Most Commonly used English Idioms and phrases
Written by Jimei Perry
Conversations would be so boring without these! If you want to speak English, you NEED to KNOW these!
Sometimes when you try to explain or say something in your own words – it is just not powerful enough and does not give your explanation any justice – then all you need is an idiom or English phrase to express exactly what you mean and add more strength and meaning…
Here is a list of 24 most used idioms and English phrases…
- “Once in a blue moon” – Something that does not happen often.
Example sentence – I read a book once in a blue moon.
- “The best of both worlds” – A situation where one can enjoy the benefit of two different opportunities.
Example sentence – If you relocate to this area you get the beauty of the countryside and the amenities of urban life. Itʻs the best of both worlds, really.
- “Speak of the devil” – When the person you are talking about suddenly appears.
Example sentence – Do you know what Sally did yesterday? – Oh, speak of the devil, here she comes!
- “A piece of cake” – When something is very easy.
Example sentence – I got 100% on my test yesterday – itʻs not surprising as the test was a piece of cake!
- “To feel under the weather” – When you are ill or feel ill (sick).
Example sentence – I feel a bit under the weather today, so I am just going to stay home. I hope I don’t have COVID!
- “Cost an arm and a leg” – When something is very expensive (costs a lot of money).
Example sentence – I would love to have the new iPhone, but it costs an arm and a leg! I just cannot afford it right now.
- “When pigs fly” – Something that will never happen (itʻs impossible).
Example sentence – I asked my parents if I could go to the party tonight, they said yes, when pigs fly!
- “See eye to eye” – When you agree with someone.
Example sentence – Tom and Stacey finally saw eye to eye on the building plans for the new supermarket. Now they can finally start the building process.
- “Let the cat out of the bag” – To reveal a secret.
Example sentence – He let the cat out of the bag and finally told his parents about his plans to leave the country.
- “Kill two birds with one stone” – When you achieve two things with one single action.
Example sentence – If I go to the supermarket and pick up the kids from school on my way back, I can kill two birds with one stone.
- “Break a leg” – To wish someone good luck.
Example Sentence – You have your first acting performance tonight, break a leg!
- “Cut corners” – Not doing something properly (leaving steps out and doing something cheaply and in an easy way).
Example sentence – We cannot afford to cut corners on this project, it must be perfect!
- “Don’t judge a book by its cover” – You should not judge (have an opinion) of someone or something based on appearance.
Example sentence – I thought that the lady behind the counter was incompetent by the way she looks but she was very good at her job, I guess you cannot judge a book by its cover!
- “Call it a day” – To stop doing something.
Example sentence – I have worked very hard today and I am exhausted, itʻs time to call it a day and go home.
- “Hit the nail on the head” – To have the exact answer to something (to be accurately right).
Example sentence – My friend said that to gain more followers on social media, I must create more engaging posts, seems like he hit the nail on the head!
- “Let someone off the hook” – To not punish someone who has been caught.
Example sentence – I still think he is guilty, but I need to let him off the hook as I do not have any evidence of him committing the crime.
- “No pain, no gain” – You will not be able to achieve something without some difficulty.
Example sentence – I know that studying is hard, but you must do it if you want to pass the test tomorrow. No pain, no gain!
- “A blessing in disguise” – A good outcome from a bad situation.
Example sentence – It was a blessing in disguise when John missed his flight to London as he never would have met his wife at the party he decided to go to that night after missing his flight.
- “Bite the bullet” – To go through a painful or unpleasant situation.
Example sentence – I will just have to bite the bullet and get over my fear of heights.
- “Taste of own medicine” – To do the same bad thing to someone who has been doing it to you.
Example sentence – He has been rude to the people he works with, now they are being rude to him, I guess he deserves a taste of his own medicine.
- “The elephant in the room” – There is an obvious problem or difficult situation that people do not want to talk about.
Example sentence – The fact that Suzy fell pregnant at 16 years of age was a big elephant in the room at each family reunion.
- “Give someone the cold shoulder” – To ignore someone.
Example sentence – He is not replying to any of my messages, he is obviously giving me the cold shoulder.
- “The last straw” – The final unpleasant thing before taking action.
Example sentence – My best friend stole from me again, this is the last straw, I am going to end this relationship.
- “To steal someone’s thunder” – To take credit for someone else’s work.
Example sentence – Suzy stole my thunder when she presented my ideas as her own to the board.
What is your favorite English idiom?