Idiomatic expressions are groups of words with an established meaning unrelated to the meanings of the individual words. Sometimes called an expression, an idiom can be very colorful and make a ‘picture’ in our minds.
Some common idiomatic expressions:
- He let the cat out of the bag (accidentally told a secret).
- She got off Scott-free (escaped without punishment).
- He flew off the handle (went crazy).
We love idiomatic expressions and idiomatic phrases in English, don’t we? From an English language-learner’s point of view, they are the ‘icing on the cake’ much like phrasal verbs. But how do we remember what they mean and how to use them?
Firstly, you need to know that idioms and phrases are everywhere in English: anything that doesn’t have a literal, physical meaning is an idiom. Let’s look at some idiom examples:
- I find his excuses hard to swallow, he’s lying.
- The police have been digging around in his accounts looking for evidence of fraud.
- He’s a really bright spark, so I think he’ll do well at school.
These sentences all contain idioms, because you can’t swallow words or dig in a bank account in any literal or physical way – and how can a ‘spark’ do well at school? You’ll also notice that a literal translation into most languages won’t make sense.
These kinds of idioms are far more common, and therefore far more important, than the more colorful expressions like ‘He’s kicked the bucket’ (died), ‘She’s hitting the books’ (studying), or ‘Break a leg!’ (Good luck!), and without them students often sound too formal – saying things like:
- I don’t believe his excuses.
- The police have been investigating his accounts looking for evidence of fraud.
- He is a very intelligent student, so I think he’ll succeed at university.
Analyze the poem below. Interpret the meaning of the poem and send your answer via messenger. Group chat 3B/3E
by: Jacquelyn Schiff
Gee, when you lose heart,
Where could it be?
On the seat of you school box?
Up in a tree?
When your heart rules your head
And you give it a rub,
Do you hear your brain beating
With a lub and a dub?
When your heart's in your mouth,
How does it taste?
Like liver with onions?
Like pigs feet! like paste?
When your heart's in your boots,
Are your boots feeling tight?
Are you half-hearted in left foot
And half-hearted in right?
When you pour out your heart,
What will it fill?
A gas station pump?
The Mississippi River?
When you finish this rhyme,
Will you learn it by heart
Or learn it by nose
As you sniff every part?