82 Industry-Specific English Expressions & Phrases for Non-native English Speakers

By Robby

If you are new here please read this first.


Improve Spoken English

If you’re a non-native English speaking professional employed in a specific industry such as medical and pharmacy, military, education, accountancy, human resources or legal industry, your daily duties involve using a lot of specific terminology and phraseology.

Sure enough, you got your job by virtue of very decent English skills paired with relevant qualification and educational background, so it kind of goes without saying that your English is quite good and you’re not looking for basic English improving related information aimed mainly at beginner English learners.

Having said this, we have to admit that English learning and improvement is a lifetime long process and you just have to keep on top of your specific industry-related language in order to remain a top-notch specialist, stay competitive in the jobs market, and also retain that edge that identifies you as a savvy industry specialist embracing change and always ready to adopt!

So, here I’ve compiled 82 various technical English idiomatic expressions and phraseology that will definitely come in handy for you in your day-to-day job as well as recruitment process if you’re currently seeking for a new job or aiming to get a promotion in your current organization.

Just scroll down to read the entire list of phrases or click on one of the links below to go to a specific phrase category:

Childcare-related Phraseology

Childcare English phrases
Biological parents – this is how you describe real parents of a child.

Emotionally attached – this phrase can be used to describe the fact that a child is very close to a particular person: “I noticed Emma is emotionally attached to her child-minder more so than to her mother!”

The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree! – this typical English idiom can be used when describing a child’s behavior which is very similar to that of their parents.

Acting out – this phrasal verb describes loud and often attention-seeking behavior such as disobeying adults, shouting and hurting other kids. Example sentence: “I can’t understand why Sarah is constantly acting out while at school – at home she’s a lovely and quiet child…”

Healthy balanced diet – to insure an optimal child’s physical and also mental development, it’s essential to provide them with plenty of high-quality nutrients which can be described in other words as healthy balanced diet.

NEW! You did exceptionally well! – this is how you congratulate a child on a job well done and make them grow their self-esteem and confidence. Obviously, if you’re a good childcare worker, you’ll be using this particular English phrase all the time!

Education-related Phraseology

Education English Phrases
Attain a degree – this is how you describe getting a degree in a specific academic field.

Common denominator – this mathematics term can be used whenever you want to describe characteristics shared by a number of objects: “Aspiration to excel in test results is the common denominator of all first-year students.”

Conventional wisdom is a widely accepted general knowledge that everyone agrees on such as the food pyramid in nutrition or the role of exercising in prevention of cardio-vascular disease.

Elaborate on it – explain the matter in a bigger detail.

Learning curve describes one’s learning experiences; if you’re making good progress in your studies, it’s said you’re on a fast learning curve.

Social acceptance – when society generally accepts certain behavior and standards, we talk about social acceptance.

Transcend boundaries of – to go beyond certain limitations; for example: “People’s desire to gain better education transcends boundaries of geographical location and available resources.”

With flying colors means with great success – “My son graduated with flying colors!”

NEW! Open your books to page – this is how you tell your class to open a specific page in the book. The thing that you have to pay a particular attention to is the way it’s worded – “TO page” – so please make sure to memorize this phrase exactly the way it’s worded!

NEW! Has everyone done their homework? – if you want to make sure your students have done their homework, you may want to use this phrase in the beginning of the lesson. Obviously, more often than not it’s just a rhetorical question, but still it doesn’t hurt to ask it.

NEW! You’ll get there eventually! – we all know only too well that not all students will do their utmost when it comes to their studies. Also, some students need a little bit more time to accomplish the task in question – so this phrase will come in handy in situations when the student is feeling down and you want to lift their spirits by pointing out the fact that eventually they’re going to do what’s required.

Financial Language

Financial English phrases
Bottom line – the profit or loss figure. This term originates in real life accountancy whereby you draw a bottom line in the books and then you write the final figure of profit or loss.

Mounting debt – a massive, constantly growing debt.

Debt consolidation – when you have a number of loans such as a car loan, personal loans and credit card debt all put together in order to make it easier to manage your personal debt, it’s called debt consolidation.

Defer a payment – if you want to postpone a payment (pay it at a later date), you can say things like “I’d like to defer my car loan repayment, is that possible?” when visiting your bank and you’re going to sound really smart and professional!

