Expressions used in Everyday Spoken English in Social and Professional contexts

sink or swim

sink or swim
Meaning(s)
1) a situation in which someone/something must succeed without any outside help or fail
  • How to MemorizePopularity HighProfessional HighSocial
    • in such a competitive environment, it is a case of sink or swim
  • Analysis

    he idiom 'sink or swim', means to succeed or fail on your own using your own skills and strengths without outside help. You will often hear the phrase 'It's time to sink or swim' meaning that something will either fail or be successful. This is an expression that can be used in both social and professional contexts.

  • Social Examples (Basic)
    1. I've done all I can to help James get his life together, so he's on his own now. He'll either sink or swim. I really hope it's the latter.
    2. There comes a time when parents have to take a step back and allow their children to sink or swim.
  • Professional Examples (Basic)
    1. On my first day at work, no one offered to give me advice or show me the ropes. I was just left to sink or swim. Luckily, I managed to figure things out on my own or I'd be out of the job!
    2. Due to the competitive, and at times ruthless nature of the tech industry, it really is a case of sink or swim for any new company entering it.
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