American Expressions of Time

Posted On: March 6, 2015

Here are some idioms that Americans use in typical work conversations that express agreement, being kept informed, keeping a schedule, and misunderstanding.  

In this post, I will share some common idioms used to express these sentiments. The sentences that have a thumbs up are sentences you would want to hear your US counterpart say – these phrases have a good and positive meaning behind them. The sentences or statements that have a thumbs down sign signify messages you would not want to hear US colleagues say, as those messages, while they use similar phrases, communicate disappointment or related not-so-good feelings.


    • On the same page 
    • In the same boat 
    • On the same wavelength 

“Great! Now that we are on the same page, we can move forward with the rest of this project.” 

“I am not sure when we will be on the same wavelength. We disagree more than we agree. How will we move forward in this project?” 

Being Kept Informed: 

“It’s good that you kept me in the loop so that I knew where the trouble spots would be.”

“Nishant fixes all the bugs, which is good, but he never keeps us in the loop by telling us which ones he is fixing. Because of this, we have more than one developer working on the same bug, wasting time.”

Reaching the Goal/Keeping Timely Targets:

    • On the right track
    • Up to speed
    • On the ball

“All the updates help keep us up to speed as the requirements for this project are ever-changing.”

“Abey is holding up the project. He’s just not up to speed in understanding and implementing the skills. What can we do to solve this problem?”

“The requirements for this project change by the minute. Umesh, you have to stay on the ball!” (This can be taken negatively or as encouragement, based on the context and tone of voice it’s delivered in.)

American Expressions of Time & [Dis]Agreement

American Expressions of Time & [Dis]Agreement

Misunderstanding/Not Paying Attention/Reacting too Slow:

    • Out in Left Field
    • Off base
    • Miss the boat (also means missing the opportunity for something better)

“Wow, he really bought that out of left field. It’s good he has good foresight to predict those problems.”

(Typically these idioms are used to denote negativity in 90% of the cases.)
“He’s out in left field. He just doesn’t pay attention during meetings, does he?”
“It’s too bad he missed the boat on that, now he will have to forgo a promotion!”
“He’s just a little off base with that remark.”

Do you know other idioms that fit these categories?

“Off base” and “out in left field” are examples of a few of many baseball or sports-related idioms in American English. Learn more about the sport of baseball, how to make small talk about it and more idioms related to baseball here.

Jennifer’s innovative cross-cultural programs include Building Trust and Good Relations with US Clients as well as a program that builds skills in working remotely with US Americans from offshore, Work Effectively with US Americans. For more information, contact Jennifer here.


Related Posts:
Idiom- Sounds Good to express agreement  
More Sayings Used in Office Conversations  
Tips on Small Talk with Americans

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