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My Top 10 Favorite English Idioms

The English language is filled with idioms. An idiom is an expression with a meaning that cannot be guessed from the words that comprise it. Idioms are phrases that should not be taken literally since they are just expressions to say something differently. Idioms range from language to language so it may take some time to learn the different meanings of these idioms when learning a new language. Here are my top 10 favorite English idioms, their meanings, and examples of how they can be used in everyday conversation.

  1. Bite off more than you can chew
    This saying means that you are trying to accomplish a task that may be too much for you to handle.

    Example:
    “You are taking seven classes this semester? I think you are biting off more than you can chew.”

  2. Cut to the chase or Make a long story short
    Both of these sayings simply mean to get to the details or the main point of the story you are telling. If you are saying this to someone else, you are asking them to tell you the important stuff right away.

    Example:
    “What happened during dinner between you and Chris last night?”
    “To make a long story short, he proposed to me!”
    “Congratulations! How did he propose?”
    “Well, first we ordered our food…”
    “Cut to the chase!”

  3. Feeling a bit under the weather
    If you use this idiom, you are saying that you feel sad or sick.

    Example:
    “Hey Jimmy! Are you okay?”
    “I’m fine. I’m just feeling a little bit under the weather today.”

  4. Get something off your chest
    To “get something off your chest” means to talk about all of your emotions. You would use this saying if you want to speak about your feelings or talk about something that you have been thinking about for a while.

    Example:
    “Ryan, there’s something I’d like to get off my chest.”
    “What is it?”
    “I’d like to break up.”

  5. Go the extra mile
    This saying means to go above and beyond what is expected of you. You would use this saying if you are willing to do more than what you need to do.

    Example:
    “I’m going to stay after work to finish this project.”
    “You are going the extra mile today!”

  6. Hit the books
    This saying simply means to study, usually for a test.

    Example:
    “Are you going to the party tonight?”
    “No, I have my final exam tomorrow. I’m going to go hit the books.”

  7. Hold your horses
    This idiom is just another way of saying to be patient.

    Example:
    “Are we there yet, Dad?”
    “Not yet. Hold your horses, son.”

  8. Keep in touch or Lose touch
    These sayings are referring to communication and having contact with another person. You would use “keep in touch” if you want someone to stay in contact with you and you would use “lose touch” if you have lost contact with another person.

    Example:

    “I’m going to miss you while you are away on vacation.”
    “It’s okay I will keep in touch!”
    “Have you talked to Amanda since graduation?”
    “No, I haven’t. We’ve lost touch.”

  9. Lend a hand
    This saying means to help. You could use this saying to ask for help or to help someone out.

    Example:
    “Those groceries look heavy. Can I lend you a hand?”
    “I’m not sure how to change a diaper. Can you lend me a hand?”

  10. Piece of cake or Walk in the park
    Both of these expressions are alternatives to saying something, usually a task, is very easy to do.

    Example:
    “What did you think of the test?”
    “I thought it was a piece of cake!”

    “Is learning how to program easy?”
    “Well, it’s not a walk in the park.”




Photo Credit: John Stratford

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