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Common English Idioms

Learning English Idioms

English idioms can be difficult for learners, especially kids and beginners. However, learning about idioms is essential because they are so common in everyday language. Idioms are terms whose words do not translate literally, and this makes them difficult for English learners to understand. For example, if someone says "This is my bread and butter," they are unlikely to be holding some bread and butter. The term "bread and butter" is an idiom, meaning main source of income. Note that the meaning is not a literal translation of the words.

However, fear not! Teaching idioms can be great fun as students try to work out, and then later discover, what idioms mean. list of English idioms

50 Common English Idioms

To get you started, here is a list of 50 common idioms.
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Idiom Lists for Advanced Students

For advanced students, we also have lists of clever idioms, funny idioms, and even sarcastic idioms.
  1. a bridge too far
  2. ace up ones sleeve
  3. against the grain
  4. all ears
  5. as the crow flies
  6. as thick as thieves
  7. at the drop of a hat
  8. bat an eyelid
  9. be cheesed off
  10. go belly up
  11. best thing since sliced bread
  12. big cheese
  13. bite the dust
  14. bread and butter
  15. by the skin of your teeth
  16. can of worms
  17. carved in stone
  18. Christmas came early
  19. out of the woodwork
  20. Don't give up your day job.
  21. ear to the ground
  22. elephant in the room
  23. everything but the kitchen sink
  24. fat chance
  25. fill someone's shoes
  26. fly in the ointment
  27. frog in your throat
  28. go bananas
  29. a bone to pick with you
  30. get your ducks in a row
  31. hold your horses
  32. a hot potato
  33. I could eat a horse
  34. jump on the bandwagon
  35. kick the bucket
  36. on a shoestring
  37. out of the blue
  38. piece of cake
  39. pulling teeth
  40. pull the wool over someone's eyes
  41. put a sock in it
  42. put out feelers
  43. the tail wagging the dog
  44. throw me a bone
  45. two a penny
  46. wake up and smell the coffee
  47. walk on eggshells
  48. warts and all
  49. wet behind the ears
  50. take with a grain of salt

Great Tip for Teaching English Idioms

If you're teaching non-native English speakers, ask them to identify idioms in their own language. Remind them that they are looking for terms that cannot be understood by its words. For example, in Russian, "That's where the dog is buried" means the crux of the matter, and, in German, "You can steal horses with him" means you can trust him.

Having identified idioms in their own language, students quickly grasp the concept of idioms, and this is a great starting point for learning English idioms.

A Quick Test

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Find More Idioms

Here at english-grammar-lessons.co.uk, we have entries for more than 10,000 English idioms, which we have listed alphabetically.
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