CISL’s Premier English Program is an excellent way to improve your business English skills, but even non-business students can take advantage of these business-related idioms and phrasal verbs. Do you use these terms in your speech? As you can see from the articles that are linked after each word or phrase, these are expressions that are used often in English speech and writing. Familiarize yourself with them and you will be one step closer to mastering business English!

Business Terms Every English Student Needs to Know

1. Start-up(s)

Noun (can also be a phrasal verb, “start up”)

Definition: new companies

Term in context: “Ms. Pandey graduated last year from Barnard College, where she majored in computer science, and she now works as a software engineer for a start-up in New York.”

Read: “Banking Start-Ups Adopt New Tools for Lending” from The New York Times

2. Trade-off

Noun (can also be a phrasal verb, “trade off”)

Definition: an exchange of two things in order to get what you want

Term in context: “Look at decision-making as optimizing between trade-offs to achieve a given objective. In other words, you’ll almost always have to give up something to get something.”

Read: “Forget Right Or Wrong: Decision-Making Is About Trade-Offs” from Forbes

Business Idioms

3. To be in the same boat


Definition: to experience the same situation

Term in context: “What’s next for me? I don’t know. So I’m in exactly the same boat as many of you,” she said, prompting laughter among the graduates. “Like you I”m a little scared but also excited,” she added.

Read: “Jill Abramson’s Wake Forest Commencement Speech: ‘I’m In The Same Boat As You” from International Business Times.

4. Hand in hand


Definition: things that compliment one another

Term in context: ““Tackling poverty and creating economic opportunity goes hand in hand with protecting biodiversity” Miss Clark said. “It will require leaders to see the links between the complex challenges we face and the solutions.”

Read: “Eradicating poverty goes ‘hand in hand’ with biodiversity protection – UN officials” from The United Nations website

5. Land on your feet


Definition: to recover from something bad

Term in context: “A little more than a month after he lost his job at BuzzFeed for widespread plagiarism, Benny Johnson has landed on his feet at National Review. Politico’s Mike Allen reported Saturday that Johnson will begin his work as social media director at the conservative outlet next week.”

Read: “Ex-BuzzFeed Editor Fired for Plagiarism Gets Second Chance At Conservative National Review” from TPM.