– Imagine you have to give a presentation on a topic you’re fairly familiar with, but still haven’t prepared for. If you have to go in right now, without your notes or PowerPoint slides, and give it, we would say that you have to wing it. This means to just jump in and do what needs to be done even if you haven’t prepared for it.
We use either of these expressions to express the idea that we are preparing something that will be the base of what is to come later.
Lay the groundwork comes from construction, when a foundation must be laid before a building can be built.
Sowing the seeds comes from agriculture, referring to when the seeds are placed in the ground so they can grow and then be harvested later.
Oftentimes, when we have problems on our minds, we may find it hard to fall asleep at night, as our brains process and think and generally worry. When this happens, we say that we’re losing sleep over something.
However, if someone mentions a problem and you are not at all worried about it, you can express that idea saying, “I’m not losing any sleep over it.”
A: I’m worried about our situation in the company.
This expression is useful for those times when we feel that as soon as one bad thing happens to us, many others follow. It’s as if all the bad things happened at once.
First, I tripped over my shoelaces and fell. I was fine, but right then the big boss came in and tripped over me! He didn’t fall down, but he spilled his coffee all over my immediate boss, who was coming over to schedule my quarterly review! When it rains, it pours!
I hope you never need to use this expression!
This is an expression we use when making predictions. If we are very sure of the prediction, we use this idiom to make sure everyone listening remembers that we said it and we said it early.
Easter vacation is coming soon. Mark my words, traffic is going to be terrible!
(It doesn’t have to be a difficult prediction!)
When we have to stay up late at night to finish a big project that’s due the next day, or because we have an exam the next morning, we say that we’re burning the midnight oil.
I’m going to really have to burn the midnight oil tonight if I want to pass my test tomorrow.
Marianne and I burned the midnight oil last night to finish the project on time, and then the boss didn’t even need it today!
This is a saying people use to express the idea that if you’re not paying attention, you could miss out on something important. It can be used as a joke, or in a more vengeful way. To snooze means to sleep lightly, especially when taking a quick nap or in front of the television.
“Oh no! I forgot to record that movie on TV last night—I was too busy reading.”
“I told you not to forget! Well, you snooze, you lose!”
This idiom is often used in situations where things aren’t going too well, and you need to prioritize what the most urgent matters are. If someone mentions a problem that can be dealt with or solved later, you use this expression to tell them that. This is especially true if the problem may never arise.
This is a common expression, both on its own and as a part of a larger sentence.
Be careful with it, because neither “you” nor “tell” means what you might think at first.
“You” here is the generic you; it doesn’t mean the speaker is actually talking to someone. Spanish often uses either “tú” or the reflexive in these cases.
This is a great expression to tell someone to not wait or expect something to happen. Literally, to hold one’s breath means that one fills up the lungs and doesn’t breathe in or out. Figuratively, it means that whatever you’re waiting for will take so long that you’ll need to breathe before it will ever happen.