Useful English: Business Phrasal Verbs

Image 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!
Talk soon,
Deb 🙂

*Remember that after prepositions you always have to use the -ing form. That’s why we say to put off doing to do something.



Natural English: how to break up with someone


There are things that are always difficult to do in a second language: telling jokes, arguing with someone and..breaking up with someone!

If you’re in an unhappy relationship and finally decided to dump your partner but you’re not sure how to phrase it, you might find this post useful. Below are some suggestions,  depending on your reasons for splitting up.

To break up with someone, to dump someone, to split up (intransitive) or to break up (intransitive), they all mean the same thing: to end a relationship with your partner.

If your partner has cheated on you or you’ve cheated on them:

TO CHEAT ON SOMEONE = to be unfaithful

“I know you’ve cheated on me and I will never be able to get over it, it’s better if we just split up”  >> TO GET OVER SOMETHING= to stop being upset about it

“I’ve cheated on you with this other woman I really fancy..”  (you definitively sound very cruel!) >> TO FANCY SOMEONE= to feel sexually attracted to someone.
Maybe add something like “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to hurt it” >> TO MEAN TO DO something =  to be someone’s intention to do something

If you want to blame it all on yourself:

TO BLAME IT ALL ON YOURSELF= to say you’re the only one guilty (you don’t need to mean it but it can make breaking up easier sometimes)

“I don’t deserve you” >> NOT TO DESERVE SOMEONE = someone is too good for you/ you’re not good enough for someone

“You’ll be better off without me” >> TO BE BETTER OFF (intransitive)= to be in a better situation

“It’s not you, it’s me” (this is a classic!)

If you don’t see eye to eye with your partner (on important stuff)

TO SEE EYE TO EYE WITH SOMEONE = to agree on something with someone

“I want to settle down and you just want to party all the time” >> TO SETTLE DOWN (intransitive)= to get married or stay permanently in one place

or the opposite could also be true: “I don’t want to settle down yet, I don’t feel ready for it”

“I can’t put up with you anymore, it’s not working out” >> TO PUT UP WITH SOMEONE = to accept someone’s behavior even if it’s bad.  TO WORK OUT= to be successful

“I don’t think you’re the one” (an evergreen!)

If you lack a specific reason:

“I need some time for myself”

“Our relationship is just falling apart / falling to pieces” >> TO FALL APART /PIECES (intransitive)= to break, to disintegrate

I do hope you won’t have to use any of this language but should you…hope this post will help!
Talk soon,
Deb 🙂


Idioms and expressions with the word ‘point’

images A few days ago someone asked me the meaning of the expression ‘at some point’ in the following sentence: ‘Come around at some point this week’. I suddenly realised that there are many idioms and expressions in English that use the word ‘point’. Here’s a selection of the ones I most often use:


If you say that ‘something is pointless’, you mean that it’s useless.
i.e. Talking to him is pointless, he never listens.

The expressions ‘there be no point IN doING something’ and ‘not to see the point in doing something’ have the same meaning.

i.e. There is no point in talking to him, he never listens.
i.e. I don’t see the point in talking to him, he never listens.


‘at some point’ simply means ‘some time‘.
i.e. I’ll come around at some point this week
i.e. At what point in your life did you decide to become a teacher? (‘at what point’ in a question just means ‘when‘).


The expression ‘up to some/a point’ puts a limit to what is being said:
i.e. You can follow other people’s advice up to some point. >> (After this point) You should figure out by yourself what’s best for you.
i.e. That’s true up to a point

to some extent‘ has a similar meaning.
i.e. I agree with you to some extent


These idioms are used when discussing opinions.

To GIVE your opinion you could start by saying

‘My / The point is…
The point I want to make is ..
…that people should have the right to express their opinion

When discussing someone else’s opinion, you could say ‘I get your point’ / I see your point / I see the point you want to make / You have a point! / That’s a good point! ‘  to mean that you UNDERSTAND the other person’s view on something.

While, if you DON’T understand the other person’s opinion, you could say
“I’m sorry but…
     I don’t see your point
     I don’t see the point you want to make
     I don’t get your point

Note: all the above expressions are followed by the preposition ‘IN’ plus the gerund (-ING):
i.e. I don’t see your point in saying that people should mind their own business


If ‘you make a point of doing something’, you make sure you’re able to do it.
i.e. I always make a point of watching the news. I want to know what’s going on in the world.


When you ask someone ‘to get to the point’, you want to know what their intention / objective is.
i.e. I don’t have time to waste, can you please get to the point?

TO POINT something OUT TO someone

If you point something out, you want to draw people’s attention to it.
i.e. He pointed this problem out to me the other day.

