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Speak Business English Like an American Lesson 4 Idioms and Expressions Test

Speak Business English Like an American Lesson 4 Idioms and Expressions Test

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LESSON 4 – Talking about Manufacturing


Mike and Dan work for Swift Shoes, a manufacturer of sneakers. Mike is in charge of manufacturing. Dan is trying to push Mike to get some new shoes ready quickly.

Dan: We’ve decided to launch our new spring shoe on April 20th.

Mike: We’re still trying to work out the kinks in our manufacturing process. Our factory in China is having trouble with the soles.

Dan: I know that, Mike. But you’ve still got three months. It should be plenty of time.

Mike: It could take another six months to fine-tune our manufacturing process.

Dan: Well, we don’t have that much time. No ifs, ands, or buts, we need to launch on April 20th.

Mike: Just for the record, I think we’re cutting it a little close. I recommend we launch on July 20th instead.

Dan: We can’t. We’ve already decided on the tagline: “Spring into spring with Swift’s new spring shoe.”

Mike: It’s time for a reality check. I’m telling you we might not be ready by April 20th, and you’re telling me we have to be because of a tagline?

Dan: Mike, now’s the time to step up to the plate and get the job done.

Mike: Well, I’m going to be working down to the wire.

Dan: Just do whatever it takes. Just make sure we’ve got a million pairs of shoes in inventory by the April 20th deadline.

Mike: I’m going to have to run the factories 24/7. That’s going to be a lot of overtime pay.

Dan: At the end of the day, a little extra expense doesn’t matter. We just want those shoes ready by April 20th.


  • (to) work out the (or some) kinks

 to solve the problems with

EXAMPLE: The company announced that they will delay the launch of their new product by two weeks. They still need to work out the kinks with their packaging process.

NOTE: A “kink” is a problem or flaw in a system or plan.

  • (to) fine-tune

 to make small adjustments to something to increase the effectiveness or to make something work better

EXAMPLE: Rick hired an executive coach to help him fine-tune his managerial skills.

  • no its. ands, or buts

 no excuses; it’s absolutely necessary that; this is how it’s going to be no matter what anybody says

EXAMPLE: All employees must attend our team-building workshop tomorrow, no ifs, ands, or buts.

SYNONYM: no two ways about it

  • just for the record (also: for the record)

 let me make my opinion clear

EXAMPLE: I know that everybody else likes the idea of using a bear for a mascot, but, just for the record, I think it’s a lousy idea.

  • (to) cut it (a little) close

 to try to do too much before a deadline; to not leave enough time to get a task done

EXAMPLE: Jerry promised his customer he’d ship out the farm equipment by the end of the week. Since we haven’t assembled it yet, I think that’s cutting it close.

  • tagline

 a slogan; a phrase used to promote a product

EXAMPLE: Meow Mix, a brand of cat food, has one of the best taglines in history: “Tastes so good, cats ask for it by name.”

  • reality check

 let’s think realistically about this situation (said when you don’t like something that’s being suggested because you don’t think the other person is thinking practically or logically)

EXAMPLE: You think we can start selling our products through our website next month? Time for a reality check! Nobody at our company knows anything about e-commerce.

  • (to) step up to the plate

 to take action; to do one’s best; to volunteer

EXAMPLE: We need somebody to be in charge of organizing the company holiday party. Who’d like to step up to the plate and start working on this project?

NOTE: This expression comes from baseball. You step up to the plate (a plastic mat on the ground) when it’s your turn to hit the ball.

  • (to) get the job done

 to do the job successfully; to accomplish the task

EXAMPLE: We plan to outsource all of our software development to IBM. We know they have the resources to get the job done.

  • (to) work down to the wire

 to work until the last minute; to work until just before the deadline

EXAMPLE: The investment bankers need to turn in their report at 9 a.m. tomorrow morning, and they’ve still got many hours of work left on it. They’re going to be working down to the wire.

NOTE: This expression comes from horse racing. In the 19th century, American racetracks placed wire across the track above the finish line. The wire helped determine which horse’s nose crossed the line first. If a race was “down to the wire,” it was a very close race, undecided until the very last second.

  • (to) do whatever it takes

 to do anything and everything necessary to accomplish a task or reach a goal

EXAMPLE: It’s very important that our new product be ready before Christmas. Do whatever it takes to make that happen.

  • 24/7 (twenty-four seven)

 around the clock; 24 hours a day, 7 days a week

EXAMPLE: During tax season, many accountants work 24/7.

  • at the end of the day

 in summary; when we look back on this after we’re finished

EXAMPLE: At the end of the day, the most important thing is how many cases of product we were able to ship this year.

NOTE: This expression is now overused. You will likely hear it, but you may not want to use it.

SYNONYM: when all is said and done

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