Idioms – Unlocked

We use idioms to add colour and depth to our language, express complex ideas in a simple way, and convey cultural knowledge.

We use idioms to add colour and depth to our language, express complex ideas in a simple way, and convey cultural knowledge. Idioms are often used to create imagery, humour, or emphasis in speech or writing. They can also help to convey an emotion or tone that might be difficult to express otherwise. By using idioms, we can communicate more effectively and efficiently and add personality and flair to our language.

Common Idioms

  1. “Break a leg” – means good luck.
  2. “Bite the bullet” – means to endure a difficult or painful situation.
  3. “Kill two birds with one stone” – means to accomplish two things with a single action.
  4. “Beat around the bush” – meaning to avoid discussing the main topic.
  5. “Cost an arm and a leg” – meaning very expensive.
  6. “Piece of cake” means something easy to do.
  7. “Hit the nail on the head” – meaning to be accurate or correct.
  8. “Let the cat out of the bag” means revealing a secret.
  9. “A dime a dozen” – something that is very common or easy to find.
  10. “Under the weather” means feeling ill or sick.

These are just a few of the many idioms commonly used in English.

Can idioms work with different tenses?

Yes, idioms can work with different tenses in English. The tense used in an idiom depends on the context and the situation in which it is being used. In most cases, idioms are used in their present or past tense forms, but they can also be used in the future tense.

For example, the idiom “break a leg” is commonly used in the present tense to wish someone good luck before a performance or event. However, it can also be used in the past tense, such as when describing the experience of a previous performance.

Similarly, the idiom “bite the bullet” can be used in the present tense when someone is facing a difficult situation or in the past tense to describe someone who has already faced and overcome a difficult situation.

Idioms can work with different tenses depending on the context and situation in which they are being used.

The Rules

Idioms are a type of figurative language used in English that can be challenging for non-native speakers to understand. Here are some general rules to keep in mind when using idioms:

  1. Idioms are not to be taken literally. They are figurative expressions that convey a meaning beyond the literal words used.
  2. Idioms are often culturally specific. Some idioms may only be widely used or understood in certain regions or countries.
  3. Idioms can enhance communication by making speech more colourful and expressive. However, the overuse of idioms or misusing them can confuse the listener.
  4. Idioms are often used in informal speech and writing but may not be appropriate in formal communication.
  5. Idioms can be used in different tenses depending on the context and situation.
  6. Idioms can be used in different forms, such as verbs, adjectives, or nouns.
  7. When using idioms, it’s important to understand the context in which they are being used so that you can use them appropriately and effectively.

Overall, idioms are a fun and creative way to express yourself in English, but they require a good understanding of the language and culture to use them effectively.

Are idioms slang?

Not all idioms are slang, but some may be considered slang depending on the context and the region in which they are used. Slang is a type of informal language that often consists of non-standard words, phrases, or expressions specific to a particular group or subculture. Some idioms may fall under this category, but many are widely used and accepted in mainstream English. It’s essential to understand the context and audience when using idioms to ensure that they are appropriate and effective in communication.

Story – The Challenge

Tom was in a tight spot. He had bitten off more than he could chew when he promised his boss that he would finish the project by the end of the day. But as time ticked away, he found himself between a rock and a hard place.

He tried to put his nose to the grindstone and work as fast as he could, but he was as nervous as a cat in a room full of rocking chairs. He knew that if he didn’t finish in time, his boss would give him the axe.

But then, as luck would have it, his colleague, Jack, came to the rescue. “Don’t worry, Tom,” he said. “I’ve got your back. We’ll finish this project together, no problem.”

Tom breathed a sigh of relief and realised that Jack was a real lifesaver. They worked like a well-oiled machine and were able to finish the project with time to spare.

Tom was over the moon with joy and thanked Jack from the bottom of his heart. “You really saved my bacon!” he exclaimed.

Jack just shrugged and said, “Hey, it’s no skin off my nose. We’re all in this together, right?”

Tom realised that he had learned a valuable lesson. He couldn’t always go it alone and sometimes needed to rely on his colleagues. He was glad that he had such a great team to work with.

From that day on, Tom didn’t bite off more than he could chew and always remembered that he was just a small fish in a big pond. But with his team by his side, he knew that they could take on any challenge that came their way.

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Comprehension task

1. “Break a __________” means good luck.

2. “A piece of cake” means something that is very __________.

3. “Bite the __________” means to accept the consequences of your actions.

4. “Hit the __________” means to go to bed.

5. “The __________ is on the other foot” means the situation has reversed.

6. “Let the cat out of the __________” means to reveal a secret.

7. “Kick the __________” means to die.

8. “When pigs __________” means something is unlikely to happen.

9. “Spill the __________” means to reveal a secret or information.

10. “Under the __________” means secretly or covertly.

*Answers provided in class

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