Proverbs in Business English

Proverbs in Business English

Posted by Tanya Peterson on 27th Sep 2019

A proverb is a short saying that expresses a general truth or a piece of advice. Proverbs may appear simple when you hear them/ You may think "oh that's common sense!" But they can be very effective ways to highlight a point or add some spark to your language. In the USA, proverbs are used often in both everyday life and in business. 

Here are a few proverbs to try out when you find a suitable opportunity ... in the meantime, listen for these expressions. They may come up during meetings, movies, or overheard conversations at your local Starbucks! 

American English Proverbs to add to your Business English vocabulary

The squeaky wheel gets the grease 

sqeaky wheel

the one who complains the loudest gets the attention

Example: "I can't believe John got that huge office! I was hoping to move in there." — "You know what they say: the squeaky wheel gets the grease. John's been complaining about working in a cubicle for years now!"

Business is business

business is business

used for expressing that business is about making money first and comes before other things (so people shouldn't worry about their hurting someone's feelings when doing business)

Example: "I can't believe they fired Bob! He's been with the company for 25 years." — "Business is business and profits are down. What else could our CEO do?"


Don't throw good money after bad

Don't try to improve a bad situation by spending more money on it

Example: "The factory I bought is not working out. I will need to invest $20 million to update it." — "Don't throw good money after bad! Sell that factory and find a new one." 

There's no such thing as free lunch

It's impossible to get something for nothing (everything comes at cost, even things that first appear to be free)


Example: "We enjoyed the dinner at Chez Pierre, but then this guy stood up for three hours and tried to get us to be a client in his investment firm. Boring!" — "There's no such thing as a free lunch." — "Yeah, or a free dinner in this case, ha ha!"