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English Idioms

Idioms are fun and useful expressions that usually cannot be understood by defining the separate words. For example, if your host mother says, "I think it's time to hit the hay", she means, "I think it's bed-time"! You would not be able to understand her by looking up the words hit and hay. Like phrasal verbs, these expressions need to be memorized as a whole. Try visualizing them or drawing pictures when you study them. For example, draw a picture of a cow sleeping in some hay. The idiom out of the blue means "unexpectedly". Your teacher or homestay family will call you one smart cookie if you come up with an idiomatic expression like that when they least expect it!

Most idioms don't seem to make any sense because their origins are so old. Some of them come from ancient literature or even classic films. Learning the background of idioms can help you to remember them. Try checking your dictionary or asking a teacher or native speaker if they know the origin. Remember, not all idioms are considered standard English. Some English-speaking regions use specific idioms that other native English speakers have never heard before. You can find information about most expressions by looking them up online.

Try studying these idioms by learning one list at a time. Or, use these lists to help you when you come across an idiom you don't understand. One important thing to remember is that the subject of the idiom doesn't usually relate to the meaning.

After you study the idioms, try writing your own sentences with them. If you have studied hard enough, you will find that the quizzes are a piece of cake!

Questions About Idioms?
Do you have questions about English idioms and sayings? Discuss them in the English Idioms and Sayings Forum!

Find more idioms here!

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