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12 essential English idioms and expressions for the office

Before you start your internship make sure you check out these office idioms and expressions.


When something bad/unfortunate happens, your colleagues might say that you had a tough break, for example “Mark has to do all the photocopying of the brochures and leaflets from the past 5 years; he’s having such a tough break at work today.”

Your boss might say “I need you to do this ASAP!” ASAP is the abbreviation (a shortened form of a word/phrase) of ‘as soon as possible’, which means you need to complete the task as quickly as you can.

If your manager says “Well, back to the drawing board”, it means that you need to start something again by going back to the planning stage.

Call it a day”, will likely become your favourite phrase because it means that you have decided to stop working for the day. Your boss might say to you, “Let’s call it a day, you can go home.”

In a meeting you might hear “Let’s get down to business” this means let’s stop making small talk and discuss the serious topics that we wanted to talk about in this meeting.

“During your internship, you have really gone the extra mile.Go the extra mile means that you have done more than what your manager expected of you and you have really impressed him/her.

Your boss might be very busy and give you some tasks that he/she would normally do but doesn’t have time for, in which case, your boss might say “Please can you do this task for me, my hands are tied and I have no time to complete it.”

To ‘keep one’s eye on the ball’ means to not lose focus and to give your undivided attention to the task on hand. For example, your manager might say, “Make sure you keep your eye on the ball with this task, it’s very important.”

If your manager says that you will learn the ropes, it means that you will learn the basics of your internship. “Hello, welcome to the company, I will be your manager and today you are going to learn the ropes of what you will be doing during your internship.”

A co-worker might say to you, “You are so lucky that you don’t have to work nine-to-five.” This refers to the normal working hour day; most work days start at 9 a.m. and finish at 5 p.m., however the phrase can mean any usual UK working office hours (which can vary).

“He’s on a roll” means that that he is having several successes in a row, maybe you’re meeting all your targets and so your boss might say this to you.

Your manager might say “I need you to be on top of this”, which means she/he wants you to be in control of a situation/task.

Find your ideal international internship in London, Dublin, or the UK now, check out Twin Internships and contact us.