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The BEST business phrases which come from nature, including 2 you definitely haven’t seen before!

Everyone loves a good trip into the countryside, so get yourselves ready for the best business phrases which come from nature!

beat around the bush

Probably my favourite phrase out of all of them here.  To beat around the bush means to avoid talking about the core of the subject.  If you want to avoid talking about the main issue or core of the subject, it is usually because the core of the subject is very negative or taboo.

‘The boss won’t tell us the truth about what is happening with redundancies, she keeps beating around the bush whenever I ask her about it.’

‘I think it is very important to be honest with people if they are not performing properly at work.  It doesn’t help anyone if you beat around the bush.’

Let’s not beat around the bush is another way of saying ‘let’s be honest’ when you are talking about a negative or painful subject.

‘Let’s not beat around the bush, the sales figures for last quarter are terrible’

Don’t beat around the bush is another great version of this phrase, it simply means ‘be honest’ say it as it really is.

gain ground on 

This is a great phrase meaning to get closer to someone or something that is ahead of you, by making progress and becoming more successful.  In business, this is often used to talk about getting closer, in terms of size and market share, to rival companies who are bigger than you.

‘We’re gaining ground on some of the bigger companies on the market’

‘We need to make sure that we don’t lose the contract, because we don’t want our competitors to gain ground on us.’

The phrase originally comes from the military, meaning to gain territory from the enemy. As it’s got the word ground in it and it’s a great phrase, I thought I would put it in here anyway!

up in the air

If something is up in the air, it means that it is uncertain or undecided.

‘We don’t know what is happening with redundancies at the moment, it’s all up in the air.’

The phrase is best used with it’s – it’s up in the air..

‘It’s all up in the air regarding who is going to get the vacant regional manager position.’

to be in hot water

If you are in hot water, it means that someone is angry with you.  It usually suggests that the person or organisation will be punished in some way as well:

‘The boss is in hot water after some of the decisions he made cost the company a lot of money’

The phrase is followed by the preposition over, to say why someone is in hot water - to be in hot water over something

‘The company are in hot water over their alleged mistreatment of staff.’

to land somebody in hot water

To land somebody in hot water means to cause someone to be in trouble for something.  This is mainly used to talk about the actions which have caused someone to be in trouble:

‘The offensive comments he made in the meeting have landed him in hot water.’

come rain or shine

If you are going to do something come rain or shine, it means that you will do something no matter what happens, no matter what difficulties you may face.   It is really good if you are trying to give an inspirational talk:

‘We’ll meet the deadline come rain or shine.’

‘I’ll make sure we beat last month’s sales figures come rain or shine.’

Of course literally the phrase means that you will do something whether it rains or it is sunny, so you will do something in any kind of weather.

‘We will have the party outdoors come rain or shine.’

make a mountain out of a molehill

To make a mountain out of a molehill is to make something trivial seem like a major issue.  To make something seem a lot more serious, or more urgent than it is.

‘The owners are panicking because our profits are slightly down on last month, but I think they are making a mountain out of a molehill.’

The phrase ‘making mountains out of molehills’ is also common, and means exactly the same thing:

‘My colleague always gets overwhelmed when he is given a big task.  I think he makes mountains out of molehills.’

If you would like any more examples of these phrases in use, feel free to comment below or email me at david@englishtenses.eu!  Thank you very much for reading my post! If you are serious about taking your English to advanced level and beyond, I suggest that you download my free e-book.  It covers many tips on how to improve your English learning, and how to avoid many more classic mistakes that so many learners make.  I don’t want you to make the same mistakes as many learners that I have met in the past have made.  

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David Cox

Advanced English for Professionals

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