15 most common English idioms and phrases

idioms and phrases

Every language has its own idioms and expression and the English language has plenty of phrases that is useful to learn. Idioms are words or phrases that aren’t meant to be taken literally and usually have a cultural meaning behind them. Most of the English idioms you hear are offering advice’s but also contain some underlying principles and values. You have probably heard some of them, especially in TV-shows and movies, and wondered why you can’t understand these idioms even though you fully understand the words. To learn English idioms and expression it can take some time but there are some of them that are more popular than others that will come handy if you know them. When you learn English idioms and phrases you will sound more confident especially when you speak with native English speakers. If you can’t understand idioms you will not be able to understand the context. That is why we have gathered some of the most common English idioms and phrases so you will understand the true meaning of them.

Here are the most common English idioms and phrases that will enrich your English vocabulary and make you sound like a native speaker. Now with even more idioms and phrases added!

1. ‘The best of both worlds’ – means you can enjoy two different opportunities at the same time.
“By working part-time and looking after her kids two days a week she managed to get the best of both worlds.”

2. ‘Speak of the devil’ – this means that the person you’re just talking about actually appears at that moment.
“Hi Tom, speak of the devil, I was just telling Sara about your new car.”

3. ‘See eye to eye’ – this means agreeing with someone.
“They finally saw eye to eye on the business deal.”

4. ‘Once in a blue moon’ – an event that happens infrequently.
“I only go to the cinema once in a blue moon.”

5. ‘When pigs fly’ – something that will never happen.
“When pigs fly she’ll tidy up her room.”

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6. ‘To cost an arm and a leg’– something is very expensive.
“Fuel these days costs and arm and a leg.”

7. ‘A piece of cake’– something is very easy.
“The English test was a piece of cake.”

8. ‘Let the cat out of the bag’ – to accidentally reveal a secret.
“I let the cat out of the bag about their wedding plans.”

9. ‘To feel under the weather’ – to not feel well.
“I’m really feeling under the weather today; I have a terrible cold.”

10. ‘To kill two birds with one stone’ – to solve two problems at once.
“By taking my dad on holiday, I killed two birds with one stone. I got to go away but also spend time with him.”

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11. ‘To cut corners’ – to do something badly or cheaply.
“They really cut corners when they built this bathroom; the shower is leaking.”

12. ‘To add insult to injury’ – to make a situation worse.
“To add insult to injury the car drove off without stopping after knocking me off my bike.”

13. ‘You can’t judge a book by its cover’ – to not judge someone or something based solely on appearance.
“I thought this no-brand bread would be horrible; turns out you can’t judge a book by its cover.”

14. ‘Break a leg’ – means ‘good luck’ (often said to actors before they go on stage).
“Break a leg Sam, I’m sure your performance will be great.”

15. ‘To hit the nail on the head’ – to describe exactly what is causing a situation or problem.
“He hit the nail on the head when he said this company needs more HR support.”

16. ‘A blessing in disguise’ – An misfortune that eventually results in something good happening later on.

17. ‘Call it a day’ – Stop working on something

18. ‘Let someone off the hook’ – To allow someone, who have been caught, to not be punished.

19. ‘No pain no gain’ – You have to work hard for something you want.

20. ‘Bite the bullet’ – Decide to do something unpleasant that you have avoiding doing.

21. ‘Getting a taste of your own medicine’ – Being treated the same unpleasant way you have treated others.

22. ‘Giving someone the cold shoulder’ – To ignore someone.

23. ‘The last straw’ – The final source of irritation for someone to finally lose patience.

24. ‘The elephant in the room’ – matter or problem that is obvious of great importance but that is not discussed openly.

25. ‘Stealing someones thunder’ – Taking credit for someone else achievements.

when pigs fly

To test your new-found knowledge here are some sentences to practice with. Fill in the blank!

