101 Business Verbs That Will Transform Your English Writing From Casual to Professional
Tweeting your friends and texting your family is very different from writing reports and sending emails at work.
When you write to your friends, family and social media followers, you use casual (informal) English. But when you write to people at work, casual English will probably sound too informal.
So what can you do to sound more professional and businesslike?
It’s not as difficult as you think. Let’s take a closer look at casual versus business English, and then I’ll give you a list of 101 verbs to use in business writing.
- Casual English vs. Business English
- 101 English Verbs for Business That Make You Sound Professional
- 1. Administer ( Manage )
- 2. Advocate ( Support )
- 3. Analyze ( Look Closely )
- 4. Apologize ( Say Sorry )
- 5. Appoint ( Pick )
- 6. Appraise ( Estimate the Value Of )
- 7. Approve ( Okay )
- 8. Arrange ( Organize )
- 9. Assign ( Give a Task To )
- 10. Assist ( Help )
- 11. Attend ( Come )
- 12. Audit ( Examine )
- 13. Authorize ( Allow )
- 14. Budget ( Plan )
- 15. Clarify ( Make Clear )
- 16. Close ( End )
- 17. Collaborate ( Work Together )
- 18. Compile ( Gather )
- 19. Complete ( Finish )
- 20. Compute ( Calculate )
- 21. Conduct ( Carry Out )
- 22. Consolidate ( Combine )
- 23. Contact ( Get in Touch With )
- 24. Convert ( Change )
- 25. Coordinate ( Get To Work Together )
- 26. Critique ( Review )
- 27. Customize ( Personalize )
- 28. Delegate ( Assign )
- 29. Deliver ( Bring )
- 30. Discuss ( Talk About )
- 31. Direct ( Lead )
- 32. Dispatch ( Send )
- 33. Diversify ( Vary )
- 34. Document (Record)
- 35. Draft ( Write )
- 36. Earn ( Make Money )
- 37. Eliminate ( Remove )
- 38. Empower ( Enable )
- 39. Ensure ( Make Sure )
- 40. Estimate ( Guess )
- 41. Evaluate ( Think Over )
- 42. Execute ( Put Into Action )
- 43. Expand ( Grow )
- 44. Explain ( Tell About )
- 45. Facilitate ( Make It Easier )
- 46. Forecast ( Predict )
- 47. Impact ( Affect )
- 48. Implement ( Make Something Happen )
- 49. Inform ( Let Someone Know )
- 50. Initiate ( Start )
- 51. Innovate ( Come Up With a New Idea )
- 52. Interpret ( Make Sense Of )
- 53. Invest ( Put Money In )
- 54. Iterate ( Repeat )
- 55. Launch ( Introduce )
- 56. Maximize ( Increase )
- 57. Minimize ( Cut Down )
- 58. Modernize ( Update )
- 59. Monitor ( Watch Closely )
- 60. Negotiate ( Find a Middle Ground )
- 61. Operate ( Run )
- 62. Optimize ( Improve )
- 63. Oversee ( Watch Over )
- 64. Prepare ( Get Ready )
- 65. Present ( Show )
- 66. Prioritize ( Rank )
- 67. Propose ( Suggest )
- 68. Provide ( Give )
- 69. Pursue ( Look For )
- 70. Qualify ( Meet the Requirements )
- 71. Quantify ( Measure )
- 72. Receive ( Get )
- 73. Recruit ( Hire )
- 74. Reinforce ( Toughen )
- 75. Reject (Refuse)
- 76. Renew ( Extend )
- 77. Reply ( Answer )
- 78. Report ( Give Information )
- 79. Represent ( Stand For )
- 80. Reserve ( Book )
- 81. Resolve ( Find a Solution )
- 82. Restore ( Bring Back )
- 83. Restructure ( Reorganize )
- 84. Retain ( Keep )
- 85. Retire ( Stop Working )
- 86. Retrieve ( Get Back )
- 87. Revise ( Make Changes To )
- 88. Satisfy ( Reach )
- 89. Screen ( Filter )
- 90. Select ( Choose )
- 91. Specify ( Give More Information )
- 92. Submit ( Hand In )
- 93. Sustain ( Maintain )
- 94. Target ( Aim )
- 95. Test ( Try )
- 96. Train ( Teach )
- 97. Troubleshoot ( Solve Problems )
- 98. Utilize ( Use )
- 99. Validate ( Confirm )
- 100. Value ( Appreciate )
- 101. Verify ( Double-check )
Casual English vs. Business English
You probably already use casual (everyday) English, which makes you sound natural, friendly and informal. For example, to greet a friend, you might say “Hey!”
