Idioms! Perhaps they are one of the most colourful aspects of language to teach, conjuring up amusing imagery or teaching our students about culture. I had a lot of fun with them in my advanced classes, though found I had to guard against overuse! But a question here for teachers is: which ones to teach? One tends to come across many a student of English who knows the expression “It’s raining cats and dogs,” but I am racking my brains to think of a single time in my life I have heard that idiom in natural conversation.
Euro 2016 is just around the corner, with double the usual of number of teams taking part in one of football’s most exciting tournaments. Whether you’re a die-hard footie fan or just have a passing interest, whether you’re rooting for host country France, cheering on title-holders Spain, or waving the flag for one of the 22 other contending nations, you’re bound to hear a lot about the beautiful game over the coming month. To help guarantee that you’re on the ball during the conversation and to help make sure that you always know the score, we’ve put together 21 idioms from the world of sport. Let’s kick off, then, with kick off!
‘To be or not to be’ – that’s the one line from Shakespeare that everybody knows. But the question is, do you know just how many other words, phrases and idioms he gave to the English language, either by coining them himself or by popularising them through his poetry and plays? This year marks 400 years since the Bard of Avon’s death, and yet even those who don’t know his work probably quote him on a daily basis. Today we’re looking at 20 words and phrases English owes to Shakespeare.
Like any language, English is full of idioms and phrases that give it life and colour. Understanding them will help you follow conversations in all sorts of settings and situations, while being able to use them – appropriately – will impress your native-speaker friends and make your own conversation sound that much more natural and fluent. There are far too many to list in one article, but here we look at 30 useful English idioms and phrases in various contexts. A literal definition (in italics) precedes each one.