The world of business is full of strange and often confusing abbreviations and acronyms. To be able to communicate effectively and successfully in an English language business environment, it is vital you learn what these phrases mean and, importantly, how to use them! So, in this episode of Thinking in English, I am going to introduce 10 of the most common and useful abbreviations that you can apply to your daily lives!

(If you can’t see the podcast player CLICK HERE to listen!!!)

The following acronyms and abbreviations are not a complete list, but they are an excellent introduction to business vocabulary. You can also use these terms when you are writing and speaking! Moreover, many of these terms are also used outside of the business world and can be found in text messages amongst friends, TV shows, and even English exams. The full transcript of this episode is linked in the description, so check it out for a list of the terms. And if you’re interested in business English, I’ve previously recorded episodes on business idioms and phrasal verbs. I’ll link them in the description and blog as well!

TBA – To be announced

This is an abbreviation often used when we don’t have confirmed or announced details for an event, but that event has been scheduled. You may see music artists announce a band tour, but leave the locations and dates of their concerts TBA. In business, it can be used to talk about meetings, conferences, conventions, or any similar event which will happen, but not every detail has been announced. 

We will hold a marketing conference next month. The actual date and location is TBA.  

R&D – Research and Development

Research and Development is a department of a company or organization that, obviously, is responsible for researching and developing things. This is often for innovating and introducing new products or services. 

Their R&D department is currently developing a secret, but exciting, project

ASAP – As soon as possible

ASAP is an extremely common and popular abbreviation. You’ve probably seen it before! We use ASAP when we want to ask for something to be done as soon as possible. Many people are hoping that they will be vaccinated ASAP, and I hope this podcast becomes popular ASAP!

Please let me know your decision ASAP

ETA – Estimated time of arrival 

Your ETA is the time you are expected to arrive somewhere. This is especially useful when you need to travel somewhere for your job. Often, you will need to provide your ETA so that you can be picked up at an airport or train station, and so businesses know when to schedule meetings and events. It is often asked in the form of a question, such as “What is your ETA?”

If you let me know your ETA, i’ll try to pick you up from the station

B2C – Business to customer

There are different types of businesses. A B2C, or business to customer, organisation has a business relationship where the company’s customers are normal consumers like us. Supermarkets, Amazon, restaurants – all of these are B2C. They sell things or provide services directly to customers

Almost all online shopping companies are B2C

B2B – Business to business

Another type of business is B2B. As you’ve probably already guessed, B2B businesses have other businesses as their customers. Instead of selling or providing services directly to individual consumers, they do it for other businesses. A good example are wholesalers: companies that sell products, especially food, to supermarkets in large quantities!

My friend works for a B2B company which sources office supplies for other businesses

HR – Human resources

HR is a department of a company which is responsible for employees. This may be hiring new staff, organising training, negotiating pay and bonuses, evaluating performances, or disciplining bad behaviour. Some smaller companies may not have HR departments, but virtually every major company definitely has HR. Some of you may even work in HR!

Please report any concerns you have to HR

SEO – Search engine optimization

SEO is a more specialist abbreviation that is particularly useful if you work in marketing, information technology, sales, or are self employed with your own business. It is a technique designed to attract more people to visit your website. To optimize means to make something better! So, SEO involves optimizing your websites positions in Google’s search results.

CEO – Chief executive officer

And finally we have two abbreviations to describe the most important people at a company. A CEO is the head of a business. Sometimes businesses have very confusing structures, with presidents, executives, board members, founders. However, the CEO is overall the most powerful person in a business. 

Apple’s CEO recently announced a new iPhone to be launched in Spring

CFO – Chief financial officer

Another senior figure in a company is the CFO, or Chief financial officer. The CFO is in charge of the financial side of a company. They make the companies budget, plan how to spend money, and how to make the most money possible. 

After their previous CFO quit last year, that company has struggled to find a qualified replacement. 

Thank you for listening to today’s episode. Hopefully you now feel a little more confident in communicating with business English. Try to use these abbreviations in informal office conversations, or emails written to colleagues! If you have any questions, please reach out to me on Instagram or via the blog, Please leave me a rating or review on Apple podcasts if that is where you listen. And let me know what topics you would like me to cover! Thank you, and see you next time! 

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By Tom Wilkinson

Host and founder of Thinking in English, Tom is committed to providing quality and interesting content to all English learners. Previously a research student at a top Japanese university and with a background in English teaching, political research, and Asian languages, Tom is now working fulltime on bettering Thinking in English!

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