AE 356 – Expression: To Cut Corners

In this expression episode of The Aussie English Podcast I teach you how to use the expression TO CUT CORNERS like a native.

Subscribe to the podcast: iTunes | Android | RSS

Download the PDF + MP3

AE 356 – Expression: To Cut Corners

Good morning legends! Welcome to this episode of Aussie English. I’m just going to get ready. I’m ready give you a few seconds to show up. We’ll see who’s awake at 11 a.m. Melbourne time on a Saturday morning. Hopefully, you guys aren’t all up. I hope you’re still in bed. You shouldn’t be learning English at this hour. But I’m going to give the episode a quick share, then we’ll get into it, ’cause it’s streamed live on Facebook as I’m sure most of you know. I try and do this now to reach you.

Rocio’s here first. She’s always here. How are you going Rocio? Good morning. Let me just give this a quick share. Make sure you guys give me a thumbs up if you can hear me okay just so that I make sure the audio is sweet. And then, I will get into it. Quick share. Quick like.

So yeah. How are you guys going? (Are) you having a good morning? When are you up to this weekend? Just chilling out at home I hope. Taking it easy. Relaxing. I hope you’re lying in bed just chilling out.

Alright. So, today’s episode is going to be covering the expression “to cut corners”, “to cut corners”.

Welcome to this episode of The Aussie English Podcast, guys. This is an expression episode where I teach you an expression in English. I break it down. I go through it step by step. Give you some examples. A little listen that repeat exercise at the end to help you pronounce… well, to help you improve your English pronunciation. And then there’s also a joke in here and a fact as well. But, this podcast is designed to help you learn Australian English, guys. That is my goal. That is my mission. That is my passion. It’s to help you guys learn to understand Australian English as well as learn to speak English like an Australian. This is the number one podcast for doing that.

Today’s episode is sponsored by The Aussie English Classroom. You can sign up to this and try it for a dollar, and you will get all the bonus content for today’s episode in order to take your English to the next level even faster. So, if you love studying, if you love working at your own pace and you want all the bonus content, the MP3s, the exercises, and the transcript, sign up to The Aussie English Classroom. It’s one dollar and you’ll get four lessons in your first month.

Before we get started, I also want to mention that now that I have this beautiful wall behind me I want to fill it up with postcards like this one. So, if you guys would like to send me a postcard then you can address it to Pete at P.O. Box 597, Ocean Grove, 3226, Victoria, Australia. It’ll be included in the description as well as in the episode itself. So, don’t worry about memorising the address just yet. But yeah, I’m hopefully going to collect a bunch of these postcards from you guys. You’re welcome to just say g’day. Tell me where you’re from. If you’re in Australia tell me anything about you, your struggles learning English, and if you have questions you’d like me to cover on the podcast too, feel free to send me a postcard like this one and I’d love to discuss it on the podcast.

So, today’s expression is “to cut corners”, and this one was suggested by none other than me. I suggested this expression in The Aussie English (Virtual) Classroom, the Facebook group, on Tuesday. We all voted on the different expressions that everyone suggested, and by chance, finally, I got one that went to the top that everyone voted on. And so, today, we’ll be doing “to cut corners”.

Aussie Joke:

But before we do that, before we get into the expression, I’ve got a joke for you. I’ve got a joke all. So, what do you call a lazy baby kangaroo? What do you call a lazy baby kangaroo? So, a joey. A lazy one. You know, he sits around does nothing. A ‘pouch’ potato. Do you get it? It’s a bit on my cuff. A ‘pouch’ potato.

So, that’s a play on words guys. What do you call a lazy kangaroo or baby kangaroo? A ‘pouch potato’. Because they live in a pouch, and we use the expression “a couch potato”, ‘potato’ like the vegetable, and ‘couch’ as in what you sit on in front of a TV. If someone’s a “couch potato”, they’re lazy. They sit around on the couch all day and do nothing. So, this is a play on words. ‘Pouch potato’, meaning the kangaroo, the baby kangaroo, the joey, sits in his mother’s pouch all day doing nothing. So, the kangaroo that’s lazy, a baby kangaroo that’s lazy, is a ‘pouch potato’. There you go. Oh… Dad jokes. Dad jokes.


