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If you plan on entering into the business world, where you will be required to use English in the workplace, you might encounter some unfamiliar phrases or vocabulary. These English phrases will be important for you to know when conducting business. By memorizing a few of these expressions, you can prevent yourself from encountering miscommunications in conversations, correspondences, or meetings. 

Whether preparing for the OPT or CPT, here are some helpful expressions you can learn.

Business Expressions ESL School Students Should Know

1. Bite the bullet: This expression is used to describe making a hard decision that you don’t necessarily want to make. For example, you could hear: “Unfortunately, it’s time to bite the bullet and close down production at that facility.”

2. Back to the drawing board: This usually refers to the act of starting again because a project has failed or something has gone wrong. “We got those initial numbers wrong, so it’s back to the drawing board.” 

3. Jump the gun: In the business world, this means to go ahead with something too soon or before being fully prepared. “He jumped the gun on giving them the information. Now we have to explain that it’s inaccurate.” 

4. Keep your eyes on the prize: Students at ESL school should know that this means to keep your attention on the end goal, rather than getting distracted during your employment. “Don’t pay attention to what people are saying. Keep your eyes on the prize.”

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Knowing business expressions will help to prevent confusion in meetings and discussions

5. Behind the scenes: In business English, this refers to something that is happening or that was done that the public, or another person, is not aware of. “The client doesn’t know the amount of work we’re putting in behind the scenes.”

6. In a nutshell: This expression refers to a brief summary of something that happened. “In a nutshell, we closed the deal through successful negotiations.”

7. Touch base: For those in English school, this refers to getting in contact with someone to confirm or establish something or reach an understanding. “Let’s touch base with the client about what the strategy should be going forward.”

8. Pull your weight: This simply means doing the amount of work you’re is responsible for, or doing your part. If someone isn’t pulling their weight, it means that they are not working hard enough. “I can’t keep doing his job for him, he needs to pull his weight.”

9. Call it a day: This phrase signals the end of a work day, meeting, or an office project. Sometimes, people might also use it to say that nothing more can be done at the moment, and that it’s best to rest and start again tomorrow. “I think we’ve done all we can. Let’s call it a day.”

10. Learning curve: This last one refers to the time it takes to master a skill or become familiar with some kind of work-related process. “There’s a bit of a learning curve involved in mastering this task, but don’t worry. You’re a quick learner.”

All of these expressions will help English learners to become more familiar with office language and become more comfortable in a workplace setting. 

Do you want to improve your English? 

Check out ASC English’s English Language School in Boston. You might be interested in taking Business English for Foreign-Born Professionals!