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Idioms: English Expressions

Study 10 idioms below. Then answer the questions.

twist ______ arm
to convince
I do not normally like to cook for a lot of people, but you've twisted my arm. If you take me on a three day vacation, I'll do it.
this, that and the other
many things happening, usually negative
Yes, I am very tired. It's been this, that and the other lately. I haven't had any time to relax!
walls have ears
someone might overhear or learn of the information that was supposed to be secret
I'd tell you everything about that girl, but the walls have ears. I'll send you an email later.
wear many hats
to do many different tasks
This is our assistant, David. He wears many hats: he makes appointments with customers, resolves conflicts with customers, and he creates our web content.
asleep at the wheel
not doing the job, not performing
My coworker has been asleep at the wheel for the past week. It's a problem because I cannot do my own work, and that makes me look bad.
bells and whistles
extras, usually used to sell a product or make something seem attractive
I am very cheap. When I buy a car, I look for one without any bells and whistles. I save at least a thousand that way.
burn _____ bridges
to destroy connections with people, to do something that ends one or more relationships
When she told the manager that he was the most stupid person she had ever known, she burned that bridge. She's fired, and he won't recommend her to anyone.
close, but no cigar
almost (from the idea of almost winning, but not getting the prize, a cigar)
We almost made the goal. It was close, but no cigar. We'll try harder next time.
cost an arm and a leg
to be very expensive
This is the most comfortable mattress in the store, but it costs an arm and a leg.
draw a blank
to have no thoughts or ideas about something
At the job interview, he asked me, "what is your greatest strength?" And I drew a blank. What a disaster!

Answer the Questions

1. Are you the sort of person who can twist someone's arm?
Or do you avoid twisting people's arms?
2. Did you have a bad day or week recently?
Did you feel like it was this, that and the other?
3. Is there a phrase like "the walls have ears" in your language?
4. In your job or studies, do you wear many hats?
5. Have you ever had a responsibility, yet you were asleep at the wheel?

More Questions

6. If you were going to buy a car tomorrow, what kind of bells and whistles would you want?
7. Have you ever burned a bridge with someone?
Do you think burning the bridge was good or not?
8. Think about your day (or yesterday). Was there a moment when could have told someone, "close, but no cigar?"
9. Is there anything you want that costs an arm and a leg?
10. Did you draw a blank when trying to answer any of these questions?

Now learn 10 more idioms. A blank ____ indicates a place for a pronoun.
Then answer more questions about your everyday life.

every time __ turn around
all the time, has a negative tone
Of course, I love my baby, but every time I turn around, he's crying! I can't get any sleep.
feel like ____ pulling teeth
it's very, very hard
My boss is nice on most days, but whenever I ask for vacation time, it feels like pulling teeth. I don't know why she doesn't believe in vacations!
get ahead
to be successful, to move forward in one's career
If you want to get ahead, you have to commit to your career and stay focused on your goals.
get _______ act together
to become good at something, also to have confidence in your present personality and/or appearance
I was very awkward in high school. I didn't get my act together until I was twenty-one.
hang in there
cope with a difficult time, usually used to encourage someone
I'm sorry to hear that your father's sick. Hang in there!
in over your head
to be involved with something that has become very difficult (as if drowning)
After the first test, I knew I was in over my head, and I dropped the class.
just what the doctor ordered
exactly what is needed
I was having a terrible day. My roommate saw that I was depressed and she made cookies for me. That was just what the doctor ordered.
keep _____chin up
to stay positive
He is having a very bad year. I told him to keep his chin up and wait until things get better.
leave well enough alone
to take no action
You already argued with the teacher once. I think you should leave well enough alone and finish the class.
level with
to be honest or straightforward
I'm sorry, but I have to level with you. Your girlfriend is a mean person, and she only wants your money.

Answer the Questions

1. Is there something bad that has happened a lot lately?
If so, every time you turn around, what happens?
2. Have you ever done something that felt like pulling teeth?
3. Do you have plans to get ahead in future?
4. Do you think you have your act together now?
5. Did you ever have to hang in there while going through a difficult time?

More Questions

6. Have you ever taken a class or accepted a job and discovered that you were in over your head?
7. If someone could bring you any kind of meal or desert right now, what would be just what the doctor ordered?
8. Do you like to keep your chin up or do you believe in being moody?
9. If you have no money, would you leave well enough alone or would you try to get a credit card?
10. Do you feel obligated to level with someone when you think you must give advice?
Or do you avoid these situations?

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