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10 Essential Business English Phrases Every Professional Should Master

Kate Bogar is an International Business English Coach, teaching people all over the world tactical and practical methods for improving their English for their job. Kate has students from over 40+ countries.

 
Executive Contributor Kate Bogar

The best part of my job as a Business English coach, is that my classes are almost never ‘’cookiecutter’’. After all, it’s natural that some of the vocabulary that is commonplace among dog breeders will not be found among geologists, in fashion or with engineers. This is definitely true. However, there are some English phrases that bleed into almost any job, and across all industries.


Image photo of Kate Bogar

As a Business English coach who teaches employees of international businesses how to improve their English for their jobs, I’ve gathered a very complex list of industry specific jargon, as well as a plethora of ‘’favourites’’ that apply across the board. Today I’ll share with you my top 10 all-time favourites that apply to all industries.


1. I didn’t (quite) catch that


This one is my personal favourite for when you either don’t hear someone, or don’t understand a word that they’ve used. Maybe someone mumbles… or they’re using obtuse language (obtuse: strange and uncommon). Either way, this phrase ‘’I didn’t catch that’’ or ‘’I didn’t quite catch that’’ is a life saver.


2. Let’s touch base again next week/Monday/quarter


I personally believe that it’s always respectful to let your contacts know when you plan to contact them again. Will it be a week, a month or even next year? ‘’Touch base’’ is a common expression for ‘’general update’’, so ‘’touching base next month’’ will feel easy but also expected.


3. We need to iron out the details


From getting your first glance at a contract, to listing possible new suppliers when something needs to be clarified before we can even start,‘’iron out the details’’ is a great way to express that.


4. We apologize for the inconvenience


If a meeting has been cancelled last minute, or your department has received a complaint on your product or service ‘’apologizing for the inconvenience’’ is always a professional way to start the process. It helps the reader/complainant to know that you acknowledge the trouble it has cost them.


5. We need to finalise the terms and conditions


Terms and Conditions are a great way of encompassing all contract-speak. Terms are the details of the contract when does it start and end? How much money will change hands? (etc). Conditions are the ‘’if we need to X, we will then Y’’. Terms and conditions is therefore both the finer details of the contract as well as the problems that could occur.


6. Please don’t hesitate to reach out/contact us/email me


You’ve definitely seen this phrase at the end of some formal emails, however it can also be useful in other scenarios. ‘’Don’t hesitate to call my assistant if you struggle with the details.’’ ‘’Don’t hesitate to email me here (bigboss@personalemail.com) if you need help on the weekend.’’ Letting someone know that it’s always ok to contact me, and when and how, is incredibly helpful in international contracts when time zones may play a confusing role.


7. We would appreciate a complete breakdown/task list/itinerary


Need to ask for more information than you’re getting? ‘’Appreciating’’ when they send a ‘’complete list/breakdown’’ is a more professional way to reinforce that the current information you’re getting isn’t enough.


8. We need to anticipate any future/possible delays or unexpected costs


Anticipating problems ahead of time is a staple in business since the dawn of time, and this is definitely one of the best ways to let your team know that they need to think two steps (or more) ahead.


9. Could you please provide a status report/update on Project XYZ?


What industry doesn’t need to constantly ask for a status report, at some point? (In fact I think there’s certain job titles devoted to only this!) This sentence is clear, polite, and firm. The best of three characteristics we enjoy in international colleagues.


10. I’ll follow up with you when I have a status update from their side


Similarly to ‘’let’s touch base’’, this phrase is a good way to let our colleague know who will reach out to whom! Are they expected to contact you, or does that fall under your tasks. This is commonly appreciated as a clue to someones social awareness, and should never be forgotten!


Looking for more Business English tips and tricks? Follow Kate on her instagram page here: @english.anywhere.de_kate or join her online school! With private 1-1 classes, group classes, and digital courses she’s got more than enough resources to help you advance your English for your job!


 

Kate Bogar, International Business English Coach

Kate Bogar is an International Business English Coach, teaching people all over the world tactical and practical methods for improving their English for their job. Kate has students from over 40+ countries, in industries ranging from small tools, large tools, medicine, law, sports, arts, fashion, food and so much more. Her courses and memberships provide hands-on help for people looking to improve their Business English to be prepared for international meetings, phone calls, and email communication.

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