Business English, on the other hand, uses formal words that sound professional. If you see a coworker or business partner, you might say “Hello” instead, for example. We also want to be more concise (to the point) in business, which means using fewer words to convey (show) the same meaning.
Luckily it’s not hard to sound professional in your business writing. Sometimes it can be as easy as replacing one or two casual words or phrases with a professional word.
Note that although we’re suggesting them for writing, the 101 verbs below can be used in both written and spoken English. So apart from using them in your business writing, don’t be afraid to use all of the professional verbs below when speaking at work or in business situations. And while professional words make you sound more formal, you can still use these verbs in casual settings as well.
Now let’s look at 101 professional verbs you can use to replace the “casual” verbs in parentheses. I’ll talk about whether you can use them interchangeably (be able to replace one with the other), give you example sentences for each word and quick notes on each.
101 English Verbs for Business That Make You Sound Professional
1. Administer ( Manage )
You can use both “administer” and “manage” in a business context. “Administer,” however, has a more formal meaning (can you guess what an administrator does?) and will sound strange if used in a casual context.
Casual: She manages the day-to-day operations to make sure everything goes smoothly.
Professional: Mr. Smith is responsible for administering the team’s projects.
2. Advocate ( Support )
“Advocate” and “support” can be both verbs and nouns. In noun form, an “advocate” means “someone who advocates or supports.”
Casual: I will support your decisions no matter what.
Professional: The CEO advocates for more women in upper management positions.
3. Analyze ( Look Closely )
In British English, “analyze” is spelled as “analyse.” The resulting product or report would be an analysis .
Casual: Look closely at that spot on the wall.
Professional: They regularly analyze customer feedback to figure out how to improve their products.
4. Apologize ( Say Sorry )
We usually use the phrase “say sorry” with children and in other casual situations. In business, however, we often use the verb “apologize” instead.
Casual: You should say sorry for making her worry.
Professional: We should apologize for making the customer wait.
In business, we often use the word “apology,” the noun form of the verb “apologize.” If you are in a situation where you need to say sorry or apologize, you owe (someone) an apology.
We owe the customer an apology for making him wait.
5. Appoint ( Pick )
As a business verb, “appoint” is always used for a person and in a formal context. “Pick,” on the other hand, is better suited to a casual context and applies to a broader range of objects.
Casual: Do you know who they picked as the new manager?
Professional: The board of directors appointed Ms. Perez as the new COO.
6. Appraise ( Estimate the Value Of )
“Appraise” is often used in the context of assessing or estimating the value of an asset (something that has monetary value) like real estate or jewelry.
Casual: Can you estimate the value of a watch just by looking at it?
Professional: The real estate agent wants to appraise the value of the property.
7. Approve ( Okay )
Managers have a lot of responsibilities, including approving (or not approving) leaves, projects, etc. Of course, you’ll hardly ever hear the word “okay” used in a business context, but the two can be interchangeable in a casual context.
Casual: My manager okayed my vacation leave.
Professional: My manager approved my maternity leave.
8. Arrange ( Organize )
In a business context, “arrange” has a slightly different meaning from, say, arranging the clothes in your closet. Here, it means something like planning a meeting, trip, etc.
Casual: Amy organized a birthday party for her sister Elsa.
Professional: Have you arranged the meeting with the client?
9. Assign ( Give a Task To )
“Assign” and “give a task to” are interchangeable, although “assign” is much more concise.
Casual: I think you should give that task to Carla.
Professional: You may want to assign that task to Carla.
10. Assist ( Help )
While the word “help” can be used as both a verb and a noun, in this example it is used as a verb. You can use the verb “assist” instead in the context of getting help or support from someone.
Casual: I need you to help John with his homework.
Professional: I need you to assist the customer with his laptop.
“Help” can also be used as a noun. Similarly you can replace it with the noun form of the verb “assist,” which is “assistance.”
Casual: I need your help with my homework.
Professional: This customer needs your assistance with his laptop.
11. Attend ( Come )
“Come” can only be replaced with the professional verb “attend” in the context of coming or being present at an event (such as a seminar or training course).
Casual: I’m sorry but I can’t come to your brother’s wedding.
Professional: I’m sorry but I can’t attend this week’s meeting.
