The TIES Gazette – Edition 4
May 5, 2011
-ed / -ing adjectives
May 19, 2011

Idiom Practice

English Idioms

Idioms are phrases or expressions which can’t be taken literally. Idioms are used in all languages and they can be a fun way to learn some new vocabulary and specific expressions. Most students enjoy learning English Idioms in my class, so I thought it would be a good opportunity to share some online along with some examples and definitions – enjoy!

Try writing the following idioms as a Listening Dictation first. Press ‘play’ below and write the sentences in your vocabulary book. Check your spelling afterwards and the meaning of each Idiom below.


(Please press play to hear the listening dictation)

English Idiom’s beginning with the letter ‘A’

1: “A bird in the hand…”

Definition: This idiom is actually a shortening of a longer idiom which is; ‘A bird in the hand is worth two in the tree’, which means that if you have something for sure it is much better than taking a risk to get more. Most native English speakers know this idiom and simply shorten it as it is easier to say.

Situation: We often use this idiom if someone is deciding to take a risk, even though they already have something which is definite.

Example: Person A: “A man is coming to my house now to buy my desk for $50, but I was just offered $100 by someone else. What should I do?” Person B: “A bird in the hand…”


2: “A blessing in disguise”

Definition: A bad situation which turns out to be a good one in the end.

Situation: We often use this idiom when something bad has happened and yet there seems to be a positive outcome.

Example: Person A: “I lost my job two weeks ago, but I just got a better job today with a higher salary and better conditions” Person B: “It was a blessing in disguise”


3: “A drop in the ocean”

Definition: A very small and insignificant contribution towards something.

Situation: We often use this idiom when someone does something which is considered very small and insignificant.

Example: Person A: “I rode my bike to school today to help stop global warming.” Person B: “Sorry, but I think that’s just a drop in the ocean if you ask me.”


4: “A leopard can’t change its spots”

Definition: People can’t really change who they are.

Situation: We often use this idiom when someone does something which is considered ‘out of character’ and is thought to be only a temporary change rather than permanent.

Example: Person A: “Did you see that James cleaned his room with me asking? I think he’s really changing.” Person B: “A leopard can’t change its spots.”


5: “A piece of cake”

Definition: Something which is really easy to do.

Situation: We often use this idiom when we want to describe something as being especially easy to do.

Example: Person A: “English grammar is so hard to learn.” Person B: “Actually, I think it’s a piece of cake.”


6: “A slap on the wrist”

Definition: A punishment which is considered too mild or easy.

Situation: We often use this idiom when we hear about criminals being sentenced to very minimal time in jail based on the crime committed.

Example: Person A: “Did you see how long that murderer got in prison? It was only 5 years!” Person B: “yeah, it’s just a slap on the wrist.”


7: “Actions speak louder than words”

Definition: It is better to do something rather than talk about it.

Situation: We often use this idiom when someone says they will do something, but we are a little skeptical about if this is true or not.

Example: Person A: “If you get me that game I will clean my room.” Person B: “Actions speak louder than words.”


8: “All in the same boat”

Definition: People in a given situation are facing the same problems or issues.

Situation: We often use this idiom when we want to stop an argument and make it clear that everyone is facing the same problem.

Example: Person A: “Learning English is really hard.” Person B: “We’re all in the same boat.”


9: “An arm and a leg”

Definition: Something which is very expensive.

Situation: We often use this idiom when we want to say that something is particularly expensive. This kind of statement is called a hyperbole.

Example: Person A: “Did you buy a new car?” Person B: “Yeah, it cost an arm and a leg.”


10: “A dream come true”

Definition: Something which you have dreamed of for a long time which actually happens.

Situation: We often use this idiom when we want to describe an amazing achievement in our lives.

Example: Person A: “I finally started my own business.” Person B: “Wow, it must be a dream come true!”


Thank you for stopping by and I hope you enjoyed the post! Let me know what you think below 🙂

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