business phrases

In this article, we are going to learn 9 business English phrases that will help you in two different ways. First, they will help you understand more of what people are saying around you and second, if you learn them and start to use them, you will sound a lot more advanced in your English. Once you use these phrases in business conversations at work, people will definitely notice.

What’s interesting about these phrases is that they are only three words long. You probably already know all the nouns in these phrases such as “option”, “discussion” and “conclusion” but in these business expressions or collocations there is an adjective which makes them more advanced: a/an + adjective + noun. We call these types of phrases ‘collocations’. The definition of collocation refer to words that often go together or that likely to occur together. For example, ‘heavy rain’: a native speaker knows that ‘heavy’ goes with ‘rain’. They wouldn’t say ‘strong rain’.

In this article, you’ll learn some collocations that native speakers use all the time in a business context. Adding these in to your vocabulary at work will make you more confident with your English and really impress your colleagues!

Let’s go through these business english expressions one by one:


1. A viable option

An option is something that can be chosen but what does ‘viable’ mean? It simply means ‘possible’. In business English, when we say it’s “a viable option”, it means it’s a possible option. Let’s say you have to decide on a form of transportation to move things you need for an event. You could take public transportation, a taxi, or you could drive. These are all viable options. Here are other examples:

"This area is a completely viable option to branch-out, with a school and a ski resort."
"Due to family obligations, inflexible schedules and other constraints, full-time jobs aren’t viable options for students, so it’s natural for them to look into online opportunities."

2. A fruitful discussion

A discussion is when two or more people are speaking and talking about an idea or a possibility. What is fruitful? Something to do with fruit? Not really. Fruitful does mean full of fruit but here, it has a different meaning. The business English phrase “A fruitful discussion” is a useful discussion. It’s a discussion that had a good result, a good option, or a good outcome. For example:

Please go over the documents before our meeting for a fruitful discussion.
It was a fruitful discussion, with both companies agreeing to adopt a common policy.

3. A golden opportunity

An opportunity by itself is a positive thing but if something is “a golden opportunity”, it means it’s an amazing or a great opportunity. For example, let’s suppose there is a college graduate who was offered a job by one of the best companies in the country. That would be a golden opportunity to improve his/ her life.

Our recently published article was under edited, we missed a golden opportunity to make headlines.
The department missed a golden opportunity and failed to hit expected target sales.
business English vocabulary

4. A foregone conclusion

This business English phrase is quite advanced. “A foregone conclusion” means a conclusion that everybody kind of already knows. Let’s suppose there is an election going on and everybody already knows who’s going to win. The election happens and the expected party to win, wins. It’s no surprise, right? So, that would be a foregone conclusion.

There is no debate needed, that’s a foregone conclusion.
The failure of the project was not a foregone conclusion.

5. A stop-gap measure

A measure here is an action or a step. What does it mean when we use the business English phrase “a stop-gap measure”? It’s something that you do temporarily. Let’s say you work in an office and you’ve got some really important work to do but your computer suddenly stops working. You can’t be without a computer, right? Then you realize that a co-worker of yours went on a holiday and his/ her computer is available. You will use the available computer for now until yours is repaired. Therefore, that is a stop-gap measure. It’s just a temporary measure or step taken. Here are other examples:

Our company will use the new product feature as a stop-gap measure until we can develop a better product.
They put a stop-gap measure solution in place, but we need something more permanent in order to finish the project on time.

6. A pressing issue

An issue is a big problem. A pressing issue means it’s urgent or it’s really important in business English. For example, many people would consider healthcare or climate change a pressing issue. It is something that you need to solve because it’s urgent. Here are other examples:

There is a pressing issue that needs to be addressed. 
The speaker talked about pressing issues.

7. A moot point

A moot point is an unimportant point. It’s not so relevant. For example, you and your team have to fly somewhere for a very important meeting with a client but there is a huge storm and a lot of flights are getting cancelled. So, you’re trying to rearrange your flights and when you manage to do that, someone from your team says “And how are we going to get from the airport to our hotel room?” You say, “You know what, that is a moot point. The most important thing right now is that we get there. Once we do, we’ll figure out the rest of it.” Here are other examples:

She was trying to make adjustments on the report but it’s all a moot point now. The president has already signed all the documents. 
We’ve been trying to beat W Company’s sales. It was a moot point. They just announced bankruptcy.
business English course

8. A stumbling block

What does it mean to stumble? To stumble is to trip or fall. So, a stumbling block is an obstacle in business English. It is something that is in your way and is preventing you from going forward and may make you fall or fail. For example:

The marketing team’s mistake is a stumbling block to our preparation. 
Lack of funds for our department is a major stumbling block to our projects.

9. A short-sighted view

A view in this case doesn’t mean something that you can see. In this expression, view means opinion. “A short-sighted view” is looking at what’s right in front of you and not thinking of long-term benefits or implications of something that you’ve decided to do.

Ideas shared during the meeting were short-sighted.
I think the decision on the downsizing is a short-sighted view. I wish they would try to look for an alternative.

Now try to use these business English phrases on your own sentences! The more you practice them, the more you will feel comfortable in saying and using them in your daily conversations, not only at work. Think about it - are you facing any stumbling blocks right now or are there any golden opportunities waiting for you that you can take advantage of?


Also check out 7 Essential Business Phrasal Verbs to Use at Work for more business English phrases that will definitely help you sound more professional at work!


Want to learn more great business English vocabulary that will get you speaking more like a native at work?