12. Audit ( Examine )
“Audit” usually means to examine something (like a report) and make sure it follows certain standards. “Examine” can be used to replace “audit” but not the other way around, since “examine” is a more general term.
Casual: I think we should examine those numbers more closely.
Professional: My job is to audit the employees’ performance reviews.
13. Authorize ( Allow )
Unlike in a casual context, someone who authorizes or allows something in a business context always does so in writing. Again, you can replace “authorize” with “allow,” but it doesn’t work the other way.
Casual: Her parents are really strict. They don’t even allow her to have her own phone.
Professional: The manager authorized the transfer of funds.
14. Budget ( Plan )
Both “budget” and “plan” can be used as nouns and verbs. This is another case where you can replace “budget” with “plan,” but you cannot replace “plan” with “budget” because budget specifically refers to how money is managed.
Casual: How will you plan for that trip to Japan?
Professional: We need to budget the funds carefully.
15. Clarify ( Make Clear )
This is one of those rare instances where using a formal word like “clarify” wouldn’t look too weird in a casual context. You can replace one with the other, but “clarify” is a much shorter way of asking someone to help you understand something better.
Casual: The teacher made clear what the consequences of plagiarism are.
Professional: Can you please clarify this section under Item 1, Paragraph 9?
16. Close ( End )
In a business context, you’ll usually hear “close” in phrases like “close the deal” or “close the case.” It means that you are formally ending something.
Also, when you pronounce “close” as a verb, you say something like “cloze.”
Casual: Let’s end the negotiations.
Professional: Let us close the deal.
17. Collaborate ( Work Together )
“Collaborate” is always used as a verb and in a business context. It’s similar to “cooperate,” except “collaborate” usually means working together with people or teams you don’t necessarily have a close relationship with. “Work together” can be used in a formal context too.
Casual: I’m excited to work together with you!
Professional: The marketing and accounting departments are collaborating with each other to organize the party.
Often, you use collaborate + with/on in a sentence using this word.
18. Compile ( Gather )
Both “gather” and “compile” can be used in a formal context.
Casual: Jane was assigned to gather the data for the research project.
Professional: Jane was assigned to compile the data for the research project.
19. Complete ( Finish )
When you work in an office, few things feel better than officially marking something as “complete” or “done.” This is another business verb that’s fine to use in any context.
Casual: Did you finish your homework last night?
Professional: I have completed that 100-page report at last.
20. Compute ( Calculate )
Both “compute” and “calculate” can be used in a formal and casual context and are therefore interchangeable.
Casual: I’m not good at calculating how much my budget should be.
Professional: The accountant computed how much the company is worth.
21. Conduct ( Carry Out )
“Carry out” isn’t likely to be used in a business context. “Conduct,” on the other hand, can be done on things like research, interviews, etc.
Also, when you’re using “conduct” as a verb, you pronounce it with the stress on the second syllable. If it’s a noun, the stress is on the first syllable.
Casual: I’m going to carry out the plan.
Professional: HR is responsible for conducting interviews.
22. Consolidate ( Combine )
“Consolidate” will sound very strange if you use it in a casual context. “Combine,” on the other hand, is suitable for both business and casual contexts.
Casual: When you’re cooking, it’s essential that you know how to combine ingredients.
Professional: The two companies will consolidate and form one big company.
23. Contact ( Get in Touch With )
Both the phrase “get in touch with” and the verb “contact” are used in spoken casual and business English. However, in written business English, “contact” is shorter and conveys the meaning better.
Casual: I tried to get in touch with you about the Christmas party.
Professional: I tried to contact you about next week’s sales meeting.
24. Convert ( Change )
This is another instance where both words can be interchanged and used in formal and informal contexts. Note, however, that “convert” typically means a major change, while “change” can refer to minor adjustments or modifications.
Casual: I want to change the room decor.
Professional: Our goal is to convert website visitors into paying customers.
25. Coordinate ( Get To Work Together )
“Coordinate” has a similar meaning to “arrange.” You can also use “get to work together” in a business context, though “coordinate” is shorter and more professional.
Casual: We should get those two departments to work together.
Professional: We should coordinate those two departments.
26. Critique ( Review )
“Critique” is more likely to be used in a formal context. If it’s used in an informal context, it’d probably be in a tongue-in-cheek (not serious) way like “Let me critique your choice of clothes.”
Casual: I will review that TV show in a bit.
Professional: Good managers offer constructive critiques for the people who work under them.
