Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"

The business English vocabulary you use affects how professional and confident you sound.

Today you’ll learn how to adjust business English vocabulary to send a powerful message.

We’ll show you how to tweak the way you communicate to empower yourself in the workplace.

Little tweaks

Michelle asks Lindsay about making tweaks to podcast episodes either before or after they’ve recorded.

Lindsay answers that they do make little tweaks.

However, they don’t make a lot of edits and changes when publishing podcast recordings.

We often make little changes in our lives and we call these “tweaks.”

Afraid of change?

Lindsay asks Michelle if she fears change.

Michelle responds that she’s open to change.

At times, a sudden shift can be uncomfortable.

However, change is necessary for growth and improvement.

Today we have a great listener question that is perfect for business English.

Don’t miss episode AEE 2125: How to Share Your Faults in English for Deeper Connection.

Today’s question

I hope you all are doing great. I’m originally from Japan, born and raised in the town next to Musashi-kosugi where Lindsey used to live I believe.

Somehow I live in Sydney Australia now and work remotely for a US company so listening to All Ears English and Aussie English is a kind of perfect combination to learn English for me.

I have a question related to my work. I work as a Japanese copywriter for the company and often collaborate with designers who are based in the US, so I need to communicate with them when I change texts on ads and explain it.

One day, I realized that my colleagues used three words in English meaning to change something. Those are “change”, “tweak”, and “modify”.

Please clarify the nuances of each word and give me the context when I should choose one of them appropriately.

Thank you in advance,

Change, tweak, and modify

Lindsay and Michelle answer the listener’s question regarding three words:

  • change
  • tweak
  • modify

All of these are about something starting as one thing and morphing into another.

Often this is for feedback given on a project or task.

Overall, they can be used as synonyms, but Lindsay and Michelle will dive into each one.

They will share what each word means and how you can differentiate them from each other.

#1: Change

This can be a noun or verb.

It is the most general of the three.

We often hear this in poetry and songs.


  • I need to make some changes to my second slide.
  • That chance meeting changed the entire trajectory of my career.

Biggest professional change

Lindsay asks Michelle about her biggest professional change in the past five years.

Michelle shares the transition of figuring out life as a mother and career woman.

Figuring out her identity in between pursuing work and being a mom to small children has been challenging and rewarding at the same time.

#2: Tweak

This word can also be a noun or a verb.

We don’t use tweak when referring to a big alteration or change.

It is used more for small adjustments.

At work, this is great when referring to small edits on reports.


  • I have some tweaks for you when you have a minute to go over them.
  • She tweaked my first paragraph so much that I could hardly recognize it!

Too many tweaks

Michelle shared an experience when she asked her brother and sister to tweak her college essay before submitting it.

They made so many small changes that it sounded entirely different when she read it.

She cried and her mom just told her to use her original writing.

Michelle asks if Lindsay is okay with other people making tweaks to her work.

Lindsay says tweaks are good but an overhaul would be too much.

Small changes to help improve are nice, but if making big changes, communicating this well is definitely recommended.

#3: Modify

This word is defined as, “make partial or minor changes to (something), typically so as to improve it or to make it less extreme.”

It can only be used as a verb.

However, we also use the noun “modification.”

We often use it to make something sound less extreme when making minor changes.

It also sounds quite formal.


  • Many companies modified their work-from-home policy during the pandemic.
  • It’s time to make some modifications to our employee handbook.


Here is a quick roleplay from Lindsay and Michelle using the vocabulary shared in today’s episode.

This is to better help you understand how to use these words in a conversation at your workplace.

In this scenario, Lindsay and Michelle are coworkers going over a paper they wrote before turning it in.

Lindsay: Ok, so do you think we need to make any changes?
Michelle: I have a few tweaks. I went through it last night.
Lindsay: Oh great, let’s go through them.
Michelle: Also, did the team ever modify those guidelines?
Lindsay: Oh yes I have the new copy!
Michelle: Great! I think we all need to change the way things are done.
Lindsay: Yes.


When communicating in the workplace, you want to sound confident and clear.

Using the correct vocabulary will ensure you get your message across well.

Today’s words have slightly different meanings.

Practice using them when talking about making changes at work!

What other vocabulary have you encountered at work that is confusing?

Let us know in the comments.

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