So, let’s go through and define the different words in the expression “to cut corners”, today guys, before we then define the expression itself, I’ll go over the origin, give you some examples, and then we’ll go through a listen and repeat exercise.

So, “to cut”. If you cut something, you make an opening, an incision, or a wound in something with a sharp-edged implement. So, it could be a sword. It could be a sore. It could be a knife. Anything that can slash, chop, slice, or lacerate, is “to cut”. OK? So, you can cut a piece of paper with some scissors. You could cut up a carrot with a knife. And you could cut down a tree with a saw. OK? “To cut”.

“A corner”. “A corner” is a place or an angle where two sides or edges meet. OK? So, this is like the corner of a street. So, the road goes around the corner. Or it could be the corner of a table. So, you’ve got a table and there’s two edges that meet like this. That’s the corner of a table.

“To cut corners”. So, the expression “to cut corners”, however, is to take shortcuts. OK? So, to take the shorter route, to do something. So more… in a more elaborate definition, it would be to save money or effort by finding cheaper or easier ways to do something. And this often leads to a poorer quality end result or end product. OK? So, “to cut corners”, to take shortcuts, and yeah, to use dodgy products or cheaper products in order to create something leading to a poorer quality result.

So, this originates from… I guess, it’s a metaphor for driving. (It) could be driving a car or it could be a horse-drawn carriage. But the basic idea would be that when you approach a corner on a road, whether it’s in a race, if you cut the corner, it’s that you don’t go all the way around the corner, but instead you go across it diagonally like this. And so, you can imagine slicing it, cutting it, and this corner, the corner of the, I guess, the road here, falling off. So, you’re literally cutting it. You’re going across the corner and chopping it.

So, I think this originates… well, I would imagine it originates from racing. So, when things… when people are racing, whether it’s on a horse or in a car, if they want to go the quicker way, (if) they want to take shortcuts, often if they get to a sharp corner like this, they’ll go across it diagonally like this, and they’ll cut the corner. So, that’s where it would originate from. And it’s to obviously take a slightly more dangerous route. You know, it could injure the horse, because it’s not the road itself. It could damage the car, because you’ve hit the curb, you’ve gone up and then over the section of the corner. And so, yeah, it means to discard normal safe practice in order to get fast results.

So, let’s go through three examples like usual, guys.



So, you could have your mum cooking. She’s cooking a meal for everyone. Maybe, it’s Christmas dinner or some special event. She’s cooking a meal, and she’s told everyone she’s going to cook it from scratch. So, “from scratch” as in from the very beginning. She’s going to buy all the different ingredients, and then cook this in amazing meal, this really elaborate meal. Instead of doing it from scratch, though, she goes to the shops and buys a bunch of canned foods so she can cut corners. So, instead of cooking everything from scratch, she just uses the canned food. (She) saves a lot of time, but uses inferior poorer quality products, whether it’s veggies or meat or whatever. So, she can do it faster. She’s cutting corners. OK?


The second one could be imagine that you have a really shoddy or dodgy company. So, one that’s not trustworthy. And it’s cutting corners by using cheaper or inferior steel. So, imagine it’s a steel company or a manufacturing company that’s building something. Maybe cars, for example. It’s trying to save money by buying poorer quality steel to put in the cars, and then the cars end up being a dodgier shoddier quality product. And it could endanger someone’s life. So, they’re cutting corners when trying to build these cars.


The last one could be that you are in a race car. You’re driving around a track, and in order to try and win, in order to try and shave off a few seconds on the lap going around the race track, you keep cutting corners. So, instead of going completely around the corner, you cut across it, and you save a bit of time. But, it’s the more dangerous route, because you could damage the car. You’re going off road. But you end up passing other drivers and winning because you cut corners. OK?

So, hopefully that makes sense and hopefully now you understand the expression “to cut corners”.

