20 Business English Collocations That’ll Make Them Think You’re a Native Speaker

Have you heard of collocations and do you know what they are?

Collo-what? I hear you say. But they’re actually pretty simple.

I’ve got here the top 20 collocations used by business students and professionals in every corner of the globe.


What Are Collocations in English?

Collocations are combinations of two or more words that always go together. It’s just something English speakers do naturally. If you substituted one word for a synonym it might still be grammatically correct, but would sound strange to native speakers.

Some of the most common collocations are made up of verb + noun and noun + noun.

Let’s take a common collocation like do business, for instance. It’s natural for the verb do to be paired with the noun business. To the native English speaker, this sounds natural and makes sense.

This is why you often hear people say do business but you won’t hear them saying make business or have business, even if that might sound right in some other language.

The business world has lots of its own, specific collocations. Because these collocations are popularly and universally understood by business professionals all over the world, it’s important to recognize and be able to use them.

To become familiar with collocations, you simply have to memorize them and their meanings. This is the best way to learn because it may not always be possible or correct to translate them directly from your native language.

It would also be useful to keep a cheat sheet for reference until you’ve memorized them and are very comfortable using them. Feel free to print out a copy of the list below and pin it up at your workstation.

Words That Go Together: 20 Common Business Collocations for Natural Sounding English

Right, so now let’s get to the list of business English collocations that you can start using at your workplace right now!

Verb + Noun Collocations

1. Do business

To do business is to enter into a business relationship with another person or company.

According to an article in Entrepreneur, there are many risks to consider if you’re planning to do business in other countries.

2. Make money

To make money simply means to earn a profit from your business.

While waiting for a job offer, he’s trying to make money as a seller on Amazon.

3. Join forces

To join forces means to team up and work together with another person or business.

The Sales and Marketing Departments will join forces to promote the next product campaign.

4. Go bankrupt

To go bankrupt is a situation where a company doesn’t have enough money to pay its debts.

The weak economy is causing many companies to go bankrupt.

5. Run a company

To run a company is to be in charge of the operations of a company. The verb run here refers to the act of managing a business activity or store.

So then, you could say run a business, run a restaurant, run a flower shop, etc.

After I retire, I plan to move to the countryside and run a small business.

6. Chair a meeting

To chair a meeting is to play the role of a chairperson at a meeting.

It’s your turn to chair the sales meeting this week.

7. Lead a team

To lead a team is to be the leader of a group of people working together on a business activity.

Robert doesn’t have enough experience to lead the team.

8. Attract investors

To attract investors is to promote a business in such a way as to encourage people and companies to invest in it.

This Forbes article shows you how to attract investors to fund your own startup company.

9. Suffer losses

In business English, to suffer losses means your costs are more than your earnings. It’s usually used to talk about business investments, markets, etc.

He suffered losses in the stock market recently. That’s why he follows the market news closely every day.

10. Build trust

To build trust is to develop a strong relationship with others, where you both expect the best of each other. You wouldn’t hear an English speaker say create trust, make trust, etc.

One way to build trust with our customers is by keeping our promises to them.

11. Discontinue a product

To discontinue a product is to stop manufacturing or selling the product.

Since this line of sportswear isn’t doing well, the company may decide to discontinue the products.

12. Meet a deadline

To meet a deadline is to complete a task or job by the scheduled date.

The whole team has been working long hours to meet the deadline.

Noun + Noun Collocations

13. Customer service

You may already know this one. Customer service is about providing your customers quality support and assistance, and ensuring they’re happy with your product or service.

Good customer service is one of the main reasons customers keep coming back.

14. Price war

A price war refers to a period of intense competition between businesses where they continually lower their prices to gain more customers and increase their market share.

The best time to book your plane ticket is when airlines are having a price war.

15. Brand name

A brand name is the name a company gives to its product that makes it easy for people to recognize it. It’s typically used to refer to very well known products and indicate a certain level of quality.

I’m sure you know of famous brand names like Toyota, Kleenex, etc.

Many people will only buy brand name products.

16. Sales figures

Sales figures are used, in general, to refer to the number and amount of sales made by a business or industry over a period of time.

Don’t forget to include last year’s sales figures in your report as well.

17. Business model

A business model refers to a business plan of how a company intends to successfully make a profit. This includes many details such as the business goals, financing, products and services, market, etc.

Let’s review the success other companies have had using a business model like this one.

18. Customer base

A customer base is a group of customers who repeatedly buy your products and services.

The sporty design of this watch will appeal to a young customer base.

19. Market leader

A market leader is the company with the highest sales and largest market share in the industry.

We have to work much harder this year to maintain our position as the market leader.

20. Product launch

A product launch refers to the act of introducing a new product to the market for the first time. This usually involves marketing activities where the company draws attention to the new product.

It seems the best time for a product launch of beverages is in April, just before summer begins.


So, that’s a pretty good list of collocations to get you started. 

Collocations are so common in English, you’ll hear them in all sorts of contexts (in business and elsewhere). If you have a conversation with an English speaker, or even watch a TV show in English, you’ll notice lots of word combinations like those above.

Watching English media like TV or movies is a good way to learn various common ways of combining words. You can hear collocations in context while practicing your reading and listening skills if you use a language learning program like FluentU, which teaches English using web videos like new segments and clips from TV shows. 

All videos on FluentU have interactive subtitles, flashcards and personalized quizzes so you remember the English you learn from them. FluentU has hundreds of videos under the “business” category, with everything from videos about business culture to clips from “The Office”.

When watching English videos or hearing everyday conversations, take note of any new collocations you come across. Then look up their meanings and add them to the list above. Soon you’ll know them so well you won’t even need a cheat sheet.

As always, happy learning and keep practicing!

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