There's a lot of business English vocabulary, and it can be challenging to remember it all! This guide has simple definitions and clear examples to help you survive in the workplace. If you're a beginner or an intermediate learner, use this guide to start building your professional vocabulary. If you're an advanced learner, check your understanding and review this list to avoid making small mistakes!

  1. Part-time - working a portion of the hours in a normal work week
    • Example: He works part-time. He’s at the office three days a week and at home with his children two days a week.
  2. Full-time - working the full amount of hours in a normal work week
    • Example: I work a full-time job. Usually, I work about 40 hours a week.
  3. Time off - vacation time. We often use the verbs to have or to take when discussing time off
    • Example: I’m taking time off to visit my family. OR I have 12 days of time off this year.
  4. Freelance - earning money by doing different jobs for short periods of time, rather than having one permanent position
    • Example: She’s a freelance writer. She does projects for various newspapers and magazines.
  5. Shift (early, late, morning, night) - a scheduled period of work
    • Example: On Mondays and Wednesdays, I work the early shift. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I work the night shift.
  6. Commute - how long it takes to arrive to work by car or public transportation
    • Example: My commute is about 20 minutes every morning, but it’s 30 minutes at night with traffic.
  7. Bonus - additional money beyond your regular pay
    • Example: Normally, employees receive bonuses at the end of the year.
  8. Overtime - working more than your scheduled work hours
    • Example: During tax season, accountants typically have to work a lot of overtime.
  9. Earn (NOT WIN) - to work to make money. It’s a very common mistake to say to win money when discussing your job. To win money refers to gambling or a prize, NOT your salary
    • Example: She’s an experienced consultant, so she earns an excellent annual salary.
  10. Salary - The amount of money you make, usually refers to annual amount
    • Example: She’s only been working in marketing for three years, but she’s advanced quickly in her company and earns a fantastic salary.           
  11. Internship (paid or unpaid) -  a short-term practicum at a company
    • Example: During college, I did an unpaid internship at a non-profit organization and a paid internship at an art gallery. I learned a lot from both experiences!
  12. Work from Home - this one is easy! When you do your work at your house instead of going to the office
    • Example: Their boss is really flexible. They’re allowed to work from home twice a week.
  13. To get a raise - to receive an increase in pay
    • Example: My manager has been happy with my performance, so I got a big raise this year.
  14. To be fired - to lose your job, usually because you did something wrong
    • Example: He was fired because used his company’s budget for personal expenses.
  15. To be laid off - to lose your job, but not necessarily because you did something wrong
    • Example: The whole team was laid off after the company made huge budget cuts.
  16. To hand in one’s notice/to resign/to quit - to decide to stop working at your job
    • Example: I’m quitting my job. I’m handing in my notice at the end of the week. OR The woman resigned after 15 years with the company.
  17. Training - the period of time where you learn the necessary skills to do your job
    • Example: My company has a strict training process. Every employee must complete a full month of mandatory training.
  18. Colleagues or coworkers - the people you work with
    • Example: I work for a very small company. I only have 15 coworkers. Luckily, I really like all of my colleagues!
  19. Manager - the person who supervises your work, another word for boss
    • Example: He’s been a manager at the company for many years. He currently manages a team of twelve employees.
  20. Job review - when a manager gives an employee feedback on their performance
    • Example: The company conducts job reviews twice a year so that employees can receive helpful feedback and improve their performance.
  21. Go to work - to go to your workplace and start your workday!
    • Example: I go to work at 7 AM, Monday through Friday.
  22. Get off work - when you finish your work day
    • Example: I get off work at 5 PM, Monday through Friday.
  23. Promotion - to earn a new position in the workplace
    • Example: She received a promotion, and now she’s a manager.
  24. Maternity/Paternity leave - Maternity leave is when a mother is given vacation time after having a baby. Paternity leave is when a father is given vacation time after his child is born.
    • Example: She received four months of maternity leave when her baby was born. OR Sweden is a country with excellent paid paternity leave.
  25. Retire - To stop working, usually because of old age
    • Example: He finally retired at age 70! He had a long, important career.

Written by Mariah Wika

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