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In the Office

This is a traditional-style telephone. An attach� case or brief case is used to carry work papers.
A desk calendar can be used to keep track of daily appointments. Being "behind the 8-ball" means you are in trouble.
Mail from the office can be put in a regular metal mailbox. Most business people carry a cell phone everywhere they go.

The office can be in many different places as part of many different businesses or organizations.  It can consist of one or two rooms set off from a small manufacturing plant (factory).  It can be several rooms handling the business of a chain of retail stores.  It can be a several-story tall building handling the business of a national insurance or banking company.  There are several features that all types of offices have in common:

The most popular view in many offices is the wall clock. More office messages are sent by E-mail than by regular mail today.
The computer has replaced the typewriter in most offices. This is a style of copier that might be used in a small office.
Office buildings along I.285 around Atlanta, GA. Large gas company building outside Baltimore, MD.

From that point on, Offices begin to differ.  Some deal with production figures, material purchases and product sales.  Others deal with sales volume, profitability, overhead and advertising.  Still others deal with actuarial tables, policies, benefits and claims.  This lesson will deal with offices in general, with the things that most of them have in common.


Expressions heard in an office:

  • "Mr. Lawrence, there's a call on line 2."
  • "Miss Simon, get Acme Corporation on the phone, please."
  • "Good morning, Lawrence Manufacturing.  Miss Simon speaking. May I help you?"
  • "Good afternoon.  Thank you for calling Continental. How may I help you?"
  • "Miss Simon, have Fred come into my office before he leaves the building."
  • "Certainly, Mr. Lawrence."
  • "Will you have time to go to lunch with me today?"
  • "Miss Simon, make lunch reservations at Moreno's.  I'm meeting a client there."
  • "Wait!  Hold the elevator for me!"
  • "I'm going to take the stairs today."
  • "Sam, did you brown-bag it today?"
  • "No, I didn't bring my lunch.  I thought I'd go to the deli today."  
  • "Rita, what options did you pick for your 401K?"
  • "You've only been here a month.  Why are you thinking about retirement already?"
  • "Welcome to Continental Investments, Mr. Smith.  This is the Human Relations Department."
  • "Is that the same as Personnel?"
  • "Yes, that's the old name for us.  We need to fill out your W2 form for your payroll deductions."
  • "Did you want me to send this letter by e-mail or by snail mail?"
  • "Julie, will you please file these sales reports."
  • "Julie, where did you files last month's sales reports?"
  • "Mrs. Everett, I'd like you to type up that memo I left on your desk."
  • "When you get that memo typed, see that all department heads get a copy."
  • "Shall I fax the new proposal to the head office?"
  • "Hey, Jim.  How'd you make out with that new prospect?"
  • "Call Maintenance, Mrs. Everett.  The copier's jammed again."
  • "Mrs. Everett, set up a conference call for me with Joe Baldwin and my attorney."
  • "Tom, this is Morris Gruber.  He's just starting today.  Would you like to show him the ropes?"
  • "Morris, this is the time clock.  You've got to punch in before the bell rings or you will be docked."
  • "What do you mean 'docked'?"
  • "If the time card shows one minute past 8, you lose 15 minutes of pay."
  • "That doesn't seem very fair."
  • "Attention Employees: There will be no loitering around the water cooler during business hours."
  • "Betty, did you see that new memo about employee parking?"
  • "Yeah. All the big shots get to park right by the building and we have to walk half a block."
  "Let's do it the old-fashioned way: type it, sign it, put it in an envelope and drop it in a mailbox."

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This small gas station may have one little room for an office. Cooper Tire may have ten rooms set aside for offices
A fax-copier can send and receive messages as well as copy papers. A file clerk arranges papers in drawers in a file cabinet.
The file clerk puts the papers in a folder like this. This young man is "goofing off" instead of working.

You may print out this lesson from the web page.

