You speak English as a second language (ESL) and you are feeling pretty good about it. You have a large vocabulary and you’ve mastered verbs and sentence structure and then you hear something that make your head spin?
Wait-your head can’t spin! Of course not, but in English we have a lot of expressions, 25,000 according to Wikipedia, that are called idioms.
An idiom is an expression where the meaning of each word in the expression has little to do with the meaning of the expression. Idioms add color (make more interesting) to language.
Your head can’t spin, but when something is confusing we say it makes your head spin.
All languages have idioms and they add another complication when learning a language.
There are no rules that you can apply to idioms; you just have to learn each one. The best way to do that is to ask if you don’t understand an expression.
Start collecting idioms and soon you’ll be batting a thousand (successful in all you do)
Here are a few idioms to get your feet wet (get experience with something).
- That coat costs an arm and a leg. (very expensive)
- Telemarketers rub me the wrong way. (something is annoying)
- An old friend called me out of the blue. (something is unexpected)
- That donut shop gives you a baker’s dozen. (13 instead of 12)
- Everybody at work is on the same page. (in agreement)
- I’ll take a rain check on dinner. (not this time, but maybe another)
- Joe will sky dive when pigs fly. (it will never happen)
- After their plan was rejected, they were back to square one. (start over at the beginning)
- Sara was on the fence about going to college. (undecided)
- Going out to dinner is fun. On the other hand, eating at home saves money. (Look at both sides of a something)
- Dan won’t change his mind, so save your breath. (don’t try; be silent)
Check out these websites for more idioms and soon using idioms will be a piece of cake. (EASY!)