Business Idioms 8: Progress II

This lesson will focus on using a variety of expressions related progress, specifically if there is any difficulty.


This lesson will help you use these idioms describing project progress. You will also get a chance to talk about your own experiences.

Warm Up: 

What's the most difficult project you've been a part of? Tell your teacher just one reason why it was so difficult.


Please match each image to an expression below. Your instructor has an example and a question regarding each expression. 

  1. up in the air—uncertain, not yet resolved.
  2. uphill battle—something that is very difficult to do.
  3. stay on track—to progress as planned or expected.
  4. meet the deadline—finish an activity by the time limit.
  5. run smoothly—to progress easily and without interruption.
  6. throw a spanner/wrench in the works—do or be something that prevents a plan or activity from succeeding.
A: B:
C: D:
E: F: 

A. Complete the anecdote

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

  1. Women have been fighting for equal pay with men for decades, and they still haven’t succeeded in many areas. For them it has been…  
  2. The outdoor festival was well-organized and staffed, and until the thunderstorm, everything had been…
  3. Saxon Ltd. had a major project with a large manufacturing company that was due for completion on August 31. However, due to industrial action by Saxon’s workforce, the project fell behind schedule, and in the end, they…
  4. Numerous companies in Italy had plans for business projects in the first quarter of 2020, but due to the uncertainty caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, these plans were left…
  5. Milligan A.E. had completed negotiations with an advertising consultancy to undertake the company’s marketing campaign for a totally new product. The decision taken at a shareholders’ meeting not to go ahead with the project…
  6. Efficient project management requires correct budgeting and allocation of resources, but also the flexibility to ensure that, even though there might be unexpected setbacks, the project ultimately…

B. Discussion

Use idioms to discuss the following topics.

  1. Describe the timeline of a typical project.
  2. In your experience, which kinds of projects make the most progress—longer or shorter ones?
  3. Have you ever worked on a project where the progress was disrupted by one of the teams involved?



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