Number one for English language teachers

Your English: Idioms: business

Type: Article

Tim Bowen shows he means business with this little article. We think it’s the business!

‘It’s going to be a tough match but we are not here just to make up the numbers. We mean business this time.’ If you mean business, you are very serious about something that you have to do, but if you make it your business to do something, you make an effort to do it because you think it is important, as in ‘She made it her business to get to know all five hundred of her staff by name’. 

When people go about their business, they do the things that they normally do, as in ‘At the time of the explosion, the street was full of people innocently going about their business’ but if they have no business doing something, they do something that they should not do, because it does not affect or involve them at all, as in ‘You had no business reading my private emails’. 

If something is described as the business, it is a very good example of that particular thing, as in ‘This wine really is the business’, and if you are in business, you are ready to do something because all the necessary preparations have been made, as in ‘OK, now just connect the printer to your computer and you’re in business’. 

The expressions funny business and monkey business can both be used to describe dishonest behaviour, as in ‘There’s some funny business going on there and I wouldn’t trust them with your money if I were you’ and the latter can also be used to refer to bad behaviour, especially by children, as in ‘Right. We’re going out now. We’ll be back by 11 and no monkey business while we’re out!’

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Readers' comments (3)

  • I like the way this idiom is described so vividly. I could actually visualize the scene viz:‘She made it her business to get to know all five hundred of her staff by the name’.
    ‘Right. We’re going out now. We’ll be back by 11 and no monkey business while we’re out!’
    Real life application very impressive and easy to remember this idiom in context.

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  • That's a good question! We think the most common usage would be the weak form /ðə/.
    Best wishes,
    The onestopenglish team

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  • but how does one pronounce 'the' in 'the business' ?

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