Idiomatic English for Effective Communication


Published on

a presentation on english idioms for graduate students of osmania university

Published in: Education, Technology
No Downloads
Total views
On SlideShare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide
  • This presentation is about how we can use English idioms to make our communication more effective.
    Most universities in the state have questions in the final university examination on the use of idioms and phrases. So I have chosen quite a few examples from the prescribed text books.`
  • Are you all ears now? Are you ready to listen to this presentation which will last the next 40 minutes.
    Lend me your ear. Listen to me carefully and attentively so that you can make the most of my presentation.
    I would like you to be on the ball, be active during the presentation, make notes, do the exercises, call me, seek clarifications and even talk to your neighbors when I ask you to.
    If you are ready, let’s kick off – commence - the presentation now.
    I think you have noticed that these expressions are English idioms. You might have already noticed that they are set expressions which have a meaning different from the literal meanings of their components.
    Idioms are mostly unchangeable and often not logical and may not follow basic rules of grammar.
    Idioms can be quite clear (in general; come out; at first; the root of all evil) or pretty unclear (on end; pack it in; high and low; hard cash).
    Some idioms have proper names in them (a Jack of all trades; Uncle Sam); some other idioms are comparisons (as clear as a bell; as the crow flies). Proverbs and sayings may also have idiomatic character (every cloud has a silver lining; still waters run deep).
  • Each language has a unique set of verbal habits which have been used by the people speaking that language over a long period. They cannot be true translated into other languages, though many of them may have equivalents in other languages.
    Take ‘better half’ for example. Can it be true translated into your mother tongue?
    The slide shows how we refer to a very, very short time in different languages. Though they all have the same idiomatic meaning, literally they mean different things. They cannot be true translated into other languages.
    English - To kill time
    Hindi - (to break chairs) – kursi thodna
    Telugu (to pluck nails) – gollu gillukovatam
  • Kick the bucket: die
    (Kick the calendar in Polish)
    hang your head (in shame): to be ashamed
    Students caught copying during examinations should hang their heads in shame.
    To sit on the fence:
    Literal meaning – to sit on a fence. She stood on the fence to look outside.
    Idiomatic meaning - not making a clear choice regarding an issue. Many political parties are sitting on the fence about FDI.
  • Roundtable – a meeting of parties or people on equal terms for discussion (not round stool)
    lend me an ear or lend me your ear, but not give me your ears, or may I borrow your ears. ("Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears“ – Shakespeare, Julius Caesar)
    Meaning: to listen carefully and in a friendly way to someone, especially someone who is telling you about a problem
  • ‘Broke’ is another example of how the grammatical structure of an idiom is fixed.
    I am broke refers to the fact that I have got no money, I have become bankrupt or insolvent. We cannot say “I am broken” or “I am breaking now.”
    Broke in verb form is the past tense of break – he broke the toy.
    Broke in adjective form is having no money – he is broke.
    To be broke is grammatically incorrect but it has the idomatic meaning of ‘to have no money’.
    I am broke and I cannot have my dinner tonight.
  • Grammatical structure cannot be changed:
    I'll eat my hat  = if you say you will eat your hat if something happens or does not happen, you mean you will be very surprised if it happens or does not happen
    at a loss = unable to speak or know how to act or what to do.
    He felt totally at a loss about how to proceed with the project.
    We were at a loss for words when they scolded us without reason.
  • keep your cool
    Cool is an adjective, not a noun, and the phrase is grammatically incorrect.
    = to remain calm, undisturbed and in control, especially in a difficult situation.
    If you see a difficult question in the exam, don't panic. Just keep your cool.
    Keep a cool head, stay cool, be cool, take it cool are other ways of saying the same thing.
  • The native speakers acquire idiomatic language from a very early linguistic stage.
    So understanding the speech or writings of the native speakers is impossible without knowing the idioms of that language.
    Idioms add color and glitter to your communication and make your conversation expressive and most importantly effective.
    Idioms serve as lubricants, cosmetics, perfumes of your communication. By using them judiciously, you can make your language impressive.
