Business English Idioms and Expressions


Many international students attend our English school in San Diego in order to improve their English-speaking, reading, and writing skills. Oftentimes, this goal is influenced by another: to succeed in one’s career.

The ability to communicate well is a requirement for all kinds of jobs, regardless of the department. Whether you want to be a tour guide or a math teacher, you must be able to communicate with your clients, coworkers, and bosses. Much of the business English used in the office may include certain idioms and expressions you wouldn’t usually hear on a normal basis.

Here are a couple expressions you might hear around the office:

  • (to) thrive – to do very well, to succeed
    ie. “Apple is a thriving company. So many people use their products!”
  • correspondence – communication by letters
    ie. “Our correspondence within the office is through email.”
  • (to be) hit hard by – to suffer a loss due to something
    ie. “Paper newspapers were hit hard by the rise of online news pages.”
  • catchy – memorable, appealing
    ie. “I can’t get that slogan out of my mind. It’s really catchy!”
  • to come up with – to think of
    ie. “I have to come up with a project idea for tomorrow’s meeting.”
  • get ahead – to advance in one’s career
    ie. “She took the new position to get ahead.”
  • return on investment (ROI) – how much profit or cost saving is gained as a result from an investment
    ie. “We have to measure the ROI in social media before we expend our marketing budget on it.”