Languages › English as a Second Language Young and Free: Prerequisite for Success Reading Comprehension With Idiomatic Expressions Share Flipboard Email Print pixdeluxe/Getty Images English as a Second Language Business English Pronunciation & Conversation Vocabulary Writing Skills Reading Comprehension Grammar Resources for Teachers By Kenneth Beare English as a Second Language (ESL) Expert TESOL Diploma, Trinity College London M.A., Music Performance, Cologne University of Music B.A., Vocal Performance, Eastman School of Music Kenneth Beare is an English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher and course developer with over three decades of teaching experience. our editorial process Kenneth Beare Updated August 12, 2018 Learn new English expressions in this short story about what it takes to be successful in a small company focuses on the use of idioms in context. You'll find idiom definitions and a short quiz on some of the expressions at the end of the story. Young and Free: Prerequisite for Success Let's face it: In today's business world you need to be young and free of attachments to strike it rich. It's a dog eat dog world out there and you're going to have to work quite a lot. Of course, not only will you have to work quite a lot, you'll need to be flexible and ready to take advantage of anything. That's where the "free" part comes in. I've got a young friend, he's only 25, but he fits the bill perfectly. He's single and he's hungry. He's willing to start from scratch and, best of all, he isn't afraid of putting his nose to the grindstone for those 80 hour weeks. He decided to take the bull by the horns by going starting up his own business. He found a software developer who knew the internet inside out. This young man was also very ambitious. He left his safe job at the drop of a hat. They were both reaching for pie in the sky, and they were ready. They also were lucky. They founded a startup and got into the whole social networking business in 2002. In other words, they were early birds and they were willing to sink or swim. Probably the most important ingredient in their success was that they were willing to play things by ear. They kept their ears to the ground, moved full steam ahead and drove hard bargains. Soon, their business was growing by leaps and bounds. Of course, they had some stumbling blocks along the way. Who doesn't? Still, they got the jump on the competition and by the year 2008, they were multi-millionaires. This sort of success for the young and free now has copycats around the world. Idioms Used in the Story at the drop of a hat = immediatelyby leaps and bounds = very quickly (used with improvement)copycat = someone or a company who tries to do things like another person or companydog eat dog = very competitivedrive a hard bargain = to make a business deal that is very advantageous for youearly bird = someone who takes early advantage of a situationfit the bill = to have the right characteristics for somethingfull steam ahead = to continue with full commitmentget the jump on someone = to get the advantage over someone by starting earlyhave one's ears to the ground = to pay attention to rumors, news, and industry insidersknow something inside out = to have expert knowledge about somethingpie in the sky = something very hard to achieve, a dreamplay something by ear = to improvise in a situation, react to a situation as it occursput one's nose to the grindstone = to work hard and put in many hourssink or swim = succeed or failstart from scratch = to start from the beginningstartup = a small company that begins to do business, usually in technologystrike it rich = to become rich, often by creating a new product or service successfullystumbling block = a difficulty or hurdle that stands in the way of successtake the bull by the horns = to confront a problem and deal with it Expression Quiz I think Peter ______________. He's perfect for the job.It's _____________ on the project. We have no time to waste.Don't pretend you're like Kevin. Nobody likes a ___________.The business person ________________, but we had to accept her offer.I think it's best to _________ the meeting __________. We need to consider everything.He founded a ________________ in 2008 and made millions.Our business has grown _________________. We're very happy.I'm afraid I think that idea is ______________. It will never work. Quiz Answers fits the billfull steam ahead / sink or swimcopycatdrove a hard bargainplay the meeting by earstartupby leaps and boundspie in the sky More Idioms and Expressions in Context Stories Learn more expressions using stories with one or more of these further idioms in context stories with quizzes. It's important to learn and use idioms in context. Of course, idioms are not always easy to understand. There are idiom and expression resources that can help with definitions, but reading them in short stories can also provide context that make them come more alive. Try reading the story one time to understand the gist without using the idiom definitions. On your second reading, use the definitions to help you understand the text while learning new idioms.