Are you looking to boost your business English skills or improve the understanding of common business English expressions of your workforce? We’re here to help!
For both native speakers and non-native speakers, there are always new business expressions, idioms and vocabulary to learn. In this article, we’ll look at 30 essential business English expressions that will help you in any business setting. Let’s get started!
What is Business English?
In the business world, the ability to communicate with confidence in English is essential. Whether you’re applying for a job, working on a presentation or dealing with customers overseas, being able to express yourself clearly, accurately and professionally in English can be the difference between success and failure.
There are many different aspects to Business English, from formal writing skills to learning how to hold a successful conversation or meeting. However, there are also some key business terms and phrases that you need to be aware of in order to sound confident and professional in a business context.
There are also many business idioms in the corporate world, with new phrases and English idioms often using as few words as possible to get the point across in a fast-paced environment, so it’s important to learn some of these key business phrases to improve your workplace communication skills.
When Might Business English Expressions Come in Useful?
The expressions and terms below are commonly used in a variety of business settings, from face-to-face business meetings and conference calls with native English speakers to written correspondence such as emailing and report writing.
As well as being useful in a professional context, many of these phrases can also be applied to other areas of your life, such as dealing with difficult people or handling challenging situations.
Business English could be useful to your company in a number of ways. From a personal development perspective, if you’re looking to progress your career or move into a management position, improving your business English skills with language training or cross-cultural training can give you the edge over other candidates. If you’re self-employed, good business English could also help you to win new clients and contracts.
From a company perspective, if you’re looking to communicate with international clients or expand your business into new markets, having employees who are confident in their business English skills can be a real asset. Good business English can also help to improve communication internationally and within your company and make sure that important messages are conveyed clearly to avoid misunderstandings.
30 Common Business English Expressions You Need To Learn
Some common business English phrases you might need to use or understand in a new job, business meeting or other professional context include:
Example: I wanted to give you a heads up that we’re going to be restructuring the team.
This expression is used to warn someone about something, usually something that will affect them directly. If you’re planning to make a change that will impact someone else, it’s always polite to give them a heads up so they’re not caught off guard.
This expression can also be used more broadly to mean that you’re going to tell someone something or give them some information.
Get up to speed
Example: Can you bring me up to speed on the latest sales figures?
If you’re not familiar with a particular topic or situation, you can ask someone to bring you up to speed. This phrase is often used when you’re joining a team or taking over a project from someone else, and need to quickly get up to date with what’s been happening.
Keep me in the loop
Example: Can you keep me in the loop on any developments with the project?
This phrase is used to ask someone to keep you updated on what’s happening. It’s often used when you’re not directly involved in a particular situation, but need to be kept informed of any progress or changes.
I see your point
Example: I see your point, but we need to consider the impact on our other customers.
This expression is used to agree with someone, but also to raise a counterpoint. It’s a way of acknowledging that someone has a valid argument, while still disagreeing with them.
Address an issue
Example: Can we address the issue of payment terms before we move forward?
If there’s a problem or concern that needs to be dealt with, you can ask to address it. This phrase is often used in a business context, when there’s an obstacle to overcome before making progress.
Example: This proposal is a win-win situation for both our companies.
A win-win situation is one where both parties involved come out ahead or benefit in some way. It’s often used in business to describe a mutually beneficial agreement or deal and can be particularly beneficial when negotiating.
Get the ball rolling
Example: Let’s get the ball rolling on this project by assigning some tasks.
To get the ball rolling means to start something, usually a process or project. This expression is often used when you need to get something moving or to encourage someone else to take action.
Example: We need to push back the deadline for this project by two weeks due to some upcoming events in the 2022 cultural calendar.
To push back means to delay or postpone something. This phrase is often used in a business context, when you need more time to complete a task or deliver a product. To effectively use this phrase, you should be able to follow it up with a justification for the delay.
Move or push something forward
Example: Can we push forward the meeting by an hour? I have another engagement I need to attend.
To push or move something forward in a business context often means to rearrange or schedule something for an earlier date or time. This expression can also be used more broadly to mean making progress on something.
On the same page
Example: I just want to make sure we’re on the same page before we start this project.
If you’re on the same page, it means you agree with or understand someone. This phrase is often used in the business world when you need to make sure everyone involved in a project is in agreement before moving forward. It can be especially important when there are different stakeholders with different objectives.
Stay ahead of the game
Example: We need to stay ahead of the game by constantly innovating and improving our products.
To stay ahead of the game means to be the leader or pioneer in your industry or field. This phrase is often used in business, when you need to maintain a competitive edge. It can also be used more generally to describe someone who’s always ahead of the trends.
Example: One of our main pain points is the lack of customer data we have.
A pain point is a problem or issue that needs to be addressed. This phrase is often used in business to describe a problem that’s causing difficulty or frustration. It can also be used more generally to describe any sort of problem or inconvenience.
Up in the air
Example: The future of the company is up in the air after the announcement of the merger.
If something is up in the air, it means it’s undecided or unsettled. This phrase is often used to describe a situation that’s uncertain or in flux. It can also be used to more generally describe something that’s unresolved or still being determined.
Example: Can you give me a ballpark figure for the cost of this project?
