25th August 2020
A database of common UK & USA expressions, phrases and idioms for students who want to learn more, in order to increase their command of and respect for the English language. I have provided my IELTS students with half a dozen (a dozen = 12, therefore half a dozen = 6. Having said that, a ‘baker’s dozen’ = 13 … welcome to English !) idioms, but this blog is aimed at students who are willing to go above the barest minimum.
We kick off (start) with expressions and idioms, as they are tremendous fun, then move on to collocations. How words fit together is a powerful tool in learning English … huge chunks of texts suddenly group themselves into small word blocks, enabling you to predict what will be said (especially useful in listening exercises).
Finally, we wrap up with some negotiation phrases. In the next blog, I’ll give you a chance to use these in sentences, but for now, familiarise yourself with a handful of new expressions … it could be right up your street.
Expressions / idioms
Ring any bells ? // do you remember //
More or less // not exactly but approximately
Get the gist // do you understand the main point ?
Right up your street // this is something you will really like
Rabbiting on // UK slang, especially in London … talking too much
Piece of cake // no problem, very easy, sure
Tongue in cheek // not being serious about something
Keep your hand in // to practise something so you don’t forget how it’s done
Bucket down / raining cats and dogs // raining very heavily
Have a go / give it a bash / give it a shot // to try something
Call it a day // to stop work and go home early
Go ahead // sure, do it
Under one roof // everything in one place
Through thick and thin // together in good times and bad times.
To spill the beans // to tell a secret, or to share some private information
I should cocoa // UK slang, old-fashioned = I really don’t believe it or you
kick-off // A sports expression from football – means to start
tied up / snowed under / rushed off our feet / flat out / up to my eyes // very busy
daylight robbery // much too expensive, very over-priced.
on your bike // go away !
to throw a wobbly // to become angry and shout and curse
Bang up to date // totally modern and new or completed all your work on schedule
otherwise engaged // busy – a polite way of saying ‘go away’
I know where you’re coming from // I understand what you are saying and how you think
to get hold of someone // try to make contact with someone by phone, in person, email etc
speak of the Devil // to talk about something and then they appear
to be into something // to really enjoy or like something or someone
to put something over someone / to pull the pull over someone’s eyes // try to trick or cheat someone
There’ll be Hell to pay // you will be in BIG trouble !
Hell breaks loose // people will be very angry and upset
I’ll give you a bell / a shout // I will call you on the phone
Knock off / to finish work
knock it off // stop doing that !
That’s proper loud // UK slang ‘proper’ meaning very – that’s very loud
Well chuffed // extremely happy
come again ? / You what ? // UK slang for say it again, please
What do you reckon ? // What do you think of something ?
To run a business
To conduct / carry out a survey
Can I have a word with you / a quick word
Do you have minute ?
Voting with their feet
Can I put you on hold ? / to be put on hold / Hold the line
A victory for common sense
I’m none the wiser
On the button / on the money
get the hang of it
scraping the barrel
I fail to see the relevance
I don’t see how that applies
That’s as maybe
I don’t get/see your point / I think you are missing the point
I don’t see where you’re going with this
I beg to differ
I appreciate that
You raise an interesting point
Having said that
Interesting that you say that
I think / feel that
In my opinion
I take issue with that
I don’t know about that