#299: Idioms in English: The Missing Ingredient To Understand Natives & Sound Advanced

If you want to sound more advanced when you speak English, you need to learn and use idioms. Idioms help you better understand natives in the media and using them will help you sound more confident and natural yourself. In today’s episode, we will give you the basics to understanding idioms in English and you will learn some cool idioms to spice up your vocabulary.

Words You’ll Learn in the App

  • Knock your socks off
  • The elephant in the room
  • Cut corners
  • Fly on the wall
  • Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater
  • Every cloud has a silver lining
  • Be the best thing since sliced bread
  • Speak of the devil
  • Bucket list
  • Bite the bullet

And many more in the app.

Idioms in English: The Missing Ingredient to Understand Natives and Sound Advanced

If you want to sound more advanced, confident and natural when you speak English, then learning and using idioms can be a game changer for you. Idioms are also essential to better understand natives in the media and anywhere else.

In today’s episode, we will give you the basics to understanding idioms in English and also teach you some cool expressions to spice up your vocabulary.

What are idioms in English?

Idioms are phrases and expressions that cannot be understood literally. Below are some basic characteristics of idioms:

  • Idioms tend to be visual (“Hold your horses” is a great example. Can you picture the actual image here?);
  • Idioms often have historic meaning (For example, “Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater” derives from a German proverb “Das Kind mit dem Bade ausschütten”, which was coined by poet Thomas Murner;
  • Idioms often give cultural insight (For example, the expression “Not my cup of tea” is not so common in the USA, but it is in the UK, since drinking tea is a big part of British culture.

Why should you learn idioms?

Native speakers use them all the time, so if you want to be able to watch your favorite movies without subtitles and understand them, you need to learn common idioms natives use. As a result, knowing more idioms improves your listening skills.

Also, you sound more natural when you speak using idioms. You don’t need to overuse them, but throwing one or two idioms in the middle of your utterances will definitely make you sound like you have good command of the English language.

Learning idioms also help you improve your vocabulary range, which is one of the characteristics of advanced English. Plus, since idioms tend to be visual, they add more “color” to the language.

Finally, idioms are great for communicating powerful emotions (For example, “Getting something off your chest” definitely sounds more powerful than “Sharing something that’s bothering you”, right?)

Types of idioms

Sports Idioms

  • In the ballpark
  • Out of my league
  • Drop the ball

Body Parts Idioms

  • Go behind someone’s back
  • It’s like pulling teeth
  • Pick someone’s brain

Animals Idioms

  • Elephant in the room
  • Get your ducks in a row
  • Straight from the horse’s mouth

BONUS: Weird Idioms

  • Party pooper
  • Spill the beans
  • That really knocked my socks off

How can I learn idioms?

There are dedicated dictionaries for English idioms. You can get yourself a copy or find one online. But remember: Since idioms are closely related to culture, they tend to vary from country to country. There may be idioms that are common in the US that are not common in the UK, and vice-versa. 

If you’re planning to travel to an English-speaking country, do a research on some of the most common idioms used in that country. This will help you feel more prepared to interact with locals. 

Movies and TV shows are excellent ways to pick up new idioms. Start paying close attention to these types of expressions when you watch something. If you see an idiom, pause the video and do a quick Google research to check the meaning of that idiom. 

If you want to learn more about idioms, check the podcast episode we did on this topic. You can listen to it on this page.

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  • thanks for the post, the idioms are hard for the foreigners!

    • Agnieszka from RealLife English says:

      We are glad to help! Happy you enjoyed it, Joyce!

  • Lirong says:

    how can I acquire the textbook?

  • Han says:

    where can I download the script of podcast without using app?

    • Agnieszka from RealLife English says:

      Hello Han, transcripts are available only on the app. If you want to deepen your learning with our podcast, you might check out our Native Immersion course. https://reallifeglobal.com/immersion/

  • hala says:

    the app is no longer free anymore
    that is so sad

    • Agnieszka from RealLife English says:

      Our mission is to build a world beyond borders. For that reason, we share the free version of the app so that everyone, no matter their financial conditions had a chance to participate in our mission.

      The free version of the app includes all podcasts with notes and 5 flashcards for every episode.
      The last podcast is always available with a full transcript.
      You can also have short conversations with other English learners for free.

      Let’s build the world beyond borders together!

  • hala says:

    thanks for you but I want all podcasts available with a full transcript
    I am an intermediate learner and the script helps me a lot