May 5, 2017

Business English Idioms and Synonyms for “Hurry and Finish”

Working with Americans can be confusing at times due to American’s use of idioms or phrasal verbs. Idioms and phrasal verbs are strings of simple words when put together have a figurative meaning. 

In an earlier post, we looked at some idioms about time and disagreement. In this post we will look at some idioms that will commonly be used when talking about finishing a project in a rush, or hurrying to finish as the team approaches a [new or established] deadline. 



We will look at the a few idioms and their definitions, how they can be interchanged and how to respond to these idioms.

Idioms & Definitions:
“Down to the Wire” – This idiom is also a sports idiom that refers to the final moments before getting to the finish line. 


“At the 11th hour” – This means we are getting close to the actual deadline. We say it’s the 11th hour implying the 12th hour is the final hour or when something is actually due or to be completed. 

“Crunch Time” – Again, this means we are getting close to the deadline. While this idiom can be used similarly to “the eleventh hour,” in some cases depending on the context of the situation it can also imply that due to some difficulties in getting things done in a timely way, the team is lacking enough time to finish the project at a leisurely pace. In some cases hearing this idiom may not always be a good thing. 

“Homestretch” – Homestretch is an idiom from horse racing, and in some cases, baseball. This refers to the distance closing to the finish line (horse racing) or making a home run (in baseball). When someone says we are in the ‘homestretch,’ it also alludes to the fact that things have, for the most part, been going well, and now we just have a few things to finalize to complete the project. In my experience, the use of ‘homestretch’ is more encouraging and motivational in a positive way than ‘crunch time.’  (Learn more American baseball and sports idioms here.)

“Wrap it up”/”Tie it up” – These phrases mean basically the same thing – to finish a few final (probably small) tasks to finish a project. (Increase your vocabulary- synonyms for complete or finish are found here.)

This video highlights all of the above American business English idioms, plus two others: “at the end of the day” and “jump the gun.”

Can we exchange the idioms as synonyms?
Example sentence: “We are down to the wire. With only one day left, we really gotta tie up it and ship it out.”
Replaced with other synonyms: “We are in the eleventh hour. Only one day is left, it’s crunch time!”
One more replacement: “We are in the homestretch. With only one day left, we really gotta wrap it up and ship it out.” 

How to answer to idioms
Derek (American client): “We are down to the wire. With only one day left, we really gotta tie up it and ship it out.”
One answer variation by Lakshmi (Indian software developer): “I agree, Derek. We have put a lot of effort into this project. We will be able to get everything done on time.”
Another answer variation by Prateek (in India): “For sure, Derek. Luckily today we finished one of the two pending tasks, so we are happy to report there is only one thing left. It looks like we will finish with time to spare!” 

Replaced with other synonyms: “We are in the eleventh hour. Only one day is left, it’s crunch time!” 
One answer by Lakshmi: “Finally! This project has kept getting pushed out and pushed out. We don’t want that to happen again. We will have it to you before tomorrow’s demo!”
Alternative answer by Prateek: “Yes, we are so close to finishing this project. We have had some bumps in the road, but due to the dedication and persistence of our team we have overcome them and will get this ready on time!” 

One more replacement: “We are in the homestretch. With only one day left, we really gotta wrap it up and ship it out.”
Lakshmi could say, “I agree… we are so close to finishing. I think you'd agree when I say that this project has not been a walk in the park It will be a big sigh of relief for us all when we hand it over tomorrow!”
Prateek instead could comment, “We feel the same way. We are on it! Let’s discuss the last few pending tasks so we are all on the same page.” 

I know that some of the suggested answers are also full of idiomatic expressions. I hope you are able to make out the meaning from the context. Try to guess the meanings of the idioms bolded above in the comment section below. I will let you know if your plain English translation is indeed the meaning of that idiom!


Related Posts: 
More than 70 blog posts on Phrases in English 
Phrases to end a meeting 
Idioms about being overwhelmed with work 

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