Wow! Don’t be wonky when learning English! It is very important to learn English idioms! We use idioms every day! Check out some common idiom examples below.
Every language has idioms.
The word “idiom” comes from the ancient Greek word “idioma,” meaning “peculiar phraseology.” Can you say “phraseology”?
An idiom is a phrase. A phrase is a group of words with one general meaning. The whole phrase together has a meaning. Each and every word in an idiom has its own meaning, which is not the meaning of the idiom as a group/whole.
The phrase “a piece of cake”, for example, is an idiom. Native English speakers and other fluent English speakers understand idioms very well. They use idioms every day! So, idioms are very useful! Regarding the idiom “piece of cake”, native English speakers understand that this idiom has nothing to do with a cake, but that something is easy/simple to do/achieve.
Unfortunately, there are no shortcuts to learning idioms. There is no true structure for idioms. You need to use them a lot to understand them and make them part of your English skills.
Idioms are used to creatively communicate a message to someone else. It makes a message much more interesting (less boring). This helps to get someone to like you and your speaking skills, such as in an oral test, job interview, entering a country, applying to a university, etc….
In writing, idioms are used to connect with a reader to show how familiar you are with a message topic.
Why are idioms challenging for language learners?
Because their meaning can’t be understood from the meanings of the individual words. It’s like giving someone a puzzle containing pieces that look like one thing, but the result is something very different.
This is also true of people from different parts of the same country who speak the same language.
Idioms are difficult and take time to learn. The best way to learn idioms is to become familiar with them, speak with native or fluent English speakers and have them explained.
Easy idiom examples:
- Under the weather = to not feel well
- Break a leg = to wish a person good luck
- Once in a blue moon = something that occurs or happens rarely
- The ball is in your court = you decide
- You can say that again = what you said was true
- Beat around the bush = to avoid saying something
- Hit the sack = to go to bed
- Kick the bucket = to die or pass away
- By the skin of your teeth = to barely make it or succeed
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