When 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.

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#1. ‘ In a nutshell

Summarise briefly

 It’s a complicated system, but in a nutshell it works like a kettle.

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#2: ‘To get straight to the point

Talk about the most important thing

Ok, I’ll get straight to the point. I’m afraid we’re going to have to make some budget cuts.”

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#3: ‘ To put you in the picture

Give the latest information

“Some very important decisions were taken at yesterday’s meeting. Let me put you in the picture.”

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#4. ‘To get the wrong end of the stick


“If you think that our biggest problem is our distribution channels, you’ve got the wrong end of the stick.”

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#5. ‘To be on the same wavelength

Share similar opinions and idea.

 ‘We agree on most things. We’re very lucky that we are on the same wavelength.

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6. ‘To hear it on the grapevine

Hear about something passed from one person to another

” hear on the grapevine that the CEO is planning to resign. Is that true? ”      

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#7. ‘Can’t make head or tail of it

Fail to understand anything

“This report makes no sense. I can’t make head or tail of it.”

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8. ‘To talk at cross purposes


 “I think we’re talking at cross purposes. I meant the figures for June not July.”

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#9. ‘To beat about the bush

Delay talking about something

Politicians never give you a straight answer. They always beat about the bush.”

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#10. “To get our wires crossed


“Everyone arrived at different times for the meeting. We must have got our wires crossed.”

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

If you liked this post, you’ll LOVE my Business Idioms and Coffee To Go series. Check it out.

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Ciao for now.



Source: Market Leader Upper Intermediate, Pearson.