    Idioms are the nuts and bolts of conversation. = the basics of something
  • Like we learn vocabulary, rules of grammar and usage by constant practice, we have to learn idioms also by constant practice.
    We should make it a habit to spend some time guessing the meaning of a new idiom, because we often find contextual clues that help us figure out their meaning.
    We can use a dictionary, there are exclusive dictionaries of idioms in the market, to refer to the meaning, use and origin.
    It is a good idea to maintain a workbook where we record the new idioms that we learn.
    Trying our own sentences with the new idioms and practice are absolutely essential to retain the idioms that we have learned.
  • Take an example from your text book. You have read this lesson about this person who says who knows everything about everything and is irritating. What is the idiom used to refer to him
    Mr Know-all.
    Take another example. What is the irritating person who is impatient to damage the reputation of the conjurer in ‘Conjurer’s Revenge’ called?
    The Quick Man – not a standard idiom in the dictionary, but coined by Stephen Leacock.
  • A lazy, do-nothing addict to television watching.
    If there was a prize for the best couch potato, none can beat my daughter.
  • Red in the face = embarrassed
    learn something by heart = to memorize something without thinking.
    I had to learn the entire speech by heart. I had to go over it many times before I learned it by heart.
    Eye to eye = be of the same mind, be in agreement.
    They continued to friends all their lives because they saw eye to eye on almost every thing.
    Face the music: to receive punishment; to accept the unpleasant results of one's actions.
  • Old hand = a person who is experienced at doing something.
    The guide you just hired is an old hand at leading tours across South India.
    under one's thumb = under the power or influence of; at the mercy of; controlled or dominated by someone.
    She was under her brother’s thumb till she was 25.
    On the tip of tongue = about to be said or almost remembered.
    Her husband’s name is on the tip of my tongue. I’ll recollect it in a moment.
  • Read somebody's mind = to know what someone is thinking without being told .
    You have to tell me what you want. I cannot read your mind.
  • Make up one’s mind = or come to a decision about what to do.
    After lengthy deliberations, we finally made up our mind to vote in favor of the government.
    She's made up her mind to join English classes.
  • To watch or give attention to someone or something.
    We will be out of town for two days. Will you please keep your eye on my house?
  • To appear clearly.
    Jealousy was written all over her face when she saw her neighbor’s jewelery.
  • Put all of one’s efforts, energy and enthusiasm into something.
    If you put your heart and soul into something, you are very enthusiastic and invest a lot of energy and hard work in something.
  • If you have a change of heart, you reverse your attitude, opinions or feelings.
  • Someone who has a heart of stone is a cold and unfeeling person who shows others no understanding, sympathy or pity. 
  • If you say that something will happen over your dead body, you mean that you will do everything you can to prevent it. You will never let that happen.
  • To pay too much for something.
    To study in any private college these days, you have to pay through the nose for it.
  • Match the idioms in the left column with their meanings in the right column.
    Make your own sentences with each of the idioms.
  • Made for each other = to get along extremely well with another person
    Tie the knot = to get married
    To have a crush on = to have strong feelings of love for someone (often for a short time and with no results)
    She says she will never have a crush on anyone again.
  • Father something on someone = to regard someone as the author or originator of something.
    Match the idioms in the left column with their meanings in the right column.
    Make your own sentences with each of the idioms.
  • Cool as a cucumber = very calm and in control of emotions.
    Even while everything has been going wrong, she stayed as cool as a cucumber.
    Cup of tea = something that we like or consider interesting.
    Sob stories are not really my cup of tea.
    In a nutshell = very briefly, in as few words as possible.
    The answer, in a nutshell, is no.
  • Getting into the soup = a bad or difficult situation.
    The girl broke her neighbor’s flower vase. The mother and daughter have really got in the soup.
    Hot potato = awkward, sensitive or controversial situation. People handling it risk unpleasant consequences.
    The dangerous situation developed suddenly and they dropped it like a hot potato.
    Food for thought = something for someone to think about. An issue to be considered.
    Your article on corruption has given me some food for thought.
  • Piece of cake = something easy to do.
    That’s not a problem at all. I have a very clear idea of what it is. It's a piece of cake.