Exercise A: The following list of verbs can all be used in an office.  Write the meaning for each verb and use it in a sentence that has something to do with an office.

Verb Meaning Used in a Sentence
get, gets, got, getting, got    
speak, speaks, spoke, speaking, spoken    
help, helps, helped, helping, helped    
come, comes, came, coming, come    
meet, -meets, met, meeting, met    
call, calls, called, calling, called    
make, makes, made, making, made    
leave, leaves, left, leaving, left    
bring, brings, brought, bringing, brought    
pick, picks, picked, picking, picked    
punch, punches, punched, punching, punched    
show, shows, showed, showing, showed    
hire, hires, hired, hiring, hired    
jam, jams, jammed, jamming, jammed    
ring, rings, rang, ringing, rung    
park, parks, parked, parking, parked    
interview, interviews, interviewed, interviewing, interviewed    
set up, sets up, set up, setting up, set up    

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The work day for many office workers ends at 5:00 p.m. A piggy bank is a symbol of saving in the United States.
New telephones have many features that old telephones do not have. A good office chair is well-padded and can swivel and rock.
Companies located outside of cities often use a mailbox like this one.  
An office manager may pull his hair if his staff makes a serious mistake. It is not good to keep a client waiting in your office.
This mouse doesn't eat cheese. It just wants you to move it and push its buttons The custodial crew cleans the offices after the office workers go home.


Nouns used in the office: For each of the nouns below, write in the space provided a definition that has something to do with an office.

Noun Meaning Noun Meaning
office   phone  
secretary   typewriter  
receptionist   mimeograph  
typist   copier  
file clerk   fax machine  
manager   computer  
executive   modem  
custodian   keyboard  
salesman   cell phone  
auditor   elevator  
bookkeeper   fluorescent light  
W4   desk  
application   cafeteria  
benefits   employee lounge  
retirement plan   calculator  
deductions   fire escape  
stock option   fire extinguisher  
employee   memo  
supervisor   interview  
temp   client  
conference   meeting  
corporation   company  
assistant   business  
CEO   head hunter  
time clock   wages  

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A drawing board or chalk board is often used at business meetings. In many companies, workers must "punch" in or out on a time clock
This young man is delivering the report he just finished. This woman is writing down an order from the computer screen.
A scanner can "read" pictures, diagrams or print and send it to a computer.  

Exercise C: Fill the spaces in the following sentences with the correct nouns from the list above.  More than one noun may be correct in some of the spaces.

1. Mr. Jones told his ______________ to hold all of his calls until the ___________ was over.

2. Harold was an ______________ of a large _____________ in Detroit.

3. He started working for this ______________ because it had a good ___________ package and a liberal ________________.

4. Janet had just graduated from a good business school and now she worked as a _____________ for the ________________ of a company.

5. A qualified office worker should know how to operate a ______________, a ______________, a _______________ and a _________________.

6. Jim had worked his way up from _______________ to ________________ and now had his own ________________ with a ______________ to handle his typing and calls.

7. A ______________ has a ________________ similar to an old-fashioned ______________, but the words are viewed on a screen instead of on paper.

8. Marie had to see the ______________ about a mistake in the ______________ on her pay check.

9. Put the card into the ______________ until you hear it click.

10. The _____________ of the company scheduled a _______________ with the heads of all the departments.


Answers: Some of your answers may be different from ours.  That is fine as long as your answers are compatible with the rest of the sentence and you can explain them.

1. secretary (receptionist), meeting (conference)

2. employee (manager, CEO, bookkeeper), company (corporation)

3. company, benefits, retirement plan

4. secretary, president (manager, executive)

5. copier, typewriter, fax machine, computer

6. custodian, salesman (executive), office, receptionist

7. computer, keyboard, typewriter

8. bookkeeper, deductions

9. time clock

10. CEO, conference (meeting) 

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Favorite songs from the 1950's to the 1980's - links to videos, lyrics, bios of musicians.

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