Primary Accounting Phrases You Need to Know


Accounting might sound like a complex world filled with numbers, ledgers, and financial jargon. But fear not! We’re here to guide you through some primary accounting phrases that will help you navigate this landscape with confidence. Whether you’re a business owner, a student, or just curious about understanding your finances better, these essential phrases will give you a solid foundation.

1. Balance Sheet

Think of a balance sheet as a financial snapshot. It shows a company’s assets (what it owns), liabilities (what it owes), and equity (the residual interest in the assets after deducting liabilities). In simpler terms, it gives you an overall picture of a company’s financial health at a specific point in time.

2. Income Statement

Also known as a profit and loss statement, an income statement provides a summary of a company’s revenues, expenses, and profits over a certain period. It’s like a report card that tells you whether a company is making or losing money.

3. Cash Flow Statement

This statement tracks the movement of cash into and out of a business. It shows how cash is generated and used, giving insights into a company’s liquidity and financial flexibility.

4. Assets

Assets are things a company owns that have value, like cash, buildings, equipment, and inventory. They’re resources that contribute to a company’s ability to generate revenue.

5. Liabilities

Liabilities are debts or obligations a company owes to others, like loans, accounts payable, and salaries payable. They represent claims on a company’s assets.

6. Equity

Equity represents the ownership interest in a company. It’s calculated by subtracting liabilities from assets. In simple terms, it’s what’s left over for the owners after all debts are paid.

7. Revenue

Revenue is the money a company earns from its primary activities, like selling products or providing services. It’s also called sales or turnover.

8. Expenses

Expenses are the costs incurred to generate revenue. They can include things like salaries, rent, utilities, and marketing expenses.

9. Gross Profit

Gross profit is the difference between revenue and the cost of goods sold (COGS). It tells you how much money a company makes after deducting the direct costs of producing its goods or services.

10. Net Income

Net income, also known as net profit or the bottom line, is the amount left after deducting all expenses from revenue. It’s a key indicator of a company’s profitability.

11. Depreciation

Depreciation is the systematic allocation of the cost of an asset over its useful life. It reflects the decrease in value of assets like machinery, vehicles, or buildings over time.

12. Accounts Payable

Accounts payable are the amounts a company owes to suppliers and vendors for goods and services received. It’s a liability that represents unpaid bills.

13. Accounts Receivable

Accounts receivable are amounts owed to a company by its customers for products or services delivered. It’s an asset that represents future cash inflows.

14. General Ledger

The general ledger is a comprehensive record of a company’s financial transactions, organized by accounts. It’s like the backbone of accounting, where all the numbers come together.

15. Trial Balance

A trial balance is a summary of all the accounts in a company’s general ledger, showing their balances. It’s used to ensure that debits equal credits, a fundamental principle in double-entry accounting.

A Window into Financial Fluency

These primary accounting phrases are your window into understanding the language of business finances. Whether you’re running a company or simply managing your personal budget, knowing these terms will empower you to make informed decisions, analyze financial statements, and communicate effectively with accountants and financial professionals.