Basic English Usage

Expressions 2

You must read the words and phrases out loud.

picture ~ a view that leads to understanding or involvement

big picture = an all-encompassing view

You are not seeing the big picture. It's much more complicated than you think it is.

in the picture = involved

That engineer should be in the picture: she has valuable knowledge about the history of our program.

out of the picture = not involved

He's out of the picture now; he hasn't worked in new product development for a year or so.

get the picture = understand what others understand

Oh, okay, I get the picture now—you guys met yesterday because Lily started her vacation today.

paint a picture = describe

Do you really need me to paint a picture for you? Okay, well, it's simple: we can't afford to keep paying for the extravagant travel expenses.

Expressions in a story:

You ask, "I don't think that contractor is in the picture anymore, is it?"
It's true, you are told, that contractor is out of the picture.
Lin says, "Let me paint a picture for you: the contractor is understaffed, the schedule was delayed, and our budget will soon be cut. Do you see the big picture here?"
You nod and say, "Okay, I get the picture."

boat ~ a situation shared with other people; an opportunity

in the same boat = in the same situation

We're in the same boat as you guys are: no one here knows what the plan is. We'll let you guys know if we learn anything about the plan.

rock the boat = cause problems that destabilise a situation

You want to complain about the budget reductions, but some people might accuse you of rocking the boat.

miss the boat = miss an opportunity; misunderstand

They said the meeting was postponed. I guess I missed the boat on that announcement, because here I am, waiting for the meeting to start.

Expressions in a story:

You notice that you are not in the same boat as everyone else, who all dressed formally for the yearly meeting. Being a new employee, you don't want to rock the boat by complaining you were not told. You may have missed the boat this time, but you will get it right next time.

nutshell ~ a small space that can hold something important

in a nutshell = concisely stated. [possible origin: A Roman writer said that a book written with a tiny hand could fit inside a nutshell.]

Why are we so good at discovering market opportunities? It's simple, really. In a nutshell, we're always talking with customers.

Expressions in a story:

You finally receive an offer in an email that says, "Please find attached our proposal. In a nutshell, we want to buy your business."
You nod and smile and think of all the appropriate things you should say to discuss their offer. But what you really want to say is, in a nutshell, "Yes!"

Lesson: Expressions 2
Module: Expressions
Course: Basic English Usage