If you’re learning English, you may have heard native speakers using phrases that sound strange or confusing. These phrases are called idioms, and they can make it challenging to understand English. However, idioms are a crucial part of English, and mastering them can help you sound more fluent and natural when speaking with native speakers.
In this article, we will explain what idioms are, why they are essential, and provide some common examples that you can start using today.
An idiom is a phrase or expression that has a figurative meaning that cannot be deduced from the literal meaning of the words used. Idioms are often unique to a specific language or culture, and they can be challenging for non-native speakers to understand.
For example, the idiom “break a leg” is commonly used in the performing arts, but it has nothing to do with physically breaking your leg. Instead, it means “good luck” or “have a successful performance.” Another example is “spill the beans,” which means to reveal a secret.
It’s important to note that in academic writing, clarity and precision are key, and using idioms can obscure your intended meaning. Additionally, idioms can be culturally specific and may not translate well across different regions and languages. With some rare exceptions, it’s best to stick to more utilitarian and succinct language in academic writing to ensure that your ideas are communicated clearly and effectively to all readers.
Learning idioms can help you improve your English communication skills in many ways. First, they can help you understand the meaning of everyday conversations between native speakers. Idioms are frequently used in informal conversations, and they can add color, humor, and nuance to a conversation.
Second, idioms can help you express yourself more effectively in English. Instead of relying on plain, literal language, using idioms can make your speech sound more interesting and natural. It can also help you convey complex ideas in a more straightforward way.
Finally, learning idioms can help you improve your overall language proficiency in any language. Knowing idioms gives a deeper understanding of a language’s culture, which will help you to speak and converse more naturally.
Learning idioms takes time and practice, but here are a few tips to get you started:
Read and listen to English-language materials, such as books, articles, and movies. Pay attention to any idioms that you come across.
Use a dictionary or an online resource to find the meaning of any idioms you encounter—we’ve collected quite a few below, but there are plenty more that you can find online.
Practice using idioms in context. Try to use them in everyday conversation with friends, family, or colleagues.
Learn idioms in groups or themes. For example, you could learn idioms related to food, weather, or emotions.
We’ve compiled a lengthy list of common English idioms and their meanings. With 80 (+1) idioms in this huge list, we hope you can find the one you’re searching for!
Phew! That’s a lot of idioms. One could even say that they are “up to their ears” in idioms!
+1. “Up to my ears” – To be overwhelmed or to have too much of something. Example: “It’s going to take me hours to read all the emails in my inbox—I’m up to my ears in emails!”
And if you have any idioms to suggest that aren’t listed above or you’ve come across an idiom you don’t understand, please post it below!