If you’ve been around native English speakers for a while, you can probably tell there is more to how they speak than just correct grammar and diction. Native speakers often use sarcasm, idioms, metaphors, and slang to express themselves better and add color and emotion to their speech. Idioms, especially, are often used by native English speakers to get an important point across without losing context.
It’s natural for some foreign speakers to have problems understanding and using idioms in conversational English. The words in idioms are often not meant to be taken literally, which can be very confusing to non-native English speakers. To understand and use idioms fluently, you need to know what they are. Let’s explore the topic of English idioms and how you can use them better with the help of a few use-case examples.
An idiom is a phrase, expression, or word that has a figurative meaning that is different from the literal meaning of the words. They are readily understood by native English speakers but could be challenging for a beginner or intermediate-level speaker of English. Another way of looking at idioms is as old sayings that have been passed on from one generation to another. Almost every language spoken around the world has a concept of ‘common sayings’ that are used frequently in day-to-day conversation.
A few examples of idioms are:
While the origin of the idiom is unclear, ‘kicking the bucket’ refers to someone dying. A possible explanation behind the saying could be the fact that animals taken to slaughter used to be tied to beams called ‘buckets’. When the time for slaughter came, the animals struggled to get free by kicking the bucket they were tied against. Hence the idiom!
Using ‘kicking the bucket’ in a sentence:
The idiom ‘once in a blue moon’ has a much clearer, self-explanatory meaning. It is used to refer to something that happens rarely, like seeing a blue moon - a phenomenon that usually happens only once every two-three years.
Using ‘once in a blue moon’ in a sentence:
Here are a few tips to help you use idioms the right way and with the maximum effect.
Curious to learn more about the correct use of idioms, phrases, and other nuances of English speaking? Immigo can help you get fluent with idioms and advanced vocabulary in real conversations. Our live lessons focused on natural phrases and idioms are designed to get you rapidly comfortable with spoken English.
Check out our website today to explore how Immigo can help you sound like a native English speaker in no time.