These three micro-dictations all contain the expression ‘to cut it fine’. Complete each exercise, and then try to guess the meaning/usage of the expression from the context.

Dictation #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.

…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.

Dictation #2

Accent: Scotland

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

Dictation #3

Accent: Ireland

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

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?

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