Busy with Work or Busy at Work – Which Is Correct?

Most people seem to keep busy, doing work or something else they need to do. What’s the correct form to express you have a lot to do in your professional activities? Should you say “Busy with Work” or “Busy at Work”?

Let’s find out which’s the appropriate form to use.

Busy with Work or Busy at Work – Which Is Correct?

“Work” is a word that can refer to both a person’s professional activity and their physical place of work. “Busy with Work” indicates the person’s activity. “Busy at Work” indicates the place where they’re employed. Both forms are correct but emphasize different things.

Busy with Work or Busy at Work

Take a look at the examples below:

  • You’ve been very busy with work lately.
  • You’ve been very busy at work lately.
  • I’m busy with work and can’t meet you for lunch today.
  • I’m busy at work and can’t even take a personal call now.

Take a look at the sentences in the examples. The difference is slight and would probably become more apparent when the overall context is presented.

In other words, if we knew the whole backstory or if we had a full conversation, why “Busy with Work” and “Busy at Work” have been chosen would be more clear.

However, the fact is that “Busy with Work” relates to the professional activity the person develops. When they say they’re “Busy with Work”, I don’t know what their location is – all I know is that they’re “Busy with Work” activities.

When they say they’re “Busy at Work”, what I don’t know is what activities they’re developing. But I can know for sure that they’re at their workplace, “Busy at Work”. Keep that difference in mind, when choosing which of the forms to use.

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Busy With Work

The expression “Busy with Work” indicates that, wherever that individual is, they’re busy doing work-related activities. Busy with work is about what they do professionally, and not about where they do it. You should use the phrase “Busy with Work” when referring to the work activity.

Take a look at some helpful examples:

  1. He’s working on multiple projects, so he’s very busy with work.
  2. Are you usually this busy with work?
  3. I wish I wasn’t so busy with work.
  4. I’m so busy with work that I’ve been working on weekends.
  5. Britt’s busy with work, so she won’t be able to join us tonight.
  6. I suggested Dory took time off because she’s been too busy with work.

Busy at Work

“Busy at Work” is an expression that indicates that the individual is busy at their work location. When you use this form, the nature of the activity is irrelevant. The emphasis is on the physical location of the work, more than anything else.

Take a look at examples that show “Busy at Work” in use:

  1. I’ve been so busy at work, I don’t even notice the time passing.
  2. Dean has multiple clients coming in every day, so he’s very busy at work.
  3. Are you busy at work today? I was planning on stopping by for coffee.
  4. It’s been busier at work than usual.
  5. If Danica weren’t so busy at work, she might even leave early.
  6. The company seems to be keeping Frank too busy at work.

Which Is Used the Most?

Which one of those forms is used more often, “Busy with Work” or “Busy at Work”? Take a look at the graph from Google Ngram Viewer below to find out.

Busy with Work or Busy at Work usage

The expressions “Busy with Work” and “Busy at Work” have very similar usages. They appear very close together in the graph, even having swapped places at the top stop as recently as a few years ago.

It’s interesting to notice, though, that the usage for both expressions picked up steam after 1990. In other words, they’re fairly new as set phrases in the English language.

Final Thoughts

“Busy with Work” and “Busy at Work” are grammatically correct and acceptable forms you can use. They refer to different things, though. “Busy with Work” refers to the person’s career and what they do as a work activity. “Busy at Work” refers to the physical place of work or location.