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045 Business collocations for talking about success

Business collocation for success

Hey everyone, it’s great to have you back at the Art of Business English podcast, for episode 45, wow, I can’t believe we are almost at 52 episodes, which will mark our 1-year anniversary. As always t is a pleasure having you join me, and I am really honoured to be able to help you.

I love hearing from you and I really love answering your questions and helping clarify whatever you find confusing. So, please when you listen to this week’s episode send me an email straight away and let me know what questions you would love answered. I will be dedicating some future episodes to directly answering those questions, so send them through.

Right, let’s get started with this week’s material. Some of you have been replying to my emails and asking for more vocabulary and expressions, so with this in mind and to better serve you, I have developed another episode on useful collocations.

This week we are going to be looking at business collocations for talking about success. We will be looking at language you can use to motivate your team as well as warn them if they are not pulling their weight.

This week I have divided the episode into four main parts. We will be looking at the following:

  1. What is a weak vs a strong collocation
  2. Inspirational business collocations for success
  3. Using reverse psychology for motivation
  4. Some sample sentences in use

Ok, let’s get started by looking at the difference between weak and strong collocations. 

Strong vs Weak Collocations

A collocation is a word or phrase that naturally goes together in English. Generally, there is no rules for collocations, meaning you just need to learn them. As you get better at English things will just “sound” right and you will know what the correct collocation is to use. This comes with having lots of exposure to English, whether by talking to natives or reading. Remember, as I have mentioned many times on this podcast. Reading is one of the best ways to improve your understanding of expressions and expand on your range of vocabulary.

Let’s take a look at strong collocations. Basically, strong collocations are words that always go together, this means that you can’t modify the verb that goes with a noun, for example. If we want to better understand what I mean by strong collocations, then we need to see some common ones.

Here you have some common collocation with a verb and noun structure. I have also provided the common mistake Spanish speakers make when using them.


Do me a favourMake me a favour
Have a good timePass a good time
Have a coffeeTake a coffee
Make an effortDo an effort
Miss the busLose the bus
Take a photoDo a photo


OK, so you can see that these collocations are strong. Only the verb that is used with the noun will work in this scenario. Furthermore, when used incorrectly they will sound very wrong to a native person. So, perfecting your collocations can go a long way to making you sound more fluent and native.

In the next part I will be taking a look at weaker collocations. So, you may be asking yourself, what is a weak collocation. Put simply, it is an expression that can have some variation of the verb and still have the same meaning. To better understand what I mean, let’s take a look at the following examples:

Take a breakHave a break
Keep quietBe quiet
Run a businessManage a business
Set the tableLay the table
Give someone some adviceOffer someone some advice
Have a bathTake a bath


As you can see, some expressions can be modified but still have the same meaning.

Now that we understand the difference between strong and weak collocations, let’s move on to the next part of the episode and look at some business collocations for talking about success.


Inspirational business collocations for success

Firstly, we are going to look at some inspirational collocation you can use in your next meeting or presentation to inspire your audience to achieve their goals. You can also use them to talk to your co-workers into working harder and motivate them into giving their all.

To bring out the best in othersSacar lo mejor de la gente
To set your sights on Tener [algo] en el punto de mira
To get the ball rollingPoner [algo] en marcha
To pull out all the stopsUtilizar todos los recursos
To get down to businessIr al grano
To have nothing to loseNo tener nada que perder
The sky is the limitEl cielo es el límite
To be hungry for successSer ambicioso
To sow the seeds for successSembrar las semillas del éxito
To have something/To be in the bagTener algo/ Estar en el bote
To bear fruitDar frutos
To bring the house downSer un éxito


Using reverse psychology for motivation

The above collocations are positive and inspirational. However, what if we want to use some scare tactics to motivate our team towards success. Here we can use some “reverse psychology” to motivate your audience or just suggest attitudes they should avoid in order to succeed, here are some other collocations for you to use.

To get left behindQuedarse atrás/atrasarse
To throw in the towelTirar la toalla
To be dead in the waterHaberse ido al garete
To back the wrong horseTomar una mala decisión
To be a dead lossSer un inútil
To set ones sights too highSer demasiado ambicioso
To cut ones lossesReducir las pérdidas
To fight a losing battleLuchar por una causa perdida
To pull your socks upPonte las pilas


Right, there you have a great list of more than 20 business collocations for talking about success, in two contexts.

In the last part of the episode we are going to look at a few of these sentences in context.


Sample sentences in use

As usual here I will give you the situation, the collocation and the sample sentence in use.

SituationCollocationSample Sentence
MeetingBring out the best inAs team leaders, I want you to bring out the best in your team members and inspire them to greatness.
MeetingTo be hungry for successEvery one of you needs to be hungry for success, you are and will become what you set your mind to.
PresentationTo have nothing to loseOur analysts have all agreed that we have nothing to lose and should go forward with the investment.
PresentationTo be dead in the waterIf we don’t change our image then we are as good as dead in the water. Our brand is perceived as old fashioned and we are losing market share rapidly.


Well, there you have a couple of example sentences in context. Remember, there are many more that we can use. As always, collocations are best applied within the right context and that is why we have provided you with the translation.

Before we finish up today, this is just a quick reminder of how you can study them. Be sure to head over to the AOBE website, sign up for a free month of membership. Then you can download the transcript for all of these collocations, as well as practice with some quizzes. I have also included the pronunciation of some difficult words to help you out. I encourage you to learn 3 or 4 of these collocations per week. Once you have them internalised you can come back and grab some more. Make a conscious effort to include them in your next meeting or presentation.


Final thoughts

Well, I would just like to thank you all for joining me. I really hope this episode has provided you with lots of value and that you have learnt something new and are ready to put some of these tips into practice.

Before I go I would just like to remind you all to send me in your questions, as well as take a look at the AOBE membership site, it is super cheap at only 50 dollars a year. Remember you get access to all the good stuff, quizzes, vocabulary, transcripts, pronunciation and some free live training sessions thrown in with me. You also get your first month free so you can check it out before you commit.

Well, that is all from me, I can’t wait to have you all back next week. Until then take care and have a great week.



Are you looking to expand your knowledge of English vocabulary and expressions? 

Grab your copy of my eBook "500 Business English Collocations for Everyday Use". Includes free download audio of pronunciation 

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Andrew is the CEO and founder of the Art of Business English. Besides teaching and coaching native Spanish speakers in Business English, he is also passionate about mountain biking, sailing and healthy living. When He is not working, Andrew loves to spend time with his family and friends.

Andrew Ambrosius

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