How to Talk About Your Job in English: 10 Key Verbs



My name is Emma, and in today’s video, we are going to teach you 10 verbs that you can

use when youre talking about work and jobsokay?—and careers.

So these are 10 very important verbs that you will hear a lot in movies, and on TV shows,

and maybe even your professional life.


So, let’s get started.

So, for each of these verbs, I’m going to tell you what they mean; I’m going to tell

you the grammar of the verb, because that’s also very important; and I am going to talk

about pronunciation, so: “How do we say it?”; and spelling.

Each of these parts, so meaning, grammar, pronunciation, and smell

Spelling; not smelling.

Spelling can really help you remember these verbs better.


So, my first verb: “to be hired”.

What does it mean: “to be hired”?

Well, this is a very good meaning; this is something very exciting.

When you are hired, it means you get a job.


So, it’s: Youve given your resume to a company, youve done the interview, and

guess what?

You are hired.


That means: “Youve gotten the job!

Well done.”

So, I’ve drawn a smiley face here, because this is very exciting.

So, let’s look at an example of the verbhired”.

A long time ago, when I was a lot younger: “I was hired by Blockbuster.”


So, a company, I don’t know if it still exists, but: “I was hired by Blockbuster.”


So youll notice something about this verb.

We have here the subject, which is “I” – “Emma”, and we have the verbhired”,

but you might also notice this wordwas”.

“I was hired”.

This means that this verb is in what’s called the passive tense.


So, when were talking about maybe our friends or our family, or people we know who got a

job, we will say: “My friend was hired by”, and the company.

Or, you know: “I was hired by this company.”


Now, this is a bit different.

So this is in the passive and it’s very important to remember the wordwas”.

We have here our

Our same verb: “hired”, but in this case it’s in the active tense.

And if you don’t know what I mean by passive or active, that’s okay, because we have

a video on that which will help explain that; but the point here is that: Usually when you

usehired”, you usually have awasin front of it or awere”, depending

on if youre saying: “he”, “she”, “we”, “they”.

We usually have it like this.

If youre talking about a company or the boss of a company—a managerand were

talking about their role and that they want to employ someone, in this case we would use

the active, which is this sentence: “The manager hired John.”


And so youll notice here

I could also say: “Blockbuster hired me.”

You know, if I was a famous actress, I could say: “Universal Studios hired me for their

next movie.”

Not true, but just an example.

So, the key here is there’s nowasorwerein the active form.

But for you, you will probably be mainly using the first formthe passive form.


And if you have questions about this, you can watch our videos on passive and active


So: “I was hired by Blockbuster.”

How do I pronounce this word?

Well, the first thing is: It is two syllables.

So, we say: “hi-er”.


So I want you to repeat after me: “hi-er”.


And so it’s kind of like the word: “hi”, “er”.

And in terms of the spelling

One of the great things with verbs that have to do with jobs is a lot of them are spelt

very similarly; they have very close spellings.

So, for example, we have here: “hire”.

There’s another job verb that well be talking about soon that does not mean the

same thing, but it also hasire”.

Can you guess what that word is?



Firerhymes withhire”; they both have similar spelling


And we also have another word: “retire”.


So, “i-r-eyoull see are very common with job verbs.

All right, so let’s look at another verb: “to earn”.


This is a great verb: “to earn”.

It means to make money.


So youve gotten the job, you have been hired, so what happens now?

The best part: You start to make money.

You earn money.


So, I’ve drawn a happy face here because this is also a very good thing about jobs.

So, here are some examples of using this verb in a sentence.

I have my friend Jack, here

Or Jake, sorry; not Jack.

Jake earns well.”

This means

This means Jake makes a lot of money.

Now, compare this to Ben: “Ben doesn’t earn a lot.”

So that means Ben does not make a lot of money.

So, in terms of the pronunciation of this word, I know a lot of students want to pronounce

eaas “e”, which usually is right; but in this case, we don’t pronounce this

asern”, we pronounce this as: “urn”.

So, like this: “urn”.

And if you can’t really remember, just think of the wordlearn”, because we have the

wordearnin it.


So that should help you with pronunciation.

So, I want you to say it with me: “earn”.



So, now we have another verb that means the same thing asearn”, and that isto

getorto be paid”.