  • Match the idioms in the left column with their meanings in the right column.
    Make your own sentences with each of the idioms.
  • Never in a million years = absolutely not.
    I will not buy that useless stuff never in a million years.
    Eleventh hour = almost at the last possible moment
    Many students turned in their assignments at the eleventh hour.
    Who worries about death until the eleventh hour?
  • Fifth wheel = An unwanted and unnecessary person or thing.
    On cloud nine = blissful, overjoyed
    Second to none = as good as the best, in quality or reputation. Inferior to no one else or to nothing else, better than anything else.
    Indigo Manza is an excellent car, second to none.
  • First and foremost, I want to thank the management for the inviting me to this workshop.
    Without a good command over English you have a chance in a million of getting the job.
    Amar and Akbar are two of a kind. Both of them enjoy several outdoor sports and both are well-built.
  • Raining cats and dogs = raining very hard.
    Don’t even think of leaving just now. It's raining cats and dogs since morning and you don't have an umbrella.
    Crying wolf = to ask for help when you do not need it, to raise unnecessary alarm
    If you cry wolf too often, people will stop believing that you need help.
    Social butterfly = a sociable person who likes to attend parties and other social gatherings; a people person
  • My aunt got the lion‘s share of the inheritance.
    A little bird told me that you are thinking of quitting your job.
    He was a dark horse in the race to be President until he gave some good speeches on TV.
    He is tired of living in the rat race every day and plans to quit his job soon and do something else.
    We had a whale of a time at the party last night.
  • Brain drain = a situation in which a country’s most intelligent people, especially scientists, go to another country in order to make more money or to improve their living and working conditions.
    Cream of the crop = the best or choicest: a college that accepts only students who are the cream of the crop.
    Get the axe = if a plan or a service gets the axe, it is stopped. If a person gets the axe, he loses the job.
    My research project was the first thing to be given the axe when the new boss took over.
  • Golden handshake = an attractive pre superannuation retirement agreement offered to an employee
    Hang up boots = to permanently stop playing a sport
    Sachin Tendulkar may hang up his boots after another one or two years.
    Know inside out = to know everything about something.
    I know this machine inside out.
  • Have enough courage to do something
  • Precisely
    Exactly at the stated or expected time
    The plane landed at two o'clock on the dot.
  • Read what is implied but not expressed on the surface
  • Something you'd say when you meet someone unexpectedly.
    When you run into your friend in your vacation far away from your hometown
  • To be forgotten
    I meant to tell my wife about our cousin’s visit, but it completely slipped my mind.
  • OK. It’s agreed.
    Bill: Let's go to dinner together tonight.
    Mary: It's a deal.
  • Intentionally wearing clothes that attract sexual attention and admiration.
  • Stop doing what one is doing.
  • The preposition or adverb that follows the verb is called a particle and changes the meaning of the phrasal verb.
    Turn the TV off
    Turn off the TV
    Turn it off
  • That completes the story, and I will say no more.