27. Customize ( Personalize )
In British English, you’ll see that “customize” can be spelled as “customise.” Both words can be used in a formal and informal context.
Casual: I love how the coffee shop personalizes each cup to each customer.
Professional: When you customize products, you make the customers who buy them feel special.
28. Delegate ( Assign )
“Delegate” has a similar meaning to “assign.” However, “delegate” is usually done by those in managerial positions to ensure that work is done faster or more smoothly. If you’re simply giving a task to a person, that’s not necessarily “delegating”: that’s simply “assigning.”
Casual: I decided to assign cleaning duties to my siblings.
Professional: The manager delegated tasks equally among the employees.
29. Deliver ( Bring )
It’s possible to interchange “deliver” and “bring” in a formal context. But you should be aware that “deliver” usually means the act of taking something to a destination with a goal or purpose, whereas “bring” means simply carrying something without necessarily having a goal in mind.
In a business context, “deliver” can be used for abstract (cannot be touched) objects like results.
Casual: Don’t forget to bring your passport and visa when you’re flying out of the country.
Professional: The boss wants us to deliver results as quickly as possible.
30. Discuss ( Talk About )
With friends, you might say you need to “talk about” your vacation or the birthday party you are planning. But in business, we usually use the verb “discuss” instead.
Many English learners make the mistake of using “discuss about.” Here again, the word “about” is redundant because “discuss” by itself means “to talk about.”
Casual: Let’s talk about how to solve this math problem.
Professional: Let’s discuss what information to put in this report.
31. Direct ( Lead )
Luckily, you can interchange “direct” and “lead” in a business context. “Direct” isn’t often used in casual contexts, however.
Casual: I like to lead when it comes to planning trips.
Professional: The supervisor directed the whole team throughout the project.
32. Dispatch ( Send )
You’ll often hear the word “dispatch” in the context of deliveries or when sending someone out for business reasons (e.g., dispatching a salesperson to a customer’s home). These two words are interchangeable as well.
Casual: Sorry, I forgot to send you a message yesterday.
Professional: The company dispatched their best salesmen to the supplier’s main office.
33. Diversify ( Vary )
“Diversify” is another word that would sound out of place in casual conversation. You’ll often see it used to refer to what should be done with an investment portfolio (a collection of assets like stocks, bonds, etc.), for example.
Casual: I’m a creature of habit. I don’t vary the style of my clothes on a day-to-day basis.
Professional: Personal finance experts always recommend diversifying your portfolio.
34. Document (Record)
Both “document” and “record” can be used in formal contexts, but “document” looks odd when used in casual conversations. Interestingly, both can be verbs and nouns.
Take note that when “record” is used as a verb, you put the stress on the second syllable. When it’s a noun, the stress is on the first syllable.
Casual: My grandfather likes to record his favorite lines from movies.
Professional: In the office, it’s important to document proof of what you’ve achieved.
35. Draft ( Write )
You can use “draft” and “write” in place of each other. If you want to sound more professional, though, use “draft.” “Draft” can also be a noun that means a completed written work, but “write” is always a verb.
Casual: Mary writes stories in her spare time.
Professional: Can you please draft a letter to the director for me?
36. Earn ( Make Money )
In a business context, it’s more acceptable to use “earn” than “make money.” You can interchange the two in an informal context, though.
Casual: To be honest, I work solely to make money.
Professional: Every company has earning profits as its priority.
37. Eliminate ( Remove )
Like the previous entry, “eliminate” is more acceptable in a formal context than “remove” is.
Casual: We should remove the old paint from the house.
Professional: They eliminated unnecessary steps to increase production.
38. Empower ( Enable )
When you are “empowered,” that means you are given the resources and confidence to do what you are supposed to. “Empower” and “enable” can both be used in formal contexts—”empower” even more so.
Casual: Having a lot of money enables me to do what I want.
Professional: The program empowers employees who have trouble at work to be open about their problems.
39. Ensure ( Make Sure )
“Make sure” and “ensure” are very similar in meaning and usage. It’s perfectly okay to say “make sure” in spoken business English, but in writing, “ensure” sounds more professional.
Oftentimes, you may see the usage “ensure that,” as in “Please ensure that you follow my instructions carefully.” There’s no difference in meaning between the two sentence structures.
Casual: Please make sure you follow the recipe I gave you.
Professional: Please ensure you follow my instructions carefully.
