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IDIOMS AND COLLOQUIALISMS - PART 2


We know that idioms and colloquialism are very important in both legal English and general English. The more you know, and can use properly, the more natural your English will sound.

Have a look at the following exercise. It is a conversation between two lawyers, Stephen and John. There are six gaps. Choose the correct idiom from the list (a)-(f) which correctly fits in each of the gaps (1)-(6) in the text of the conversation.


Then try and write a short definition of each of the idioms.


The answers and suggested meanings are given underneath. Good luck!



Conversation:


Stephen: I am a bit worried, John. Many of our competitors are investing in new technologies.


John: We are a traditional law firm, Stephen. Do you really think we need to spend a lot of money on new technology? We can’t afford to (1)……………………………………... We need to be very careful about how we spend our money. And, as you know, the other partners do not want to spend much money at the moment.


Stephen: I understand that, John, but we need to (2)……………………………. If we don’t do it, it may be more costly for us in the longer term.


John: What do you mean?


Stephen: Look, John. We are the leading law firm in commercial law at the moment. But if we want to (3)…………………………….., we need to think in a modern way.


John: I understand what you are saying, Stephen, but I can’t make the decision to invest on my own. I need the other partners to agree. At the moment, my (4)…………………………………...


Stephen: I know, John but, to (5)………………………………., we need to make a decision about this quickly.


John: Okay, Stephen. I think you are right. I will (6)…………………………………. and speak to the other partners today.



Idioms:

(a) hands are tied

(b) stay ahead of the pack

(c) pour money down the drain

(d) take the bull by the horns

(e) see the bigger picture

(f) put it in a nutshell



ANSWER KEY:

(1)(c)

(2)(e)

(3)(b)

(4)(a)

(5)(f)

(6)(d)



Meanings:

to pour money down the drain – to waste money

to see the bigger picture – to see everything that is involved in a situation, and not just the little things

to stay ahead of the pack - to be more successful than your competition

to have your hands tied – to have little or no choice about something

to put something in a nutshell – to summarise something briefly, or say something using only a few words

to take the bull by the horns - to confront and deal with a difficult situation in a brave way.


© Cambridge Legal English Academy 2020

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