In this podcast we’re going to talk about some more of those ‘everyday English idioms’ you’ll hear at work. If you need to improve your workplace English, well this podcast is for you!
Being fluent in English means understanding and using idioms effectively. Listen to our idioms podcast lessons and get fluent in idioms. In this Podcast, you will learn the meaning of each idiom and how to use them in actual conversations.
Recently I did a podcast on everyday English idioms you will hear at work, episode 508. Well, you liked that one, so today, let’s cover some more of those
idioms you’ll hear at work.
I enjoy using idioms for fun. When I talk to friends, I use them. I like to learn what they mean and how to use them the right way. Listen to our podcast to learn more.
Swimming Idioms Deep Float Heroism Fortunately Puzzle
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More and more Adept English listeners are telling us how they are using English in their place of work. And recently I did a podcast on ‘TOP everyday English idioms you will hear at work - explained’, episode 508. Well, you liked that one so today, let’s cover some more of those ‘idioms you’ll hear at work’.
Hello, I’m Hilary, and you’re listening to Adept English. We will help you to speak English fluently. All you have to do is listen. So start listening now and find out how it works.
If you have to speak English with native speakers in the workplace, you’ll find that they use idioms all the time. And you don’t want to be caught out, caught off guard if you like, by other people’s use of idioms. In English, idioms are everywhere - we ‘don’t think twice’ about using idioms.
There’s a bit of an idiom - ‘to not think twice’ means that you do something automatically. It’s a ‘no brainer’ to use another idiom that I’ve covered previously! Idioms will get in the way of your understanding, if you don’t work on them. They’ll be an obstacle. So let Adept English help you. Let’s cover some more ‘idioms you’ll hear in the workplace’ in today’s podcast.
And don’t forget if you want practise at English conversation, in preparation for working in an English speaking environment, our course Course One, Activate Your Listening will help you massively with this.
Anyway, what about these idioms? These ones are all to do with how you manage your workload. And your ‘workload’, WORKLOAD - that’s the amount of work you have to do. So the idioms are:-
- to do the lion’s share
- to be thrown in at the deep end
- to sink or swim
- to hit the ground running
First of all, ‘to do the lion’s share’ or maybe ‘to receive the lion’s share’. Vocabulary here - a lion, LION is an animal. And it’s one that you might find on the plains of Africa - that’s their natural habitat. Think of Simba in The Lion King. Lions are large cats - and they have manes, MANE and a tail.
A group of lions in English is called ‘a pride’, PRIDE. And we use this phrase ‘the lion’s share’ to mean ‘the largest part’ of something. If you think about how lions kill other animals for food, their ‘prey’, PREY if you like. Well other animals may have a share of the kill. Hyenas for example, may do this that’s HYENA - they’re wild dogs. And hyenas sometimes sneak up and share what the lions have killed. But the lions get the bigger share, ‘the lion’s share’.
When we say ‘the lion’s share’, we mean ‘the bigger part’. And if you ‘do the lion’s share of the work’, you’re doing ‘most of the work’, the bigger part of it. This phrase also reflects the idea that the most powerful animal gets the biggest share - and in business, perhaps the most powerful person, or the biggest company ‘takes the lion’s share’. Some examples of this phrase in sentences, this idiom? ‘Our team should receive a bonus to reflect that they’ve done the lion’s share of this project’. Or ‘The lion’s share of the funding will go to the largest theatres’. Or ‘I do the lion’s share of the cleaning in this house and I only ask you to clean your own bedroom’. There’s an aggrieved mother speaking!
Second idiom today - ‘to be thrown in at the deep end’. We use this phrase such a lot - at work and in other contexts! The ‘deep end’ here - what does that mean? Well, picture a swimming pool. And not the kind of lovely swimming pool that you might meet when you go on your holidays, with sun loungers and palm trees! Think instead of a pool where children might go to have swimming lessons - or adults do exercise.
The ‘deep end’ - is the part of pool where the water is deep - you can’t touch the bottom of the pool with your feet. The opposite end - probably where you learned to swim is ‘the shallow end’. That’s where you can stand up in the water and perhaps it only comes partway up your body. So the phrase ‘to be thrown in at the deep end’ refers to the idea of picking someone up and throwing them into the deep end of the swimming pool.
You would rather hope that this person can swim already - or that somehow they’ll learn very quickly - otherwise that may be a disaster! In the work context then, ‘to throw someone in at the deep end’? Well, it’s used where you are giving someone a job role, or some work to do that is possibly beyond their current level of skill, beyond what they’ve experienced before. But you perhaps have some confidence that they’ll be able to deal with it. ‘You’re going to be thrown in at the deep end with this new work’. Or ‘I had never had experience teaching in a classroom before - but I was thrown in at the deep end and I learned very quickly.’ Or ‘Your first driving lesson is an experience where you are thrown in at the deep end. But you can’t learn to drive without getting into the car’.
