deadlines vocabulary esl

Whatever the industry, your business students will love these expressions for deadlines and organising projects.

Practising the target language

In order to teach vocabulary it’s very important to practice the target language.

This could be by:

  1. Asking your student to speak about their work life, using as many of these phrases as possible.
  2. Asking your student to give you example sentences of each vocabulary term.
  3. Doing a role play: The tutor is the student’s work colleague and the student must negotiate a deadline for a new project with the tutor using these phrases.
PDF vocabulary set to give your students

After studying the topic, here is a PDF to give to your students of the complete vocabulary set.



A deadline – the date by when something should be finished.

To set a deadline – agree on a deadline.

To meet a deadline – when you complete the task before or on the deadline day.

‘The deadline was set for the end of the month and we just about met it.’

By – the end point

‘You must finish this report by Friday.’

‘Can you send it to me by Monday?’

Within – inside a time period.

‘I must send this document within 3 hours.’

‘I can do this contract within three weeks.’

To be behind or ahead of schedule – to work slower or faster than you predicted when you made the deadline.

‘The foundations of the building were more damaged than we thought and so we are behind schedule.’

To be on schedule – the project is going to plan and won’t be delayed.

‘At the moment we are on schedule and should complete the work by the end of the month.’

To be delayed / to delay – to be late for something.

‘We have had to delay the opening of the store.’


To be due – the agreed date to finish a task.

‘This report is due on the 15th of July.’

To be overdue – the deadline has passed and the task is now late.

‘This report is overdue. I expected it on Monday – when can you send it to me?’

To reach a milestone – to complete a phase in the project.

‘We have reached the first milestone in the roll out of the new system. Only three more left!’

To run out of time, money, patience etc. – when a resource is low and must be renewed.

‘We are running out of time.’

‘We couldn’t complete the project because we ran out of money.’

Organising projects


To make a plan of action – to plan a project including all tasks.

‘The first task in this kick off meeting is to make a plan of action.’

To plan ahead – to make plans thinking about any problems you may encounter in the future.

‘It’s important to plan ahead when preparing the budget for this project.’


To foresee – to predict.

‘I don’t foresee any problems getting this project approved.

The foreseeable future – speaking about the near future (that you can predict).

‘We won’t take on any more staff for the foreseeable future.’

Going forward – to discuss the next step to take.

‘Going forward, work will be redistributed over three car plants instead of four.’

Looking forward – to predict what will happen in the future.

‘Looking forward electric cars will become more popular and so we need increase our range of models.’

Giving tasks

To delegate – to give a task to another person so they can do the task for you.

‘Management delegated the sales tasks.’

To head – to lead or direct.

‘Riccardo will head the project and pick his team.’

To be tasked with – to be given a task.

‘We will task Francesca with putting together the feasibility report.’

Starting and finishing a project

To start from scratch – to start from zero.

‘We cannot integrate this software into the old system and so we’ll have to code a new program from scratch.’

To start a project with a kick off meeting – when the team is assembled the project starts with a ‘kick off’ (a term taken from football tournaments).

To give/get the green light – to get permission to start from management.

‘We’ve just got the green light from the CEO, so we’re starting the project on Monday.’

To sign off on the project – management says the project is complete and done to the agreed standard.

‘We’re just waiting for the sign off and then we can move on to something else.’

Final thoughts

We hope you find this deadline and organisation vocabulary useful. What terms have we missed? Add them to the comments section below.