Professional Growth and Development > Common English Expressions and How to Use Them

Common English Expressions and How to Use Them

Instructor(s): Pratap, Dr. Mahendra
Pratap, Dr. Mahendra

Title: CEO

Company: Progia

Website: http://www.progia.com

Mahendra has a distinguished background as a scientist and as an entrepreneur. Mahendra was employed with AT&T and Lucent Technologies for 20 years where he specialized in video communications, personal computer design, ATM and IP networking.

Mahendra has a PhD in Nuclear Physics and has authored over 2 dozen scientific papers.

, Self Paced Open Education Resource
Self Paced Open Education Resource

Title: The Best Teachers in the World

Progia Staff in consultation with the experts in their respective fields have scoured the open education resources to design and organize this course.

Progia salutes the content authors and their respective education institutes. Progia also acknowledges their expertise and generous contributions for making learning more accessible.



Course Description:

People at work (and in their daily lives) use idioms and phrases often without even thinking about them. If English is not your native language, it can be very easy to "get lost" (feel left out, get confused) in a conversation or misinterpret some important information at work place.

Don't let misunderstanding your managers and co-workers "get you down" (make you sad). Here are some video lectures to get you acquanted with some of the most commonly used phrases at work place. Becoming familiar with these expressions will help you understand people better and will make you more confident in your communications.

Rather than trying to focus on the meaning of each word of a phrase, it is best to "get the idea" (understand the concept) of what the phrase means as a whole and how it is used in real situations.

Course Sessions:
  • Business English: Expressions and Phrases at Workplace
  • Content Author(s): Dr. Mahendra Pratap, Progia LLC, businessenglishresources.com

    Session Description:

    In this session, we present, commonly used "Business English Phrases" at workplace.The meaning of each phrase and an example of its usage are also shown.

    The  handout is from the website: "Business English Resources". This site is an excellent resource for this topic.  It provides many more business English resources that you can use.

    The next several sessions feature video lectures that discuss some of these phrases in more details and provide examples of their usage in real situations.


  • Common Business Expressions: Part 1
  • Content Author(s): Englishlessons-houston

    Session Description:

    Green light. The green light means that you have permission to go ahead, permission to start something.

    Red tape. When you have a lot of red tape, it means that you have a lot of complicated official procedures and forms

    Face time. When you have face time with someone that means that you are meeting someone, in person or face to face


  • Common Business Expressions: Part 2
  • Content Author(s): Worldwide English Houston

    Session Description:

    Win-win. A good outcome for everyone

    Time frame. A time frame is the amount of time needed to do something.

    Touch base. When you touch base with someone, you contact them


  • Common Business Expressions: Part 3
  • Content Author(s): Worldwide English Houston

    Session Description:

    A team player. A team player is someone who works well with other people.

    On the table. When something is on the table that means it is going to be discussed, usually in a meeting or it’s going to be done.

    Get the ball rolling. To get the ball rolling means to start something.


  • Common Business Expressions: Part 4
  • Content Author(s): Englishlessons-houston

    Session Description:

    Snowed under. When you are snowed under, it means that you have too much to do.

    Get a handle on something. When you have got a handle on something, you are able to understand it or you are able to do it.

    The ball is in somebody’s court. When the ball is in someone’s court, it means that they are the next person to do something. It’s their turn to respond or answer. This phrase is usually used in a negotiation.


  • Expressions used in Everyday Conversation
  • Content Author(s): Valen from EngVid

    Session Description:

    The video lecture illustrates the meaning and the use of ten English Expressions commonly used in every day conversation.

    1. Twenty four seven or 24/7: all the time.
    2. Get the ball rolling: to start (something) now
    3. Take it easy: relax
    4. Sleep on it: to take time to think about something before making a decision
    5. I am broke: I have no money
    6. Meeting will start at 7 o'clock sharp: meeting will start exactly at 7 o'clock (don't be late)
    7. Know something like the back of my hand: to be very familiar with something
    8. Give me a hand: please help me
    9. In ages: for a long time
    10. Sick and tired: dislike, hate, had enough of

  • Expressions that use the word "Book"
  • Content Author(s): Emma from engVid

    Session Description:

    13 expressions that have the word 'book' in them.

    1. Bookworm: some one who loves to read
    2. Hit the books: study
    3. Don't judge a book by its cover: don't prejudge the worth or value of something, by its outward appearance alone
    4. To be in someone's good books: to be someone's favorite; someone is pleased with you
    5. Do it by the book: follow the rules closely
    6. To book: to make an appointment, to make a reservation
    7. To read some one like a book: it is easy to tell what some one is feeling or thinking
    8. An open book: similar meaning as above, it is easy to tell what some one is feeling or thinking
    9. A closed book: opposite of above. can not tell what some one is thinking
    10. To throw a book at some one: usually in a legal situation. to punish or criticize someone as severely as possible
    11. Every trick in the book: everything possible;every way possible
    12. Oldest trick in the book: well known, has been done many many times before
    13. In my book: in my opinion

  • Some good rules to follow for speaking English
  • Content Author(s): Prof. A. Narayana Prasad

    Session Description:

    Prof Prasad presents several practical tips for speaking English more confidently.

    • Use simple sentence structure that you know is correct
    • Experiment with what you already know: use the words and phrases that you know in new situations. Try to keep the grammar correct.
    • Use the speaker's body language to understand what he/she is saying.
    • Try not to translate into and from your native language: it takes time to do so and most often is not the right meaning.
    • Don't speak too fast (people will have hard tme understanding you).
    • Remember to be polite: use thank you, please frequently.

  • Some tips to improve your business writing
  • Content Author(s): Emma from Engvid

    Session Description:

    Want to become a better writer? In this video, Emma, English teacher at EngVid shares five easy and quick tips that will improve your writing in formal and academic settings.

    1. Avoid contractions such as Don't, Isn't etc.
    2. Avoid the use of There is, There are to begin a sentence
    3. Avoid using really, very, a lot, so in a sentence
    4. Use active rather than passive voice
    5. Use strong verbs e.g. instead of "he did an investigation", write "he investigated"

  • Opening and closing statements in business emails
  • Content Author(s): julie from englishlessons-houston.com

    Session Description:

    This blog article at 'World Wide English' site looks at opening and closing sentences of business emails. These depend on the tone of your e-mail. Is it formal or informal? Do you know the person you are writing to? Excellent examples are shown for each case.


  • International Students overcoming cultural shock: Part 1
  • Content Author(s): Dan Fishel, Columia Business School

    Session Description:

    International students often face a phase of cultural shock after joining U.S. schools. This first hand account by a Columbia Business School student is both informative and entertaining.

    Phase 1: The honeymoon

    Phase 2: What am I doing here

    Phase 3: Where is happy hour

    There is a lot here that every international student or a foreign professional working in the USA can relate to and learn from.

    The key to adjust was understanding the American Phrase Book (and of American culture), according to Dan.


  • International Students overcoming cultural shock: Part 2
  • Content Author(s): Dan Fishel Columbia Business School

    Session Description:

    Continuation of Dan Fishel's culture shock presentation in Columbia Business School Orientation Program

    Phase 3 of the culture shock: Where is happy hour (immersed in the American culture).

    Understanding American phrase book was the key to adjust.

    "How are you" is not a question. it is just hello.

    "Let us have lunch" is just being polite. don't take your calendar out to schedule the lunch appointment.

    "Let me think about it" means I have thought about it. the answer is no

    When a professor says "you might want to consider doing x", he means he expects you to do x.

    When the same professor says "you would want you to do x" , he means do x Now!

    and more