Marketing is an important part of many businesses and is a large part of many conversations during meetings. Are you learning English for the workplace? If so, these 15 marketing idioms in English will be useful.
15 Marketing Idioms in English
Across the board
Definition: Applying to all.
Example: We will be making changes to the company across the board: our mission, our employee structure, and even our logo.
Definition: Rely on (confidently).
Example: We are banking on a final investor to help get this project running.
Birds of a feather (flock together)
Definition: People with the same interests will often be found together.
Example: These investors are birds of a feather: they all went to Harvard, work on Wall Street, and golf together.
Bring something to the table
Definition: To provide a useful or helpful addition.
Example: We need each of the employees to bring something to the table during next week’s meeting: everyone needs to have a marketing plan for the next year and three suggested changes to our business model.
Fish where the fish are
Definition: Use resources, such as time, where the highest results will be.
Example: We have to fish where the fish are. I don’t think this marketing campaign is useful because it targets people outside of our age demographic.
Definition: To get more followers on social media.
Example: In order to gain more followers, we’ve identified effective hashtags.
Definition: To quickly become popular on the internet.
Example: After her post went viral, she received many advertising opportunities.
In the long run
Definition: Over a long period of time; eventually.
Example: We are putting a lot of time and money into this project, but in the long run it will be worth it.
In the works
Definition: In the planning stages.
Example: We have an exciting new project in the works.
Land (an account)
Definition: To sign a new client.
Example: He landed two new accounts last week.
Definition: The return on an investment or on a bet.
Example: The pay-off for this risk was huge!
Put (something) on the map
Definition: To make a product famous.
Example: This new marketing campaign will help put our product on the map.
Definition: Convinced of.
Example: He’s not sold on the idea: I think we should prepare some examples for him of why it will be a good idea.
Definition: Something that will convince someone to purchase something or say yes to an idea.
Example: For me, the selling point was the budget you created. It was well-written and showed that you’re financially responsible.
Definition: A type of marketing that relies on advertising through conversation. The company creates the initial “conversation” about the product and attempts to make this conversation spread.
Example: They used word-of-mouth marketing to create some buzz about their product. After that, it went viral!
During the Cambridge CAE or FCE Speaking Module, examiners look for your ability to use advanced vocabulary, including phrasal verbs, as naturally as possible. Learn these phrasal verbs for the Cambridge FCE and CAE Speaking Module and your score will improve drastically!
Phrasal Verbs for Cambridge FCE and CAE
Before learning the phrasal verbs, you must know what the focus is for each of the parts of the Speaking Module. Once you understand the tasks, you can learn phrasal verbs which are directly related to the types of speech you will use in each section (such as language for talking about the future, comparing and contrasting, agreeing and disagreeing, etc.).
Note: The CAE and FCE Speaking Exams are very similar, but there are a few differences (these are noted below). You can use the same phrasal verbs for each exam, regardless of the differences in the test format.
For Part 1 of both FCE and CAE, you may be asked about things like your home town, your interests, your studies, your career(s), etc. When speaking about yourself, try to use the following phrasal verbs.
Bring (someone) up
Definition: to look after a child until it is an adult. (Note: this is often used in the Passive Voice.)
Why this is a useful phrasal verb: You will probably be asked about your childhood and where you are from.
Example: I was brought up in a very large family: I have four brothers and sisters.
Get along with
Definition: to have a good relationship with someone.
Why this is a useful phrasal verb: You can use this phrasal verb to speak about the relationships you have with family, friends, roommates, classmates, etc.
Example: I get along very well with my roommates here in San Francisco, so my stay here has been very enjoyable.
Definition: to become an adult.
Why this is a useful phrasal verb: You can apply this phrasal verb when talking about your childhood and early years.
Example: I grew up in a small town but for the last five years I’ve lived in Zurich.
Look forward to
Definition: to be excited for something in the future.
Why this is a useful phrasal verb: This is common phrasal verb to talk about exciting future plans.
Example: I am nervous for the Cambridge Exam, but I am also looking forward to using all of the things I’ve practiced and learned.
Definition: to begin a hobby or activity.
Why this is a useful phrasal verb: In Part 1, you are often asked about your hobbies.
Example: In my free time, I really enjoy photography. I took it up when I was travelling through Southeast Asia and I’ve enjoyed it ever since.
