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How to learn business English: basic phrases and terms

Just like any other language, English has several sub-languages, each of which is used for a specific purpose. It’s no wonder that business English has gained considerable importance and linguistic autonomy, especially given that English has been the global language for business and finance for centuries.

What do we mean by “business English”?

Business English refers to a specific set of technical terms and expressions that are used in business circles. Although the basis of this sub-language is everyday English, business English uses specific terms that are rarely used in other contexts.

Common terms and phrases

Business English uses short terms and phrases to facilitate smooth and effective communication between employees. Among the most popular are:

  • To be on the ball - meaning to work with precision and to the best of one’s ability to accomplish a goal or project
  • To think outside the box - meaning to think up innovative solutions for tackling a problem or achieving new goals
  • To get up to speed - meaning to be up to date with the latest technical developments in the sector

Some business English terms have become part of everyday language, so much so that we now use them outside of a business context, for example:

  • Brainstorming - This term refers to a creative session in which several minds collaborate to “brainstorm” innovative ideas and outline new courses of action. The brainstorming process often involves a lot of chaos followed by the selection and organisation of the best ideas.
  • Downtime - This is an interval between the conclusion of an important task and the beginning of the next one. During downtime, you have fewer commitments and work at a slower pace so that you have more time to consider new projects, review data, and so on.

These are just some of the most common expressions used in business English. Translating these expressions correctly requires the work of a professional translator with an in-depth knowledge of the business sector. At Eurotrad we provide a range of specialised translations in the most widely used languages, produced by a team of reliable and qualified translators.

How to write an email using business English

While we’re on the subject of business English, how do you write a business email in English? The rules for writing a business email in English are the same as for formal communications:

  • use short, non-redundant sentences
  • avoid turns of phrase and do not overuse commas
  • use transitional expressions, i.e., words or groups of words that highlight logical connections between two sentences or sections of the email.

Finally, remember to use proper business English.

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September 1, 2021

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