English Expressions About Challenges

Learn English expressions about challenges. These words and phrases will help you talk about problems and difficulties in English. 

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Speak better English with Harry - Episode 336

expressions for Problems & Difficulties

English expressions about challenges

Expressions about challenges. Advanced English learning. Online English lessons on Zoom at www.englishlessonviaskype.com #learnenglish #englishlessons #EnglishTeacher #vocabulary #ingles

Hi there, this is Harry and welcome to my English lessons where I try to help you to get a better understanding of the English language so that you can communicate in a much better and effective way with your colleagues or friends.

You can

  • handle that job interview in English
  • learn about phrasal verbs
  • learn other expressions
  • improve your grammar
  • master you pronunciation

Whatever your objective is, we’re here to help.

So what are we going to cover in the lesson today?

Today, we’re going to talk about challenges. Phrases connected with challenges or expressions about challenges.

Intermediate to Advanced English Marathon

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

INSANITY: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

Challenges are things that we face every day. They can be difficulties, they can be problems, but overall, they are challenges that we have to face.

So we’re talking about challenges.

So the first one is 

to take the plunge

Meaning: to decide to do something you’ve been thinking about or you’ve been putting off for a while

If you go to a sauna, usually outside a sauna, they have what they call a plunge pool, which is a pool you jump into after you come out of the sauna. Usually, with very, very cold weather. So when you come out of the sauna, you jump into the plunge pool. It cools you down, and you go to the sauna again. To plunge means to go down quite deeply

My son is getting married. He’s 32, he’s left a little bit late, but he’s finally taking the plunge.

I’ve decided to take the plunge, quit my job and go back to university.


to raise the bar

Meaning: to set your target on something that you might find difficult to achieve

If you are into athletics, and you watch two particular athletics events, like the high jump, or the pole vault, they both have a metal bar. This bar measures the height at which you jump for the high jump. Every time you succeed, they raise the bar. The bar indicates who wins or who loses. If you knock off the bar, you fail. 

We often use it from a business context and say, 

We’ve done really well in the last year. Now it’s time to raise the bar. We really have to go for something really dynamic here. We can really make a difference in this marketplace. 

They’ve signed three top-class players and they really want to challenge to win trophies. They’ve raised the bar.

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no end in sight

Meaning: the point at which the problem will be over is not known 

There is no end in sight to this problem. One difficulty after another.

There is no end in sight, nobody is willing to sit down and try to reach a compromise or an agreement. 

Next, we have 

a setback

This we’re using this as a noun, a setback. 

Meaning: a problem that has arisen when you thought things were going along quite smoothly

He was recovering quite after the accident but the next day, he developed some infection. So there’s been a little setback in his recovery, he’s going to have to stay in hospital for a little longer. 

I did well in the first interview round and got through to the second round. Then there was a bit of a setback when I received the bad news that they’d selected somebody else.

English expressions about challenges

Expressions about challenges. Advanced English learning. Online English lessons on Zoom at www.englishlessonviaskype.com #learnenglish #englishlessons #EnglishTeacher #vocabulary #ingles

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to put obstacles in the way 

Obstacles are usually blocks or barricades or barriers, something that prevents us from going forward, something that prevents us from moving.

Meaning: to put up objections as to why something might not happen, or why something won’t happen

A tree that falls down and blocks the road, that’s an obstacle, okay? 

Please just focus on what you want to do, do this course. You want to become a doctor, so don’t put obstacles in the way. 

So if we go back to a previous explanation of setback, so when this Doctor told the patient that had an infection and that he couldn’t leave the hospital for a few days, that’s an obstacle. So it’s an obstacle in the way of him getting back to full recovery, he has to stay in the hospital for another few days. 

The residents continued to put obstacles in the way, demanding they design a play area for the children. 


teething problems

Meaning: short-term insignificant difficulties that occur at the start of something new

Those of you who are parents will remember those long, sleepless nights when your kids were young, and they got their first teeth. They kept you awake all night crying and screaming.

The new house is wonderful. It’s a great location, we’re really happy. Few little teething problems as you expect with a new house. We have to get the builders back to put down a few tiles in the kitchen.

There will be teething problems when you move to a different country.

English expressions about challenges

to hit rock bottom

Meaning: to have a bad or difficult time

I don’t know what’s going to happen to Harry, he’s really gone through some difficult times. I think he’s hit rock bottom now anyway, everything that could happen has happened.

It’s not a good feeling. That’s when you need your friends around you to help you. So to hit rock bottom means to go as low as you possibly can. Then hopefully, the only way then is up. 

to map out 

Meaning: to create a detailed plan of action

I think what we need to do, we need to map out what we’re going to do to take this marketing.

English expressions about challenges

on the right track

Meaning: on the right path that is likely to lead you to success; doing something correctly

No, it’s not the correct answer, but you’re on the right track. Just a little bit more.

And finally 

to build momentum

Momentum is about going forward. Momentum is about making progress. 

Meaning: to keep adding something to progress and to help move forward

They are a strong team. They’re building momentum there. With a bit of luck, they could even win the league this season.

Okay, so hopefully you’ve understood those explanations of talking about challenges. Let me give them to you one more time:

  • to take the plunge
  • to raise the bar
  • no end in sight
  •  a setback
  • to put obstacles in the way
  • teething problems
  • to hit rock bottom
  • to map out
  • on the right track
  • to build momentum

As always, if you want to contact me, well then you can do so on www.englishlessonviaskype.com. Very happy to hear from you. Very happy to hear your recommendations or requests, whatever you have. As always, thanks for listening. Join me again soon.

More information

For more information on English grammar rules, English collocations and English idioms, check out the links below:

English idioms with WALL

Different ways to say IT’S EASY

You can always study English advanced level at Learning English with the BBC.

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