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To make your English more colourful, avoid sticking to grammar books and learn some of the most used idioms both in written and spoken language. You have certainly heard a few of them if you usually watch movies and television in English.

But what do we mean by idiom? It is a peculiar phrase that can’t be translated literally but you have to interpret it going beyond the meaning of each single word. So if you want to understand them it is necessary to contextualise them because their literal meaning is often tricky. With idioms you can definitely improve your English and you also become more aware of English culture. There are also some differences between British and American idioms. Here you’ll find some useful examples.


  1. British English

Don’t judge a book by its cover (don’t judge something primarily on appearance)

Hear it on the grapevine (this idiom means ‘to hear rumors’ about something or someone)

Get it in the neck (to be punished or criticised for something)

Keen as mustard (if someone is very enthusiastic)

  1. American English

Swim against the tide/current (to do the opposite of everyone else; to go against the trend)

Blacklist (you don’t want to work with or interact with the person / organisation)

Use every trick in the book (to use every method possible to succeed)

Packed (in) like sardines (overcrowded especially in a train or a bar/restaurant)


Remember idioms can help you to sound more natural in everyday life. Try using them and have fun with some of these idioms!




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