Definition: to quit doing something.
Why this is a useful phrasal verb: You might be asked to talk about your childhood or past; ‘give up” is often used to discuss activities you don’t do anymore.
Example: Well, in my free time I usually enjoy skiing, but I gave that up when I moved here since I am not so close to the mountains anymore.
FCE: The interlocutor gives you TWO photographs and asks you to talk about them for 1 minute. The interlocutor then asks your partner a question about your photographs and your partner responds briefly (up to 30 seconds).
Then the interlocutor gives your partner two different photographs. Your partner talks about these photographs for 1 minute. This time the interlocutor asks you a question about your partner’s photographs and you respond briefly (up to 30 seconds).
CAE: The test is the same, but you are given THREE photos (not two) and you are asked to speak about two of them.
When speaking about the photos, you will use language of speculation. For speculation, the following phrasal verbs are useful.
Definition: to finally be in a place or situation.
Why this is a useful phrasal verb: You have to speculate a lot when looking at these photos, so this phrasal verb is a great one to use when guessing how the person came to be in the situation in the photo (or what will happen to them after).
Example: The family in this photo looks very unhappy at her office job; perhaps she dreamed of a life working at something other than a desk job and she’s sad that she ended up in such a dull environment.
Definition: to be able to see something that’s not quite clear.
Why this is a useful phrasal verb: You might not be able to see the full details of the photo; this is a great phrasal verb to describe what you think you see.
Example: I can’t quite make it out but I think that the group is holding a trophy, so perhaps they’ve won a competition or game . . .
Make (something) up
Definition: to invent a story.
Why this is a useful phrasal verb: You are asked to speculate about the people in the photos and their lives, so this is a useful expression!
Example: I would guess that this person is very happy: she has her two beautiful children and a lovely house . . . perhaps she’s a stay-at-home-mom and is appreciative that she can spend time with her children . . . I’m making this all up, of course, but it’s what I would guess.
FCE: (4 minutes) This part is divided into two parts and the interlocutor asks you and your partner to talk together in both. In the first part, you are given five written prompts and asked to discuss a question. For example, you might be asked to discuss things ways to improve the environment in your city.
After 2 minutes, the interlocutor will give you one more minute to make a decision together which is related to what you have been discussing.
CAE: You and your partner are given written prompts. You must speak together for about 2 minutes (3 minutes for groups of three) about these prompts. After the discussion time, the examiner will ask you another question which requires you to make a decision. You have 1 minute to talk together and make the decision (2 minutes for groups of three).
In Part 4, you and your partner will answer follow-up questions related to the topic of Part 3. These phrasal verbs are useful when conversing.
Bring (something) up
Definition: to start a conversation about something.
Why this is a useful phrasal verb: This is a great phrasal verb to use when responding to a comment that your partner made (or a question that the interlocutor brought up). It shows interaction with what another person has said, which is something they look for in this section of the exam.
Example: You brought up ______; I agree that . . .
Come up with
Definition: to suggest or think of an idea or plan.
Why this is a useful phrasal verb: “Come up with” allows you to present an idea or respond to a question or statement.
Example: What other ideas can we come up with?
Cut (someone) off
Definition: to interrupt someone.
Why this is a useful phrasal verb: If you accidentally cut your partner off when he or she is speaking, this is an excellent phrasal verb to use.
Example: Sorry, I didn’t mean to cut you off: what were you saying?
Definition: a further action connected to something that happened before.
Why this is a useful phrasal verb: Following up on something your partner said is a great way to return to something you discussed previously (and add further commentary).
Example: Just to follow up on what you said earlier, I think . . .
Get back to
Definition: to return to something.
Why this is a useful phrasal verb: “Get back to” is useful when trying to return to a conversation you had previously: it’s very helpful when the conversation seems to have gotten off track and you’d like to refocus.
Example: Getting back to what we were saying earlier about . . .
Definition: to start to do something.
Why this is a useful phrasal verb: You know that awkward moment when you and your partner both hesitate and each wants to speak? Use go ahead to give your partner the green light!
Example: You can go ahead and start if you’d like . . .
Warm up to
Definition: to begin liking something.
Why this is a useful phrasal verb: When you’re not certain about an idea, but then decide this is a good idea, you can use this phrasal verb.
Example: I’m warming up to the idea that . . .
