Chances are you’ve had to deal with people who talk in circles or blabber on and on, and wished they’d just give it to you straight and spare you all the unnecessary details. Luckily, the next time you find yourself in this situation, here are a few English expressions you can throw at them so they get to the point!
1. Get to the point
Probably the most commonly used English expression in both the UK and the US, it urges the person talking to move on to the essential part of the message. A word of warning: depending on your tone of voice, it may come off as a bit rude or abrupt, so use it with caution.Example 1: I’m sorry, Jane, I really don’t have much time. Please do get to the point. (neutral) Example 2: Just get to the point, will you? (impolite)
This expression is not to be confused with ‘to get the point’ which means ‘to understand an idea,’ as in “I get the point of the President’s speech.”
2. Cut to the chase
‘Cut to the chase’ is similar to the previous one, though more informal and used primarily in American English. Its origin goes back to the era of silent movies which would often culminate in a chase scene (just think of Charlie Chaplin’s The Adventurer or The Kid). Audiences in movie theaters back then hoped the director would move the storyline to the most exciting part as quickly as possible, so as not to get them bored.Example 1: Since we’re running out of time, let’s cut to the chase. Example 2: I didn’t have time for chit-chat, so I told George to cut to the chase.
3. Don’t beat around/about the bush
When people deliberately try to evade a topic or avoid coming to a specific point, often because it is unpleasant or uncomfortable to talk about, we can say they are ‘beating around the bush’ (or ‘beating about the bush’ in British English). The idiom’s origin goes back to bird hunts during the Middle Ages, in which some of the hunters would rouse the hiding birds by patiently beating the bushes, enabling others to catch them with a net.Example 1: Please stop beating around the bush and tell us what the problem is! Example 2: Larry, there’s no point in beating about the bush. I don’t think we should be seeing each other anymore.
This idiom must not be confused with a similar one with which, in fact, it shares the same origin—‘to beat the bushes for something/someone.’ This one means to meticulously and thoroughly look for something or someone. For example: ‘After the chief engineer left the company, the managers had to beat the bushes for a substitute without much luck.’
4. ‘The bottom line is…’
Instead of saying ‘the point is’ or ‘in short’, a speaker can choose to say: ‘The bottom line is…’ This idiom comes from accounting, where the bottom line of a financial document, such as an income (i.e. profit-and-loss) statement, indicates the final outcome of a business operation, such as: net profit, gain, earnings or return. While it is still used in accounting context, we also use it colloquially to sum up the main idea or final result of something.Example 1: The bottom line is we don’t have enough time to go visit your grandparents. Example 2: I know our profits have been going down over the past year. Spare me all those figures. Just give me the bottom line!
5. ‘Long story short’
This English expression is similarly used to sum things up or indicate an outcome without going into unnecessary details, i.e., without telling the whole story, just the ending and most important parts.Example 1: So, long story short, I found this guy on Tinder and we went on date. Example 2: Anyway, long story short, I messed up my homework assignment.
6. ‘In a nutshell’
This is a synonym of ‘in a few words’, ‘concisely’ or ‘in brief’, whenever we are trying to describe something with as few words as possible. The idiom is quite old and actually a calque (literal translation) of the Latin ‘in nuce’, referring to the compactness of a nutshell.Example 1: In a nutshell, we would like to sell our business to you. Example 2: To put it in a nutshell, we will have to start compiling the database all over again.
If we missed any other English expressions for impatience and terseness, leave us a comment!