COMMON IDIOMS IN USE 3

English@HighSchool would never be complete without idioms, proverbs, and expressions which are an important part of everyday English. They come up all the time in both written and spoken English.

Good Idea

Because idioms and proverbs don’t always make sense literally, you’ll need to familiarize yourself with the meaning and usage of each idiom. That may seem like a lot of work, but learning idioms is fun, especially when you compare and master English idioms.

An idiom is a common expression understood figuratively, as the literal definition makes no sense.

Read the sentence and match its definition on the right:

1. I think you’ve hit the nail on the head. That’s the reason he didn’t get the job. Died
2. Today’s going so badly. If it’s not one thing, it’s the other. Not making a firm decision between different choices
3. I just said it in the heat of the moment. I was angry. I know I shouldn’t have. Say exactly the right thing
4. Keep an eye on him. I think he may cheat in the exam. Watch someone or something carefully
5. Have you heard? John, down the road has kicked the bucket. Saying or doing something suddenly without thinking about it
6. I don’t want to argue with him again. It’s better to let sleeping dogs lie. When everything seems to be going wrong
7. I told him what gift you have bought him for his birthday. Sorry, I didn’t mean to let the cat out of the bag. Hurt or upset someone who is helping you
8. Don’t tell her what you really think of her if she’s helping you with your English! Don’t bite the hand that feeds you. Excessive
9. I’m not sure which party he is going to vote for. He’s sitting on the fence. Avoid a conflict
10. Everything she says is very over the top. She can’t just have a few words – she has to say more than is necessary. Tell someone something that you were not supposed to

So, how did you fair? Look at the answers below for your revision:

1. I think you’ve hit the nail on the head. That’s the reason he didn’t get the job. Say exactly the right thing
2. Today’s going so badly. If it’s not one thing, it’s the other. When everything seems to be going wrong
3. I just said it in the heat of the moment. I was angry. I know I shouldn’t have. Saying or doing something suddenly without thinking about it
4. Keep an eye on him. I think he may cheat in the exam. Watch someone or something carefully
5. Have you heard? John down the road has kicked the bucket. Died
6. I don’t want to argue with him again. It’s better to let sleeping dogs lie. Avoid a conflict
7. I told him what gift you have bought him for his birthday. Sorry, I didn’t mean to let the cat out of the bag. Tell someone something that you were not supposed to
8. Don’t tell her what you really think of her if she’s helping you with your English! Don’t bite the hand that feeds you. Hurt or upset someone who is helping you
9. I’m not sure which party he is going to vote for. He’s sitting on the fence. Not making a firm decision between different choices
10. Everything she says is very over the top. She can’t just have a few words – she has to say more than is necessary. Excessive

writing-notes-idea-conference.jpgHere are some idioms to wet your appetite:

  1. The mystery novelist decided at the last minute to include an ex-convict, who would later prove to be innocent, as a suspect in her story; she was using this new character as a red herring.

A red herring is a distraction or an attempt to misdirect attention to something that is not important.

  1. I don’t like the new font that you used on the website, but there is no need to throw the baby out with the bathwater: just change the font back to the original and I’ll approve the design.

To throw the baby out with the bathwater is to discard something valuable or useful along with something disagreeable or unusable.

  1. If Frank hears that Maria is going to the dance with Curt, Frank is going to do something regrettable, so let’s just keep it under wraps for now.

Something that is under wraps is kept a secret or not made public.

  1. Many times the great inventor’s wife would beckon him to return to his room for sleep, but he had a fire in his belly.

To have a fire in one’s belly is to have a strong desire to accomplish difficult or creative tasks.

  1. Even though the advertised prices at Tesco’s were very low, the salesmen will attempt to nickel and dime you as you attempt to checkout.

To nickel and dime someone is to pursue small amounts of money with a fastidiousness that appears petty.

  1. When I become a rich and famous rapper, all of the people who made fun of me and said that I couldn’t rap, dance, or match my clothing are going to eat their hearts out.

To eat one’s heart out is to become very jealous or resentful of another’s success.

  1. Candy really left me holding the bag when she didn’t do her part of the project and was absent on the day of the presentation.

When one is left holding the bag, he or she receives the blame or responsibility for the actions of another.

Good luck in all your endeavours.

As of old: Be EMPOWERED and EXCEL

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