In our professional and personal lives, we often have to make decisions – some of them critical (extremely important), for example, deciding whether to enter a brand new, unknown market and risk losing a lot of money, and some trivial (not important), for example, what colour should we paint the office walls?.

Whichever they are, these decisions need to be taken. It’s no wonder then that my clients often ask me to help them explore the different ways they can use the word “decision” (noun), “to decide”(verb) and “decisive”(adjective) correctly in English.

I decided (!) to create a list of business english phrases to show you the different ways we use the word ‘decision’ and its derivatives in a business context. The biggest area of uncertainty for many learners is how to use “decision” (noun) and “decisive” (adjective) correctly. So this post will focus more on these two words.

decide (not) to + verb
 – After 10 years in the pharmaceutical industry, Terry decided to change career.
 – I’ve decided not to accept that job.
can’t decide or haven’t decided
can’t decide what to…
haven’t decided whether to…
-They haven’t decided whether to hire a new Sales Manager yet
-I’m giving an important presentation tomorrow, but I can’t decide what to wear.
decide on somebody/something (noun phrase)
We need to decide on next year’s sales budgets 
-We need to decide on what’s best for the company
-They decided on removing the extra layer of costs. (removing is used as the gerund +ing form)
I didn’t really want to leave the company, so it was a very difficult decision.
We take or make a decision
As Managing Director of the company, he has to take some tough decisions.  
– You made a really good decision today.
Here are some common adjectives that we use in English for the word “decision”
a difficult
a tough
make an important
a clear decision
take a quick
a spontaneous
the right
the wrong
Other adjectives you can use are:
a sound decision; a wise ≠ stupid decision; a dangerous decision; a ridiculous decision, unanimous decision, an informed decision, a strategic decision.
Can you think of other adjectives? Share them in the comment box and I’ll tell you if they’re right or not.
Other verbs that collocate (go naturally) with decision

Reach or Come to:

After hours of discussion, they finally reached a decision.
 – I’ve come to a decision. I’m going to apply for that job.
Overrule: -Supreme Court judges can sometimes overrule the decisions of the lower courts.
Quash: -The industrial tribunal quashed the earlier decision taken by the assessor.
Reconsider: – We would like the Board to reconsider their decision to sack the Financial Director.
Keeps to or sticks to:  – He always keeps to or sticks to his decisions.
decisive ≠ indecisive person
– John is always changing his mind, he is so indecisive.
– I like working with James, he is so decisive and gets things done.
decisive – making the final result of a situation completely certain (Source: Macmillan Dictionary)
– The UK has played a decisive role in the negotiations.
– Tony’s expert know-how was the decisive factor for us winning the contract.
a decisive victory (or defeat) is one where the winner (or loser) does much better than their opponent.
– The vote on climate change was a decisive victory for the environmentalists.
Idiomatic Expressions 
make up your mind = definitely decide on something after thinking about it carefully
I’ve made up my mind, I’m going to accept that job (final decision)
change your mind = decide something, and then decide something different
I was going to organise a meeting for this afternoon, but I’ve changed my mind.
to be in two minds = to be undecided
I’m in two minds about whether to attend the conference or not

Are you a good decision-maker? Here’s an interesting post on 5 simple steps you can take to become an effective decision-maker.


Do you involve your employees in the company’s decision-making process?

I hope this post has given you plenty to think about.
Over to you – Build your vocabulary

Next time you read in or listen to English,

  • highlight the expressions you find with the words “decision”, “decisive” or “decide”.
  • highlight the words that go before and after the words to see the patterns.
  • Make a note of the expressions that you like and try to use them in your writing or spoken English.

If you want me to correct you, just drop me a line here on my website.

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Ciao for now