22 Business English Expressions You Can’t Live Without (And how to use them) (2023)

22 Business English Expressions You Can’t Live Without (And how to use them) (1)

Lesson by Kerin. Updated Feb 2022

Learn Business English expressions to improve the way you work in English

This post includes a free guide: 15 Expressions to make your English more professional and sophisticated

22 Business English Expressions You Can’t Live Without (And how to use them) (2)

Why is it a good idea to learn Business English expressions and idioms?

When you hear native English speakers talk about business they come across asprofessionalandpoliteat the same time. That’sbecause they use business English expressions, idiomsorbusiness termsthat aresuccinct,conciseand suitable toexpresstheir opinions.

By learning business English expressions you will improve yourcomprehensionand also upgrade yourspeakingfluencytoo!

Business English Expressions to make your English level advanced

For non-native speakers of English,idioms,expressionsandphrasal verbscan be really difficult tounderstandand sometimes even more difficult touse, especially inworkcontexts.

In order toreachandmaintainanadvancedlevel of English, it isessentialthat you make learning this kind ofvocabularypart of your English studyroutine.

In this article, you’ll learn22 common business English expressionsthat you are very likely to hear in thebusinessworld, but most of them you’ll also come across in social (general English) situations too.

Let’s get started!

22 Business English Expressions You Can’t Live Without (And how to use them) (3)

1. A heads up

If you give someone a heads up, youinformorwarnsomeonein advanceof something so that they can prepare themselves.

Business Example>“Heads up Bob! The VP of Finance is coming from NY today and he’ll expect to see the office in perfect state”

General Example>“Just want to give you a heads up – I don’t think Jane was very happy with what you said last night at dinner. You might want to call her and clear the air.”

(Video) 50 Advanced Business English Phrases and Expressions You Should Know

2. Address an issue

When youdecideit’stimetodiscussaproblem, you can use ‘address the issue’. It means that it’s time toacknowledge itandfocuson it for a fair amount of time, hopefully to find a solution. It is fairly formal and would mainly be used in a business or in a formal setting, rather than in social contexts.

Business Example>“I think it’s time that we address the issue of budget cuts”.

General Example>“I welcome this opportunity to address an issue in which Parliament has always shown a great interest.”

3. Get the ball rolling

Get the ball rolling means tobeginorstartsomething so that someprogresscan be made; usually before the beginning of the implementation of a project, when it’s time to startdoingsome actual work rather than just talking about it!

Business example>“What can I do to get the ball rolling on the Japan project?”

General Example>“Joelle got the ball rolling and booked a table for our first book-club meet-up.”

22 Business English Expressions You Can’t Live Without (And how to use them) (4)

4. Pull it off

Pull it offmeans tosucceedin doing somethingdifficultorunexpected.You ‘pull it off’ for example, when you weren’t prepared to answer a question but you managed to say something clever:

Business example>“He wasn’t prepared on the subject but he pulled it off thanks to his broad knowledge of the sector and quick thinking.”

General example>“Have you heard about the surprise party Jack is planning for Marie? It’s an ambitious plan, so let’s see if he can really pull it off!”

5. Pain point

Apain pointis aspecific problemthatprospective customersof your business areexperiencing. It is used widely used as synonym of problem to solve. Usually a reason to ask for consultancy or development. This is mainly a business expression and it would be unusual to hear used in a general English context.

Business examples>

Very simply used in a question such as:“What are the pain points in your department?”

“We can’t ignore that there are some pain points that need to beaddressed*”.

*see number 2

6. Catch up on (something)

This phrasal verbs means to do something that youhavenotbeenabletodorecently. NOTE this is a multi-word verb with two prepositions: up + on

Business example>“I’ve been so busy with endless meetings, I really need to catch up on my emails”.

General example>“I have to catch up on Killing Eve!”

7. Catch up (with somebody)

Catch up or catch up WITHmeans getting an update or exchanging updated info.

Business example>“I need to catch up with Erika about her project.”

(Video) 22 English Expressions You SHOULD Know - My Conversation With a Native Speaker

General example>“Come over tomorrow and we can catch up.”

8. Up in the air

This means when things arehighlyuncertainanddecisionshavenotbeenmade

Business example>“There are too many things up in the air at the minute so we haven’t signed the contract yet.”

General English>“We still don’t know what we’re doing this summer because things with Tom’s job are so up in the air.”

