Blog - communication cartoonWhen we communicate with people in any language we like to ensure that we understand them and that they understand us. So, speaking clearly and using simple language is crucial. It is especially so when you need to communicate with people in a language that is not your own.

Idioms are prevalent in all languages and are mainly used by native speakers. As you have already seen in previous posts that I’ve written, native speakers of English use a lot of idioms to describe different situations.

So, it should come as no surprise if we also have idioms for the art of communication! The 10 idioms I want to share here with you are very common especially in Business English. You may have heard of some of them, or indeed, have similar expressions in your own language.

Blog - in-a-nutshell-idiom1. ‘ In a nutshell‘ – to summarise briefly                                                                              Ex: It’s a complicated system, but in a nutshell it works like a kettle.




2. ‘To get straight to the point‘ – to talk about the most important thing                               Ex:  Ok, I’ll get straight to the point. I’m afraid we’re going to have to make some budget cuts.

3. ‘ To put you in the picture‘ – to give the latest information                                                Ex: Some very important decisions were taken at yesterday’s meeting. Let me put you in the picture.

4. ‘To get the wrong end of the stick‘ – to misunderstand                                                       Ex: If you think that our biggest problem is our distribution channels, you’ve got the wrong end of the stick.

5. ‘To be on the same wavelength‘ – to share similar opinions and idea.                                 Ex: ‘We agree on most things. We’re very lucky that we are on the same wavelength.

Hear it on the Grapevine

Hear it on the Grapevine

6. ‘To hear it on the grapevine‘ – to hear about something passed from one person to another                                                                                                                                 Ex: hear on the grapevine that the CEO is planning to resign. Is that true?



7. ‘Can’t make head or tail of it‘ – to fail to understand anything                                            Ex: This report makes no sense. I can’t make head or tail of it.

8. ‘To talk at cross purposes‘ – to misunderstand                                                                   Ex: I think we’re talking at cross purposes. I meant the figures for June not July.

9. ‘To beat about the bush‘ – to delay talking about something                                          Ex: Politicians never give you a straight answer. They always beat about the bush.

Blog-wires_crossed_idiom10. “To get our wires crossed‘ – to misunderstand                                                                  Ex: Everyone arrived at different times for the meeting. We must have got our wires crossed.


Have you heard or used any of these idioms before? Knowing them would certainly help you understand spoken English better, especially when dealing with native speakers of English.

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Ciao for now.



Source: Market Leader Upper Intermediate, Pearson.


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