Business Idioms 19: Ability

Man blowing bubbles while balancing a pole on his head

This lesson will focus on using a variety of expressions related to ability.


You will learn 5 idioms describing ability. You will also have the chance to talk about your own experiences and share your opinions.

Warm Up: 

What's your greatest strength?


Please consider each expression and match them to the images. Your instructor has an example and a question regarding each one.

1. be second nature—so familiar that it can be done easily without much thought.
2. think outside the box—think imaginatively using new ideas instead of traditional or expected ideas.
3. push the envelope—try new things that have not been acceptable or tried before.
4. go far—be very successful.
5. be up-and-coming—likely to achieve success soon or in the near future.

A. B.
C. D.



A. Complete the anecdote

Read each section and choose an appropriate idiom from the list above.

  1. At this startup, we’re not interested in people who approach problems in a traditional way. We need people who can… 
  2. Tania’s manager told her that if she carried on using her talents to the full, she would… 
  3. Yuko has been doing her job so long that she can manage every part easily. To her, all aspects of the job are… 
  4. We have several gifted young executives here, but one stands out from all the rest. He’s really... 
  5. Our company is attempting to use methods that haven't been explored before. We’re really trying to… 

B. Discussion

Use idioms to discuss the following topics.

  1. In the future, what tech company will dominate the global market?
  2. How do people come up with innovative new ideas?
  3. Are traditional ways of thinking more appropriate in any industry?



sobima via Pixabay
Gabi Witthaus via Flickr
Donga Hauomie Samz via Wikimedia Commons
Dan Grinwis via Unsplash
5480831 via Pixabay