An idiom is a group of words with a meaning that is different from the individual words and often difficult to understand from the individual words.
I chose to write about idioms because of two reasons which are English idioms is an interesting and excited topic .Also, we can not translate idiomatic expressions from our language because we may say something in English completely wrong.So,we need to when and where can we use idioms.
So, in my research I am going to talk about the meaning of idioms, kinds of Idioms, where and when to use idioms, some advices, examples.
The meaning of idioms:
It is important to realize that idioms are not only colloquial expressions and they appear in:
1) Formal Style.
4) The language of Shakespeare and the Bible.
Now,what is an idiom?
It can be defined as a number of words which,when taken together,have a different meaning from the individual meanings of each word.
Kinds of idioms:
There are many different forms or structures of idioms.An idiom can have a regular structure, an irregular or even a grammatically incorrect structure.The clarity of meaning is not dependent on the ‘grammatical correctness’.For example:
1)Regular form:e.g meaning unclear,as in have a bee in one’s bonnet, cut no ice, bring the house down.
2)Irregular form:e.g meaning clear,as in give someone to understand, do someone proud, do the dirty on someone.
3)Irregular form:e.g meaning unclear, as in be at large, go great guns, be at daggers drawn.
Most idioms belong to the first group where the form is regular but the meaning unclear.Also,in this group some idioms are clearer than others. For example,the meaning of ”to give someone the green light can be guessed as ‘to give someone permission to start’. On the other hand, others are too difficult to guess because they have no association with the original meaning of the individual words. For example, to tell someone where to get off, to carry the can, to drop a brick, to call the shots.
Where and when to use idioms:
For all learners the main difficulties is knowing in which situations it is correct to use an idiom. A further difficulty is knowing whether an idiom is natural or appropriate in a certain situation. Examples of typical use in particular situations, such as in business contexts, are given and these should be studied carefully. Another difficulty is that of fixed idioms with variants. It is more important to be exact in one’s use of fixed idioms, as an inaccurate idiom may mean nothing to a native speaker.
: Some advices
When you decide to use idioms, remember these things:
1) avoid using slang and taboo expressions until your mastery of the language is complete.
2)remember that it is extremely unwise to translate idioms into or from one’s native language.
Key words with idiomatic uses:
Adjectives and adverbs:
|Tack care,Ohood!That man is bad news.||A person, often with criminal tendencies, who brings trouble to others||Bad news||1|
|By the way,your new flat is a big hit with your parents. They think it’s perfect for you.||Someone/something very popular with others||A big hit||2|
|He travelled in India a good deal when he was young.||Often, a lot||A good deal||3|
|Come on,John.If you’re hard up again, I’ll pay for lunch.||Be short of money||Be hard up||4|
|Don’t talk so loudly.There’s no need for all and sundry to hear our business.||Everybody,all kinds of people||All and sundry||1|
|Good!So all being well we’ll expect you on Sunday.||If nothing unexpected or unfortunate happens.||All being well||2|
|He was very curt and rather rude.He all but asked me to leave.||Very nearly,almost||All but||3|
|I’ve been working all hours recently to get my new novel finished.||At all times whether very early or very late||All hours||4|
|How many names have we got on the list?”Five hundred and sixtey,all told.||Including all things/persons,having counted and included all.||All told||5|
|The thieves stole money, jewellery,paintaings,silvers,fur coat and all.||In addition,as well||And all||6|
Idioms with nouns and adjectives:
|Salma ‘s got a new friend. I know, I’ve seen her. She’s a bit of all right.||Something/someone that finds someone’s approval.||A bit of all right||1|
|Change the spark plugs? Of course I can do it myself! It’s kids’ stuff.||A very easy task that requires no effort.||Kids’ stuff||2|
|After the gang had successfully broken into three banks, it was a piece of cake to break into a few private houses.||A very easy task to do successfully.||A piece of cake||3|
|We could visit the Railway Museum as well. According to this guidebook, it’s only a stone’s throw from here.||A short distance||A stone’s throw||4|
|I had a letter from Rod. He’s still very much alive and kicking on an Australian sheep farm.||Well and active||Alive and kicking||1|
|He doesn’t rush things. He’s a slow but sure worker and the end product is always worth waiting for.||Slow but good||Slow but sure||2|
|How do you manage to keep your house so spick and span with three children?||clean and tidy||Spick and span||3|
|No ifs and buts, just do the work and tell me when it’s finished.||excuses||Ifs and buts||4|
Idioms with prepositions:
|Ted is careful not to serve drinks after hours. He would lose his pub licence.||After the normally permitted business hours||After hours||1|
