Want to fit in and sound like a native? The Essential English Idioms

Want to fit in and sound like a native? The Essential English Idioms

Not my cup of tea!!!

Have you heard it?

This is a classic example of what we refer to as English idioms. And if you haven’t already guessed, there are hundreds of them.

If you really want to get an idea of the principles and values of the English culture/society so you can  fit into real life situations, here are some essential English Idioms to get you on your way!

Firstly, I should explain the difference between Slang words/phrases and idioms.

  • Slang – words or expressions that are used more in speech than everyday written language.
  • Idioms – combination of words that cannot be literally translated word for word.

So going back to ‘Not my cup of tea!!!’ an idiom that the English love to use:

Here is an example:

Do you want to go watch that new Transformers movie? No, that’s not really my cup of tea.

This is one of the most popular expressions used in the UK, meaning that something is not to your liking and in today’s blog post we focus on some of the most popular English idioms currently in use. Never forget, knowledge is your power so let me help you unlock some of the fundamental secrets of the idiomatic English language.

Best of both worlds – He has the best of both worlds with that job.

Where someone enjoys two opportunities at the same time. For instance in the example above, the person has the possibility of working at the office or at home.

Every cloud has a silver lining – The doctor told me I had to eat vegetables and no meat for two weeks. I was so annoyed and felt miserable. However, I lost half a kilo, so every cloud has a silver lining.

This expression is all about giving hope and encouragement to someone who is going through a difficult time or having problems. Sometimes you realise yourself or someone helps you see the positive outcome no matter how painful or difficult your current situation might seem.

Piece Of Cake – That exam was a piece of cake, it had all the topics I revised.

It means that the task was easily achievable and it require very little effort on your part to get the job done.

Actions speak louder than words – The new president has made all sorts of promises. We’ll see which ones turn to reality, actions speak louder than words.

When you doubt someone. Words on their own are meaningless so what someone says can be different from what they actually do. It is often used when someone makes a promise but then doesn’t keep it.

Next, a classic one…

Under the weather – I’m feeling a little under the weather. I think I might be coming down with a cold.

When you’re feeling sick or starting to fall slightly ill.

Face the music – I just got caught cheating on my exams, everyone will be disappointed! I’ll just have go home and face the music.

When you have to accept the consequences of doing something wrong. Go and face the reality of disagreeable results and receive punishment.

Stab someone in the back – I can’t believe my best friend and boyfriend were seeing each other behind my back all this time, talk about stabbing me in the back.

This idiom relates to betrayal. The term is used in a very emotional and dramatic context – someone you trust very much can cause you this kind of pain.

Pig’s fly – Peter: I’m going to stop drinking beer for 3 months.

Dave – Yeah alright mate when pigs fly.

We all know pigs can’t fly. So why would anyone say such a thing? We use this expression to say that there is no possible way of something happening.

Speak of the devil – I haven’t seen Rosie in such a long time. The last time we spoke was over a month ago. Oh there she is, speak of the devil.

When the person you are discussing turns up while you are speaking about them.

Driving me up the wall – My new boss is driving me up the wall, I can’t get any work done, he just doesn’t stop asking me questions.

When someone (or something – a situation) is causing you to get really annoyed or crazy.

Who drives you up the wall?

So here you have some popular English idioms used in everyday English life. You can see that they serve as a metaphor and people use them to paint an image or mental picture of the situation.

This can be one of your routes to becoming an ‘insider’ and feel like a native speaker. You need to familiarize yourself with the meanings and how to use them. It might seem like it’s a lot of work but how about trying to compare them to your own language, I am sure there are a few you could literally translate word for word.

You could start by learning the ones on the list and when you next watch TV, you are likely to come across one of them. Or speak to your language partner and try use one in your conversation.

If you have any idioms that you want explaining, let us know below.

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