5 Commonly Used
English Idioms & Phrases
An Idiom is also called an idiomatic expression, an expression or a phrase that has a figurative meaning. English idioms, proverbs, and expressions are an important part of everyday English. They come up all the time in both written and spoken English. Because idioms don’t always make sense literally, you’ll need to familiarize yourself with the meaning and usage of each idiom. That may seem like a lot of work, but learning idioms is fun, especially when you compare English idioms to the idioms in your own language.
How one can master some of these expressions? You can start by recording some commonly used idioms in your notebook/post-it notes and review them on a daily basis. However, the most effective way to remember them is to take every opportunity you can to practice using them in spoken English. Understanding English idioms helps boost your knowledge and enrich your English Vocabulary. When you use them, you’ll no doubt sound more fluent and native-like when you speak. Using a few idioms appropriately in the IELTS speaking test and in the IELTS General informal letter (Writing Task 1) can also help to boost your vocabulary score. You may have also heard idioms frequently being used in English TV series or movies, but sometimes fail to understand the meaning. If you’re patient or dedicated enough, try pausing the video to record the idioms in the subtitles. Learning idioms consistently can help to make life a little easier and more enjoyable to watch native-English TV shows!
Here are 5 common English idioms to start you off!
1. The best of both worlds
Meaning: When you can enjoy two different positive opportunities at the same time.
My sister works in the city and lives in the country, so she gets the best of both worlds.
Working from home is great; you can enjoy the comfort of staying at home while having the benefits of a secured job. It’s the best of both worlds!
2. Speak of the devil
Meaning: An expression used when the person you were just talking about appears unexpectedly at that moment.
Speak of the Devil, look who’s coming! [Sara arrives]Sara, we were just talking about you!
[Matt arrives] Hi Matt, speak of the devil, I was just telling Emma about your new job.
3. See eye to eye
Meaning: To agree with someone.
They finally saw eye to eye on the business deal.
She’s looking for a new job as she doesn’t often see eye to eye with her manager.
4. Once in a blue moon
Meaning: An event that happens infrequently or rarely.
I’m always working abroad so I only visit my home country once in a blue moon.
That kind of opportunity comes once in a blue moon – you should feel very grateful!
5. Straight from the horse’s mouth
Meaning: To read or hear something directly from the source.
I know it’s true because I got it straight from the horse’s mouth; my boss told me herself.
I’m going to call a staff meeting to talk about the job cuts as our employees deserve to hear it straight from the horse’s mouth.
We have prepared some exercises that will help you test your knowledge.
Fill in the blanks:
- I never would have believed she got expelled from her boarding school if I hadn’t heard it ___________________.
- _____________________ James will offer to help with the dishes, but usually he doesn’t do any housework at all.
- He is looking for a new job, as he doesn’t ____________ with his manager.
- We were at our lunch table talking about our boss when suddenly he walked in. “Well, __________________!”, said my colleague.
- She’s a career woman and a mother, so she has ____________________.
Don’t forget to review these 5 common idioms when practicing your English.