I would like to know one expression that means the same as "Going to the root of the problem..." Could, you please, let me know the expression and the meaning of it? Thank you in advance.


cut to the chase

"to talk about or deal with the important parts of a subject and not waste time with things that are not important" (source)

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The grammatical context will dictate the kind of expression to use. There are dozens available but the one that occurs to me is "Getting down to the nitty-gritty", which I suppose means pushing aside vagueness, irrelevancy, distraction and other smokescreens and exposing the grit i.e. the hard, abrasive kernel of the matter. This is, however, not easy to use and requires a certain informality of context. Otherwise adverbs like "Basically", "Fundamentally", "In essence" at the beginning of an appropriate sentence could do the job.

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One common idiomatic expression is...

getting down to brass tacks

...which is of uncertain origin, though there are several more or less fanciful theories. In my experience the primary sense is of addressing fundamental principles in a discussion, but it can also be used to mean getting serious or dealing with fine points of detail (in a barter/negotiation context).

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  • Common and idiomatic? Never heard it before in my life! – Lightness Races in Orbit Jun 5 '16 at 13:10
  • @Lightness Races in Orbit: Well, usage trends for down to brass tacks,cut to the chase,beat around the bush in this NGram do rather suggest there's an age factor (not that much of a US/UK split though). But do you never listen to older people, or read books? – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Jun 6 '16 at 0:01
  • Yes, all the time, and none of them use this phrase. I'm not suggesting that no-one does, clearly, but I'm pointing out that it is not broadly common or idiomatic. Perhaps it's more specific to your locale than you realise (itself not an uncommon situation in the UK). – Lightness Races in Orbit Jun 6 '16 at 8:35
  • @Lightness Races in Orbit: It's certainly true the the UK (or even just England) has far more dialects/accents than the whole of the US, but that's not relevant to this specific usage. If you compare US/UK corpora on my link you'll see that if anything, down to brass tacks is/was actually more common in AmE than BrE. Re cut to the chase, I don't know how it got started (it was apparently non-existent before the 70s), but I've always understood that one to mean something subtly different (get to the thing I really want to talk about, which isn't necessarily the most fundamental). – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Jun 6 '16 at 17:33
  • @Fu​​​​​​​​​​​​mble: "down to brass tacks is/was actually more common in AmE than BrE" Which probably explains why I've never heard it here. :) – Lightness Races in Orbit Jun 6 '16 at 17:33

"The heart of the problem"is probably used most in everyday speech. However, "the crux of the problem" or "the crux of the issue" is often used in a more formal setting such as a research paper or a speech.

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Don't beat around the bush

See definition here

This is suitable in an informal context. To answer more thoroughly we would need more information

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