Home » Business English » to cut it fine

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

Micro-listening #3

Accent: Ireland


Extra practice

Here are some questions/links to help you learn the new vocabulary:

  • Can you remember a time when you or someone you know had to “cut it fine”? What were the challenges, and how did it turn out?
  • How does the pressure of having to “cut it fine” impact stress levels and decision-making?

Photo by Adam Sherez on Unsplash

Categorized in: