Correcting Adidas CEO Herbert Hainer’s Business English

Correcting Adidas CEO Herbert Hainer’s Business English

Published: Mar, 27, 2017 | By: Lucas Weaver

Herbert Hainer was the CEO of Adidas for over 30 years until he retired last year and was succeeded by Kasper Rorsted. This interview from Hainer was on Bloomberg in March of 2016 in which he discussed Adidas’ plans to sell their golf division, Taylor Made.

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In the video above, Hainer made a few English mistakes, and I’ve explained them below.

Past Simple: Twelve seconds into the video, Herbert says “Six months ago we take the golf business…. we rebuild it.” Since Mr. Hainer is talking about what they did in the past, what he should have said was “Six months ago we

Since Mr. Hainer is talking about what they did in the past, what he should have said was “Six months ago we

“Six months ago we took the golf business… we rebuilt it.”

This uses the Past Simple since he is talking about events that happened in the past and did not continue up to now.

Gerunds vs. Infinitives: At the 30-second mark, Mr. Hainer states:

“We will start to negotiating”

Here, he mixes the gerund (verb ending in ing) and the infinitive (to negotiate.)

He should have either said “We will start to negotiate” or “We will start negotiating.”

You never put the word “to” before a gerund.

Prepositions: At the 2:42 mark, Herbert talking about Adidas’ success said:

“But it’s not only to China.”

But when talking about a place where you are having success. You would say:

“But it’s not only in China.”

You ship things to China, but you have success in China.

Determiners: Around the 2:58 mark Hainer says:“The desirability of our brand is such (so) high” 2:58

“The desirability of our brand is such high.”

But the way he used “such” was incorrect. Without using an article like “a” you would have to say:

The desirability of our brand is so high.”

Or, with a preposition you could say:

“The desirability of our brand is at such a high level.”

Present Continuous vs. Present Simple: Towards the end of the interview (3:36), Herbert talks about why Adidas is able to price their clothing at a higher level in China.

The reason for their higher pricing opportunity in China, Herbert says:

“The Chinese consumer are highly appreciating our brand.”

But in that statement, he used the Present Continuous (ending in the ing.) He should have used the Present Simple:

“The Chinese consumer highly appreciates our brand.”

When you use the “ing” ending you make it sound like it’s a temporary situation. What he means is that the Chinese consumers more long term have been appreciating their brand. It’s not a temporary situation that will be ending soon (at least so they hope.)

When you analyze how these top-level CEO’s speak English you can learn how to fix their mistakes and improve your own English. You can find more interviews like these on
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Lucas Weaver from the Weaver School

Lucas Weaver founded The Weaver School in 2016. He's passionate about using the latest learnings in neuroscience and education to create the best language learning experience possible for our students, so they can quickly build effective language learning habits that will last for years. Lucas is a graduate of Texas A&M University and after 7 years of living in the Netherlands, he is currently traveling through Southeast Asia while learning their languages along the way.

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