the bottom line: meaning and explanation

This expression has two related meanings.

When people use this expression, they may be talking about the final line in a company’s accounts, which tells you whether the company has made a profit or a loss.

This is the case when people are talking about ‘the impact on the bottom line’, or ‘the effect on the bottom line’, as with the first micro-dictation. In these situations, the speaker is talking about how something affects the profitability of the company.

e.g. I can understand you not wanting to invest a huge amount in training, but you should realise that in the long term this will have a huge impact on your bottom line.

The other way of using this expression is to focus on or emphasise the key issue or the most important fact. When you say ‘the bottom line is…’ you are saying something like ‘in the end, the most important thing is…’. This is the case with the second and third micro-dictation.

When we use the expression in this way, the phrase introduces a full sentence which describes the key fact or situation. e.g. We could talk about this all day, but the bottom line is that he is not going to sell under any circumstances.

Have a go at these micro-dictation exercises to hear this expression being used in context – how much can you understand?

Listening exercises

Micro-listening #1

Accent: Scotland

I’d if you chase – the in is how this change affect our .
I’d it if you to the chase – the thing I’m in is how this change is to affect our line.

About the sentence

…I’d appreciate it if you cut to the chase…

The structure I’d appreciate it if you + past is a useful way to ask somebody to do something in a polite but firm way. e.g. I’d appreciate it if you didn’t speak to me like that in front of the rest of the team.

You can find a lesson focussing on the expression cut to the chase here.


Micro-listening #2

Accent: North America

, .
The is that see a significant over the , we’re going make .
The line is that we don’t see a significant in sales over the quarter, we’re going have to make .

About the sentence

…a significant increase…

This is a good collocation to use when you want to emphasise ‘increase’ and related words. e.g. We have significantly increased our investment in research and development.

…to make redundancies

If someone is made redundant, then they lose their job. The meaning of this expression is a bit more specific than to fire someone, which usually suggests that the person being fired has done something wrong. e.g. Michael was fired after he lost his temper and shouted at his boss.

When someone is made redundant, they lose their job because they are no longer needed by the company, or because the company is making cutbacks.

Micro-listening #3

Accent: England (RP)

, .
The that without , we won’t complete the .
The bottom is that without funding, we won’t be to complete the .

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