Learning a new language is not always easy. There’s more than grammar and vocabulary to it, but there are also other things to keep in mind, for example, culture. The cultural background of the native speakers is also important to master a new language. Idioms are a big part of the cultural heritage a language has, and they help native speakers communicate their thoughts in a very particular way.
To understand how idioms work in English, let’s take a look at the idiom’s definition to learn more about these common figures of speech in English also known as idiomatic expressions.
Idioms are phrases or expressions that are part of a language and whose meaning can’t be predicted easily from the meaning and denotation of its individual parts. These expressions are deeply intertwined with the culture of the speaker, and their meanings aren’t literal but instead are more figurative.
For example, a common idiom in English is the expression “a piece of cake”. For a person who is just learning the language, this expression could mean exactly what it says: a piece of one of the most common desserts, a cake.
However, for a native English speaker, the meaning is quite different. “A piece of cake” is used to refer to a task that can be accomplished easily, like in the sentence “Taking out the garbage is a piece of cake.”, which states that taking out the garbage is very easy.
A blessing in disguise
Something that is good but it doesn't seem so at first.
“The rain was a blessing in disguise, now the plants are growing!”
A dime a dozen
This fun idiom is used to refer to things that are common and easy to get.
“Tourists in this spot are a dime a dozen! It’s the most known monument in the city.”
A drop in the bucket
Something that is quite small but it’s a part of a bigger thing or part of a whole.
“English homework is a drop in the bucket compared to math homework.”
A picture is worth a thousand words
Something presented visually is more descriptive than words.
“Show him how to use the hammer, after all, a picture paints a thousand words.”
A piece of cake
This idiom describes a task that is really easy to accomplish.
“Making a sandwich is a piece of cake.”
All in the same boat
A phrase used when everyone is facing the same issues.
“The members of the soccer team were all in the same boat.”
Back to square one
Having to start something all over again.
“My homework got lost, now I’m back to square one.”
Bend over backward
When someone does whatever it takes to help.
“He is bending over backward to help his sister pass the test.”
Bite more than you can chew
To take on too many tasks or in a task that’s too difficult to accomplish.
“She’s biting more than she can chew by taking so many classes.”
An event that rarely happens.
“She goes to the beach once in a blue moon, she usually prefers going to the mountains.”
Crack someone up
Make someone laugh.
“Linda is so funny! She cracks me up.”
Cross your fingers
An expression said when you’re hoping that something goes right.
“I entered into a drawing contest, I’m going to cross my fingers and hope to win .”
Cut to the chase
When someone needs to get to the point of something and leave the details out.
“I cut to the chase and told Ana what I think.”
Drive someone up the wall
To annoy or irritate someone very much.
“Please, don’t make so much noise. You’re driving me up the wall.”
Go the extra mile
To make an extra effort and do whatever is required for a task.
“Lisa needed to finish her project, she went the extra mile to make it perfect .”
An intuition a person gets about a situation or person, especially when something might be wrong.
“It wasn’t raining at all, but my gut feeling told me to not go to the park .”
Head over heels
The feeling of being very excited or happy about something.
“The kids got a new puppy and they were head over heels for it.”
Hit the books
To go to study.
“Lana has two exams tomorrow, so she went to her house to hit the books.”
Hit the hay
An expression used when going to bed or going to sleep.
“I’m so tired from swimming all day and it’s late, time to hit the hay!”
Hold your horses
To be patient.
“Carlos, hold your horses, your turn will be up soon.”
The icing on the cake
Something that makes a bad situation worse or a good situation better.
“Yesterday was fun! I went to the playground, then I played soccer with my friends, but the icing on the cake was eating pizza with my family.”
Keep an eye on someone
To carefully watch over someone.
“Marcus was a bit sick this morning, let’s keep an eye on him today.”
Keep your chin up
The act of remaining joyful in a difficult situation.
“Keep your chin up! Keep practicing and you’ll win the next race for sure.”
To not agree to a proposition, or not have luck with something.
“Sandra tried calling Melissa, but no dice.”
On the wrong foot
Getting a bad start on something.
“My day started on the wrong foot, first I ran out of milk for my cereal, and now it’s snowing.”
On the fence
To be undecided about something or someone.
“I’m on the fence about my next vacation spot.”
On the same page
To agree about something with multiple people.
“The whole classroom was on the same page about the rehearsal.”
Out of the blue
When something occurs unexpectedly.
“Kate was running when a cat appeared out of the blue.”
Raining cats and dogs
A rainstorm that is loud and noisy.
“Let’s grab our umbrellas, it’s raining cats and dogs today!”
Rise and shine
An expression used when it’s time to get out of bed.
“Rise and shine, Theo! It’s time to go to school.”
Saved by the bell
When a person is rescued from a difficult situation at the very last moment.
“My bike broke, but I was saved by the bell, I got to catch the bus just on time!”
Start from scratch
To do something all over again from start.
“Let’s start from scratch, now, listen closely...”
The whole nine yards
Everything. The whole of something.
“Denise birthday was mermaid themed, we got cups, plates, napkins, the whole nine yards.”
Under the weather
To feel ill or sick.
“Marissa won’t go to the dance, she’s feeling under the weather today.”
When pigs fly
Something that will never happen.
“Sarah will go skydiving when pigs fly, she doesn’t like heights.”
Idioms, besides being important, are very fun to learn! These previous examples are the best idioms for kids to learn while studying English as a second or foreign language. They will help the little ones understand the culture while making their speech more fluent and it can also be a fun way to practice the alphabet in English .
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