15 Business Expressions you need to practice

September 7, 2021

Business English

Lesson Transcript 

Learning English can be overwhelming at times, especially because there are so many phrases, idioms and expressions to learn. So in this video, I’ve put together 15 commonly used business expressions that are used in a business setting. Now what I want you to do, I need you to watch this video as often as you need to, and to practice! You can also get a copy or a transcript of this lesson in the link below.
These expressions will help you to sound more natural and it will also help you to understand what is being said around you. So are you ready? Let’s go!

Business Expressions

✏️ #1 Get down to business

Meaning: Stop all the small talk and start the meeting or the presentation.
Example  All right, everyone, let’s get down to business, time to get to work. 

✏️ #2 Take the floor

Meaning: When it’s your turn to take the floor, it’s your turn to speak or to present.
ExampleMike will take the floor after the introductions.

✏️ #3 To stay on top of something 

Meaning: To stay focused on a particular situation, or maybe a project. You’re going to pay close attention to it.
Example If you want that promotion, you’re going to have to stay on top of things. 

✏️ #4 Ballpark figure

Meaning:  It’s an estimation of a figure of what something will cost. So it is just giving somebody an idea of what it will cost, it is not an exact figure.
Example   This is just a ballpark figure, you will get a formal quotation later this week. 

✏️ #5 To think outside the box 

 Meaning: Thinking creatively.You think of unusual ways, different ways of doing something.
Example – In order to win this competition,we need to think outside the box.

✏️ #6 Not going to fly

Meaning; Something is not going to work out. You know, it’s not going to happen. 
Example I have to complete this report as handing it in late is not going to fly with my boss.

✏️ #7 Keep one’s eye on the ball

Meaning: You have to really stay focused and be careful with everything that you’re doing.
Example  To get this bonus, I need to keep my eye on the ball.

✏️ #8 Back to the drawing board

Meaning: You have handed in, or completed, a proposal or you did a report and it was rejected. The client may not have liked it or your boss or supervisor or didn’t approve it. So you have to go back to the drawing board to start over.
Example Our clients rejected our proposal, so we have to go back to the drawing board.

✏️ #9 To corner the market

Meaning: Let’s say a particular company, um, is doing very well in selling a particular product or service.Like they are dominating that space. They’re the leaders in that space, right?
 Example – The company quickly cornered the markets in desktop software.

✏️ #10 Hands are tied

Meaning: There’s nothing more that a person can do, even if they wanted to.
Example – I know you want that new job, but my hands are tied. Even if I had the power to help you, to get that new job,there’s nothing I can do because my hands are tied.

✏️ #11 Up in the air

Meaning: Up in the air means it’s unresolved. There is no clear decision or direction; it’s up in the air. If the project is still up in the air, it’s not certain whether it will be completed or not.
Example Now the whole project is still up in the air.

✏️ #12 To learn the ropes

Meaning: Learning a special way of doing something for a particular company, role or task.
Example – As a new employee, you have to learn the ropes before you can be promoted. 

✏️ #13 A learning curve

Meaning: A period of time you take to learn a new skill or a new concept.
 Example This new project management system requires a steep learning curve. 
And when you see the word steep here, it means, it’s not an easy process.

✏️ #14 By the book

Meaning:  Following the rules directly, no shortcuts or you’re not trying to do things differently.
Example –  Our manager prefers everything to be done by the book.

✏️ #15 Between a rock and a hard place

Meaning: You have choices, but none of the choices are actually desirable.
Example – The board had to make a decision immediately. They were stuck between a rock and a hard place. 

So those are the 15 idioms for you. 


✏️ Practice

✏️ Practice 

✏️ Practice 


 Great job on completing today’s lesson.

Keep practicing, and I’ll see you in the next one!

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About the Author

Alafea Reynolds

Alafea Reynolds is a Business English Coach and Trainer helping English learners become more confident English speakers. Through Alafea Institute, Alafea helps business professionals transform their English for greater success.

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1 Comment

  1. Dean

    This is great stuff!


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