Basic Business English Lesson: Profit & Loss

Today, let’s look at some key vocabulary and expressions used to talk about a company’s financial situation. You can refer to the financial report for ABC Company above. The definitions of the words in bold are below this paragraph

Most companies operate on a fiscal year, which is divided into four quarters. In the chart above, we can see the First Quarter Results for ABC Company. Sales grew each month and the total revenue was $51,454. Expenses were the same each month this quarter. The bottom line was different each month, but the overall result was a profit of $5,704. In April, ABC made a loss of $5,000. In May, ABC broke even. Because of an increase in sales, ABC made a nice profit of $10,704 in June.

  • Fiscal year (n) (or financial year) means a one-year period used for accounting or tax purposes.
  • Quarter (n) means a three-month period. A fiscal year is often divided into a three-month period.
  • Sales (or revenue) (n) is money that comes in to the company. It means the money the company makes from selling its goods or services.
  • Expenses (n) is money that goes out from the company. It means the money the company spends in order to do business. Generally, rent and employee’s salary are the biggest two expenses in a company.
  • Profit (n) is the positive result of sales minus expenses. It is the money that remains after the expenses are paid. We use make a profit.
  • Loss (n) is the negative result of sales minus expenses. It is the negative amount of money after the expenses are paid. We use make a loss.
  • Break even (v) is the zero result of sales minus expenses. When a company breaks even, it spends the same amount of money that it earns, so the result is zero.
  • The bottom line (n) refers to the last line, the bottom line of a financial statement. It means the financial results of the company and the bottom line could be either profit, loss, or breaking even.

Have a look at the paragraph above once more to review this vocabulary. Thanks for studying today!

How about studying English with me? I am available for private English lessons in New York, and online via Skype. Also, check out my newest book & audio podcasts, 109 Phrasal Verbs

Basic Business English Lesson: Work and Jobs

Today, lets have a look at some ways to use the words work and job.

If you want to ask someone about work, you can ask, “What do you do?” like this:

Bob: What do you do?

Joe: I’m a teacher.

As I mentioned in a previous post, the answer to “What do you do?” should be clear and is usually your job title or a description of your position.

Here are some other phrases using work and job:

Work is a verb, so you can say:

  • I work in bank
  • I work Monday to Friday
  • I worked until 9 last night.

Work and job are nouns, so here are some set phrases using work and job:

job (one’s position in the company)

  • I love my job!
  • Being a firefighter is a difficult and dangerous job.

work (the tasks one does in the company)

  • I have a lot of work to do today.
  • Jack said his work at the bank is very routine.

go to work (travel to work)

  • I went to work yesterday
  • Joe goes to work by subway

get to work (arrived at my office)

  • I got to work at 8:30 this morning.
  • I usually get to work at 9.

get to work on (begin working on something)

  • Let’s get to work!
  • We need to get to work on the marketing project.

at work (at my workplace)

  • I was at work all weekend.
  • Where’s Jack? He’s at work today.

off work (finished working for the day or a day of no work)

  • I’m so happy because I am off work tomorrow.
  • I am off work at 5:00 today, so let’s meet for dinner.

have work (have tasks to accomplish)

  • I have a lot of work to do this morning, so I don’t want to be disturbed.
  • The boss has no work for us, so we will go home early.

out of work (to be unemployed)

  • Tony has been out of work for six months.
  • Many people are out of work because of the recession.

have a job (to be employed)

  • Joe has a job at the bank.
  • I have a great job at Happy English!

get a job (to become employed)

  • Jane hopes to get a job at the insurance company
  • Lori got a new job last week.

What do you do? Do you like your job? Do you have a lot of work to do everyday?

How about studying English with me? I am available for private English lessons in New York, and online via Skype. Also, check out my newest book & audio podcasts, 109 Phrasal Verbs

English Lesson: Talking about your job & work

Let’s talk about work today. Here is a conversation I have had quite often:

Michael: Hi. I’m Michael. Nice to meet you.

Thom: Hi Michael. I’m Thom. It’s nice to meet you too.

Michael: So Thom, what do you do?

Thom: I’m an office worker.

Michael: I see, but what do you do?

Thom: I’m a businessman.

Michael: Right, but what do you do?

Thom: I’m a company employee.

Michael: ???????

When you are having an English conversation, and someone asks you about your job, you should tell them exactly what your job is. Usually, this is your job title:

  • What do you do? I’m an English teacher
  • What do you do? I’m a salesman
  • What do you do? I’m a secretary
  • What do you do? I’m an accountant.

We do not give general answers, like Thom did in the opening conversation. So answers like these are strange in English because they don’t tell us about you. These answers are not unique:

  • I’m a businessman Lots of people are businessmen and businesswomen.
  • I’m an office worker Look around your city. Many people are office workers.
  • I’m a company worker Unless you own your own business, you work for a company

By the way, the words “salaryman” and “office lady” are not used in English.

You can also answer by describing your job, if you job doesn’t have a clear title:

  • What do you do?   I work for a real estate company in the accounting office
  • What do you do?   I work for a graphic design company, in the marketing office.

Let’s have a look at an improved version of the opening conversation:

Michael: Hi. I’m Michael. Nice to meet you.

Thom: Hi Michael. I’m Thom. It’s nice to meet you too.

Michael: So Thom, what do you do?

Thom: I’m a sales manager for an advertising firm in Chicago.

Here, Thom’s reply is perfect. We know exactly what he does. What do you do? Leave a comment below and let us know!