So, when were talking aboutpay”, were talking, again, about making money.

So, again, I have a smiley face because this is one of the best parts about working, is

getting paid.

“I get paid every week.”

This means I make money every week.

Sue gets paid every two weeks.”

You might also talk about how well somebody gets paid.

Just likeearn”: “Jake earns well.”, “Jake gets paid well.”


Ben doesn’t earn a lot.”, “Ben doesn’t get paid a lot.”

So they have the same meaning.

So, in this case, like weve talked about the passive before with up here: “I get

paidor “I am paid”, this is a passive sentence.

Now, if you don’t know what that meansdon’t worry.


You can watch a video, again, on that.

But the main thing is: When were talking about ourselves and how much money were

making, we usually use this: “I get paid a lot of money.”, “I get paid, you know,

a little money.”


We can also talk about companies, so when I worked at Blockbuster, I was working, you

know, the front desk, so the company at that time paid well.


The company pays well.”, “The company doesn’t pay well.”

So, in this case, when were talking about the company, were using the active voice.


So, were not using the wordget”, here; were just using the wordpay”.

And youll notice that the spelling of the verbs, even though it’s the same verb, theyre

spelt differently.

Okay, so in terms of pronunciation: “pay”, it rhymes withday”.

And we have: “paid”.


So this is not pronounced like: “said”.

It looks likesaid”, but it’s not pronounced like that.

It’s pronounced: “paid”.

Payandpaidwhen were talking about it in the passive voice or in the past


All right.

Now let’s look at some more verbs that have to do with jobs.

Okay, so, so far you have been hired, you have earned lots of money, youve been paid

really well by your companyso, what happens next?

Well, the next verb were going to talk about tells you just that.

To be promoted”.


So, when you are promotedthere’s a happy face herethis is a very good thing, to

be promoted.

This means if this is you down here, youre moving up and up and up in the company, so

youre going from your position to a higher position.


So, imagine if I was a police officer, and I was great at my job, I worked there for

some years, and suddenly

This might be a bit of a jump, but suddenly: “I was promoted to Chief of Police.”

It means I’ve moved from my position to a higher position.


And this new position, I’m going to earn more money, probably.

So: “I was promoted to Chief of Police.”, “I was promoted to Principal.”, “I was

promoted to Head Teacher.”


“I was promoted to Professor.”

So, these are all examples of moving up to a higher job.

And so, again, like we were talking about with some of those other verbs, like: “hired”,

we have here the wordwas”.


And then we havepromotedwithed”, it’s the past participle ofpromote

this means this is a passive sentence, because the promotion is happening to us.


So, were using the passive voice here, and were saying: “I was promoted to Chief

of Police.”

So, if you have a job and youve moved up in the job, you can say: “I was promoted

to ________.”

Or maybe you know a friend or your family, when they move up at work, you can say: “They

were promoted.”, “She was promoted.”, “He was promoted.”, “We were promoted.”


And then here is the new job title.

Now let’s look at the active voice: “The company promoted me.”

So, the company is doing this.

Theyre helping me move up.


So I could say: “The manager promoted me.”, “My boss promoted me.”

And so, in this case, we don’t have the wordwasorwere”; we just have

the verbpromotedbecause this is the active voice.

So: “I was promoted to Chief of Police.”, “The company promoted me.”

Okay, so now let’s look at pronunciation.

Prois kind of likeprogress”, okay?

That’s whatpromotereminds me of; it reminds me ofprogress”, and it has

the same prefix to it: “pro”.



So this is two syllables: “pro-mote”.

And when we say it, we put the stress

Or we say the second part louder and longer.

“I was promoted”.



So now let’s look at some more verbs.

Okay, now we have the opposite ofpromoted”, which as you can see a sad face here, this

is: “to be demoted”.


So, what does it meanto be demoted”?

Well, here were going up, up, up in the company; whereas when were demoted, were

going down to a lower job.


So this is not a good thing.

Were going from our high position to a lower position.


So, for example, maybe I made a mistake at the company.


Maybe I was Chief of Police for a day, and then I made some big mistakes, and because

of those big mistakes, I was demoted.

So, I went down maybe back to my old job, or maybe even lower.


So, “demotedis not a good thing.