|Paul’s working against the clock. The report has to be out by Tuesday lunchtime.||Against time||Against the clock||2|
|I can’t translate this document at sight. I shall need a dictionary.||On seeing something||At sight||3|
|Max has been improving since he came out of hospital, if only by degrees.||Gradually,slowly,little by little||By degrees||4|
Idioms with key words from special categories:
|John’s a real busy bee today. She’s been rushing around all morning.||A busy, active person who moves quickly from task to task.||A busy bee||1|
|The doctor’s been on call all night.He must be dog tired but he’s still tacking surgery this morning.||Very tired||Dog tired||2|
|I’ve paid off my overdraft and it’s a good feeling to be in the black again.||Have money in one’s bank account,be in cedit.||Be in the black||1|
|I’ve got a mathematical problem for you to use your grey matter on.||One’s brain,intelligence,powers of reasoning||Grey matter||2|
|At one time I used to play tennis quite a lot.||At a time in the past||At one time||1|
|Father was tired after lunch, so he’s just tacking forty winks in his chair.||A short sleep during the day(not usually in bed)||Forty winks||2|
Parts of the body
|I love your color scheme in this room. It’s very easy on the eye.||Pleasant to look at||Easy on the eye||1|
|I’m sorry I broke the vase. But keep your hair on! It isn’t the end of the world.||Calm down, don’t get angry.||Keep your hair on||2|
|Grandfather’s making a wonderful recovery. His cheeks are getting rosier day by day!||As each day passes||Day by day||1|
|The first bus leaves at six o’clock and then on the hour.||Every hour at exactly one o’clock, two o’clock etc.||On the hour||2|
Idioms with comparisons
|Billy was so tired after the birthday party. When I put him to bed he was out like a light in no time.||Fall quickly into a deep sleep.||Be out like a light||1|
|If you’ve ever been in a pub with Harry, you’ll know that he drinks like a fish.||Drink large quantities of alcohol, especially beer.||Drink like a fish||2|
|Judy feels at a loose end, now that the term is over.||Having nothing to do having time to waste||At a loose end||1|
|Ruth didn’t want to chair the committee, but in the end we were able to persuade her.||Finally, at last, after other things have happened.||In the end||2|
|Our son’s behaviour at school has been a matter of concern to us for some time now||Something to worry about||A matter of concern||3|
|Frazer must be out of his mind to cancel the contract||Be mad, crazy.||Be out of one’s mind||4|
|Chris may have told you that he has paid all his debts, but in point of fact he still owes me four hundred pounds.||In fact, in reality||In point of fact||5|
|How about a nice hot cup of tea to warm you up? Oh, yes that would be jest the thing.||Exactly the thing that is needed||Jest the thing||6|
|Most old legends were handed down by word of mouth||In a spoken, not written, form.||By word of mouth||7|
|I’ll have a word with my wife, and I’ll tell you our decision tomorrow.||Speak or discuss privately with someone||Have a word with someone||8|
|The oral exam was no picnic. The professor asked me some very tricky questions.||(informal) not be an easy or pleasant experience.||Be no picnic||1|
|Could you let me have ten pounds over the weekend-or will it break the bank?||Win or take all one’s /someone’s money.||Break the bank||2|
|We are hoping to break ground with the new office complex within the month||Make a start||Break ground with something||3|
|I have crashed Steven’s car-but I haven’t broken the news to him yet||Tell someone news which will affect him personally in a good or bad way||Break the news||4|
|Whoever is responsible for this damage will certainly be brought to book||Make someone explain his actions or conduct||Bring someone to book||5|
|I have some exams in six weeks, so I shall be burning the midnight oil quite often.||Work or study until late into the night||Burn the midnight oil||6|
|He decided to come clean and tell the police that he had given the gang inside information||Admit the truth, confess one’s guilt||Come clean||7|
In my research I found that idioms form an essential part of the vocabulary of English.We have to not keep learning the meaning of idioms only but we are responsible to know when and where to use them.
Really, I got benefit from my research and I hope anyone who reads my research to get benefit too and be interested on reading my research.
Exercises on Idioms:
Complete the sentences with the correct idiom in the correct form.
Call in, make it big, catch up, slow but sure, carry on, by degrees.
1. Peter was hoping to —————— in the fashion world, but he couldn’t get his designs manufactured.
2. A casual, relaxed person may be described as being—————–
3. Japanese is a difficult language to learn. At first you’ll only make progress———–
4. Please——————with your work .Don’t stop because of me.
5. I had to wait for over an hour in the doctor’s waiting room, but at least it gave me chance to —————— with some reading.
6. Can we ——————- at the chemist’s on the way to the bank? I need some cough medicine.
1. make it big
2. slow but sure
3. by degrees
4. carry on
5. catch up
1-Seidl,J.(1989).Exercise on Idioms.New York,USA:Oxford University Press.
2-Seidle,J.,&McMordie,W.,(1988).English Idioms.New York,USA:Oxford University Press.