Business English: 10 Phrasal Verbs
Updated: Jan 31
A couple of days ago I was asked to help write a formal email to someone, we talked about what they wanted to say, and then together changed the language from informal to formal.
When the masterpiece was finished, the person I was working with noticed a lot of phrasal verbs they had not seen before. While we often do use phrasal verbs a lot in informal English, there are a set of formal phrasal verbs which can be used in the business arena, both in spoken and written form.
I've taken 10 which appeared in our email with a email/letter completion task below.
Before we get into them, it's important to know that phrasal verbs are just like verbs and they also change their form to go with the right tense. It's also important to be aware that some phrasal verbs can't be separated, that is we can't choose to put the object in the middle like we can with separable phrasal verbs. Another thing is, when we choose to use a pronoun like him/her/it/etc with a separable verb, it should always go in the middle. And lastly, they always end with a preposition and that means the word that always follows should end in an ING (gerund) or a noun, so don't be that person who ends their email with I'm looking forward to see you.... but as I'm looking forward to seeing you
Bring forward - to bring a meeting or date closer to the current time.
Due to a change in our schedule we are going to bring forward the recruitment process.
Put back - to move a meeting or date to a further date than expected
Due to a change in management we are going to put back our recruitment process by 2 months
Call off - to postpone a meeting or event until an unknown future date.
We need to call off our meeting tomorrow because our Dutch colleagues are coming to visit
Take down - to make notes, usually of numbers
Can you take down this number and then pass it on to him
Look into - to investigate possibilities and options
We are currently looking into venues that can host our conference
Break down - to make things simple and clear on how a process will work.
I have broken down the schedule of tomorrow's meeting which you can find at the bottom of the email
Stop by - to visit a place. The day and time will be given when known. Drop in - to unexpectedly visit somewhere like the office.
John dropped in and leave this contract for you
Point out - to make something clear Before I start I need to point out there is no possible way to rearrange our next meeting
Run by - to ask someone who is usually in authority to make sure it's OK.
The designs are great, but I have to run them by James who is in charge of the project
Sign off - to approve something to say it's OK
The idea is great, but I need to run it by John, he is the one who can sign it off.
Bring up - to raise a concern
We are having this meeting because we need to bring up the problems we have with the lack of sales in Japan.
Choose one of the phrasal verbs from above to complete the email.
Dear Mr X
I am writing with regards of our upcoming work's event.
Firstly, I apologise for not calling but my new secretary ...... the wrong number, so I am forced to contact you this way.
As I understand we are set for a day in May. I would prefer if we could ...... this event to April as we are ...... arranging something similar in May for our own workforce.
Another thing is I have some questions about how the day will be ...... A lot of our team will not be able to stay beyond 6pm, so I need to ...... we have the presentation process by 5pm
A side from the event I have some questions I need to ...... you in person, so I will ....... the office next week. It is nothing too serious, but I have a couple of things to ...... about our Japanese market, and I need you to ...... the order process for August
I look forward to ..... you next week
Key: took down: bring forward: looking into: broken down: point out: run by: stop by: bring up: sign off: seeing