What are the easy-to-mistake phrases in Business English?


Some English phrases have nuances that are transmitted between Japanese people, but they are transmitted in the wrong sense to native speakers. Especially in the business scene, it is important to know the correct meaning so as not to misunderstand or offend the other person.

Here, we will introduce business phrases that Japanese people can easily make mistakes.

8 easy-to-mistake phrases

There are phrases that are easy to make mistakes in various communication settings such as greetings, meetings, questions, and lunch.
Here, let's look at eight phrases that are often misunderstood in the business scene.

1 Who do you report to?
Who is your boss?

"Report to" can be translated not only as "submit to" but also as "report to" or "ask for instructions". Therefore, in the business scene, it is often used to mean "who are you instructed by?", That is, "who is your boss?".

2 I couldn't ask for more.
I can't hope for it.

If you translate this phrase literally into Japanese, it will be "I can't request any more", so it may be misunderstood as a negative nuance.
However, this is a phrase used in a positive sense. It means "it's so good that you can't ask for it anymore", that is, "it's so good that you can't hope for it anymore".

3 Did you get the picture?
Did you understand the content?

"Get the picture" can be translated as "understanding the whole picture", that is, "understanding the circumstances and circumstances". If you don't know this, you may get an incorrect reply, so be careful.

If you get this question, answer "Yes, I got the picture" if you understand the content. If you don't understand it, answer "No, I didn't get the picture".

4 Of course not.
of course.

Keep in mind that when you hear "Of course not", it has "not" at the end, so if you don't know the meaning of the phrase, you may receive it in the opposite sense. In response to the question "Would you mind eating lunch here?", We use "Of course not".

"Would you mind ~?" Translates literally to "Do you hate ~?", Which is a polite question, "Are you sure?" Please note that in English, like this type of question, the answer Yes and No may be the opposite of Japanese depending on how you ask the question.

5 Do you eat ________?
Can you eat ________?

Many Japanese people make a mistake in the English meaning "Can you do ________?". When I want to ask if I can eat something, many people say "Can you eat ________?", But it is perceived as "Do you have any allergies?" Therefore, let's say "Do you like ________?".
Since "can" means "have the ability to do ________", it becomes an unnatural nuance in daily conversation.

6 You can forget about that.
Don't worry.

The literal translation of this phrase is "You can forget this." In other words, it means "you can forget it," and you can translate it as "don't worry." If you say this word, you can take it positively, not negatively.

7 It's only seven.
It's still 7 o'clock.

This phrase is used in scenes like "Are you going home? It's still 7 o'clock." In Japanese it can be translated as "only", but in English it has the nuance of "still 7 o'clock", so "only" is used.
When I hear "yet", I tend to use "still", but when I say "It's still seven", it means "it's always 7 o'clock" in English. Please note that "still" is an English word that expresses something that has continued, such as "as usual" or "still".

  • 8
    Reply to Nice to meet you

When you say hello to someone you meet for the first time, it's easy to make a mistake when you say "Nice to meet you". Many people just return "Me too", but the correct answer is "You too".
This reply means "this is (I'm glad to see you too)", but "Me too" means "I'm glad to see you too".
"Me too" is a phrase that is often used when agreeing, but let's answer according to the content.

English words that are similar but have different nuances

From here, let's look at English words that have similar meanings but different nuances.


appointment… When you decide a time and place and meet someone for a certain purpose
reservation… When you keep a place or a seat

These two English words are easy to get lost when making a reservation, but they are used in different scenes.

It is appropriate to use "appointment" when you have a meeting with a business partner, have a medical examination at a hospital, or consult a lawyer. On the other hand, "reservation" is used to secure seats and rooms for airplanes, accommodations, restaurants, concerts, etc.

I have an appointment with my doctor.
I have an appointment for a doctor's consultation.
I'd like to make a reservation for 4.
I'd like to make a reservation for 4 people.

The trick is to use "appointment" for the purpose of "meeting someone". However, if you meet a friend, it will be unnatural, so use "meet" or "plan".


Our waiter gave me free dessert after the lunch.
The waiter served a dessert after a meal.
We will give this new dessert to you for free since you are a regular customer.
Since you are a regular customer, we will serve you new desserts.

When you hear "service", Japanese people tend to receive it as "free" or "discount", but the word "service" has no such meaning. Remember that "free" is "free" in English. The English expression "to provide a service" is generally "give free", which has the nuance of "giving a free service".

The expression "give free ~" is basically a phrase used by the service recipient. When used by the service provider, it has the nuance of "I'll give you a service," so it can be said to be a phrase for choosing the person to use. Be careful as it will be rude if you use it for first-time customers or superiors.


She noticed that he had got his hair cut.
She noticed that he had his hair cut.
I realized I had left my wallet on the bus.
I noticed that I forgot my wallet on the bus.

Both are English words used to mean "notice", but "notice" has the meaning of "visually notice (by the work of the five senses)" and "realize" has the meaning of "enlighten and recognize". increase. In other words, it has the nuance of "considering various things, noticing them, and understanding them with your head."


He claimed he had no intention of lying.
He claimed he wasn't willing to lie.
Twenty customers complained about our products this month.
This month, we received 20 product complaints from our customers.

In Japanese, when you hear "complaint", you receive it as "complaint". However, the English word "claim" does not mean "to make a complaint." This English means "to assert, to demand (as a matter of course)", and when you want to express "complain", use "complain" (complain or complain).

Let's review the correct phrases used in business

Although it is transmitted by nuances between Japanese people, there are many cases where English natives have memorized wrong English that is misunderstood.
Check the differences in expressions and nuances of English words that are often used in the business scene so that you will not be in trouble in case of emergency.