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LANGUAGE LAB

15 MOST COMMON ENGLISH IDIOMS AND PHRASES


WIL

Here are the 15 most common English idioms and phrases that will enrich your English vocabulary
and make you sound like a native speaker.

1. ‘The best of both worlds’ – means you can enjoy two different opportunities at the same time.
“By working part-time and looking after her kids two days a week she managed to get the best of both
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worlds.”

2. ‘Speak of the devil’ – this means that the person you’re just talking about actually appears at that
moment.
“Hi Tom, speak of the devil, I was just telling Sara about your new car.”

3. ‘See eye to eye’ – this means agreeing with someone.


“They nally saw eye to eye on the business deal.”

4. ‘Once in a blue moon’ – an event that happens infrequently.


“I only go to the cinema once in a blue moon.”

5. ‘When pigs y’ – something that will never happen.


“When pigs y she’ll tidy up her room.”

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6. ‘To cost an arm and a leg’– something is very expensive.


“Fuel these days costs and arm and a leg.”

7. ‘A piece of cake’– something is very easy.


“The English test was a piece of cake.”

8. ‘Let the cat out of the bag’ – to accidentally reveal a secret.


“I let the cat out of the bag about their wedding plans.”

9. ‘To feel under the weather’ – to not feel well.


“I’m really feeling under the weather today; I have a terrible cold.”

10. ‘To kill two birds with one stone’ – to solve two problems at once.
“By taking my dad on holiday, I killed two birds with one stone. I got to go away but also spend time
with him.”

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identify the skills you need to improve

11. ‘To cut corners’ – to do something badly or cheaply.


“They really cut corners when they built this bathroom; the shower is leaking.”

12. ‘To add insult to injury’ – to make a situation worse.


“To add insult to injury the car drove off without stopping after knocking me off my bike.”

13. ‘You can’t judge a book by its cover’ – to not judge someone or something based solely on
appearance.
“I thought this no-brand bread would be horrible; turns out you can’t judge a book by its cover.”

14. ‘Break a leg’ – means ‘good luck’ (often said to actors before they go on stage).
“Break a leg Sam, I’m sure your performance will be great.”

15. ‘To hit the nail on the head’ – to describe exactly what is causing a situation or problem.
“He hit the nail on the head when he said this company needs more HR support.”

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6/10/2019 15 most common English idioms and phrases | EF English Live

To test your new-found knowledge here are some sentences to practice with. Fill in the blank!

A) I can’t afford this purse! It _______. I won’t be able to pay my rent!


B) His birthday was supposed to be a surprise! I can’t believe you _____. Now he knows!
C) Ha! John has been promising to paint the house for ve years…. Maybe when _______.
D) Yeah, it’ll _______. I need to sign some papers at Jenny’s school anyway so i’ll pick her up for you
too.
E) I don’t really like going out to bars anymore. I only go _______.
F) I’m sorry I can’t come into work today. I’m ________. I have a sore throat and runny nose.
G) They tried ________ when installing the pipes for the house and now we have leaks only one month
after purchasing it!
H) We missed our ight to Paris because the connecting ight was late and to ______ they made us
pay for a new ticket as if it was our fault!
I) I can’t wait to see you perform on stage tonight! ______!
J) Jane is just never on time to work, it’s really annoying. O wow, ______ here she comes…
K) So we’re going to London, then Munich, then we will y out of Athens, right? Great. I’m so glad to be
traveling with someone I _______ with.
L) Wow, she found her dream man and has now landed an amazing job. She really does have ______.
M) OK, she might not be the most attractive but _________. I’m sure she is a sweetheart.

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6/10/2019 15 most common English idioms and phrases | EF English Live

N) I have been trying to gure this out for ages. Thanks so much, you’re right. You _______.
O) I can’t believe that was our test. I think it was easier than some of our homework! It was a ______.

So how did you do? Don’t forget to try and use these idioms and phrases when practicing your
English. And do let us know if you need further clari cation on commonly used idioms by leaving a
comment below.

   Want to learn more? Visit our website to start learning English online today!

Answers: 6, 8, 5, 10, 4, 9, 11, 12, 14, 2, 3, 1, 13, 15, 7.

Article related: 19 motivational quotes to keep you learning English

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Wil
Wil is a writer, teacher, learning technologist and keen language learner. He’s taught English in
classrooms and online for nearly 10 years, trained teachers in using classroom and web
technology, and written e-learning materials for several major websites. He speaks four languages
and is currently looking for another one to start learning.

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34 comments
Johnny says: R E P LY
0 8 / 1 1 / 2 0 1 7 AT 2 : 4 9 A M

If she’s working part time and with her kids 2 days .. how it’s that the best of both worlds .. if she’s only with her kids 2 days
then she should be working mitre than part time …. double check it under best of both worlds… if it’s part time work she’s
with her kids 5 days …. making it best of both worlds imo

emi says: R E P LY
0 2 / 1 2 / 2 0 1 7 AT 4 : 0 1 P M

its great

Thanh says: R E P LY
0 4 / 1 2 / 2 0 1 7 AT 2 : 2 2 A M

“Fuel these days costs and arm and a leg.”

