Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"

Are you ever in a business situation where something goes wrong?

Do you feel unsure of what to say or how to express this to others in English?

We’ve all been in a business setting where something was off or something went wrong.

We’re going to show you what to say in common situations, and which phrases sound the most natural in English for the workplace.

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A Guest To Help Us With This Important Topic

We have a guest Steve Ford today, who is going to talk about a really important topic, which is how to talk through things when they break down in a business setting.

Steve has a huge YouTube channel, and a big focus is on how to speak better English particularly for job related issues and interviews.

He also has a lot of videos focused on pronunciation to help people speak faster and more effectively.

He wants to connect with people and teach them how to speak like a native English speaker.

This topic has come up often with his students, and so he feels that it’s an important one to focus on.

Steve wants to help English learners to know what the right things are to say in a business setting when something goes wrong.

Sometimes Things Go Wrong

We’re going to look at what we do or say in a business situation when things break down.

Sometimes technology stops working, or there is something off in the workplace.

This is often not your fault, but you still want to know how to address this in English.

This is a topic that can help to support you when things go wrong, and you want to know what to say.

You don’t want any mix ups happening, and so this can really help you to be prepared.

When you’re prepared for these situations, it helps with connections in the workplace.

The Best Phrases To Use In These Situations

When things go wrong in a business setting, there are certain ways of expressing this.

These circumstances come up, and they aren’t your fault, but you do want to know how to handle them.

These phrases can help you to express things in the right way with others.

  • When you’re going to get into an elevator and it’s broken: You want to let somebody know that but sound natural. You may want to say something like “the elevator is out of order” or you might say that it’s “out of service.” You could say this about machines used in the workplace too, like a copier or fax machine.
  • If you find that there is no electricity: You want to let people know that you are without power. You might say that “we lost power” or “‘the power is out.” This would apply if it happened on its own and you don’t have any control over it. This can apply to something at an office, or even if you are stuck in traffic and the stoplight is out. If you did it on purpose or there was a reason for it, then you might say “the power is off.”
  • If you are on your phone and it’s about to run out of battery: You are trying to say that your phone is about to die. You might say that “my battery is running out.” You’re letting people know and you want to articulate that your battery is running out and you need to charge it up.
  • If your battery is completely dead: You can’t use the device like your phone or your laptop and you want to say this. You might say “my battery died” or “my battery is dead.” It may sound informal but it’s good to be on the same level with your coworkers.
  • If your car isn’t working properly: You can’t use your phone so you would say “my car broke down.” This is to say that your car isn’t working and you can’t use it. You need that preposition of “down” because it sounds better and flows easier.
  • When you can’t hear somebody suddenly on a call: You want to let the other person know that you can’t hear them. So you would say something like “you’re breaking up” or “you’re cutting out.” It lets them know that their voice trailed off, and now you can’t hear them anymore. This happens a lot so it’s an important one to know and use!

These phrases can really help you to let others know what’s going on, and this is a great way to connect.

Preparation Is Key

It’s the subtleties of English that will help to connect you.

You don’t want to pretend that
everything is okay when it’s not.

You have to get up the courage to
let somebody know when something isn’t working.

This is a really important thing to focus on, particularly within business English.

You can’t move forward if things aren’t working the right way, and now you know how to address these things.

You may not always have the answers, but at least you know how to let others know what is going on.


When you’re in a business setting, strange situations come up from time to time.

You may find that things are broken or go wrong, and you want to know how to talk about this in English.

These phrases and this background will help you to be prepared to discuss these things when the situation occurs.

Though things may be out of your control, having the courage and preparation to speak up and alert others can be really helpful.

Steve’s Bio

Steve Ford is an online English teacher whose YouTube channel has been watched by more than 20 million people worldwide. His 300,000 subscribers follow his 400+ video lessons for business, pronunciation, TOEFL and conversation.

Steve attributes much of the success of his online business, Private English Portal, to his many years of experience teaching English in Canada, France and Brazil.

He speaks Portuguese, French, Spanish as well as some Russian. A classically trained guitarist, trumpet player and sitarist, Steve also enjoys recording and composing music which has always been a mainstay in his video lessons.

Living in beautiful Vancouver, he takes full advantage of the great outdoors by running and practicing yoga.

Steve’s website

Steve’s YouTube channel.

If you have any questions, please leave them below in the comments section.

We’ll get back to you as soon as we can.

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