English Idiomatic Expression: “The Big Picture…”

By Robby

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Hi guys, hi boys and girls and welcome back to the English Harmony video blog!

In today’s video we’re going to look at the following English idiom: The BIG Picture. Or alternatively, you can say: The Bigger Picture. It doesn’t really matter which one you go for, whether you say “The big picture” or “The bigger picture”, these two word combinations are pretty much interchangeable, they mean the same thing.

Now. In reality when you’ll be using the phrase “The big picture” you would be putting it in different contexts, such as: “When looking at the bigger picture” or “If you look at the big picture” or your ability to see the bigger picture, right?

You’d be using it in different contexts but the very two-word combination “The big picture” always remains the same and it’s very idiomatic by its nature and if you are curious as to what it means, when to use it, how to use it, place bear with me for a few more minutes and everything’s gonna become crystal clear to you, I promise!

Hi guys and welcome back! So, the BIG picture. Let me ask you a question. Do you possess the ability to see the bigger picture? If you do, then that would be one of the characteristics needed to become a truly successful manager. Why? Because a manager makes strategic decisions and he has to see the bigger picture. To see the whole operation, because a typical employee wouldn’t necessarily see the big picture.

They would be focusing on their tasks, on their duties, they will see the little details, but not necessarily the bigger picture. So, can you guess from this example what the bigger picture means? Well, I suppose that you might’ve guessed that it means the ability to see everything at once, to take it all in, to understand how everything works as a whole, right?

Whether we’re looking at a company or some process, doesn’t really matter. Well, typically it’s used when talking about some strategic thinking in terms of running a business or something similar. The ability to see the bigger picture. This is basically used when you’ll be going for a job interview and then you will be describing your strengths and you will say that one of my strengths is the ability to see the bigger picture.

And if you think about it, it makes a lot of sense cause quite literally, when you look at a picture… Imagine yourself standing in an Art Gallery and looking on a picture. Looking AT a picture on the wall. I said “looking on a picture” or something like that. I made a mistake, I’m sorry about that but if you’ve been following my blog for a while you’ll know that making mistakes is crucial, it’s a crucial and integral part of your overall fluency improvement.

So I just corrected myself. The proper way of saying it is: we look AT a picture on the wall. OK? Then if you’re too close to it you will be seeing the individual details but you wouldn’t be necessarily able to take the entire picture in. You wouldn’t be able to see it as a whole.

So you’d have to take a step back and only then you will be able to observe the whole picture and take it all in as a whole. So that’s where this idiom comes from and if you think about it, you would probably come to the same conclusion.

But it’s not always that easy, that straightforward and it’s not always that you can guess their meaning. So you have to know what it means.

And another way of using this idiom would be… Imagine yourself in a company meeting for example. Then you are given the word, you have to say something and then you would start your speech by saying: “If we look at the bigger picture“. That’s a very good sentence starter, right? Meaning, if we look at everything as a whole, if we ignore the little details and try and encompass the whole operation as a whole and basically see it in a strategic perspective.

That’s a very good sentence starter. If we look at it… If we look at the bigger picture, basically, we can clearly understand that the slides drop in sales figures and the months of November and December aren’t really so drastic because if we go back two years ago, something similar happened and then we bounced back and made even more sales the following year, so I would say this is all seasonal and basically if we look at the bigger picture, this figures aren’t really so worrying as you may think at first.

So that was the second example of how to use this particular English idiom and let me come up with a third example. Obviously that’s what I always do in these Idiomatic Expression videos. I give you three examples, all right? Now, let me see. I’m drawing a blank, which means, I can’t really think of anything. That’s a good one. That’s weird because I always brainstorm something. Something crosses my mind on all occasions and now all of the sudden, I can’t really think of anything else, you know?

So you would have to do with two examples. The first one was when you describe yourself in a job interview and then you say you possess the ability to see the bigger picture which distinguishes you from all other candidates, that’s what sets you apart from the other candidates.

And the second one was during a company meeting when you said that if we look at the bigger picture, OK? So the two examples would have to suffice for now and maybe I’ll think of something after recording this video but that’s what always happens, right? You think of something when that moment has passed. That’s typical!

But anyway… I hope that you will benefit from this video and obviously, as always, if you have any questions, of any nature, preferably something that’s got to do with this particular idiom – The big picture or English improvement in general, just let me know in the comments section below the video. Thanks for watching and bye-bye!


Robby 😉
English Idiomatic Expressions

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  • Hi Namo, thanks for dropping by, I just recorded the video about the phrase “take something for granted” – you can watch it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aYSp0cpXgPo

    Hope you’ll enjoy! 😉

  • namo

    This is an incredible video. Really got the meaning very quickly. Robby can you make a video for this idiomatic expression (to take something for granted)?
    Thank you.