Are you learning English to be able to use it in your workplace or with co-workers? Maybe you’d like to speak English with your clients, at conferences or networking events, or with a professor at your university? These are all situations where business English would come in handy!

In order to speak English in business environments, or in situations where you’d like to sound professional, you need to learn the lingo! Here are our top 25 English phrases to use in those instances:

1. On Topic/On Track and Off Topic/Off Track

Definition: The first set means to stay focused on the issue being discussed or the task at hand. The second set means the opposite!

Example: “We want to stay on topic and discuss these phrases quickly, so that we don’t get off track!”

2. Through the Roof

Definition: A large amount of change.

Example: “Our sales this month are through the roof!”

3. Train of Thought

Definition: A logical progression of ideas.

Example: “My train of thought is that, to avoid customer refund requests, we should improve our customer service.”

4. To Bank On

Definition: To guess or think that something is probable.

Example: “I’m banking on a good return on investment on this marketing initiative.”

5. Brush Up On

Definition: To review.

Example: “Before you go to the meeting, you may want to brush up on the agenda.”

6. Bring to the Table

Definition: The level of experience or expertise a person can offer.

Example: “He has worked in this field for 10 years. He definitely brings good work experience to the table.”

7. To Table/To Shelve

Definition: To pause or postpone.

Example: “We’re getting off topic, so let’s table this conversation and revisit it next week. We might need to shelve that idea.”

8. Off the Top of My Head

Definition: Without preparation or research.

Example: “Off the top of my head, I would say that 9 out of 10 people love Go Natural English, but I don’t have the exact number.”

9. Left Field/Out of Left Field

Definition: Something unexpected.

Example: “When John got fired, it was totally out of left field.”

10. Think Outside the Box

Definition: To think creatively.

Example: “That marketing campaign is a standard and successful example, but thinking outside the box could lead to more innovative ads and new customers.”

11. Bring Up to Speed

Definition: An executive summary, or a quick review of a topic.

Example: “Before our meeting, could you bring me up to speed on how our associates are doing?”

12. To Touch Base

Definition: To connect, or re-connect, with someone you already know, in a casual sense.

Example: “I need more information. Could we touch base on that topic next week?”

13. To Reach Out

Definition: To connect with someone, whether you already know them or not, with effort put forward.

Example: “I’d like to reach out and ask for your advice on my new job offer.”

14. In the Loop

Definition: To be well informed.

Example: “Please keep me in the loop, I want to know what you find out.”

15. At the End of the Day

Definition: Finally, or in conclusion; what is most important.

Example: “What really matters at the end of the day is that our business is turning a profit.”

16. To Make Ends Meet

Definition: To break even.

Example: “I’m making enough money to make ends meet, so I’m able to pay for my basic necessities.”

17. On the Same Page

Definition: That you and another person (or group of people) agree, or are understanding of one another.

Example: “Yes, we’re on the same page, so we can finish the deal soon.”

18. Zero In On

Definition: To focus on a very specific topic.

Example: “Let’s zero in on our performance this month so that we can see where we need improvement.”

19. Run (Something) By (Someone)

Definition: To ask.

Example: “Before we change this presentation, let’s run it by our boss.”

20. Sign Off On

Definition: To get permission.

Example: “Before we change this presentation, let’s have our boss sign off on it.”

21. Put on the Back Burner

Definition: To let something simmer or cool down so that it is not your main focus.

Example: “Let’s put this topic on the back burner until next month because we have more urgent matters.”

22. Calling the Shots

Definition: To decide and to give direction.

Example: “John is the boss, but Mary calls the shots. She’s actually in charge.”

23. In a Nutshell

Definition: In summary.

Example: “In a nutshell, the CEO told us we need to cut spending by a third this quarter.”

24. Off the Cuff

Definition: Something that is spontaneous.

Example: “My boss asked me some questions about the project off the cuff, and I wasn’t ready to answer them.”

25. To Wing It

Definition: To answer a question, or to do something, that you weren’t prepared for; to improvise.

Example: “I’m not really prepared to give a presentation today, but I’ll just wing it.”


Use these great phrases to make yourself better understood in business and professional settings, and to sound more like a native speaker. Check out the video lesson below!

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