And, again, we have this in the passive voice: “I was demoted.”, “He was demoted.”,

She was demoted.”, “We were demoted.”, “They were demoted.”


Now, if the company, like here

If the company is doing the demotion, we would say: “The company demoted me.”


So: “I was demoted.”, “The company demoted me.”

So, very similar topromoted”, except opposite meanings.

And, again, this is two syllables: “de-mote”, and the stress is on the second syllable.

“I was demoted”.


The company demoted me.”


So, we have a positive thing; we have a sad thingwhat’s next?

Okay, this is a scary thing: “to be fired”.

All right?

This is probably the job

The job verb youre going to hear the most.

Hopefully it doesn’t happen to you, but we hear it a lot in movies and TV.

I hope it doesn’t happen to you.

To be fired”.

So I’ve drawn here a very angry person, because usually when you are fired, you are

not happy.

It means you lose your job, and it’s usually because the company thinks you did something



So maybe you were fired because you stole a lot of money from the company.

Maybe you were fired because, you know, you made a lot of mistakes on the job.

Maybe you were fired because, you know, your boss didn’t like you and maybe it wasn’t



So, “to be firedis that you lose your job in a very negative way for a reason.

Jim was fired.

He stole money from his company.”

Just an example.

And, again, we have here

It’s in the passive form, so that means we have thebeverb orwas”, and

firedwithe-dor the past participle.

So: “Jim was fired.”, “I was fired.”, “He was fired.”, “She was fired.”

It means lose your job.

So, now

Now let’s talk about the active voice.

So, we can talk about our boss.

My boss fired me.”, “The boss fired Jim.”

So, because the boss is the one doing the actual saying: “Youre fired”…

If you think about Donald Trump from his TV show, he used to always say: “Youre fired”.

The boss fired Jim.”


So this is not in the passive tense; this is in the active voice.

This one is in the passive voice.

And hopefully, you know, you don’t get fired, so hopefully you won’t have to use this;

but if you ever do, you can say: “I was fired.”

Okay, so in terms of pronunciation, “fire”, it’s two syllables.


And it rhymes with: “hire” – “fire”.


And just like the verb we looked at before: “hire”, it has the samei-r-espelling,

and in this case we just have the “f” forfire”.

All right, now let’s look at some more verbs that have to do with jobs.

Okay, so weve talked about getting fired or when, you know, people are fired.

So let’s look at some other reasons why we might leave our company or our job.

So we have the next verb: “to be laid off”.

So this is not the same thing as being fired.

When were talking about being fired, were usually talking about your company thinks

you made a mistake or your boss didn’t like you, or there’s some reason why, you know,

youre getting fired, and usually it’s a negative or a bad reason.

When you get laid off, a lot of the times

You lose your job, but you know, you didn’t make a mistake or you didn’t do anything


It could be because the company is closing a factory; maybe the company has too many

people working there, and so, you know, theyre getting rid of some jobs, but it’s not because

you made a mistake.


It’s something to do with the company needs less workers.

So, it’s still a sad thing, though; I’ve put a sad face.

Withfired”, I put an angry face because usually youre really angry when youre


When youre laid off, you know, a lot of people feel really sad.

Here’s an example of the verblay offin a sentence: “I was laid off because the

factory is closing.”

Or: “I was laid off because my office needs less people.”


So, again, we have this in the passive voice, meaning we have thebeverb orwas”,

and then we havelayin the past participle: “laid”.

“I was laid off.”


People were laid off at my company because we had

We didn’t have enough money to pay them.”

So, here I said it’s in the passive form.

We also have in the active form, when the company is doing the action.

The company laid off 20 workers”.

“I was laid off.”, “The company laid off”, so youll notice here we have the

wordwasbecause it’s passive, and here we don’t because it’s active voice.

So, in terms of pronunciation: “layrhymes withpay”.

So, again, we see a connection with job vocabulary.

Lay”, “pay”.

And just like we hadlaid off”, where we spell it: “p-a-i-d”…

Or, sorry: “paid off”, we havelaid off”, so it’s the same spelling: “a-i-d”.

Now, compare this to when were talking about a company, we have this maybe in a different

form, where we havel-a-y-s”.

So, be careful here because a lot of people make spelling mistakes when they spelllaid


This is how we spell the past participle.


