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5 English Idioms That Are Common in the Business World

Be prepared to hear these common English idioms when doing business.

Touch base (with someone): to make contact with someone (usually someone that you already know)

The expression “touch base” comes from baseball, where a player must touch all four bases to score a point. This expression is used in business to describe contacting someone later. For example, if someone says: “I’ll touch base with you later” it means they will contact you later. When you use this expression, the subject is the person who will do the contacting and the object of the preposition “with” is the person who will receive the contact. It is similar to the phrasal verb “follow up (with someone)”.

Make inroads: to make progress at the beginning of something.

When you “make inroads” at the beginning of a project, it means that you have some success to start the project well. For example, if Nike starts to open stores in India, and their sales in India are good at the beginning, you can say: “Nike is making inroads with the Indian market.”

Be on the same page: to agree with others

When two or more people are “on the same page” it means they agree with each other and have the same vision for something. For example, if you want to offer more special promotions for your products and your Marketing Director also wants to do the same, you can say: “the Marketing Director and I are on the same page about doing more promotions.” You can also make the “be” verb negative to mean that you don’t agree. If the Marketing Director doesn’t want to do more promotions but you do, you can say: “We are not on the same page about doing more promotions.”

Tie up (some) loose ends: to complete the remaining small parts of a bigger project/task

Whenever something is almost completed but there are a few minor details to finish, you can say: “we just need to tie up some loose ends”. This is like when your shoelaces are untied and you need to “tie them up”. As an example, if you are supervising the renovation of the inside of a building, “tie up loose ends” might be related to fixing a few minor issues like a doorknob that has to be replaced or a putting in lightbulbs for the lights. These are not the main parts of the task but are small details that need to be completed to finish the overall task (the renovation).

Move the needle: to have a significant effect on something

If you think of a speedometer in a car, the needle tells you what speed you are going (ex. 100 km/hour). If you only press your foot on the peddle a little more, the needle doesn’t move much (maybe 105 km/hour), but if you press your foot on the peddle hard, the needle moves a lot and the car goes much faster (maybe 130 km/hour). This idea is used whenever a company does something that makes a big difference and has a significant effect on their results. For example, when Apple launched their first iPhone it really moved the needle because it had a huge effect on Apple’s overall business and profits.



Practice

Use the words below to create the 5 idioms from this lesson:

touch the tie on inroads move up page loose the needle ends base be same make with

  1. To agree with others

  2. To make progress at the beginning of something.

  3. To have a significant effect on something

  4. To make contact with someone (usually someone that you already know)

  5. To complete the remaining small parts of a bigger project/task

Fill in the blank with an idiom for each situation:

  1. The bank has approved our loan application, but we still need to _________________ like signing some documents, so I’m going to the bank tomorrow.

  2. I don’t know the result of the audit yet but when I find out, I’ll ________________ you.

  3. It’s important that everyone on the team is ___________________ so that we can work together more effectively.

  4. The company has made several upgrades to existing products but if they really want to __________________, they will need to innovate more and come up with something new.

  5. The hotel is __________________ with its new energy saving initiative that it started last month. It has already reduced it’s energy costs by 20% and it’s just the beginning!

Answers

Part 1:

  1. Be on the same page

  2. Make inroads

  3. Move the needle

  4. Touch base (with)

  5. Tie up loose ends

Part 2:

  1. Tie up (some) loose ends

  2. Touch base with

  3. On the same page

  4. Move the needle

  5. Making inroads



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