Listen & Repeat Exercise:

Let’s go through a quick listen and repeat exercise, guys. (In) this one we’re going to focus on the Future Present Continuous Tense. I know that was a bit complicated but the Future Present Continuous Tense… Future Perfect* Continuous Tense, see, it’s even complicated for me, is when we say “will have been” and then “doing” something. So, we use the present particle of the main verb with -ING on the end. “Will have been doing” something. So, I’ll have been eating when you arrived, or she’ll have been watching TV when you called her.

So, before we get into it I’ll give you a bit of an idea of what this tense is used for. The Future Perfect Continuous Tense, it projects ourselves into the future and lets us look back on a period in the past that’s still in the future relative to where we are now. So, you imagine you’ve got a point in the future here. Maybe this is a week from now, and you’re talking about the day before a week from now, which is in the past relative to this time, but it’s still in the future. So, that’s the reason we use the Future Perfect Continuous thing, and that it’s ongoing. So, the thing that’s happening is ongoing. You’ll get a sense for it. So, it’s often used with a time expression as well. So, like you give context. Tomorrow. Yesterday. Whatever. You’ll give it time context. But for the sake of this exercise, I want you to imagine in your head that it is a week in the future and you’re looking back on the previous day, but it’s still in the future, although, it’s in the past relative to this point in the future. And that the thing you were doing the day before was on going when it was interrupted by something else. OK? So, in this one we’re going to imagine that we’re… What have I got here? We’re watching a race on TV and we see someone the day before cutting corners to win. OK? So, listen and repeat after me, guys. Find somewhere quiet that you can practice your pronunciation, ’cause I want you to listen and repeat after me right now. And yeah, we’ll go through this. I want you to pronounce it just as I would. OK?

So, I’m going to say, “I’ll have been cutting corners”, and then go through all the different pronouns. So, let’s go.

Listen & Repeat:

I’ll have been cutting corners.
You’ll have been cutting corners.
He’ll have been cutting corners.
She’ll have been cutting corners.
We’ll they’ve been cutting corners.
They’ll have been cutting corners.
It will have been cutting corners.

Great job, guys. So, that’s it. You noticed that I didn’t say “I will have been cutting corners”, I said “I’ll have been cutting corners.” If you want to learn to pronounce just like me all of these things today, I’m going to break it down in all the bonus content for today’s episode. So, make sure that you sign up to The Aussie English Classroom if you’re not in there already. You’ll get a transcript of today’s episode, you’ll get a downloadable MP3, and you’ll get six exercises to go through things like vocab, listening comprehension, phrasal verbs, and then the pronunciation and grammar parts of this episode are going to cover this. And you’re going to learn how to pronounce this, the Future Present… The Future Perfect Continuous Tense, as well as how to use it. OK? And then, we’ll also go over some slang.

So, before we finish up, guys, let’s go through an interesting Aussie fact, and then we’ll call it a day.

Aussie Fact:

So, today’s Aussie fact is that Australia is home to the longest fence in the world, to the longest fence in the world. And this is called The Dingo Fence or The Dog Fence. It was originally built in the 1880s. So, what’s that, like 127 years ago? In order to keep dingoes or wild dogs away from fertile land. So, to try and keep these dogs away from places where they were raising sheep or cattle. And it was originally 8600 kilometres long. How crazy is that? But in 1980 it was shortened to only 5600 kilometres long and it’s still the longest fence in the world.

So, with that, guys, I hope you enjoy today’s episode and I hope you have a great weekend. See you next time! Peace out!

Download the PDF + MP3

itunes-logo (1)
spotify-small (1) (1)
icon-stitcher (1)

Get more out of every episode!

Here's what you get when you sign up!

  • Read while you listen using the Premium Podcast player.
  • Understand every word in every episode.
  • Download all PDF transcripts and MP3s for 600+ episodes.
  • Get access to bonus member-only episodes.

Download my eBook!

    We respect your privacy. Unsubscribe at anytime.

    Recent Podcast Episodes

    Related Articles


    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

    Download on Android or iPhone below!

    Ready to test your knowledge of some English expressions?

    Start Now