40. Estimate ( Guess )
You can use both “estimate” and “guess” in a casual context. In a formal context, however, “estimate” is the more appropriate word to use.
Casual: Can you guess how many apples are in the box?
Professional: They estimated that the project would take five years to complete.
41. Evaluate ( Think Over )
Now this one’s pretty straightforward—”evaluate” is almost always used only in a formal context, while you’ll almost never hear “think over” in a business letter.
Casual: I want to think over my decision carefully.
Professional: The hiring manager evaluates the applicants based on a whole range of factors.
42. Execute ( Put Into Action )
“Execute” is simply business speak for doing something—whether it’s a plan or project. You can use “execute” instead of “put (something) into action” to make your sentence sound more formal.
Casual: Let’s put the plan into action.
Professional: Let’s execute the plan.
43. Expand ( Grow )
You can actually replace “expand” and “grow” with each other—though again, “expand” has a more businesslike connotation.
Casual: I want to grow my business.
Professional: I want to expand the market for my products.
44. Explain ( Tell About )
We ask our friends to tell us about how they plan to spend their holiday. While to “tell about” is to give some information, “explain” means to tell about something in more detail and to make it clear. In business, we often use “explain” to give or ask for more detailed information about something.
A common mistake made by English learners is to use the phrase “explain about.” The word “about” here is redundant (repetitive, unnecessary) as “explain” by itself means “to tell about.”
Casual: Can you tell me about the book you’ve just read?
Professional: Please explain these sales figures to me. .
Sentence structure: explain + [noun] (+ to [person/pronoun])
45. Facilitate ( Make It Easier )
“Facilitate” is always used as a verb, and is typically used in a formal context.
Casual: Artificial intelligence should make it easier to do our jobs.
Professional: I was responsible for facilitating the meeting and making sure that everything runs smoothly.
46. Forecast ( Predict )
You may have heard of “weather forecasts.” In a business context, “forecast” can be used as both a verb and a noun. To “forecast” means to predict future events based on historical or past data. “Predict” may also be used in a formal context.
Casual: I predict that it will be cloudy tomorrow.
Professional: The company forecasts a growth in earnings for the next year.
47. Impact ( Affect )
Both “impact” and “affect” can be a verb and a noun. Both are also appropriate for formal and informal contexts. As a noun, “affect” means “the way a person presents themselves.”
Casual: The news affected her in a profound way.
Professional: Inflation impacts product prices.
48. Implement ( Make Something Happen )
Like “execute,” “implement” means to put something into action. You can use phrases like “make something happen” for marketing slogans (phrases designed to catch attention). But for in-office communications, “implement” would be more appropriate.
Casual: Don’t just dream about your goal; make it happen.
Professional: The company will implement new safety protocols to prevent future accidents from occurring.
49. Inform ( Let Someone Know )
While the phrase”let you know” is commonly used in spoken business English, the verb “inform” is used in business writing to sound more professional.
Casual: I will let you know later if I can meet you for lunch.
Professional: Later I will inform you which reports I need.
50. Initiate ( Start )
“Initiate” can be used as a noun and a verb. As a verb, it’s best used in a formal context. As a noun, it means “someone who is new to a group or organization.”
Casual: I will start that project tomorrow.
Professional: The manager initiated a discussion on boosting employee morale.
51. Innovate ( Come Up With a New Idea )
“Innovate” is always a verb. Aside from “coming up with new ideas,” it can also mean making changes to something that already exists to make it better.
Casual: We need to come up with new ideas to keep the customers excited.
Professional: They innovated their manufacturing process to reduce costs.
52. Interpret ( Make Sense Of )
“Interpret” can be used in a formal and informal context. “Make sense of,” on the other hand, is best suited for informal use.
Casual: I could not make sense of her behavior.
Professional: How would you interpret this data?
53. Invest ( Put Money In )
Similarly, “invest” can be used in a business and casual context, while “put money in” should be reserved for casual use.
Casual: Because I put money into the stock market, I’m earning so much more money now.
Professional: You should invest your money into other assets.
Sentence structure: invest + (money) + in + [noun]
54. Iterate ( Repeat )
Instead of “repeat,” you can use “iterate” to sound more professional.
Casual: Let me repeat what I just said.
Professional: Let me iterate the importance of listening to employee feedback.
55. Launch ( Introduce )
“Launch” can also be a noun that refers to the act of launching (e.g. a product launch).
Casual: The company introduced their new phone model yesterday.
Professional: The company launched a marketing campaign to promote the upcoming event.