Please correct “costs an” instead of “costs and”

esteban says: R E P LY
0 2 / 1 0 / 2 0 1 8 AT 9 : 5 1 P M

okkk

Shaunak Tiwari says: R E P LY


0 6 / 1 2 / 2 0 1 7 AT 3 : 3 9 P M

it was nice and help full to me for exam


big big thanks

farhaaz says: R E P LY
2 3 / 1 2 / 2 0 1 7 AT 4 : 2 2 P M

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6/10/2019 15 most common English idioms and phrases | EF English Live

thx you !!! you have really help me very much

Mriganka Bora says: R E P LY


1 6 / 0 1 / 2 0 1 8 AT 2 : 0 2 A M

Good job

KARTHICK . A says: R E P LY
1 7 / 0 2 / 2 0 1 8 AT 1 : 3 9 P M

very useful to preapre for mu competition

Abhirami Sujith says: R E P LY


0 2 / 0 3 / 2 0 1 8 AT 9 : 3 3 A M

This is really a good one and yea you made it a “piece of cake” for me. I enjoyed working on the exercises you’ve provided.
Thank you so much.

Mamadi says: R E P LY
1 4 / 0 3 / 2 0 1 8 AT 1 2 : 5 6 P M

very awsome

MA says: R E P LY
2 6 / 0 3 / 2 0 1 8 AT 3 : 4 6 P M

this helped ma for doing ma exams

08Diego Beck says: R E P LY


0 2 / 1 0 / 2 0 1 8 AT 8 : 4 6 P M

lol

geetanjali says: R E P LY
1 6 / 0 4 / 2 0 1 8 AT 6 : 4 2 A M

it was quite good experience to solve the answers … 9/10

Tavishi Naidu says: R E P LY


1 0 / 0 6 / 2 0 1 8 AT 5 : 0 4 P M

YOU HAD OPENED MY EYES,THESE IDIOMS WERE A PIECE OF CAKE

masroor jahan quadri says: R E P LY


1 1 / 0 6 / 2 0 1 8 AT 9 : 2 1 A M

thanks it helped me a lot

but……..

I also needed some examples

Mullai says: R E P LY
2 3 / 0 7 / 2 0 1 8 AT 1 0 : 2 8 A M

a very nice explanation I thoroughly enjoyed reading it…:)

https://englishlive.ef.com/blog/language-lab/15-common-english-idioms-and-phrases/ 8/14
6/10/2019 15 most common English idioms and phrases | EF English Live

kanchan says: R E P LY
2 9 / 0 7 / 2 0 1 8 AT 1 1 : 3 5 A M

I score 10/10 . this is quit amazing experience. i really enjoyed it….!!!

je says: R E P LY
1 1 / 0 8 / 2 0 1 8 AT 4 : 2 9 A M

wow this is really helpful for doing my projects.

Sasai says: R E P LY
1 8 / 0 8 / 2 0 1 8 AT 5 : 3 4 P M

Thanks a lot! It helped me a great. A day after tomorrow are my exams starting and the rst is English . I think it will help me
a lot in creative writings.

Jana says: R E P LY
1 6 / 1 0 / 2 0 1 8 AT 4 : 5 8 P M

Thank you sooo much!!

rama krishna says: R E P LY


1 7 / 1 0 / 2 0 1 8 AT 3 : 3 1 A M

thank you so much..

sonam choden says: R E P LY


2 1 / 1 0 / 2 0 1 8 AT 9 : 5 0 A M

Tysm for helping me

isaiah says: R E P LY
3 0 / 1 0 / 2 0 1 8 AT 5 : 4 2 P M

They would likely say your’e welcome and they will do it again at any time

Likay says: R E P LY
0 5 / 1 1 / 2 0 1 8 AT 6 : 0 6 P M

Thank you a lot

Zita says: R E P LY
0 7 / 1 1 / 2 0 1 8 AT 5 : 4 3 P M

Good one

PRINCE says: R E P LY
1 1 / 1 1 / 2 0 1 8 AT 1 2 : 1 1 P M

ALL THESE IDIOMS ARE VERY INTERESTING AND THEY HELP ME A LOT IN MY SCHOOL WORK

MUSA KAZIM says: R E P LY


0 2 / 1 2 / 2 0 1 8 AT 5 : 4 3 A M

ALL THE IDIOMS ARE AWSOME AND IT CAN HELP MANY PEOPLE IN THERE WORK.

Htet says: R E P LY

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6/10/2019 15 most common English idioms and phrases | EF English Live

1 0 / 1 2 / 2 0 1 8 AT 9 : 4 1 A M

Thanks Alot for sharing. it make improve my knowledge

Gayani Rajapaksha says: R E P LY


1 7 / 1 2 / 2 0 1 8 AT 7 : 4 0 A M

its nice. thanks

kelem abrha says: R E P LY


2 4 / 1 2 / 2 0 1 8 AT 8 : 5 7 A M

wow real interesting

Mahfuz Shishir says: R E P LY


3 1 / 1 2 / 2 0 1 8 AT 9 : 2 9 A M

those were interesting idiom and phrase. Thanks…:)

BK Menyuka says: R E P LY
0 9 / 0 1 / 2 0 1 9 AT 8 : 4 4 P M

that was very helpful.


thank you.

SONIA says: R E P LY
1 3 / 0 4 / 2 0 1 9 AT 1 : 0 8 P M

THIS IS VERY SIMPLE AND UNDERASTABLE, I FELT REALLY EASY TO GET WITH IT. KEEP IMPROVING THE MORE IDIOMS
IN THE INTELLECTUAL WAY. THANKS A LOT!

Tracey Loze says: R E P LY


0 2 / 0 5 / 2 0 1 9 AT 8 : 3 5 A M

very nice post, i certainly love this website, keep on it

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