9. Get up to speed

Means tohaveall thelatestinformation.

Business example>“Now that Marc is onboard we need to get him up to speed on the project, so he can start working on it.”

General example>“I’m not up to speed on the latest series of Downton Abbey!”

10. I could use a … / I could do with a …

This is a very common expression to say youwouldwelcomesomething, or that youwishfor something. It expresses a feeling in a very polite way.

Business example>“Are you all set Mark?”

“Actually,I could use a handwith analysing this research. There’s a lot more than we anticipated.”

General example>

“I could use a hand in the kitchen please!”

“I could do with a holiday”

11. Ballpark figure

Ballpark figure =rough estimate

Business example> I’ll need to go away and cost this out carefully, but as a ballpark figure I’d say that it’ll be about 1.5 million euros.

12. Take it from there

(Let’s) take it from there =when you don’t knowexactlyhow an activity will play outafter a certain moment.

Business example> Let’s complete the the initial analysis of the new product and then we will take it from there.

13. Stay afloat

To stay afloat = having enough money to pay what you owe.

(Video) TOP Advanced adjectives to describe a person In English | Advanced English

Business example> When a company is at risk or the market is particularly adverse, it is important to stay afloat to survive.

14. Not going to fly

Not / ain’t going to fly = a proposal or something else, that we know is not going to be approved.

Business example> I doubt this proposal is going to fly with the boss.

15. I see your point

This is a polite business English expression; a good way to use polite and diplomatic English to interrupt someone.

Business example >I see your point, but allow me to express my view = useful when someone is hijacking the conversation or is not letting you talk!

16. Keep one’s eye on the ball

Keep one’s eye on the ball = when you want someone to focus on the goal

Business example> Keep your eye on the ball and you won’t miss out.

17. Push back

Push back = to delay something so that it happens later than planned

Business example> I had to push back the request to increase the effort by 20%, we are already at full capacity and we don’t have room for a further increase of the workload.

Check your learning

18. Move forward or push forward

Move forward or push forward = when a meeting or something else, should be done sooner than planned.

Business example> I’ve pushed forward the meeting to Wednesday so that Elena can attend.

19 Tackle a problem

This phrase is similar to the phrase above, so to deal with/confront a problem.

Tackle is one of the several expressions that are derived from the football field. See also keep an eye on the ball or get the ball rolling.

21. What do you make of ….?

What do you make of ….? = when you want to enquire about the view of someone on something, but it is usually something that you don’t fully understand or not agree with.

Business example> “What do you make of the new guy?”“He’s a little quirky, but I think he’s nice enough.”

22. Be on top of it!

Be on top of it! = to be able to control a situation and deal with it successfully. You need to be on top of the project to ensure its success.

Business example> “You really have to be on top of things if you want the project to be a success!”

Your turn to use these Business English Expressions

Hi! I hope you found this post useful. Are you feeling up to achallenge?!

(Video) Debbie Gibson - Lost In Your Eyes (Official Music Video)

Chooseexpressions that you liked from the list andwritesentences demonstrating how you would use them. Try to think ofsituationsfromworkand also from social contexts.

If you feel brave,shareone of your sentences with us in thecomments.

And don’t forget to download our cheat sheet! You’ll get 15 examples of how to use these expressions so that your English is more sophisticated and professional.

22 Business English Expressions You Can’t Live Without (And how to use them) (5)

Speak soon,


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(Video) 21 Professional English Expressions You Should Know


What are some of the phrases and words commonly used in business and social settings? ›

The most common phrases
  • Win-win: A situation or result that is beneficial/good for everyone (involved).
  • Think outside the box: Thinking differently, creatively, outside of normal possibilities.
  • Going forward: From now on. ...
  • Reach out: Attempt to communicate. ...
  • Touch base : Briefly make or renew contact with someone.
6 Apr 2017

How can I improve my business English vocabulary? ›

Improve your Business Vocabulary
  1. Forget translating. Learn to understand business terms directly in English without even translating them in your mind. ...
  2. Create your own mini-dictionary. ...
  3. Start with what you know. ...
  4. Listen out for business talk. ...
  5. Read about business. ...
  6. Focus on pronunciation. ...
  7. Fun quizzes.
15 May 2018

What are the most common expressions in English? ›

Common English idioms & expressions
Every cloud has a silver liningGood things come after bad things
Get a taste of your own medicineGet treated the way you've been treating others (negative)
Give someone the cold shoulderIgnore someone
Go on a wild goose chaseTo do something pointless
55 more rows