So, be careful when youre spelling this word because it’s tricky.

Even for regular English speakers, “layandlaidis one of those really confusing

things for spelling.


So now let’s look at some other verbs.

We have here: “to quitand alsoto resign”.

So these mean almost the same thing.

When we quit, it means we don’t want the job anymore, so we tell our boss, you know:

“I quit.

I’m leaving.”

It means you don’t want the job; youre going to find a new job.

Or maybe you already have found a new job.

The wordquitis a bit informal, though.


So, I wouldn’t…

If I was quitting my job, I’d tell my friends: “Yes, you know, I quit today”, but I wouldn’t

write to the company: “I quit.”

I would use the wordresign”, because this is the professional word.

So, these have the same meaning, butquitis more informalit’s how we talk to

our friends in conversation; whereasresignis what we would write to our bosses.

“I resign from my position.”

So, here is an example: “She quit because she got a better job.”

Lucky her.

He resigned because he found a new job.”

Or: “He resigned because he didn’t like the company; he didn’t like his boss.”


So, this is different from being fired, because it’s your choice when you quit.

You make the decision; it’s your choice.

And that’s why youll notice it’s not in the passive form, we don’t have: “She

was quit.”


This is always active.

“I quit.”, “You quit.”, “He quits.”, “She quits.”

In terms of the wordquit”, this is one of those irregular verbs in English where

we don’t use it withe-d”.

So, if youre talking about the past, you know: “20 years ago, I quit my job”, we

never sayquitted”.


What we say isquitfor the present, as well as for the past tense.

This is different fromresigned”.

Resignedin the present, we can say: “resign”; and in the past, youll notice

it’s a regulare-dverb: “resigned”.

So, in terms of pronunciation, let’s just practice this quickly.

A lot of people, they don’t know how to pronounce this word because usually “q”…

It’s not really a letter that comes up a lot in English, so let’s say this word together.

Quit”, “quit”.


And in terms of this sound: “resigned”, youll notice it’s two syllables.


And even though we have an “s” here, it’s pronounced like a “z”: “rezign”.

“I resigned from my company today.”


So, be aware of those pronunciation differences.

Okay, the last verb you are going to learn today from this lesson is a really happy verb;

were ending on a very happy note, and that isto retire”.

So, what does it meanto retire”?

Well, when we retire from our job, it means were leaving work, but it’s not because

we don’t like the job or because a better job comes alongit means were finished

work forever.

We don’t need to do any more work.

Were older.

You know, depending on your country, there’s different ages to retire.

In some countries, maybe it’s 60, maybe 70, maybe 65.


So when were older, we retire, and that means were finished work; were finished

for good.

So, for example, my father

When he retired: “My father retired at 65.”


I want to retire at 40.

I don’t think itll happen.

I think I will retire probably at 70, because

Actually, you know, I love teaching, so maybe

Well say 70.

I want to retire at 70.

Okay, so let’s look at the spelling and pronunciation of this word now: “retire”.

So, we have three syllables: “re-ti-re”, and then when we say it quickly: “retire”.


So youll notice: “retire”, I saytia little bit louder and longer.



So be careful with the stress, where you put it.

We don’t say: “re-tire”.

We say: “retire”.


And youll notice, likehireandfire”, we have thei-r-espelling again.



So, be careful with the spelling.

I know a lot of students, the spelling is the thing they don’t really think about,

but it actually is really important because when you can spell something, it helps you

to remember it better.


So practice your spelling, practice spelling these words, practice using them in sentences

and in conversation.

Again, just, you know

These words do come up a lot.

We hear about people being fired, people quitting, people being retired, people being hired,

and so these are very important verbs, especially if youre looking for a job or you know

people who are workingwe use this a lot.

So, I wanted to thank you for watching this video.

I hope youve learned a lot here.

If you want to practice these words more, and I really recommend you do, come visit

us at; there, you can do a quiz to practice all the words youve learned

here, including their spelling, grammar, and their meaning.


I also invite you to subscribe to my channel; I have a lot of different ESL or English learning

resources there, where, you know, I cover so many topics, such as: IELTS, TOEFL, grammar,

vocabulary, slang, business Englishmany different topics, so you might find that useful

as well.

Until next time, thank you for watching and take care.