  • Idiomatic English for Effective Communication

    1. 1. Idiomatic English for Effective Communication mnRAJU
    2. 2. Are you all ears? Lend me an ear. Be on the ball. Let’s kick off now. mnRAJU
    3. 3. What’s an IDIOM? 1. Verbal habits unique to a language • English: in the twinkling of an eye • Hindi: (in the snap of a finger) • Telugu: (in the drop of an eyelid) mnRAJU
    4. 4. What’s an IDIOM? 2. Meaning different from literal meaning Kick the bucket Hang one’s head mnRAJU
    5. 5. What’s an IDIOM? 3. Fixed phrases in structure Round table Lend an ear mnRAJU
    6. 6. Broke  I can’t afford to buy a new mobile. I’m totally broke. I hardly have any money left. I’m broke until my next salary.  He is completely broke, he can’t even pay his bills. mnRAJU
    7. 7. What’s an IDIOM? 3. Rules of grammar may not apply I’ll eat my hat At a loss mnRAJU
    8. 8. Keep your cool  I know you are upset but you have to keep your cool. If you just can keep your cool at the interview, you will do better.  Don’t get nervous about the exam. Keep your cool. mnRAJU
    9. 9. Why Learn Idioms? • Add color to your communication • Make speech effective & expressive • Lubricate your language • Nuts and bolts of conversation mnRAJU
    10. 10. How to learn Idioms? • Guess the contextual meaning • Use a dictionary • Use a workbook • Make your own sentences • Use/Practice in context mnRAJU
    11. 11. Examples from Text What do you call an irritating person who says he knows everything? What is the irritating person who is impatient to damage the reputation of the conjurer called? Mr Know-all The Quick Man mnRAJU
    12. 12. Couch Potato  Sarita is a couch potato. She sits in front of the TV all day.  I should be more active and less of a couch potato, if I have to lose weight. mnRAJU
    13. 13. Idioms with Body Parts  The teacher kept making mistakes and became red in the face.  The entire speech was learnt by heart.  The two sisters don’t see eye to eye. mnRAJU
    14. 14. Idioms with Body Parts  I am an old hand at teaching English.  She has always kept her husband under her thumb.  Just a minute. I have got the answer on the tip of my tongue. mnRAJU
    15. 15. Read one’s mind  You have read my mind. That’s exactly what I was thinking too.  He is an introvert. It is usually difficult to read his mind. mnRAJU
    16. 16. Make up one’s mind My boss is persuading me to make up my mind and choose one of the two projects. But I am not able to make up my mind. Can you please help me take a decision? mnRAJU
    17. 17. Keep an eye on  Don’t worry about your luggage. I’ll keep an eye on it.  I’ve got to go to the washroom. Can you keep an eye on my suitcase for a minute? mnRAJU
    18. 18. Written all over face  He guessed his brother stole the gold. He said it was written all over his face.  One doesn’t need be a psychologist to know you are sad and upset. It’s written all over your face. mnRAJU
    19. 19. Put heart into something The Commissioner is determined to streamline the functioning of colleges in the state. She has put her heart and soul into it. mnRAJU
    20. 20. Change of heart He was against charity till a few years ago. He had a change of heart when he saw the plight of the homeless. But the real change of heart came when he read about the work of Mother Teresa. mnRAJU
    21. 21. Heart of stone She's not the person to go to if you've got problems - she's got a heart of stone! mnRAJU
    22. 22. Over the dead body  You want a new car again. Over my dead body.  You want to marry that poor, fat, ugly boy. Over my dead body. There is no way I’ll let you do that, not over my dead body. mnRAJU
    23. 23. Pay through the nose  You may afford to buy a car. But you will have to pay through the nose to buy petrol. mnRAJU
    24. 24. Idiom Meaning By the skin of one’s teeth nervous and difficult to express Teething problems cannot remember at the moment Tongue-tied just barely, narrowly On the tip of the not to say things that upset tongue people Hold your tongue Problems in the early stages mnRAJU
    25. 25. Relationship Idioms The husband and wife get along very well and are made for each other. After dating for several years, the young couple decided to tie the knot. Mythili has a crush on her senior colleague. mnRAJU
    26. 26. Idiom Meaning Better half Be pregnant Bosom friend Attracted the very first time Love at first sight Find a long time partner Be in the family way Very close friend Find Mr Right A person’s husband or wife mnRAJU
    27. 27. Food Idioms  In such tense situations, it’s difficult to be cool as a cucumber.  Dance has never been my cup of tea.  Let me cut the story short and tell you in a nutshell. mnRAJU
    28. 28. Food Idioms  Always avoid unnecessarily getting in the soup.  Anti Corruption Bill is a hot potato for the Centre now.  I don’t agree with you, but your questions have given me food for thought. mnRAJU