And this is related to the third idiom today - ‘To sink or swim’. Vocabulary first - you probably know the verb ‘to swim’, SWIM. It’s what fishes do all the time to move around - and it’s what we human beings can learn to do. Swimming is also a sport - think of Michael Phelps there perhaps. And ‘to sink’, that’s SINK. Well, I guess ‘to sink’ is the opposite of ‘to swim’, if you like. If you take a stone and throw it into water, then it ‘sinks’ - it travels to the bottom of the water. It does the opposite of ‘float’, FLOAT.
‘To float’ means to sit on the surface of the water. So back to that rather cruel sounding description of ‘picking a person up and throwing them into the deep end of the swimming pool’? Well, the outcome there is that the person will either ‘sink or swim’. So we use this expression ‘to sink or swim’ to mean that an outcome is uncertain, but it will either be an outright success, through a person’s effort or skill or quick learning, or it’ll be a complete failure, a negative, a disaster even. ‘It’s sink or swim’ we sometimes say.
So there’s some danger, some peril perhaps - some sense that there’s a big risk it won’t work out, it won’t succeed. But the idea that if it does succeed, it will be down to the effort and skill of the people involved. Some examples of how you might use this idiom? ‘In this market place, it’s sink or swim for new companies’. Or ‘I don’t feel quite ready for my driving test, but it’ll be sink or swim on the day’. Or ‘I’ve revised as much as I can, despite my illness. I guess it will be sink or swim in the exam’.
OK, the final idiom for today that you might hear in the workplace - and this one is a manager’s favourite - ‘to hit the ground running’. This one makes me smile - it’s typical of some people in business to underline the drama, the heroism even of what people might achieve at work. So they use phrases which come from far more potentially heroic or dramatic situations! And we might talk about ‘having a mountain to climb’, when really we’re just sitting at our desk, getting through a big pile of work!
This idiom adds that dramatic touch really well! ‘To hit the ground running’ has some similarity in meaning with the previous two idioms. If you ‘hit the ground running’, it means that you start working on something and you are already going full speed with it, right from the beginning. There’s no period of time when you’re just learning or preparing, you are fully functional, working at speed straight away. This phrase, if it helps you to have a picture - imagine troops, soldiers, being dropped in a war zone - either from a helicopter or by parachute. As soon as their feet hit the ground, they’re already running.
Office workers gathered talking at a water cooler. If you want to improve your workplace English, listen to this podcast. You’ll hear idioms used by native speakers in natural conversation.
There’s no time to lose, no time to waste, they ‘hit the ground running’. It’s almost as though they must be running already as they land. It’s a bit like when you see a cartoon character, whose legs and feet are whizzing round in the air, as though running very fast, but they’re not yet in contact with the ground. And then as soon as they are in contact with the ground, off they go, at speed. That’s ‘to hit the ground running’. So obviously, this is what a business wants from its people, its staff, its employees.
If they can ‘hit the ground running’ and be productive, without the need to learn and without needing any training - that’s every manager’s dream. Some examples in sentences? ‘When you take on the new role of sales manager, you’ll have to hit the ground running’. Or ‘As soon as the approval for the project was given, we all hit the ground running.’ Or ‘The new team that we’ve recruited - they’re going to have to hit the ground running this season’.
OK let’s recap on these phrases by me speaking to you like your boss might, or like a manager! Here we go.
‘Listen up those of you on the new sales project. I know that some of you have been thrown in at the deep end and you’ve had to learn new skills on the job. I also know that you’ve had to do the lion’s share of the work, that you’ve not had much support from other areas of the business.
It’s been sink or swim recently and fortunately and down to your own efforts and the long hours you’ve put in - you’ve all swum! You’ve all made a valuable contribution. But now with this new project, I’m asking you once again to hit the ground running. It’s an exciting time for our organisation - and it’s a chance to make a name for yourself within our company.’
I love making those rousing manager speeches! But it gives you chance to hear the phrases, the idioms we covered being used. Those are our four idioms today that you’ll hear at work and you won’t need to puzzle over them any longer in future.
You’ll now recognise them and understand the sayings ‘to do the lion’s share’, ‘to be thrown in at the deep end’, ‘to sink or swim’ and ‘to hit the ground running’. And if you learn them really, really well, you’ll be able to use them yourself when you speak, just like a native speaker of English! So listen to this podcast a number of times, so that you know them really well!
Enough for now. Have a lovely day. Speak to you again soon. Goodbye.
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