A) I can’t afford this purse! It _______. I won’t be able to pay my rent!
B) His birthday was supposed to be a surprise! I can’t believe you _____. Now he knows!
C) Ha! John has been promising to paint the house for five years…. Maybe when _______.
D) Yeah, it’ll _______. I need to sign some papers at Jenny’s school anyway so i’ll pick her up for you too.
E) I don’t really like going out to bars anymore. I only go _______.
F) I’m sorry I can’t come into work today. I’m ________. I have a sore throat and runny nose.
G) They tried ________ when installing the pipes for the house and now we have leaks only one month after purchasing it!
H) We missed our flight to Paris because the connecting flight was late and to ______ they made us pay for a new ticket as if it was our fault!
I) I can’t wait to see you perform on stage tonight! ______!
J) Jane is just never on time to work, it’s really annoying. O wow, ______ here she comes…
K) So we’re going to London, then Munich, then we will fly out of Athens, right? Great. I’m so glad to be traveling with someone I _______ with.
L) Wow, she found her dream man and has now landed an amazing job. She really does have ______.
M) OK, she might not be the most attractive but _________. I’m sure she is a sweetheart.
N) I have been trying to figure this out for ages. Thanks so much, you’re right. You _______.
O) I can’t believe that was our test. I think it was easier than some of our homework! It was a ______.

So how did you do? Don’t forget to try and use these idioms and phrases when practicing your English. And do let us know if you need further clarification on commonly used idioms by leaving a comment below.

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Answers: 6, 8, 5, 10, 4, 9, 11, 12, 14, 2, 3, 1, 13, 15, 7.

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68 comments

  1. If she’s working part time and with her kids 2 days .. how it’s that the best of both worlds .. if she’s only with her kids 2 days then she should be working mitre than part time …. double check it under best of both worlds… if it’s part time work she’s with her kids 5 days …. making it best of both worlds imo

    1. Part time work can be partial days or whole days. Obviously in this case, she works 3 whole days. As someone who has done exactly this to ensure I had quality time with my kids, it did give me not strictly the ‘best’, but definitely the benefit of both world.

  2. “Fuel these days costs and arm and a leg.”

    Please correct “costs an” instead of “costs and”

  3. This is really a good one and yea you made it a “piece of cake” for me. I enjoyed working on the exercises you’ve provided. Thank you so much.

  4. Thanks a lot! It helped me a great. A day after tomorrow are my exams starting and the first is English . I think it will help me a lot in creative writings.

  5. THIS IS VERY SIMPLE AND UNDERASTABLE, I FELT REALLY EASY TO GET WITH IT. KEEP IMPROVING THE MORE IDIOMS IN THE INTELLECTUAL WAY. THANKS A LOT!

  6. thank you very much it was really an interesting and helpful expressions.
    i don,t know what to measure on feelings please keep it up.

  7. IT WAS GOOD TO LEARN ABOUT SOME GENERAL KNOWLEDGE FROM THIS WEBSITE.THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR GIVING THIS WONDERFUL IDEA OF IDIOMS.

    IT WAS QUIET INTERESETING FACT TO LEARN SO I COPPIED EVERYTHING WHICH NEED TO TELL BEFORE THE CLASS

    SORRY I FORGOT TO INFORM THAT I AM IN 7 GRADE FOR YOUR KINDNESS DUDE COMMON CAN YOU GIVE SOME MORE EXAMPLES TO LEARN OKAY……

  8. It’s very great and important also I can have a new idioms when I have a word with someone so thank you so much.

  9. This is such a simple explanation of common idioms! Would I be able to use the information you gave and the quiz listed for my 5th and 6th grade students?

  10. I am from Bangladesh. Thank you very much. this lesson was very good, well planned and understandable.

  11. After 17th there were no examples, so after 17th, I wasn’t really able to understand because the examples gave me the key feature to learn because it helped me understand better. So the idioms were really helpful. They were really good as a student of grade six, it was really helpful for me.
    Thanks a lot.

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