Pay in installments – this financial English expression describes dividing a lump sum of money into smaller parts and paying them over a longer period of time. For example, when you’re buying a new PC or laptop, you can ask the hardware store shop-assistant: “By the way, can I pay for this PC in installments? And if yes, then what’s the maximum term you offer?”

General Business English

Business English Phrases
Call a meeting off – this is how cancellation of a meeting can be described using the phrasal verb “to call off”.

Embrace every opportunity means to use every opportunity.

Gain momentum – this phrase describes a specific business-related activity that becomes bigger and more profitable over time: “Now that we’ve opened this new shop and started the marketing campaign, we just need to wait and see if this operation gains momentum and becomes profitable in long term.”

Get straight to the matter – can be used during a meeting to invite all those present to start discussing the important issues.

Get your priorities right – in business it’s important to prioritize the important tasks and focus on them, and that’s when this phrase can be used.

I have a first-hand experience in this is to be used whenever you want to say that you’ve dealt with the same specific task previously.

Let’s run through them quickly – when you have little time left during a meeting, this is how you suggest to go through the specifics in a quick manner without going into details.

Let’s not make any rash decisions – this is what it normally said when there’s a difficult decision to be made and it’s quite clear that a final decision can’t be made as of yet.

Push my agenda – in this context “agenda” means my plan of action, and “to push my agenda” means to actively pursue my plan and make sure my interests are looked after first.

Scale up means to increase the level of current business model, for example: “Now we have 3 shops, but our plans are to scale up our operation and have 10 shops by the end of next year.”

HR and Recruitment

Recruitment English Phrases
Further your career – when an industry professional wants to climb the career ladder and get a promotion or go for a new job according to their increased qualification, it’s said they want to further their career.

Glass ceiling – this English idiom describes an un-equal working place where certain groups of people can’t move up the career ladder hence the term “glass ceiling” – you can see that there are promotional opportunities, but you just can’t avail of them!

Good command of English – when a person’s English is just good enough to do their job, this phrase is the best fitting one to describe that level of English.

Go the extra mile – when someone works really hard to achieve goals, it’s said they go the extra mile to achieve what’s required of them.

I brought this issue up with my supervisor – it means you mentioned the problem to your supervisor.

Land a job – simply means to get a job. Also – “to land a position.”

Live up to their responsibilities – to do their job properly and perform all the related duties and tasks.

Utilize your full potential – this English phrase means to use your potential to its maximum.

NEW! Maintain a professional attitude – this English phrase describes the idea of someone being really professional and smart in the way they perceive their future job.

NEW! Something that would suit your particular needs – if you’re telling the interviewee about a position that would be in line with their qualifications and experience, this is the exact phrase you should be using!

Legal English Terminology
Events leading up to the accident – this English collocation can be used to describe what happened before the accident in question.

Facts are speaking for themselves – facts are so obvious that further explanation isn’t even needed.

Heinous crime – particularly vicious and outrageous criminal activity.

Illicit affairs – illegal, unlawful dealings and activities.

Led to discovery – when evidence is found as a result of specific actions, for example: “The latest police search led to discovery of a massive drugs operation involving up to 20 individuals.”

Sending out a strong message – when an influential group of people such as the government or company management make a decision to deal with unwanted activity, its’ said they’re sending out a strong message: “Latest anti-corruption legislation is sending out a strong message that white-collar crime won’t be tolerated!”

Shed some light on something – provide some degree of clarity in the matter, for example: “Hopefully the next police report is going to shed some light on our case because currently we have very few facts to support our allegations.”

Sparked heated debates – when somebody’s comments result in emotional public discussion, it’s said that it sparks heated debates.

Unbiased opinion is a fair and subjective opinion; it isn’t in favor of any specific party involved.

With an immediate effect – something that’s going to happen immediately: “The court decision is to be implemented with an immediate effect.”

Marketing & Advertisement

Marketing English Phrases
In-depth research – a very thorough and comprehensive research.

Pitch to your client – try to sell an idea to your client.

Released to the general public – when a product or a service is released to the general public, it simply becomes available for everyone to buy.

Throw ideas around – to generate new ideas; to brainstorm.

Media buying – when advertisers purchase huge add placements in newspapers, billboards, TV, radio and online, it can be described using this specific advertising industry term.

