Ask yourself if the answer to the question would be, he/she or him/her. If you can answer the question with he/she, then use who; him/her, then use whom. Two examples are the following:
    • “To [who or whom] did the prize go too? It went to him.” It is improper to say “It went to he.” The correct pronoun for the question is, whom.
    • “[Who or Whom] went to the store? He went to the store.” It is improper to say “Him went to the store.” The correct pronoun for the question is who.
  • What happened or what's the story about?
  • Where did it take place?
  • When did it take place?
  • Why did it happen?
  • How did it happen?
  • Which one was it?
  • Whose pants (slacks; Hose) are those?
  • How much money did your new computer cost?
  • How many computers did you buy?

These three questions words can cause problems for anyone. After all, who (English) is close in spelling to wo (German), but their pronunciation as well as meaning are totally different! Similarly, where (English) can be confused with wer (German), and potentially also for when (English) vs. wann (German).

1.3.2 Questioning Words; Further Applications in Sentence Form – Practical Use of Questioning Words

  1. 1a  Who? Use who when referring to the subject of a sentence or phrase.
    • Who brought the paper inside?
    • Who talked to you today?
  2. 1b  Whom? Use whom when referring to the object of a verb.
    • For a business letter: To whom it may concern: (Wen es betreffen mag)
    • To whom did you talk today? (Mit wem…?)
    • Whom does Sarah love? (Wen…?)
  3. 2  What? Use what when asking about things or activities.
    • What does he do on the weekends? (Was….?)
    • What is that? (Was…?)
    • What planet do we live on? (Auf welchem…?)
  4.   What kind? What type? To be used when asking about specific things or characteristics.
    • What type of car do you drive? (Welches? Was für ein …?)
    • What kind of person is he? (Was für eine.. Welche Persönlichkeit hat er?)
  5.   What time? To be used when asking for a specific time.
    • What time is it? (Wie spät ist es? Wieviel Uhr ist es?)
    • What time does the show begin? (Zu welcher Zeit beginnt die Show? Um wieviel Uhr…?)
  6.   What … like? To be used when asking about characteristics.
    • What was the weather like? (Wie?)
    • What is Mary like? What is Mary's personality? (Was für eine Person ist..? oder Welche Persönlichkeit hat …?)
  7. 3  Where? To be used when asking about places.
    • Where do you live?
  8. 4  When? To be used when asking about general or specific times.
    • When would you like going out to dinner?
  9. 5  Why? To be used when wondering about something.
    • On a clear day, why is the Earth's atmosphere bluish in color?
  10. 6  How? To be used when combined with many words to ask questions about specific characteristics, qualities, quantities, and so on. For example,
    • How much does it cost? (Wieviel?)
    • How often do you go to the movies? (Wie oft?)
    • How long was the film? (Wie lang?)
  11. 7  Which? To be used when asking to specify a thing or person from a number of things or people.
    • Which book did you buy? (Welches?)