Work something out
Definition: to agree to something after a discussion.
Why this is a useful phrasal verb: You and your partner must agree to something in Part 3: use this phrasal verb to announce to the interlocutor that you’ve come to an agreement.
Example: I think we’ve worked it out. We have agreed that . . .
Did you know that CISL is an official Cambridge Testing Centre? CISL CAE and FCE students have the advantage of taking their exam at CISL, which makes them much more comfortable! Hear from our students why our small class sizes and intensive, speaking-based curriculum are excellent for improving your Cambridge score.
San Diego is famous for its beaches, but few students take advantage of the many facilities the beaches offer! Did you know that you can have a barbecue on many of San Diego’s beaches? Some even have barbecue pits for you to use. Check out our SD beach barbecue guide before organizing a trip with your CISL friends. Cheers!
SD Beach Barbecue Guide
#1: Choose a beach
Which beach will you choose to BBQ? Coronado? La Jolla? Read our Guide to San Diego’s Beaches for an idea of the facilities each beach has (and to learn the personality of each beach) and then choose the one that’s perfect for your beach day!
Make sure that you research the beach’s facilities and hours before planning your trip: the San Diego City website lists all of the offerings for each beach, including if the beach is accessible by public transport, if there are public restrooms, and if barbecues and fires are allowed.
#2: Grab some friends
Who is coming with you? Make sure you plan in advance so that you know how much food you will need! When planning how to arrive, consider all of your public transportation options: read our Public Transportation in San Diego article for useful information.
#3: Buy the supplies
What will you need to buy for the perfect barbecue? For a BBQ, you are going to need the following:
A lighter (to set fire to the coals)
Utensils for grilling (tongs and spatula)
Plates, napkins, cups, forks, knives, etc. (plastic: no glass allowed at the beaches or parks)
Food! Sausages? Burgers?
Condiments (ketchup, mustard, etc.)
A cooler to keep the drinks cold
Be sure to research if the beach has picnic benches; if not, grab a blanket to sit on while you eat!
#4: Plan the rest of the day
What will you do afterwards? Maybe play some beach volleyball? Perhaps go swimming? Check out our article for some Beach Activity Ideas (and beach-related vocabulary). Make sure you come prepared . . . and don’t forget the sunscreen!
BBQ Idioms in English
When we think of barbecues, we think of burgers, fire (and smoke), and good times! These idioms are related to the foods and items you might have at a beach BBQ.
After meat, mustard
Definition: a phraseemphasizingthatsomethinghascometoolate to be useful(likemustard being offered . . . aftermeathasalreadybeen eaten)
Example: (Student): I just completed my extra credit! (Teacher): And I’ve just submitted the final grades. After meat, mustard.
To be in a pickle
Definition: experiencing a difficultsituation
Example: I can’t decide between going to Balboa Park museums or going to the beach. I’m in such a pickle!
Cut the mustard
Definition:satisfactory or rightforthesituation or expectations
Example: What do you think about my final paper? Does it cut the mustard?
To go up in flames
Definition 1: burn up completely
Example: They watched the house go up in flames.
Definition 2: [forvalue or investment] to be lostsuddenlyandtotally
Example: After they lost their main investor, they were afraid the project would go up in flames.
To grill someone (about something)
Definition: to question or interrogatesomeoneintenselyandrelentlessly(aboutsomething)
Example: The manager really grilled me during my interview, but I got the job!
Definition: what a surprise!
Example: You got the job? Holy smoke!
To rake someone over the coals
Definition: to scold someone
Example: They raked the politician over the coals for lying.
Where there’s smoke, there’s fire
Definition: a saying meaning “there’s always some reason for a rumor.”
Example: I knew there was a problem with the company after the two managers quit. When there’s smoke, there’s fire.
San Diego is warm nearly all year, but as the temperatures increase, we are reminded just how perfect the SD weather is! This month we are looking at some expressions with “warm” to celebrate the coming of summer. We are also looking at San Diego’s weather temperature averages throughout the year to show how ideal the SD weather is . . . from January to December!
Expressions with “Warm”
Definition: a party to celebrate when someone moves into a new apartment or house.
Example: Are you going to Sarah’s housewarming party? She just moved to a new place in Little Italy!
We can also use housewarming + gift/present to talk about the present we give someone at a housewarming party.
Example: I bought her a new cheese plate as a housewarming gift.
