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Speak Business English Like an American Lesson 8 Idioms and Expressions Test

Speak Business English Like an American Lesson 8 Idioms and Expressions Test

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LESSON 8 – Discussing a Difficult Decision


Anna, Lynn, and Jeff are thinking about moving their manufacturing facilities from the United States to China. Jeff is having trouble deciding what to do.

Anna: We need to decide already whether or not we want to move our manufacturing from the United States to China. Jeff, have you made the final decision?

Jeff: There are pros and cons to moving it to China. I’ve been back and forth on this issue for months. I’m of two minds.

Anna: Jeff, I know this is a tough call, but now is not the time to be wishy-washy. We need to make a decision.

Lynn: That’s right, and I recommend we bite the bullet and move our operations to China.

Anna: Or we could test the waters by moving 25 percent of our operations there.

Lynn: Good idea. That would give us the best of both worlds: we could reduce our risk, while starting to enjoy some of the cost savings from lower-cost manufacturing.

Jeff: I agree with you that we should put a stake in the ground. Let’s move a quarter of our operations to China.

Lynn: Good call, Jeff!

Jeff: I hope I don’t live to regret this decision.

Anna: You won’t. My gut tells me we’re doing the right thing.


  • back and forth on an issue

 repeatedly changing one’s mind about something; having trouble settling on an opinion or decision

EXAMPLE: Should we change our company health care plan? I can’t make up my mind: I go back and forth on the issue.

  • of two minds

 conflicted; having conflicting ideas about something

EXAMPLE: Many consumers are of two minds about buying organic produce. On the one hand, it is often more expensive than regular produce. On the other hand, it may be healthier.

  • tough call

 a difficult decision; something difficult to predict

EXAMPLE: It was a tough call, but the company finally decided to close its factory in South Carolina.

  • wishy-washy

 ineffective; lacking will-power; indecisive; incapable of making clear decisions

EXAMPLE: Wendy is very wishy-washy. She changed her mind a hundred times about which packaging design to use for the new product.

  • (to) bite the bullet

 to make a difficult or painful decision; to take a difficult step

EXAMPLE: When demand was down, U.S. automakers had to bite the bullet and cut jobs.

ORIGIN: This idiom comes from the military. During the Civil War in the United States, doctors sometimes ran out of whiskey for killing the pain. A bullet would be put in the wounded soldier’s mouth during surgery. He would “bite the bullet” to distract him from the pain and keep him quiet so the doctor could do his work in peace.

  • (to) test the waters

 to try something out before committing to it; to see what the response or outcome will be to an intended action

EXAMPLE: Before quitting his job as a lawyer to become a chef, Chad tested the waters by working weekends at a restaurant.

  • the best of both worlds

 a situation or product that offers two very different advantages at the same time

EXAMPLE: BMW’s new sports car offers the best of both worlds: a reliable car that’s also fun to drive.

  • (to) put a stake in the ground

 to take the first step; to make a big move to get something started; to make a commitment

EXAMPLE: Our business in California has grown steadily over the past two years. Now is the time to put a stake in the ground and open a regional office there.

  • good call

 good decision

EXAMPLE: Good call on buying Google stock. It has gone way up since you bought it.

  • (to) live to regret a decision

 to feel bad later about one’s decision

EXAMPLE: The mayor agreed to allow a new dump to be built in town, but he later lived to regret his decision.

  • my gut tells me

 I have a strong feeling that; my intuition tells me

EXAMPLE: It’s true that I don’t know him well, but my gut tells me that James is the right person for the sales director position.

NOTE: The “gut” is both the intestines and stomach and also the innermost emotional response.

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