A ballpark figure is an estimate or approximation. This phrase is often used in business when you need to get a sense of the size or scale of something without getting into too much detail. It’s also commonly used more generally to describe an estimate that’s not exact but is close.
In the same boat
Example: We’re all in the same boat when it comes to these budget cuts.
If you’re in the same boat as someone, it means you’re in a similar situation or have something in common. This phrase is often used to describe a shared experience or feeling, especially one that’s difficult or unpleasant.
Go the extra mile
Example: We need to go the extra mile to make sure our customers are happy.
To go the extra mile means to do more than what’s required. This phrase is often used in business when you need to put in extra effort to achieve a goal. It can also be used more generally to describe any situation where someone goes above and beyond.
Take it from there
Example: I’ll give you the general idea and then you can take it from there.
To take it from there means to continue or carry on with something. This phrase is often used when you want someone to finish a task or project that you’ve started. It can also be used more generally to describe taking over or taking charge of something.
Example: We’re barely staying afloat after the last round of layoffs.
To stay afloat means to keep going or keep from sinking. This phrase is often used to describe a difficult or challenging situation, especially one where it’s hard to keep up or make progress. It can also be used to describe a situation in which a business is close to running out of money or ‘going under’.
Pull it off
Example: I don’t know how we’re going to pull it off, but we need to find a way.
To pull something off means to succeed in doing it, especially when it’s difficult or challenging. This phrase is often used when you need to achieve something that seems impossible. It can also be used in a general sense to describe any situation where you succeed in doing something difficult.
To cut corners
Example: We can’t afford to cut corners on this project.
This phrase refers to the idea of taking shortcuts. To cut corners means to do something in a less than ideal way, usually in an effort to save time or money. This phrase is often used when you need to emphasize the importance of doing something properly or not taking shortcuts.
Keep your eye on the ball
Example: We need to keep our eye on the ball if we want to succeed.
This phrase is used to describe the idea of staying focused or keeping track of what’s important. It’s often used as a reminder to pay attention to detail or to stay on task. It can also be used to describe any situation where you need to be careful or stay focused and keep your goals in mind.
Stay on top of it
Example: We need to stay on top of this project or it’s going to get away from us.
To stay on top of something means to keep control of it or keep up with it. This phrase is often used when you’re trying to avoid getting behind or falling behind. This phrase can also be useful when you’re trying to maintain a high level of quality or performance.
To the drawing board
Example: We’ll have to go back to the drawing board on this one.
This phrase is used when something needs to be redesigned or redone. It’s often used when a plan or proposal isn’t working out and you need to start over. It can also be used in general to describe any situation where you need to start over from scratch or keep developing something.
It’s a long shot
Example: It’s a long shot, but let’s give it a go!
A long shot is something that’s unlikely to happen or be successful. This phrase is often used to describe an impossible goal or a situation where the odds are stacked against you. It can also be used to describe any situation where the chances of success are slim, but you’re still going to try.
Example: Can we touch base later? I’m just heading into a meeting.
To touch base means to have a brief conversation or meeting, usually to catch up or check in. This phrase is often used when you need to schedule a meeting or follow up with someone. It can also be helpful to use this phrase when you’re trying to maintain a relationship or keep in touch with someone.
To sign off on something
Example: I’ll need to sign off on this before we can move forward.
To sign off on something means to approve it or give your permission for it. This phrase is often used when you’re trying to get someone’s approval for something. Signing off is a common step in many decision-making processes, so this phrase can be used in a variety of settings.
Thinking outside the box
Example: We need to start thinking outside the box if we want to find a solution.
To think outside the box means to think creatively or differently. This phrase is often used when you’re trying to solve a problem or come up with a new idea. If you need your team to get creative, innovative or just think differently, this phrase can be a helpful reminder.
Pinging an email
Example: I’ll ping you an email with the details.
To ping someone means to send them a message, usually electronically. This phrase is often used when you’re ‘pinging an email’ or text message. It can also be used to describe any situation where you need to contact someone quickly or get their attention, whether it’s by email, instant messenger, or whatever employee communication system your company uses.
Example: Going forward, we’ll need to be more careful about how we handle this.
To go forward means to move ahead or continue. This phrase is often used when you’re trying to make a plan for the future. It can also be used as a reminder that something needs to be done or changed in the future. This phrase can be of great use in the workplace, especially when you’re trying to implement new policies or procedures.
Raising the bar
Example: We need to raise the bar if we want to compete with the other teams.
To raise the bar means to improve or set a higher standard. This phrase is often used when you’re trying to motivate someone or encourage them to do better. It can also be used in general to describe any situation where you’re trying to improve or set a higher standard.
Looking For Expert Support With Your Team’s Business English Skills?
We hope this article has given you some useful phrases to use with your team. If you’re looking for expert support with your team’s business English skills, we can help. We offer a range of language services and training methods, from one-on-one coaching to group training.
At SIMON & SIMON, our Business English Training is designed to help your team members improve their English skills in the workplace. Our courses cover a wide range of topics, from basic grammar and vocabulary to more advanced business English skills. We can also tailor our courses to your team’s specific needs and objectives.