10 business English phrases you will hear in an English-speaking office

Working in an English-speaking office can be tough if English is your second language. Even if you have completed a business English course, you will hear new expressions every day. The best way to deal with this is to make an effort to understand the new expressions you hear and learn to use them yourself. Here are ten useful business English phrases to get you started.

24-7 (Twenty-four Seven)

This phrase means ‘continuously’ or ‘all the time’: 24 hours a day and 7 days a week.

Example: Our lawyers are working 24-7 to crack the case.

Can of worms

This describes a potentially dangerous or difficult situation which should be avoided. We usually use the expression with the verb ‘open’.

Example: Let’s not open that can of worms – it could cause a lot of trouble for us!

Up to speed

To be well-informed or knowledgeable about something. Use this expression with the word ‘get’ as a collocation to talk about the process of becoming well-informed or knowledgeable about something.

Example: You’ll need to get up to speed on the financial situation before you can make any important decisions.

Bottom line

This literally refers to the last line in a financial statement that shows net gain or loss, but it also means the final outcome or deciding factor. In business, the bottom line usually refers to cost or profits.

Example: The bottom line is that we need to raise prices.


In business, this refers to strength or power.

Example: The company’s success is due to their marketing muscle.


This is often used in business as a means of generating ideas through group discussion. It can also be used as a verb.

Example: The team got together to brainstorm the project.


This is the ability to meet people who might be useful to know, to build useful contacts. To be networked means to know important, useful people.

Example: The conference next week will be a good chance to do some networking.

Give and take

This expression means to negotiate and compromise. Each side will gain some advantages, but also give up some benefits.

Example: The final deal was a compromise. It wasn’t ideal but you have to give and take.

No-win/win-win situation

A no-win situation is where there is no good result and where everyone loses. On the other hand, a win-win situation is where everyone benefits.

Example: Fair trade is a win-win situation because both producers and consumer benefit.

Push the envelope

This phrase means to do smart, innovative things that others have not done yet; to exceed your potential.

Example: Our firm won’t survive unless we are pushing the envelope.

So, which of these expressions can you use to talk about your work? Try using each of these business English phrases to talk about your job and see how useful they are!