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Tutor Teacher Maria 's Column

Commonly Used Business English Idioms

Jun 28, 2019

Business idioms are absolutely necessary because they are commonly used throughout the business world. Knowing what they mean will help you understand your colleagues better and sound more like a native-English speaker. 

Here are some of the most commonly used idioms: 

Learn the ropes 
Meaning: to learn/ know how to do a job or activity
Example: I am learning the ropes of my new job.

On the ball 
Meaning: aware of any changes or developments and quick to react to them
Example: We need someone who's really on the ball to answer questions from the press.  

Think outside the box
Meaning: to think imaginatively using new ideas instead of traditional or expected ideas 
Example: If you want to get ahead in advertising, you need to think outside the box.

By the book
Meaning: exactly according to rules or the law 
Example: He always does everything by the book.

In a nutshell
Meaning: using as few words as possible 
Example: Just tell me the story in a nutshell.  

On the same page
Meaning: to have the same ideas as someone else 
Example: Everyone in the office has to be on the same page about what our top priorities are. 

Your guess is as good as mine
Meaning: to have no idea, do not know the answer to the question
Example: "What's he doing?" "Your guess is as good as mine." 

Hit the nail on the head
Meaning: to be exactly right about something 
Example: "You've found the problem, John! You hit the nail on the head!"

Twist someone's arm
Meaning: to persuade someone to do something they do not want to do 
Example: I had to twist his arm, but he agreed. 

Win-win situation
Meaning: a win-win situation or result is one that is good for everyone involved 
Example: This deal works for everyone. It's a win-win situation.  


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