Here you will learn English business idioms – or should I say – English idioms related to business. Neck and neck, in the driver’s seat, to move the goalposts, and many more.
Listen to this episode on my English learning podcast Speak Better English with Harry.
10 English Business Idioms - podcast episode 213
Table of Contents
English Idioms about Business
Speak Better English with Harry Transcript
Here I try to help you get a better understanding of the English language. Help you with your conversational English, business English, all aspects to do with grammar, phrasal verbs, idioms and other particular expressions.
What I’m going to talk to you about today is connected with business. These are English idioms that are related to business; or that we can use when we’re referring to business.
Every ESL student would like to speak English fluently and confidently. In order to develop good speaking skills in English, you not only have to speak properly and correctly but also to use certain English phrases and expressions in your speech. Native speakers use English idioms in their speech all the time, even in a business conversation.
Today, let’s take these English business idioms one by one.
Intermediate to Advanced English Marathon
neck and neck
Meaning: to be level with or at the same stage as a competitor
Both businesses were performing well, their profits were neck and neck.
You can also use this idiom in relation to competition in life or in sport.
The two teams at the top of the league had the same number of points. They were neck and neck.
in the driver’s seat
Meaning: to be in control of a situation
The CEO retired due to ill health. His deputy was appointed to replace him. He was now in the driver’s seat.
10 English Business Idioms
to move the goalposts
Meaning: to change the rules or the targets at any time without consultation
The Director gave the sales manager his sales target for 2020. However, after 4 months he increased the target by 20%. He moved the goalposts without discussion.
to throw someone in at the deep end
Meaning: to be given a difficult task without having much experience
The business was struggling. The competition was very strong. The directors took a decision and appointed a young man to try and recover their business. He was thrown in at the deep end as he had no previous experience in management.
like flogging a dead horse
Meaning: used to describe a pointless exercise that is not going to work
The retailer went into liquidation (bankrupt). It owed the supplier a lot of money. They had no chance of getting the money back. Chasing them for the money would be like flogging (beating) a dead horse. They decided to give up.
10 English Business Idioms
a level playing field
Meaning: when everything is equal and fair to all competitors
The economic situation was the same for everyone. Interest rates were high. The banks were not eager to lend money to anyone. It was a level playing field.
keep your eye on the ball
Meaning: to stay alert and watch what your completion is doing
He always looked at his competitors’ products and advertising campaigns. Although he thought he had a better product he always kept his eye on the ball.
my hands are tied
Meaning: not being able to behave freely or in the way, you would like to due to some existing restrictions (rules, laws)
I’d love to help you and get this deal over the line but my hands are tied.
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Meaning: literal meaning is when the sailing conditions are smooth, there are no winds, no clouds, the stars are extremely clear. If we’re talking about business, it is a situation where something is achieved without difficulties, when everything goes according to plan.
We’d been preparing this deal for several weeks now, and everything was smooth sailing so far.
to shoot oneself in the foot
Meaning: to cause oneself difficulty, to make a situation worse for yourself without intention
The ABC company has just shot themselves in the foot for losing the best sales manager ever!