to cut it fine: meaning and explanation

If you are cutting it fine, then you are allowing yourself very little time to do whatever you need to do, and there is a real possibility that you will run out of time.

This idiom can be used when discussing plans that have very strict time constraints or very tight deadlines. e.g. We’re cutting it a bit fine, but I think we’ll have everything ready for the start of the inspection.

This is also a useful idiom to use when you are concerned that someone has not given themselves enough time to do something, or that they are not taking the time shortage seriously. In this situation, this idiom can be used with a question tag to indicate concern: You’re cutting it a bit fine, aren’t you?

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: England (RP)

. .
I think we further . We’re as it .
I don’t think we afford any further . We’re cutting it as it is.

About the sentence

…we’re cutting it fine as it is

As it is is a slightly more formal alternative to already. e.g. I don’t think we should approve this extra funding. We’ve spent too much money on this as it is.

Micro-listening #2

Accent: Scotland

, .
We’re fine, but ready campaign Friday.
We’re it a bit fine, but should be ready the campaign on Friday.

About the sentence

…everything should be ready…

‘Should’ is used here to predict something with slightly less certainty or confidence than ‘will’. It communicates the idea that it will happen, unless something unexpected occurs. This is useful when you need to be cautious. e.g. I should be with you at about 2pm, but if the traffic is bad then I might be a little late.

Micro-listening #3

Accent: Ireland

. ?
Your 5 minutes. You’re bit you?
Your presentation in 5 minutes. You’re it a bit aren’t you?

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