    29. 29. Piece of cake • Learning English is a piece of cake. All that it needs is a little confidence and a lot of practice. • Passing the English practical examination is a piece of cake. I don’t think anyone of you will fail. mnRAJU
    30. 30. Idiom Meaning Bread and butter Energetic, in high spirits Eat one’s words The family member that earns the most money Full of beans Basic needs of life Breadwinner Reveal the secret Spill the beans Take back what one has said mnRAJU
    31. 31. Number Idioms  I will never in a million years understand why he married her.  They won the match with his goal in the eleventh hour. mnRAJU
    32. 32. Number Idioms  I felt like a fifth wheel at the party.  When the vacation was announced, the students were on cloud nine.  The food was second to none. mnRAJU
    33. 33. Idiom A dime a dozen In two minds about A chance in a million Meaning More important than anything else Very small chance Undecided about something First and foremost Similar in attitude, character or tastes Two of a kind Cheap and common mnRAJU
    34. 34. Animal Idioms  It’s raining cats and dogs. I wish I had brought my umbrella.  Does she really have a problem or is she just crying wolf again?  She is always out and about. She is a real social butterfly. mnRAJU
    35. 35. Idiom Get the lion’s share A little bird told me Dark horse Meaning Confused living without purpose Get the largest percentage of something To have an exciting and interesting time Rat race I heard something from someone A whale of a time Little known to the general public mnRAJU
    36. 36. Employment Idioms  Brain drain of the educated youth is a great loss to the nation.  As usual, the cream of the crop of the JKC were offered the best jobs.  During recession times, senior staff often get the axe. mnRAJU
    37. 37. Employment Idioms  It is an impressive golden handshake.  I am going to hang up boots next month.  If you got the answer from Kalam, you can trust it. He knows it inside out. mnRAJU
    38. 38. Have the Guts  I don’t have the guts to go bungee jumping. It is too scary. Do you have the guts to go on that roller coaster?  He doesn’t have the guts to ask her on a date. mnRAJU
    39. 39. On the dot  You’d better be here a few minutes ahead, because the telecast starts at 11.00 on the dot.  Don’t keep me waiting. Be here at six o’clock on the dot.  Let’s reach the airport at 3.30 on the dot. mnRAJU
    40. 40. Read between the lines  If you read between the lines, you would understand what he actually meant. He said one thing and meant another. Listen to that again carefully. If you don’t read between the lines, you will later get into trouble. mnRAJU
    41. 41. A small world  I didn’t know that you knew my brother. What a small world.  Did you say you are a student of Gajwel college? What a small world. mnRAJU
    42. 42. Slip one’s mind  I wanted to call you this morning, but it slipped my mind. And I am so very sorry, your birthday totally slipped my mind.  I wanted to mail the letter yesterday, but it completely slipped my mind. mnRAJU
    43. 43. A deal  If I help you with your homework, you will clean the house? It’s a deal! And I’ll take you out to a movie, if you stop bothering me. That’s a deal too.  If you wash my car, I’ll pay you 100 rupees. Doesn’t that sound a deal? mnRAJU
    44. 44. Dressed to kill  Your dress is gorgeous. You’re dressed to kill.  Wow! Tonight she is dressed to kill. mnRAJU
    45. 45. More idioms  Go the extra mile  Against the clock  The last straw  Hat trick  From rags to riches  Tie the knot  Head over heels  Beating around the bush  Pull the plug  Hit the sack  Break someone’s heart  Run out of steam  Keep your chin up  The ball is in your court  All Greek to me  Off the record  Burn the midnight oil  Pass the buck  Dark horse  Hit the nail on the head  Out of the blue  Field day  Let bygones be bygones  At the drop of a hat  French kiss  Cock and bull story  Backseat driver  Back to square one mnRAJU
    46. 46. Call it a day  It’s almost 11.45 now. Let’s call it a day.  Let’s call it a day. I am too tired to continue. mnRAJU
    47. 47. Phrasal Verbs A verb + an adverb A verb + a preposition A very + an adverb + a preposition mnRAJU
    48. 48. Phrasal Verbs • Literal meaning is easy to understand • Idiomatic meaning difficult to comprehend put up (literal) = physically place somewhere put up (figurative) = provide a place to sleep put up (idiomatic) = deal with a situation mnRAJU
    49. 49. Phrasal Verbs • Same phrasal verbs can have different meaning: pick up = learn pick up = physically fetch pick up = purchase mnRAJU
    50. 50. Phrasal Verbs • One main verb can take many different prepositions: Put on Put up Put up with Put out Put off Put in mnRAJU
    51. 51. This slideshow is available at Send your comments to mnRAJU