56. Maximize ( Increase )
I used “increase” as a synonym to “maximize” for simplicity’s sake. However, the exact meaning of this verb in a business context is to make the best use of company resources to their full potential.
Casual: You can increase your monthly savings with these tips.
Professional: Let’s talk about how employees can maximize their time at work.
57. Minimize ( Cut Down )
Conversely, “minimize” is a business verb that means to keep something as low as possible.
Casual: We need to cut down on unnecessary expenses.
Professional: We need to minimize unnecessary expenses.
58. Modernize ( Update )
If you see “modernize” spelled as “modernise,” that’s okay. The second one is basically the British English form. Both are verbs suitable for a formal context. “Update” can be used in a formal context too, and can even work as a noun (like the “software updates” on your phone or computer, for example).
Casual: We should update the look of the office.
Professional: We should modernize the look of the office.
59. Monitor ( Watch Closely )
“Monitor” can be both a noun and a verb. As a verb, it means to keep track or observe something regularly to make sure it’s working as it should. The noun form, on the other hand, can refer to the thing or person doing the monitoring—or what you’re looking at right now as you’re reading this post!
Casual: You should watch your child closely when you’re outside.
Professional: The security guard monitors what’s going on in the building using CCTV cameras.
60. Negotiate ( Find a Middle Ground )
“Negotiating” is an English business verb that means having discussions and trying to come to an agreement that will (or should) benefit everyone involved. It’s similar to the idiom “find a middle ground,” which is more often used in a casual context.
Casual: After having a fight, the brother and sister finally found a middle ground.
Professional: The two companies will negotiate the terms of the deal.
61. Operate ( Run )
“Operate” is a verb that means to manage a system or machine. “Run” is its casual counterpart.
Casual: They run a chain of restaurants across the continent.
Professional: They operate a chain of restaurants across the continent.
62. Optimize ( Improve )
Similar to “maximize,” “optimize” is a formal way of describing the best use of resources to their full or maximum potential. It’s also spelled “optimise” in British English.
Casual: The manager improved the company’s processes.
Professional: The manager optimized the company’s processes to maximize earnings.
63. Oversee ( Watch Over )
“Oversee” is a verb that is always used in a formal context.
Casual: He watches over the construction site to make sure the workers are safe.
Professional: He oversees the construction site to ensure the safety of the workers.
64. Prepare ( Get Ready )
We commonly tell children or our friends to “get ready” for a trip or an event. In business, the verb “prepare” is often used instead.
Casual: We’re working hard to get ready for our class presentation.
Professional: We’ve been working late to prepare for our sales launch.
Sentence structure: prepare + for + [task/event]
Another common sentence structure: prepare + [noun]
We’ve been working late to prepare our annual sales report.
65. Present ( Show )
As a business verb, “present” means to show, and the stress is on the second syllable. (When it’s a noun, the stress is on the first syllable.) It’s where the word presentation , or an event when you show something to an audience, comes from.
Casual: They showed their findings at the conference.
Professional: They presented their findings at the afternoon meeting.
66. Prioritize ( Rank )
In British English, “prioritize” becomes “prioritise.” It means to rank tasks or activities from most to least important. “Rank” is a more general term that refers to ordering people, objects, tasks, etc. according to certain criteria or requirements.
Casual: The contestants were ranked according to how many votes they got from the audience.
Professional: We should prioritize Project A over Project B since the deadline is earlier.
67. Propose ( Suggest )
You can actually use both “propose” and “suggest” in a formal context, though “propose” sounds more businesslike.
Casual: I suggest we update the company guidelines.
Professional: I propose we update the company guidelines.
68. Provide ( Give )
While “give” has many meanings, it would only be correct to replace it with the professional verb “provide” when handing something to someone (such as a document or pin code).
Casual: Could you give me your cell phone number?
Professional: Could you provide us with a copy of the sales report?
Sentence structure: provide + [person/pronoun] + with + [noun]
Another common sentence structure: provide + [noun] + to + [person/pronoun]
Could you provide a copy of the sales report to us?
69. Pursue ( Look For )
In a business context, you’ll often see the phrase “pursue opportunities.” .
Casual: I’m looking for job opportunities in other companies.
Professional: I want to pursue career opportunities elsewhere.
70. Qualify ( Meet the Requirements )
“Qualify” and “meet the requirements” are both acceptable in a formal context. Since “qualify” is more concise, though, I suggest using that instead.
