Business English

Are you a team player who’s ready to chip in? Can you get your business partners to rally around your ideas? When it comes to improving your business English, practicing phrasal verbs is a sure fire way to make a good impression. Phrasal verbs are idiomatic phrases consisting of a verb and another element, typically a preposition. Some phrasal verbs you often hear include “check out,” “drop by,” and “run into.”

In the United States, studying sports idioms is a great way to improve your business English and learn more about the culture too. American football, baseball, boxing, and even gambling are commonly used in business speech no matter the industry. Whether you’re a diplomat negotiating with hot shots in Congress or a business owner who wants to have a leg up on the competition, sports-related idioms are everywhere. In fact, there are two in that last sentence—can you spot them?

Like grease on a bicycle chain, using phrasal verbs and idioms makes your communications go more smoothly. Communicating effectively is not just about speaking English correctly, but also naturally. When you speak with Americans like they talk amongst themselves you’ll come across as more relatable.

If there’s a particular field you’re working in take some time to study up on the lingo. There are specific words, idioms, and phrasal verbs that people use a lot at e.g. the State Department, in the tech industry and so on. You don’t have to be an industry insider to sound like one. Learning some key words and phrasal verbs can give more credibility to your speech.

Of course, there’s a little more to effective communications than dropping a few common idioms and phrasal verbs. As for tone, these words and expressions are meant to sound casual, but that doesn’t mean what’s being said is not a serious matter. Even if Americans come across as relaxed and informal, it’s important to present a strong argument during meetings and negotiations. Underneath this informal behavior, there’s still business to be done. Forming a concise and well-informed argument gives you an advantage. Many Americans are very well-trained when it comes to speaking and negotiating skills. They’ve been studying their phrasal verbs too!

Marike Korn