I have recently been asked to teach some ‘Business English’ expressions that would make a non-native speaker sound a bit more like a native.
I’ve come up with a list of 10 phrasal verbs which I personally think should be part of your Everyday Business English.
When appropriate, I’ve decided to include another piece of information for each of these verbs: their collocations.
A collocation is two or more words that often go together: a nice
pretty weather. Read more on collocations here and start getting into the habit of always looking up collocations when learning new vocabulary. It will help you make less mistakes and sound more natural!
1- TO CALL OFF (transitive)
I’m afraid we’ll have to call off tomorrow’s meeting.
‘to call something off’ means to cancel it.
Collocations: to call off a meeting / a class / a strike / a match
2- TO PUT OFF (transitive)
She decided to put off the meeting to next week.
He decided to put off seeing Mary.
‘to put something off’ or ‘to put off doing something’ means to postpone it/doing it.*
Collocations: to put off a meeting / a phone call / an appointment
3- TO HEAR BACK FROM someone
I haven’t heard back from the client yet
‘to hear back from someone’ means to get someone’s feedback/reply about something
4 – TO COME UP (intransitive)
I’m sorry but I can’t attend the meeting tomorrow, something has come up.
if ‘something (usually a problem, situation or event) comes up’ it happens unexpectedly.
I’d say ‘something has come up’ is a particularly useful sentence when you don’t want to commit to something one of your workmates wants you to and you haven’t got a real explanation. It’s vague enough but not dismissive! 🙂
5 – TO LOOK INTO (transitive)
Could you please look into the possibility of relocating our business to China?
‘to look into something’ means to analyse it, to collect more information and facts about it.
‘I’ll look into it!‘ is a sentence that could come in handy when a colleague has just suggested to you something that you hadn’t previously thought about. It shows appreciation of their comment.
6 – TO PULL OUT of something (transitive)
The company has decided to pull out of the agreement.
‘to pull out of something (usually an activity or agreement)’ means to decide not to continue it.
Collocations: to pull out of an agreement / a bidding / a contract
7 – TO COME ALONG (intransitive)
How is the report coming along?
‘to come along’ means to make progress.
8 – TO SET ASIDE something (transitive)
A lot of resources should be put aside for this project.
‘to set something aside’ means to save something for a particular purpose.
Collocations: to put aside money / time / food
9 – TO GO OVER something (transitive)
Let’s go over the whole project again and see how it can be improved.
‘to go over something’ means to examine it very carefully.
Collocations: to go over a project / a report / a document / a contract
10 – TO STICK TO something (transitive)
Let’s stick to our initial plan!
‘to stick to something that you’ve decided’ means to continue doing it in the same way.
A common phrase usually heard in meetings is ‘let’s stick to the agenda!‘. Use this sentence when you feel that people have started talking about things not relevant to the meeting’s agenda.
I hope there will soon be a chance for you to use some of these phrasal verbs in a meeting!
*Remember that after prepositions you always have to use the -ing form. That’s why we say to put off doing
to do something.