Top 10 Business English Phrasal Verbs for making (and breaking!) Business Arrangements

Phrasal verbs used for making (and breaking!) arrangements are useful across all sectors of business.  Here are my top 10!

to call off

This means the same as to cancel an arrangement.  The word ‘cancel’ is just as good here in my opinion.  This is a nice alternative which can still be used formally:

“We are going to call off the event because we don’t have enough participants”

It is also very useful in its passive form:

‘The business trip has been called off”

to put off

This means the same as to postpone an arrangement.

 “Let’s put off this discussion until tomorrow”

For more formal arrangements, ‘postpone’ is probably the better option here, but for slightly less formal situations such as discussions, stand-up meetings or quick calls, put off is a great alternative.

‘Put off’ is great also for postponing individual tasks.

“I sometimes put off difficult tasks until the last minute”

For individual tasks, the word ‘postpone’ sounds too strict and timetabled, so ‘put off’ is the ideal option here

to bring forward / to move forward

This is a great phrase meaning to make an arrangement earlier than the originally scheduled time.  I personally really like this one because there is no real alternative phrase.

“The situation is quite urgent, so let’s bring forward the meeting to this afternoon”

to work around someone

To work around someone means to change your schedule around to adapt to someone else’s schedule.  If you have a lot of free space in your schedule, you may be able to ask the other person when they are free, and you can change your schedule according to theirs:

“I have quite a lot of free spaces in my schedule next week, so I can work around you” (if you let me know when you are free, then I can move some things in my schedule to make sure that I am free as well)

“If you are quite busy over the next few days, I can work around you so that we can fit in an extra meeting before the project launch”

to line up / to set up

This simply means to arrange something:

“Let’s set up a conference call for sometime early next week”

“We can line up a follow-up meeting tomorrow”

to have something lined up

If you have something lined up, it means that you have something already arranged in your schedule:

“We have 2 major events lined up in the next month”

“I am currently searching for a new position, but I have 2 interviews lined up for next week”

“I have quite a few appointments lined up for tomorrow, so would it be possible to meet next week instead?”

to be tied up

If you are tied up it means that you are engaged in various appointments or tasks.  This is useful if you are not able to attend a certain meeting or event, or if you need to rearrange a time:

“Unfortunately, I am completely tied up this week, would it be possible to meet next week instead?”

If you want to explain why you are tied up, you can use the phrase ‘tied up with..’

“I’m afraid I’m going to have to cancel our meeting later.  I am a little bit tied up with the monthly closing at the moment. Are you free any time next week?”

to be snowed under

This also means that you are extremely busy:

“I can’t make the dinner tomorrow because I am completely snowed under with work”

go ahead

To ‘go ahead’ means to happen or to proceed.  It is mainly useful for to either ask for confirmation or to give confirmation if you are unsure whether an arrangement is going to happen or not:

“Despite the recent snow we have had in the area, the outdoor event will go ahead as planned”

“The project is going to go ahead despite the lack of funding”

fall through

If something falls through, it means that it fails to happen.  We can use this with events, arrangements, plans or deals:

“Our plans to expand the company fell through after we were hit with financial issues” (plans)

“The deal fell through due to the fact that the companies were unable to agree terms” (deals)

“The conference might fall through due to problems with the venue”

Now we have learnt phrases for making arrangements, check out my top phrases for confirming business appointments!


 David Cox

 Fluency Space

 Make the world your fluency space. Business English for career and life success

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