In a

Two Simple Words, So Many Expressions

The 6th & 7th most common words are used in a variety of English phrases.

*EDITOR’S NOTE: This article makes reference to something called “multi-words,” which is ECSC’s own term for vocabulary that contains more than one word.

Talking to my friend K. Bank last week, he mentioned that he had an English communication problem at work.

His boss urgently approached him at the office on Thursday afternoon and said, “Bank, I’ll be in a meeting from 2pm to 4pm, so I have to leave here in a bit. I’m really in a bind, so I need you to finish this report.”

Bank said his boss handed him a USB drive and walked away. But since Bank is not a native English speaker, he felt embarrassed that he didn’t understand some of the English phrases his boss used.

Native English speakers often use phrases with the two simple words ‘in a’, and this article will help you understand three phrases with ‘in a’ that Bank’s boss used.

In a Meeting

The first English phrase with ‘in a’ we will look at is ‘in a meeting’. When we use ‘in a’ + an activity (such as a meeting), it refers to participating in that activity. This can mean just attending the meeting or leading the meeting as the main speaker or presenter. It is what Bank’s boss said: “I’ll be in a meeting from…”

Some other common multi-words using ‘in a’ that you might hear at work are ‘in a seminar’ and ‘in an interview’. They can be used in the following ways: “She was in a seminar yesterday” and “The HR Manager is in an interview with a candidate now”.

In a Bit

The next ‘in a’ phrase to know is ‘in a bit’. This English phrase refers to a small or short amount of time, but it is not an exact amount of time (it is not specific).

Banks boss says, “I have to leave here in a bit”, which means she has to leave in a short amount of time. In other words, she means she has to leave soon.

When communicating in English at work, you might hear your boss say, “The meeting will start in a bit” which means it will start soon. Or your coworker might say, “I will email you the project details in a bit” meaning they will send you an email soon.

In a Bind

Finally, let’s look at the three-word English phrase ‘in a bind’. We can use this when we are in a difficult situation or when we have a problem to deal with, usually when there is no easy solution.

In our example above, Bank’s boss told him she was ‘in a bind’ because of her difficult situation: She had to be in a meeting in a bit, but also had an urgent report to complete. So she asked Bank to do it.

You can use ‘in a bind’ to refer to problems at work, such as not having enough time to do something or when something happens because of someone else’s mistake: “Nok didn’t complete her report, which has really put me in a bind.”

After reading this article, you should now have a better understanding of these common multi-words that use ‘in a’. It is important to understand their meaning and how to pronounce them, because they are often used in the workplace.

So the next time your boss or coworker tells you “I’m in a bind,” how will you reply in English?

To learn more about multi-words vocabulary and how it can help you and your coworkers speak English more confidently, contact ECSC today.

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