“Words of the Week Wednesday” : 15 Phrasal verbs to use in a business setting

As described by the Oxford dictionary “a phrasal verb is a verb that is made up of a main verb together with an adverb or a preposition or both. Typically, their meaning is not obvious from the meanings of the individual words themselves.”

Therefore, it is easy to see why they are such an important part of speaking English. Using them the correct way will allow you to sound more natural and effortless.

Here are some useful phrasal verbs to incorporate in your day to day work in the office.

  • Run by/past

To run something by/past someone means to show an idea or proposal to that person and ask for their approval or feedback.

Example: “I really like your proposal, I will run it by my boss and let you know how it goes.”

  • Zero in on

This phrasal verb has several meanings; however, these are the main ones:

  • To successfully narrow down a search

Example: “We have zeroed in on the source of the problem.”

  • To concentrate or focus one’s attention on at task

Example: “One member of the check fraud team will zero in on the fingerprints.

  • Sign off on

To sign off on something is to give your approval.


  • “Last year’s budget was lower than this years so my boss won’t sign off on
  • “H&M’s stores have been destroyed by protesters in South Africa because of the controversial image circulating the web. The question on everyone’s lips is: who would sign off on such an offensive image?”
  • Put off

To put something off is to postpone.


  • “We had to put off the meeting as Carol wasn’t feeling very well.”
  • “The event has been put off until next January.”


  • Lay off 

In the business context, it means to fire employees.


  • “Carol is really upset as she was laid off this morning.”
  • “2000 employees were laid off due to financial issues within the company.”


  • Sort out

To sort something out is to organize the necessary steps to solve a problem.


  • “Were you able to sort out the connection issues?”
  • “We had problems with our systems but the technician sorted it out.”


  • Call off

To call something off is to cancel or postpone


  • “She called off the meeting after most of her team was laid off.”
  • “My manager is always setting up meetings and then calling them off, it is such a waste of time.”


  • Look into 

To look into something means to examine something or someone carefully and to find out information related to that something or someone.


  • “The commission was looking into our tax breaks for last year.”
  • “The board is looking into investing in real estate at the moment.”


  • Note down

To note something down is to write something down to have a record of the information.


  • “My boss keeps asking me to note down his ideas as if I were his PA!”
  • “I always note things down; my memory isn’t what it used to be”.


  • Cash in on

To cash in on something is to make a profit out of something, especially if it was done unfairly.


  • “Polaroid is going bankrupt and Kodak is cashing in on
  • “A new biography of Michael Jackson is coming out, there is always someone cashing in on others’ success”


  • Weigh up

This phrasal verb has two meanings:

  • To look at and listen to someone in order to emit judgment.

Example: “As she spoke her boss was weighing her up

  • To think carefully about the possible outcome.

Example: “He must weigh up the pros and cons if he wants to make the right move”

  • Draw up

To draw up something is to prepare a document, list or plan.


  • “The lawyers are drawing up the contract as we speak.”
  • “I need to draw up a plan for next summer.”


  • Measure up

To measure up is to be up to someone’s or something’s standard.


  • “I am tired of trying to measure up to what they want”
  • “My boss can’t stop comparing me to others, and I never seem to measure up”


  • Pencil in

To pencil something or someone in is to arrange a plan or schedule a meeting in a tentative way. 


  • “I called to ask her on a date and she penciled me in for Tuesday at 5 pm”
  • “I have penciled the appointment in for seven o’clock on Tuesday”


  • Fall through

If a plan or a deal falls through it means it will not take place or it has failed to be completed.


  • “The negotiations to acquire the real estate company have fallen through
  • “The deal with McDonald’s fell through, we must sort something out before our boss gets wind of it”


And that is it for this article but if you’d like us to create more articles like this one let us know in the comments below and be sure to share it with friends and co-workers.

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