Turning the corner by leaps and bounds: talking about improvement

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by Liz Walter

Today’s post is about words and phrases that express the idea of things improving or being improved. The most common way to talk about improvement is to say that something gets better or that we make something better:

The weather was terrible earlier, but it’s getting better now.

We are always looking for ways to make our products better.

We can also describe something that helps someone or something to improve as a change for the better:

Allowing staff more independence was definitely a change for the better.

To talk about something that is improving gradually, we can say that it is going/moving in the right direction. Using a similar idiom, we often describe something that has caused an improvement as a step in the right direction:

At last the economy seems to be moving in the right direction.

One aerobics class a week isn’t enough to get me fit, but at least it’s a step in the right direction.

We sometimes use the phrasal verb come along to talk about a skill that is improving:

Her piano playing is really coming along.

If we want to emphasize how fast something is improving, we say it improved by leaps and bounds:

When he moved to Paris, his French got better by leaps and bounds.

Staying with the word ‘leap’, we sometimes describe a very large improvement as a quantum leap:

His invention was a quantum leap forward in engine design.

To talk about improvement after a period of difficulty, we often say that something or someone has turned the corner:

After a period of poor sales, the company has finally turned the corner.

The verbs polish up, tweak, refine and enhance are all used for making minor improvements to things that are already fairly good:

She needs to polish up her acting skills.

I need some more time to tweak my presentation.

We have been able to refine our earlier designs.

He tried to enhance his image by dressing more smartly.

The verb perfect means to make something as good as it possibly can be. Note that the stress falls on the second syllable, unlike the adjective ‘perfect’, where it is on the first syllable:

I’ve spent years perfecting my recipe for strawberry jam.

I hope this post will enable you to enhance your use of English, and maybe even to improve by leaps and bounds!

21 thoughts on “Turning the corner by leaps and bounds: talking about improvement

    1. Greetings Miss. Liz!😊 I’m brushing up on my English these days. I’ve just saved your post as a PDF file to read it time and again so that I may use the words and phrases in my everyday English with confidence. Thanks a lot for the valuable post! 👍👍👍

  1. A big thank¡
    As you´ve said; this post is helping me to enhance my English skills and practising all your recommendations, It`ll make me perfect.

    You are the best, Never change¡

  2. Maryem Salama

    In our language, we use this expression “Too much better than before” frequently. Does it work the same in English? Thank you, Liz

  3. Sabrina

    Thanks for your post.
    I am wondering why you used ‘independence’ rather than ‘independent’ in the following sentence?

    Allowing staff more independence was definitely a change for the better.

    1. Liz Walter

      Because ‘independent’ is an adjective. You could say ‘Allowing staff to be more independent is …’

  4. Raghav Nehra

    In that French example, would it be wrong (or better) If I say:
    After moving to Paris, his French got better by leaps and bounds. (instead of ‘when he moved’)?

  5. Wiz lee(or #19880)


  6. Aya A.

    Thank you for sharing. This is a very convenient way of showing information.
    I will work on improving my English skills by leaps and bounds 😀

  7. this post will improve our english and for the people who are perfect in English it may enhance their skills , once you read the post you know that you are in the right direction in improving your language 😀

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