Business English – 6 common idioms Do you need to communicate in the business world? Face the facts, you need to learn some common business English idioms if you want to head a team. Improve your communication skills in professional environments by watching this lesson and learning these phrases. When you finish the lesson, take our quiz on to make sure you understand the correct usage of each idiom. Then, you can test them out at work by speaking with your colleagues and clients!


Hi. My name is Rebecca. In this lesson, we’ll focus on six business English idioms. Even though they are somewhat advanced, follow along with me because they are used quite often. All right? Let’s get started.

The first one:
“You need to face the facts about the drop in sales.”
So the idiom here is: “to face the facts”. So, “to face the facts” means to accept a difficult situation. To effect… Accept the reality. Okay? Accept the truth, to deal with the truth. That’s what it means to face the facts. You’re not going to say: “Face the facts”, if you’re talking about something good. But here, you see there was a drop in sales; sales went down, so you need to face the facts, means you have to accept the hard truth or the hard reality.

Next one:
“Mr. Brown heads our team in NY.”
So, the idiom here is: “to head the team”. You’ll see… Here we have “face”, here we have “head”, and in fact, all of these, you’ll have some part of the body as part of the business idiom. It’s just the way I chose them. All right, so, “to head the team” means to… What do you think it means? To lead a group. All right? So, Mr. Brown is the manager, or he’s the leader, or the head of this team in New York. “To head a team”, that’s the idiom.

Next one:
“The marketing dept. is footing the bill.”
“The marketing department is footing the bill.” Again, part of the body, the foot. All right? “To foot a bill”, “to foot the bill” means to take responsibility for payment. All right? I know it doesn’t always make sense, and that’s why it’s an idiom. Okay? The individual words don’t reveal the meaning to you. You have to understand the entire expression, and that whole expression is called an idiom. So, “to foot the bill” means to take responsibility for paying for something.

Next one:
“Our HR manager” – our human resources manager – “has an eye for selecting good people.”
The expression here: “to have an eye for”. I should say this. “To have an eye for something” means to have a talent for something, to have the ability to notice something. All right? So, our human resources manager has the ability to select good people. All right?

Next one:
“Who shouldered the blame for this disaster?”
“Who shouldered the blame?” Expression: “to shoulder the blame”. “To shoulder the blame” means to take responsibility for something that went wrong, for a bad situation, for a difficult situation. “To shoulder the blame.” Again, you see a part of the body is mentioned in each of these idioms. All right?

And the last one we have here is:
“Jane was in over her head at work.”
“Jane was in over her head”. “To be in over your head” means to have too much responsibility, to have… To have something which is too difficult for you. Maybe you took a course in university and it was just way beyond your ability in mathematics or something else, so you went in over your head; it was too hard for you, too difficult for you. Okay? So: “Jane was in over her head at work.” All right?

So, one of the things you need to do is you need to know what… How to complete these. Right? How we complete them. So, for example, let’s look at them. Try not to look up here. So if I say: what’s the expression or what’s the idiom?
“To face the facts”, “To head the team”, “To shoulder the blame”, “To foot the bill”, “To have an eye for” – all right, I already said that – and: “To be in over your head”. All right? Let’s review what they mean.

So which one means that you have an ability to notice something? This one: “to have an eye for something”. Good.

Which one means that you take responsibility when something goes wrong or you took responsibility because something went wrong? What did you do? You “shouldered the blame”. Good. Okay?

Which one means to accept that something bad has happened or accept the hard truth? This one: “to face the facts”. Very good.

What does it mean when we say: “Someone is in over their head”? It means that they’ve taken on something that’s too difficult for them or they have too much of it. Okay?

Next one: which one means that you are paying for something? Here: “to foot the bill”. Okay?

So play with them like that. Sometimes try to guess how they finish, sometimes try to guess the meaning. And, best of all, try to write your own sentences using these business idioms. All right?

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