To give you a helping hand, here is an overview on the most important business English phrases you’ll want to keep in mind.
Our top Business English phrases for working in America
1. Common business idioms
Every culture and language has particular idioms, and American culture is no exception.
A few popular business idioms are:
- Get back to the drawing board: start over from the beginning.
- Call it a day: everyone can stop working and go home.
- Get the ball rolling: get started or move faster.
- Hold your horses: calm down or slow down a bit.
- Ahead of the curve: get ahead of the competition or current trends.
- By the book: doing everything according to the rules.
- The big picture: look at the situation as whole, not just the details.
- In the same boat: everyone is in a similar or the same situation.
- Cut corners: taking shortcuts (usually in a negative sense).
- Diamond in the rough: something or someone that has good qualities but bad qualities overshadow or mask them.
- Throw in the towel: give up and admit failure.
2. Acronyms and abbreviations
A few common acronyms and abbreviations used in Business English in America are:
- 24/7: spoken as “twenty-four seven”, meaning open or in operation all the time.
- ASAP: as soon as possible.
- EOB/EOD: end of business or end of day, usually set as a deadline for completing a task or project by the end of the day in that time zone.
- FYI: for your information, usually given as a note or update to someone.
- BTW: by the way, meaning as an additional point of information.
- N/A: not applicable, meaning there is no corresponding value.
- TBD: to be decided or discussed, meaning not yet decided or finalized.
- RSVP: to reserve your space at an event, spoken literally as “RSVP”.
- B2B: business to business, a type of business that sells products or services to other businesses.
- B2C: business to consumer, a type of business that sells products or services to consumers.
- Q1/Q2/Q3/Q4: a shortened form of referring to a particular quarter in the year, spoken as written.
- ROI: return on investment, the amount of money earned back from an investment.
- PO: purchase order, a document outlining a particular purchase.
- w/: short for “with”, only used in writing.
- w/o: short for “without”, only used in writing.
- ETA: estimated arrival time, the point in time someone or something is expected to arrive.
Meetings are an important place to use correct Business English phrases, so here are a few examples depending on context.
|Signal phrases for questions||
4. Planning meetings
Here are a few helpful phrases for planning meetings:
5. Small talk
In America, starting off with small talk can be as important as the meeting itself. So here are a few ways you can use small talk to begin your meeting:
|Talking about the weather||
|Talking about the office||
|Talking about travel/holiday plans||
The last point to keep in mind when using Business English in America is to use polite phrases. You’ll notice that many of the phrases in sections 3 and 4 are not entirely straightforward in that they include words like unfortunately, sorry, a bit, and quite. These words are used to lessen the strength of a certain phrase, which is one of the main ways that American English incorporates politeness into the language.