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Speak Business English Like an American Lesson 14 Idioms and Expressions Test

Speak Business English Like an American Lesson 14 Idioms and Expressions Test

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LESSON 14 – Taking Credit for Good Results


When United Supply Company launches their website three weeks ahead of schedule, there’s more than one person ready to take credit.

Bob: Kurt, I’ve got great news for you. We’re pushing the envelope and launching our new website three weeks ahead of schedule.

Kurt: Wow, Bob, that’s a first for this company! How did you pull that off?

Bob: I burned the midnight oil over these past few weeks. I worked my tail off. Sometimes things would get tough, but I always kept my eye on the prize.

Tara: Let’s not forget about Jim in technical support. He really hunkered down these past few days, working around the clock.

Bob: Yeah, Jim’s a real team player. He helped a lot.

Kurt: Well, that’s not surprising. Jim’s always ready to pitch in.

Bob: Of course, you deserve a pat on the back too, Kurt. None of this would’ve been possible without your leadership.

Kurt: All in a day’s work. Providing great leadership comes with the territory. Well, time for some R&R. I’m off to Florida to play golf for a few days. See you next week!


  • (to) push the envelope

 to go beyond what is normally done; to stretch the boundaries

EXAMPLE: The design team pushed the envelope by creating a car powered entirely by the sun.

  • (to) pull something off

 to accomplish a difficult task; to successfully do something difficult

EXAMPLE: We need to prepare and mail out 50,000 media kits by tomorrow. I don’t know how we’re going to pull it off!

SYNONYM: to carry something off

  • (to) burn the midnight oil

 to stay up late working or studying

EXAMPLE: The bank needs our financial statements completed by 9 a.m. tomorrow. We’re going to need to burn the midnight oil tonight to finish on time.

ORIGIN: This expression dates back to the days before electricity, when oil lamps were used for lighting. People went to sleep earlier back then, so if you were still burning the oil at midnight, you were staying up late.

  • (to) work one’s tail off

 to work very hard

EXAMPLE: The software developers worked their tails off to get the new software package released before Christmas.

  • (to) keep one’s eye on the prize

 to stay focused on the end result; to not let small problems get in the way of good results

EXAMPLE: I know it’s difficult going to class after work, but just keep your eye on the prize. At the end of next year, you’ll have your MBA.

NOTE: You will also see the variation: keep one’s eves on the prize.

  • (to) hunker down

 to focus on work; to get ready to work hard, often involving a long period of time

EXAMPLE: If you’re going to finish that report by Monday morning, you’d better hunker down over the weekend.

NOTE: This phrase also means to stay indoors or to take shelter when the weather turns bad. Example: There’s going to be a blizzard tonight. We’d better just hunker down.

  • around the clock

 non-stop; 24 hours a day

EXAMPLE: When the company website went down, the IT department worked around the clock to fix it.

NOTE: You may also hear the variation: round the clock.

  • team player

 somebody willing to help out for the benefit of the group

EXAMPLE: Aaron is great at working with others, and he always contributes a lot to projects. Everybody knows he’s a team player!

  • (to) pitch in

 to help; to contribute

EXAMPLE: If we’re going to get these 3,000 crystal vases packaged and shipped by tomorrow morning, everybody’s going to need to pitch in.

  • a pat on the back

 credit; recognition; praise

EXAMPLE: “Team, give yourselves a pat on the back. Our results are in and we just had our most successful quarter ever!”

  • (to) come with the territory

 to be part of the job

EXAMPLE: Samantha doesn’t like firing people, but as a vice president, she knows that comes with the territory.

  • R&R

 rest and relaxation

EXAMPLE: Brad and Melanie got plenty of R&R during their two-week vacation in the Caribbean.

  • all in a day’s work

 this is just part of the job; this is nothing unusual

EXAMPLE: “You’ve come up with a plan to double our sales next quarter?” — “Yes, all in a day’s work.”

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