Level Up Your English: SCL’s Guide to Using Idioms Like a Pro

Level Up Your English: SCL’s Guide to Using Idioms Like a Pro

Categories: Programmes


Have you ever come across an English expression that left you scratching your head? Maybe you heard someone say they were "feeling under the weather" or they needed to "hit the books" before a big test. These are actually idioms - those funny little phrases that don't mean exactly what the words say.

Knowing idioms can make your English sound more natural and interesting. We hope that by the end of this post, you’ll be able to use the most common idioms like a pro and leave everyone impressed with your English skills!

What exactly are idioms?

Idioms are groups of words that have a meaning that's different from the individual words themselves. For example: “break a leg.” This is a classic example that might leave some English learners confused. After all, wishing someone to break a leg sounds more like a curse than good luck!

Slang vs. Idioms: Know the difference

Slang and idioms both add a casual twist to your speech, but they come from different backgrounds and express themselves in unique ways.

Here's how they differ:

Slang: Like a secret code for friends

Cool and informal: Slang is like a special way of speaking that you and your friends use. It's like whispering a secret code.

Always changing: New slang words pop up all the time, just like new games. What's cool today might not be cool tomorrow, though!

Not everyone understands: Sometimes slang is specific to a certain group of people, like teenagers, gamers, or skateboarders. They might have their own special words to describe things.

Example: "That party was lit!"

This means it was a lot of fun. But your grandma might think there was a fire at the party!


Idioms: Funny sayings everyone gets (eventually!)

Like puzzles with words: Idioms are funny sayings that don't mean what the words actually say.

Stick around, they last: Idioms are used for a long time, so they're not like slang that changes with the trends.

Learn them and you'll sound like a pro: Once you learn the meaning of idioms, you'll understand jokes and conversations better. You'll sound like you've spoken English forever!

Example: "I only clean my room once in a blue moon."

The real meaning of "once in a blue moon" is something that happens very rarely, almost never. So in our case, this means the speaker almost never cleans their room.

Best ways to learn English idioms

  • Picture it: When you learn a new idiom, try to find a picture or create a funny mental image to go with it. For example, if someone says, “It's raining cats and dogs,” you might envision animals falling from the sky, but this just means that it's raining very heavily.
  • Pay attention to how idioms are used in movies, TV shows, books, and even song lyrics. Once you start noticing them everywhere, they'll start to stick in your mind.
  • Make learning idioms a game. Write down new idioms on flashcards with pictures or silly drawings. Quiz yourself or play with a friend to see who can remember the most. You can even try acting out idioms in a game of charades for a good laugh!

10 classic English idioms everyone should know

1. Feeling under the weather
Meaning: Not feeling well, a bit sick.
Example: "It's been raining all day, and now I'm feeling under the weather. Maybe a cup of tea will help."

2. Cost an arm and a leg
Meaning: To be very expensive.
Example: "Those designer sneakers I wanted cost an arm and a leg, so I decided to save up for a while longer."

3. A piece of cake
Meaning: Something that is very easy to do.
Example: "Don't worry, this math test will be a piece of cake as long as you've been studying."

4. Keep your chin up
Meaning: Stay positive, don't be discouraged.
Example: "I know you didn't get the job, but keep your chin up! There will be other opportunities."

5. Spill the beans
Meaning: To reveal a secret.
Example: "I promised I wouldn't spill the beans about the surprise party, so mum's the word!" (Mum's the word - another idiom meaning "keep it a secret")

6. See eye to eye
Meaning: To agree with someone.
Example: "We don't always see eye to eye on things, but we can still be friends."

7. All ears
Meaning: Paying close attention, eager to hear something.
Example: "Come on, tell me what happened! I'm all ears."

8. Give it your best shot
Meaning: Try your hardest.
Example: "Even if you don't win the competition, just give it your best shot and have fun!"

9. Burn the midnight oil
Meaning: Study late into the night.
Example: "Exams are coming up, so I'll probably be burning the midnight oil for the next few weeks."

10. Have one's nose in a book
Meaning: Be immersed in reading.
Example: "I haven't seen Simon all day; he must have his nose in a book again."

About SCL International College in London

At SCL International College, you'll do more than just learn English or some fun phrases – you'll become part of a vibrant student community in the heart of London. Our unique residential campuses provide a supportive and secure environment, allowing you to focus on your studies and make lifelong friendships with students from all over the world.

Contact SCL International College today and take the first step towards an exceptional future!


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