Definition: any person; someone needed to be present in order to be counted.
Example: The director needed a few warm bodies for the scene, so he asked the people at the beach if they wanted to be in the movie.
Warm the bench/bench warmer
Definition: to be a part of the team but not play.
Example: He warmed the bench for most of the game.
We also call the person who warms the bench a “bench warmer.”
Example: I played baseball when I was young, but I was not very good. In fact, I was a bench warmer most of the time.
Definition: a polite way to end an email or letter.
Definition: to begin liking someone or something when you didn’t at first.
Example: He’s warmingup to the idea of getting a dog.
Definition: greeting someone; being very happy to see him or her.
Example: What a warm welcome from my host family! They had a big BBQ for me and I got to meet all of my neighbors.
San Diego’s (Very Warm!) Yearly Weather Averages
How good is the weather in SD? It’s pretty amazing!Holiday Weather provides excellent statistics on the average monthly temperatures for San Diego. While the rest of the Northern Hemisphere is freezing in the winter, San Diego is enjoying not only warm temperatures, but many sunny days; it’s not uncommon for people to be at the beach several weekends during January and February!
In the chart below, we can see the average high and low temperatures. San Diego stays consistently warm in the winter months, so although you need a jacket at night, it doesn’t have to be a huge parka!
The Pacific Ocean gets significantly warmer in the summer months, but with a wet suit,San Diego’s surfers can be in the water all year.
The famous “Charging Bull” statue, located in the Financial District of Manhattan, has become a symbol of Wall Street. It’s also a symbol of one of the most common English business idioms with animals!
Animals probably do not belong in the workplace . . . but why are there so many English business idioms with animals? It seems as if animals are the perfect way to express some of the situations and experiences in business. Want to learn about English business idioms with animals? Keep reading! How many of these can YOU use in your workplace, or in the CISL Business English classroom?
English business idioms with animals
In a bear market, investors sell portions of their investments in companies.
Definition: a market in which share prices* are falling, encouraging selling
Example: They are predicting a bear market the end of this year.
*shares are the pieces of a company that are owned by the public. When people buy and sell on the stock market, they are buying and selling “shares.”
A bull market is great for companies, whose stock prices often rise considerably.
Definition: a market in which share prices are rising, encouraging buying
Example: Because of the bull market this month, we invested heavily in three new technology companies.
The cash cow is different for each company or business. In Hollywood, for example, Adam Sandler comedies and Jennifer Aniston romantic comedies are cash cows (despite critics always saying the movies are terrible)!
Definition: someone or something that makes a lot of money for a business, organization, etc.
Example: She owns a yoga studio, but her real cash cow is the studio’s cafe, which earns most of the profits.
“Hard work gets you more work” is a common expression. Is it a good thing to be an eager beaver? What do you think?
Definition: a person who is extremely zealous about performing duties and volunteering for more
Example: He was an eager beaver when we first hired him, but lately he’s been much less productive.
Now that’s a fat cat!
Definition 1: a wealthy contributor to a political campaign fund
Example: The politician invited all of the fat cats to his fundraiser in the hopes that they would contribute to his future campaign.
Definition 2: a wealthy and privileged person
Example: All of the fat cats from Wall Street live in this neighborhood.
“OK . . . which of you is the lame one?”
Definition: one that is weak or that falls behind in ability or achievement; an ailing company (used more commonly in British English)
Note: a “lame duck” is also used in politics to refer to the last few months of a President’s term before the new President takes over.
The lion’s share comes from Aesop’s fables. Do you know one of the many versions of this story?
Definition: the largest portion of something
Example: We take the lion’s share of the profits and invest them back into the company.
Example: We made a huge sale today! I gave the lion’s share of the credit to my business partner because she did most of the work.
“No monkey business, you guys!”
Definition 1: playful tricks or jokes
Example: No monkey business while the boss is gone!
Definition2: illegal or improper activity or behavior
Example: They looked at the company’s portfolio, and it seems as if there is some monkey business happening in accounting.
He think he’s top dog . . . but maybe the cat disagrees!
Definition: a person, group, or thing in a position of authority especially through victory in a hard-fought competition
Example: My second interview with the company is tomorrow, and it’s with the top dog. I’m nervous!
All photos from Pixabay except “Charging Bull,” which is from Flickr.