IdiomsThe English language is full of idioms(over 15,000). Native speakers of Englishuse idioms all the time, often withoutrealising that they are doing so. Thismeans that communication with nativespeakers of English can be quite aconfusing experience.
What is an idiom?An idiom is a group of words which,when used together, has a differentmeaning from the one which theindividual words have.
Idioms: the good news Sometimes idioms are very easy for learners to understand because there are similar expressions in the speakers mother tongue. Sometimes you can guess the meaning of new idioms from context.
Idioms: the bad newsHowever, idioms can often be verydifficult to understand. Many idioms,come from favourite traditional Britishactivities such as fighting, sailing,hunting and playing games. As well asbeing quite specialist in meaning, someof the words in idioms were used two orthree hundred years ago, or longer, andcan be a little obscure.
How can I learn idioms?• as you do vocabulary• practical sentence so that you will be able to remember its meaning easily
Sometimes we get a bad start to ourday, it continues throughout the day,and people notice.It is as if we started our day ("got up")in the wrong way ("on the wrong sideof the bed") and that has affectedeverything else that happened since.Example: "Dont start yelling at me justbecause you got up on the wrongside of the bed." Example: "I told youto pick up your things! And dont playyour music so loudly!" Reply: "Wow. Itlooks like someone got up on thewrong side of the bed!"
Curiosity killed the cat reminds usthat being too curious can bedangerous. Example: "What do youthink is down that dark street?" Reply:"I would rather not find out. Curiositykilled the cat."Cats are curious animals that like toinvestigate, but their curiosity can takethem places where they might get hurt.Children especially, are like cats, arecurious and like to test to find out whatis dangerous.
To go out of the frying pan and into the fire is to get out of one difficult situation only to end up in another. Example: "I worked too hard on that last project. But on this new project I am working even harder!" Reply: "Out of the frying pan and into the fire.""The frying pan" is a very hot place to be because it is over "the fire". In a difficult situation, the first thing we want to do is get out of that situation.
You are "burning the midnightoil" when you are working hardlate into the night. Example: "Icould see the light in your windowlast night. It looks like you havebeen burning the midnight oil."Before they had electric lamps,people used oil-burning lamps toread or work in the darkness atnight. When you are working veryhard until late at night you are"burning the midnight oil."
To "go for broke" is to risk everythingon one chance to win big. Example:"Are you sure you want to bet all ofyour money on that one horse?" Reply:"Yes. Im going for broke!"means take a risk, try your best, andgive all of your energy to something.Example: "The way to be successful isto decide exactly what you want, thengo for broke."To be "broke" is to have no money;you "go for broke" when you risklosing everything for one chance to winbig.
"it’s raining cats and dogs"It’s raining very hard.