I hope you saw the point in reading this post!
Talk soon,


Natural English: More on Phrasal Verbs!

dog_head_out_window_funnyIt looks like my recent post on phrasal verbs got quite popular among students and so I decided to write another one. It’s difficult to learn phrasal verbs because most of the time it’s just a matter of learning them by heart. This is why today’s post is about two verbs that I’m sure are part of your everyday language : ‘to go’ and ‘to come’. Here are some phrasal verbs that are often used instead of ‘go’ and ‘come’.

to head out

To head out means to leave a place and go somewhere: ex. What time do we need to head out?
To head is followed by ‘for/to‘ when you add your destination: ex.We’re heading out for London in an hour.
To say ‘I’m heading out‘ you can also use ‘I’m on my way out’. 
To head (somewhere) can also be used without ‘out’:
a: Where are you?I’ve been waiting for you for more than two hours.
b: Sorry, I’m heading there now!  BUT I’m heading to/for the pub now.

to head back

If you head back you start going back to the place where you came from: ex. It’s late, I’m going to head back home in a bit

to pop out

To pop out means to go out from a building for a short time (British): ex. I’ll pop out to the shop at the corner to buy some bread.

to pop in / to drop by

If you pop in, you go somewhere for a short time and without much planning (British): ex. I’ll pop in tomorrow for a coffee 

to come over / to come around

To come over means to go and visit someone (usually at their place): ex. You should come over at some point this week

to be off

To be off has the same meaning as ‘to leave’ a place: ex. I’m late! I’d better be off now.

To put stuff in context, here’s a chat between two neighbours who bump into each other on the stairs.

a: Hi, where are you going?
b: I’m going out, I was gonna go to the shop to buy milk, what about you?
a: I’m going to work. Do you wanna come to my flat later tonight?
b: Yeah sure, mate, I have to go to my mum’s but I’ll come after that.
a: Cool, when you come back, could you buy some beers?
b:Yeah sure. I’ll text you when I come back so you know what time I’ll arrive at your flat.
a: Okay, it was nice to bump into you, I’m leaving, I’m late for work.
b: Yeah I should go too.

Here’s the same dialogue, replacing ‘go’ and ‘come’ with the phrasal verbs above. Doesn’t it sound more chatty?

a: Hi, where are you going?
b: I’m heading out, I was gonna pop out to the shop to buy milk, what are you up to*?
a: I’m on my way to work. Do you wanna pop in later tonight?
b: Yeah sure mate, I have to drop by my mum’s but I’ll come around after that.
a: Cool, on your way back could you buy some beers?
b:Yeah sure. I’ll text you when I start heading back so you know what time I’ll come over.
a: Okay, it was nice to bump into you, I’m off, I’m late for work.
b: Yeah I should make a move too. (to make a move= to leave a place and start going somewhere)

* Sorry I couldn’t help including another phrasal verb: ‘what are you up to?’ simple means ‘what are you doing?’


10 Phrasal Verbs which Will Make Your English Sound More Natural

phrasal-verbs Using phrasal verbs can often make your English sound more natural. Today we’ll have a look at 10 phrasal verbs which should be part of your everyday language.

When learning a new phrasal verb, remember to also pay attention to its structure. That is, focus on whether the verb is used in a transitive or intransitive way, notice what comes after the preposition (for example, a person, an activity or a thing). Indeed the same phrasal verb can have more than one meaning and to a different meaning usually corresponds a different pattern . For instance, ‘to get back from somewhere’ means to return but ‘to get back to someone’ means to contact them usually by phone or email.

This is why below I added in brackets the pattern these 10 phrasal verbs follow when they have the meaning I want to present you with.

1. TO TURN UP (someone turns up somewhere) = TO ARRIVE

someone turns up when he or she arrives somewhere.
i.e. Nobody turned up at the meeting.
I waited for an hour but nobody showed up.

TO SHOW UP means the same thing.

2. TO FIND OUT (someone finds out something) = TO DISCOVER

you find out something when you discover something that you didn’t previously know

i.e.. I’ve just found out that I’m not working tomorrow
Have you found out who that guy at the party was? 

3. TO LOOK FOR (someone looks for something or someone)

if you’re looking for someone or something, you’re trying to find it

i.e. I’m currently looking for a new job
I’ve been looking for him all morning but I couldn’t find him

4. TO GIVE UP (someone gives up an activity)

if you give up doing something, you stop doing it.

i.e. You should really give up smoking!
No, I will never give it up!

5. TO GET ON  (someone gets on with someone else)

when you get on with someone, it means that you have a friendly relationship with this person.

i.e. I don’t get on with my boss.
Me and my sister get on very well

6.  TO TURN OUT (something or someone turns out to be something or someone)

if something or someone turns out to be a particular thing, they’re discovered to be that thing.

i.e. She turned out to be a very good teacher
It turned out to be more difficult than we thought

7. TO FIGURE OUT (someone figures out something)

If you figure out a problem or an answer to a question, you understand it and solve it

i.e. I’ve never been there before and I still have to figure out how to get there.

TO WORK OUT has the same meaning

8. TO BE UP (someone is up for something/ doing something)

if someone is up for something, he or she feels like doing it.

i.e. Are you up for going to the cinema tonight?
I’m not really up for it, I’m knackered 

9. TO GET BACK (someone gets back from somewhere) = TO COME BACK

i.e. I’ll get back to London tomorrow afternoon.
He hasn’t got back from his holidays yet.

10. TO BUMP INTO (someone bumps into someone else)

If you bump into someone, you meet them by chance.

i.e. I bumped into Mary on my way to work.
In a village, you always bump into people you know.

TO RUN INTO means the same thing.

If you want to learn more phrasal verbs, you can always buy a Phrasal Verbs Dictionary!

I have one by Collins Cobuild which is very good and would recommend it.

Talk to you soon 🙂