Cold-calling is part of the telesales process whereby potential customers are contacted without their consent (permission); needless to say, nowadays such marketing activity has lost its appeal because it’s fairly ineffective.

Medical-related English Terms

Medical English Phrases
Early warning signs – this is how you’d describe early symptoms of a disease.

Under the weather – this English idiom means that you’re unwell: “You don’t look well, are you all right?” “Well… I’m a bit under the weather, but I’m not too bad!”

Coming down with the flu (cold) – this is how you describe the very process of developing cold symptoms. It’s a handy phrase to use when letting your employer know you’re getting sick: “I’m coming down with flu so I don’t think I’ll be able to come into work tomorrow!”

Special needs assistance – if a person requires round-the-clock assistance due to their specific medical conditions, it’s said they require special needs assistance.

Is this treatment covered by insurance? – this is a question typically asked by patients before getting any medical assistance so that they have a fair idea of where they stand in terms of potential expenses.

NEW! Undergo regular follow-ups – if your patient has to be checked out regularly, you can tell them that they need to undergo regular follow-ups in order to monitor their condition and make sure they’re doing OK.

NEW! Respond to treatment – this is how medical professionals would describe the level of responsiveness to drugs and medical procedures. Here’s an example: “Mr. Smith is responding to our treatment very well and I believe we’ll be in a position to discharge him next week!”

NEW! Discharge a patient (discharge from a hospital) – this is how allowing someone to go home from a hospital is described using medical English: “Why is Mr. Green missing? Has he already been discharged from the hospital?”

Military Language

Military English Phrases
Comply with orders – listen to and obey orders.

No civilians were harmed – this English phrase is used to reassure everyone that the ordinary citizens weren’t harmed during an operation.

Remanded in custody – when someone is remanded in custody, it means they’ve been arrested and kept in prison awaiting a trial.

Ringed with chainlink and topped with razorwire – when a facility is surrounded by a metallic fence with razorwire on top, it’s said it’s ringed with chainlink and topped with razorwire.

Sprayed with bullets – this phrase can be used when describing an act of shooting when plenty of bullets were fired and the object had been literally sprayed with bullets.

NEW! Troops have been deployed – I’m pretty sure we’ve all heard this particular English phrase at some stage! It’s being used in media all the time whenever some military organization sends their troops to a specific location, for example: “It’s been reported that more NATO troops will be deployed to monitor the situation in Sudan.”

Production and Manufacturing Phraseology

Production & Manufacturing English phrases
Come up to standards – this phrase can be used when you have to discuss meeting specific standards: “The latest batch of goods we produced definitely doesn’t come up to standards and I think we need to review our manufacturing process!”

Full capacity is how you describe a full manufacturing capacity, for example.

Integral part is a very important part of a process; it’s something that the process can’t happen without.

Making the last minute decisions – sometimes when the production schedule is very tight, it’s necessary to make quick decisions, and this is how those decisions are called!

Step up a notch – to increase intensity of some process – “We have to step it up a notch and serve more customers every day because our management aren’t happy with the current performance levels.”

Tight production schedule – this is how you describe a very busy production environment.

NEW! Restrictions have been brought in – have you ever encountered a situation at work when new laws are introduced which in turn has a direct effect on the production process? I bet you have – and that’s exactly when you’d use this phrase!

NEW! Research and development – these two English words really go hand in hand when it comes to industrial language, and any large manufacturer – especially when it comes to food, pharmaceuticals or cosmetics – would have a dedicated research and development facility where they’d be working on new products.

NEW! Anything below… is considered to be… – this is a really handy phrase when discussing certain standards. In this particular instance, it can be used when describing acceptable quality standards; here’s an example: “Anything below 70% is considered to be unacceptable!” Or: “Anything below 25 kg is considered to be safe for manual handling on your own.”

NEW! Hitting an all-time high – when something is hitting an all-time high, it means it’s reached levels never seen before. For example, if beef production in the meat processing plant you’re working in has reached record-high levels, you can say that it’s hitting an all-time high.


I hope you find this list of industry-specific English phrases useful, and please don’t forget to check back later for updates – I’ll be adding new phrases onto this list on a regular basis!



P.S. Would you like to find out why I’m highlighting some of the text in red? Read this article and you’ll learn why it’s so important to learn idiomatic expressions and how it will help you to improve your spoken English!

P.S.S. Are you serious about your spoken English improvement? Check out my English Harmony System HERE!

