- “I have a big exam tomorrow and I’m nervous.”
- “Oh, really? Break a leg!”
Have you ever heard someone say this phrase and think “Why would you tell someone to break a leg??”
Well, it’s because they are actually using a phrase called an idiom. Idioms are expressions with a figurative meaning that differs from the literal meaning. Idioms can help to express something in a different and more interesting way and can give a visual representation to what is being said.
So, “break a leg” actually means “good luck”. They are used very commonly in conversation and they are a great way to sound more native. There are hundreds of idioms, but here are twenty examples of the some of the most commonly used English idioms:
1. A blessing in disguise: something good that seemed bad at first
Example: Being fired from her job was a blessing in disguise for Maria because she found her true passion for photography.
2. A dime a dozen: something common
Example: Empanada shops in Santiago are a dime a dozen.
3. Beat around the bush: avoid saying what you mean, usually because it is uncomfortable
Example: I wanted to talk to my boss about giving me a raise, but I was too nervous. So, I beat around the bush and asked him about the weather instead.
4. Bite the bullet: get something over with because it is inevitable
Example: I’m going to bite the bullet and finish my essay so I can enjoy the weekend.
5. Call it a day: to stop working (on something)
Example: We’ve been working on the business proposal since 8am. Let’s call it a day and go home.
6. Hang in there: don’t give up
Example: Learning English can be challenging and frustrating, but it’s important to hang in there!
7. Hit the sack: go to sleep
Example: It’s been a long day and I’m very tired. It’s time to hit the sack.
8. That’s the last straw: to no longer have any patience
Example: She forgot to do her chores again for third time this week. That’s the last straw!
9. So far so good: things are going well so far
- “How is the project going?”
- “So far, so good.”
10. Under the weather: sick
Example: I can’t come to the office today because I’m feeling under the weather.
11. On the ball: doing a good job
Example: The new employee we recently hired is really on the ball.
12. Pull yourself together: calm down
Example: We can figure out this problem. Pull yourself together!
13. It’s not rocket science: it’s not complicated
Example: I’ll show you how to fix the problem. It’s not rocket science.
14. Get out of hand: get out of control
Example: We need to talk to the director about the accounting problem before it gets out of hand.
15. Go back to the drawing board: start over, look for a new solution
Example: Since our first plan didn’t work, we need to go back to the drawing board.
16. Easy does it: slow down
Example: Easy does it! We have plenty of time to finish the activity.
17. Get your act together: work better or leave, you need to improve something
Example: This report is missing a lot of important information. Get your act together.
18. To make matters worse: make a problem worse
Example: I just missed the bus. To make matters worse, I forgot my wallet at home.
19. You can say that again- that’s true, I agree
- “I’m so glad we have a long, holiday weekend.”
- “You can say that again!”
20. Your guess is as good as mine: I have no idea
Example: - “Do you know where the subway station is?”
- “Your guess is as good as mine.”
Written by: Ian Kennedy