Casual: He needs to meet the requirements to get into that university.
Professional: He needs to qualify for that advanced training program.
71. Quantify ( Measure )
This is another pair of words that work just fine in a formal context—with “quantify” having a more businesslike connotation to it.
Casual: They measure how well the employees perform based on how much they produce.
Professional: They quantify employee performance using production metrics.
72. Receive ( Get )
The verb “get” is another common verb that can be used in many different ways. However, in this case, “get” may only be replaced with “receive” in the context of receiving something from someone (such as an email or phone call).
Casual: Did you get the message I sent you yesterday?
Professional: Did you receive the customer complaint form?
73. Recruit ( Hire )
Like many of the words on this list, “recruit” and “hire” are interchangeable in a formal context. In an informal context, however, “hire” is more likely to be used.
Casual: I got hired by my dream company yesterday!
Professional: The company recruited her as their new marketing manager.
74. Reinforce ( Toughen )
“Reinforce” is best used for formal contexts, while “toughen” (which often appears in the phrase “toughen up” ) sounds best in casual conversation.
Casual: It’s best to toughen up when things get difficult.
Professional: They reinforced their commitment to customer satisfaction.
75. Reject (Refuse)
Both “reject” and “refuse” can function as verbs and nouns. As a noun, “refuse” means something that has been thrown away. The noun form is pronounced with the stress on the first syllable, while the verb form has the stress on the second syllable.
Casual: I refuse to be treated like dirt.
Professional: The company rejected his job application because they found someone more qualified.
76. Renew ( Extend )
In a business context, “renew” involves paying to extend a contract or lease. Note that “extend” has a more general meaning, and does not necessarily involve payment.
Casual: Salli was enjoying her vacation so much that she extended it by one more week.
Professional: Did you renew the contract? I believe it expired yesterday.
77. Reply ( Answer )
The words “answer” and “reply” can easily be used in place of each another. They also both work as nouns and pronouns.
Casual: When are you going to answer my email?
Professional: When will you reply to my email?
Sentence structure: reply + to + [noun/pronoun]
78. Report ( Give Information )
“Report” can be both a noun and a verb. As a noun, it refers to the document that provides information.
Casual: The papers gave me enough information to make a solid case.
Professional: They reported a massive increase in web traffic.
79. Represent ( Stand For )
“Represent” works best when talking to business associates, while “stand for” is best used in casual conversations.
Casual: This figurine stands for my favorite character.
Professional: The salesman represents the company in negotiations.
80. Reserve ( Book )
While “book” can be used as a noun as well as an adjective, here it is used as a verb. In this case, the verb “book” can be replaced with the verb “reserve” in the context of registering for a future event (such as a seminar or conference), or holding a venue (location) or item for future use (such as the conference room or rental car).
Casual: It’s better to book your train tickets early during the holiday season.
Professional: It’s better to reserve your seat for the seminar as soon as possible.
81. Resolve ( Find a Solution )
Both “resolve” and “find a solution” can work in formal contexts, with “resolve” being the more concise version.
Casual: Let’s find a solution to this problem.
Professional: The customer service representative resolved the problem by offering a refund.
82. Restore ( Bring Back )
“Bring back” is never used in formal contexts (though it can also work as a catchy slogan!), while “restore” works fine as a business verb.
Casual: Bring back the pink drinks!
Professional: The system was restored just in time.
83. Restructure ( Reorganize )
Both “restructure” and “reorganize” can work in a formal context. However, “restructure” is often specific to major changes in organizations, companies, etc.
Casual: I will reorganize my files when I get the chance.
Professional: They restructured the company so that operations are more efficient.
84. Retain ( Keep )
“Retain” is simply a more formal way of saying “keep.”
Casual: Good bosses do what they can to keep their best employees.
Professional: Good bosses do what they can to retain their best employees.
85. Retire ( Stop Working )
Depending on where you are, you may be asked to “retire” once you reach a certain age (usually around 60 to 65 years old). “Retire” can also mean to put something away, like “retire an old computer.”
Casual: Once I get a million dollars, I’m going to stop working.
Professional: She retired after a long and successful career at the company.
86. Retrieve ( Get Back )
“Get back” is never used in a formal context, while “retrieve” often is.
Casual: If your ring fell into the ocean, it will be hard to get it back.
Professional: Let me teach you how to retrieve deleted files from your computer.
87. Revise ( Make Changes To )
This is another example where both words/phrases can be interchanged, but it’s better to use the more concise version—in this case, “revise.”
Casual: My editor wants me to make changes to the article.
Professional: My manager wants me to revise the report.
88. Satisfy ( Reach )
You may have heard of the verb “satisfy” used to mean “to make something or someone happy.” In a business context, “satisfy” means to reach a goal or meet requirements.
Casual: I managed to reach my target for this week.
Professional: They were able to satisfy the bank’s requirements for a loan.
89. Screen ( Filter )
You’ll often see “screen” in a phrase like “screening applicants.” It means to review something or someone and see if they fit particular requirements.
Casual: You can filter the products according to price.
Professional: They screened the job applicants carefully.
90. Select ( Choose )
Here again, “choose” and “select” can be used to replace each other quite easily.
Casual: You may choose the color you like.
Professional: You may select the sample reports to print.
Sentence structure: select + [noun/pronoun]
Another common sentence structure: select + from + [noun]
You may select from this range of products.
91. Specify ( Give More Information )
You can also use “give more information” in a formal context, but “specify” sums up what you’re trying to say just fine.
Casual: Can you give more information about what you’re talking about?
Professional: Can you specify which of these products you prefer?
92. Submit ( Hand In )
We use the phrasal verb “hand in” when talking about homework and assignments. However, we usually use the verb “submit” instead when talking about job applications, business documents, etc.
Casual: I need to hand in my English writing assignment.
Professional: I need to submit my weekly report to the finance office.
Sentence structure: submit + [noun/pronoun] (+ to)
93. Sustain ( Maintain )
Both “sustain” and “maintain” can be used in formal contexts and are interchangeable. As for the casual context, “maintain” works better.
Casual: The athlete maintained their winning record.
Professional: We want to sustain our efforts to protect the environment.
94. Target ( Aim )
Both “target” and “aim” can be verbs and nouns. If you’re using “aim” as a verb, you’ll usually find it in the phrases like “aim for” or “aim to.”
Casual: Let’s aim for the stars.
Professional: The product was targeted at young people in their twenties.
95. Test ( Try )
You can use both “test” and “try” in a formal context. “Try” has a broader meaning, though, and usually doesn’t involve meeting targets or metrics the way “test” does.
Casual: How about trying this ingredient in your cooking?
Professional: The job of the quality assurance team is to test software for bugs or errors.
96. Train ( Teach )
When you’re new to a company, the company’s existing employees will train you—meaning they will teach you everything you need to know about how the company operates, what your job responsibilities are, etc.
“Teach” has a more general meaning—for example, you can teach an older person how to use new technology—so it’s not necessarily interchangeable with “train.”
Casual: I will teach you everything you need to know about how this machine works.
Professional: It’s the supervisor’s job to train new employees.
97. Troubleshoot ( Solve Problems )
“Troubleshoot” means to find out why a problem occurred and how to fix it. Interestingly, you can also use “troubleshoot” in a casual context ( “Hey neighbor, can you troubleshoot my computer for me?” ).
Casual: She’s good at solving problems.
Professional: It took them three days to troubleshoot the system crash.
98. Utilize ( Use )
When you replace “use” with “utilize,” you instantly sound more formal. “Utilize” shouldn’t be used in a casual context at all, though.
Casual: I use this app to get things done.
Professional: The company utilizes social media to promote its products.
99. Validate ( Confirm )
Both “validate” and “confirm” can be used in a business context. “Confirm” has a somewhat broader meaning than “validate,” though, which is to check if something is true or accurate.
Casual: Did you confirm that these people are attending the party?
Professional: This stamp validates this document and proves that it is legal.
100. Value ( Appreciate )
The verbs “value” and “appreciate” can be replaced with each other in a formal context. Funnily enough, “appreciate” (despite being a longer word) is considered more informal than “value.”
Casual: I appreciate the advice you gave me yesterday.
Professional: We always value customer feedback.
101. Verify ( Double-check )
“Verify” has a similar meaning as “validate;” in fact, the two are interchangeable. On the other hand, “double-check” works best in a casual context.
Casual: Can you double-check if the doors are locked?
Professional: It’s their job to verify if all the documents are valid and accurate.
Now that wasn’t so bad, was it?
Now that you have mastered these 101 professional verbs, be sure to practice using them in your business writing at work every day.
And if you want to learn many more verbs that’ll make you sound professional, check out FluentU. It’s a language program that uses authentic videos to teach you English in context, and it happens to have a number of business videos.