English Harmony System

P.S. Are you serious about your spoken English improvement? Check out the English Harmony System HERE!

English Harmony System
  • Mike A

    “trim and refill” as used in exchanges. Each of those 2 words are used freely by people who does exchange markets like bitmex, but what do they actually mean

  • Thanks Adel, much appreciated! 😉

  • adel showaya

    I really enjoyed. Great site, Thank you

  • All these phrases can be used in the corporate world; for more phrases check out the following: http://englishharmony.com/customer-support-phrases/ http://englishharmony.com/sentence-starters/ http://englishharmony.com/sentence-endings/

  • Thanks, I’m glad you like it! 😉

  • How to use the phrase “to land a job”? Here’s an example – “I hope I’m gonna land this job because I’ve done an awful lot of preparation for the interview.”

  • Well, I could mean that you’re still with them or that you left recently.

  • Ketty

    How to use Land a job, in our daily life?

  • pallavi cool

    wow… i like this blog 🙂

  • Shashikala


  • Shashikala

    Thank you Robby for your reply.

    Robby pleas tell me the expressions and phrases that i can use at corporate world.

  • This sounds better: “I’ve been working with a company called “Accenture” for 8 years”.

  • Shashikala

    Hi Robby
    I have been working with accenture company for 8 years is this sentence is correct?

  • Shashikala

    i have been working with accenture company for 8 years is this correct sentence?

  • No problem! 😉

  • Talha

    Thanks alot,Mister…

  • Hi Talha,

    Yes, you can indeed – just make sure you practice your spoken English: http://englishharmony.com/spoken-english-practice/

  • Talha

    Oh wow…I can be english speaker by this experience…

  • Thanks, I’m glad you find it useful!

  • Satya

    Useful info @ robby

  • Whatever you did TO us, we will never forgive you for that!

  • meenu

    whatever you did with us ,we will never forgive you for that..is this statement correct?

  • Anže Pompe

    🙂 Will most certainly do that 🙂

  • That’s great! Keep us posted on this thread as to how the Breaking Bad watching experience is going for you!

  • Anže Pompe

    I would have to bypass geo-blocking filters, but luckily my friend has a DVD collection so I will borrow it from him 🙂 So I have no real excuse not to watch it 😉

  • Just wondering if Netflix is available in your country? If yes – there there’s really no reason why you couldn’t start watching it right now!

  • Anže Pompe

    Thanks for the tip 🙂 I think it’s time to stop putting it off 🙂

  • Yeah, I was also planning to watch it for a long, long time – and when I finally did get down to it, I regretted not having watched it sooner! 😉

  • Anže Pompe

    Great, can’t wait to read it 🙂 In fact I’ll “sink my teeth” in it right away 🙂 Thanks.
    I haven’t watched the series yet (except episode 1 a while ago), but is has been on my list for quite some time, so this article should be a sign to finally get to it 😉

  • Thanks Sunny, I’m glad you enjoy it, and stay tuned for more additions to this article – and try to keep it updated with new phrases on a regular basis!

  • Here it is: http://englishharmony.com/breaking-bad/ – I hope you’ll enjoy it and you’re also welcome to share what you’ve learned from Breaking Bad in case you’ve been watching it!

  • Sunny

    Hi Robby ! Thanks a ton for writing such a scarce and in demand article. I just cant old my excitement to learn all these phrases using ‘spaced repetition’ technique.

  • Anže Pompe

    Something for everyone here 🙂 It’s really excellent.

    Awesome. This should be a lot of fun 🙂 Kind of like mixing business with pleasure for us learners 🙂 Fun way to learn 🙂

  • I’m glad you like this phrase compilation, and I’ll try to update it as frequently as I can!

    Btw – currently I’m writing a new blog post about the TV show Breaking Bad and what phrases I learned from it! 😉

  • Anže Pompe

    Thanks Robby, that helps me a lot 🙂
    And by the way, this is a really great compilation of phrases. You did a fantastic job once again. Keep up the good work 🙂

  • Pitch in this context means to sell the idea! Basically you have a great marketing concept figured out, and you’re trying to see the idea to your client.

  • Anže Pompe

    Hi 🙂 Can you elaborate on this one a bit: “Pitch to your client”. What would be the synonym for the word “pitch” here, please 🙂