What are the 20 examples of idioms? ›

Here are 20 English idioms that everyone should know:
  • Under the weather. What does it mean? ...
  • The ball is in your court. What does it mean? ...
  • Spill the beans. What does it mean? ...
  • Break a leg. What does it mean? ...
  • Pull someone's leg. What does it mean? ...
  • Sat on the fence. What does it mean? ...
  • Through thick and thin. ...
  • Once in a blue moon.
23 Feb 2022

What are the 20 idioms with meaning? ›

20 Idioms With Their Meanings and Sentences
  • Adding insult to injury – Make things worse. ...
  • Beat around the bush – Avoid saying something. ...
  • Blessing in disguise – An unexpectedly good thing. ...
  • Birds of a feather flock together – People with a lot in common become good friends. ...
  • Biting off more than you can chew - Be overwhelmed.
15 Oct 2020

What other expressions are commonly used in workplace? ›

15 Idiomatic Expressions to Use at Work
  • put something off. If you put something off, you delay doing it. ...
  • take off. If something takes off, it increases or becomes popular very quickly. ...
  • people person. ...
  • crunch the numbers. ...
  • have a lot on your plate. ...
  • selling like hotcakes. ...
  • think outside the box. ...
  • win-win situation.

What are the magic words in customer service? ›

25 Professional Customer Service Phrases That Work Like Magic
  • Happy to help!
  • I see what you mean.
  • Thanks for reaching out.
  • I totally understand.
  • I'm not sure, let's find out.
  • I know this must be frustrating.
  • I'm sorry to hear that you're having trouble with this!
  • We're working on a solution for this.

What are the words used in business communication? ›

Business communication in meetings
Asking for an opinion– How do you feel about…?
Agreeing– That's the way I feel/think, etc. – I have to agree with you.
Disagreeing– That is a valid point, but… – I respect your point of view, but…
Suggesting– Why don't we… – How about…
3 more rows
20 Jan 2022

How can I talk like a professional in English? ›

7 tips on speaking English fluently and confidently
  1. Don't be afraid to make mistakes. Your goal is to deliver a message, not speak perfect English, with the right grammar and vocabulary. ...
  2. Practise, practise, practise. Practice makes perfect. ...
  3. Listen. ...
  4. Celebrate success.

How can I improve my professional English speaking skills? ›

But like any other skill, you can improve your spoken English if you practise regularly and follow these simple techniques.
  1. Listen. The first step in improving your speaking skills is actually working on your listening. ...
  2. Imitate. ...
  3. Read. ...
  4. Reflect. ...
  5. Prepare. ...
  6. Speak. ...
  7. Practise.
18 Oct 2021

How can I improve my professional English skills? ›

7 Ways to Quickly Improve Your English Language Skills
  1. Watch movies in English. ...
  2. Immerse yourself in English language news. ...
  3. Start a vocabulary book of useful words. ...
  4. Have conversations in English. ...
  5. Practice, practice, practice. ...
  6. Curiosity doesn't always kill the cat. ...
  7. Don't forget to have fun while you learn.

What are 5 positive quotes? ›

100 Inspirational Quotes
  • "When you have a dream, you've got to grab it and never let go." ...
  • "Nothing is impossible. ...
  • "There is nothing impossible to they who will try." ...
  • "The bad news is time flies. ...
  • "Life has got all those twists and turns. ...
  • "Keep your face always toward the sunshine, and shadows will fall behind you."
5 days ago

When you start your business quotes? ›

101 Inspirational Quotes For Startups
  • Ideas are easy. Implementation is hard. ...
  • Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning. -Bill Gates, Microsoft Co-founder.
  • We have a “strategic” plan its called doing things. ...
  • Make mistakes faster. ...
  • Price is what you pay. ...
  • Stay hungry. ...
  • Learn early. ...
  • We are our choices.
3 Aug 2020

What do you say to customers? ›

12 excellent customer service phrases
  • “Happy to help!” ...
  • “I understand how (blank) that must be.” ...
  • “As much as I'd love to help …” ...
  • “Great question! ...
  • “Nice to meet you!” ...
  • “May I ask why that is?” ...
  • “Thanks for bringing this to our attention!” ...
  • “I completely understand why you'd want that.”
28 May 2020


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