English Online with Speak Method



Online Classes Pronunciation Facts R, Th, T and other sounds 500 Words Practice
Local Classes Business Communication TOEFL Prep ESL Stories
Contact us Vowel Sounds
Grammar and Idioms Learn by Language

Idioms: English Expressions

English Expressions: Idioms

Study 10 idioms below. Then answer the questions.

read someone's mind
to have the same idea, to know what the other person is thinking
Yes, going to the park is a great idea. You read my mind!
don't/didn't break a sweat
to do something easily
He answered all of the test questions and didn't break a sweat.
born ready
very much ready for something
"Are you ready to try skiing?"
"Sure! I was born ready!"
blank slate
to know nothing about something, like a white page that will be written on
It's O.K. if you don't know how to run a business. You're a blank slate. You have everything to learn.
the straw that breaks the camel's back
one small extra thing makes the load too much, often used when someone becomes angry
They told me I had to wear a uniform, and that was the straw that broke the camel's back. I quit my job yesterday.
the last straw
a shortened form of the last idiom
My roommate is so messy. Today the kitchen is just terrible, and it's the last straw. I'm asking her to move out.
wait for the other shoe to drop
expecting something bad to happen, especially when life is good
I've met many nice people at school, but I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop. There must be some mean or annoying people here.
silver bullet / there's no silver bullet
an easy way to be successful, usually used in the negative, "there's no easy way"
If you want to be an author, there's no silver bullet. You have to work hard and promote yourself.
get cracking
get started, get to work
O.K., team, let's get cracking! We have a lot to do today.
takes blood, sweat and tears
requires very, very hard work
This project is really taking blood, sweat and tears. If I ever finish, I'll need a week of vacation.

Answer the Questions

1. Has anyone "read your mind" lately?

2. When did you do something that was difficult, but you didn't break a sweat?

3. Is there something you haven't done yet, but you were born ready to try it?

4. Are you a blank slate in any of these subjects: advertising, technology or sailing?

5. When was the last time you argued? What was the straw that broke the camel's back?

More Questions

6. In a relationship or marriage, what would be "the last straw," the worst thing the other person could do?

7. Do you ever "wait for the other shoe to drop" or are you usually a positive thinker?

8. Do you know of a silver bullet that could make you successful quickly?

9. During this past week, when did you "get cracking?"

10. During the past year, did you do anything that took blood, sweat and tears?

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

to agree to disagree
to understand that you have opposite opinions
Let's stop arguing over who should be president. We have to agree to disagree.
air ______ dirty laundry
say or reveal personal information publicly
He should have asked for vacation time. Instead, he aired his dirty laundry and told the manager all about his divorce.
Let's not air our dirty laundry. Our friends don't have to know about your DWI.
bite the bullet
to do something that is hard, something a person does not want to do
You have studied enough. It's time to bite the bullet and take the TOEFL exam one more time.
chip on ______ shoulder
a grudge, ongoing dislike of someone or something, often obvious to others
You've had a chip on your shoulder for almost a year. You need to forgive your mother!
That guy really has a chip on his shoulder. I don't know why he's angry, but he's impossible to talk to.
deliver the goods
to follow through with an order or assignment, to meet expectations
I've been working on the project all night, but I don't know if I can deliver the goods by 8am.
He's an o.k. worker, but he doesn't always deliver the goods. He might get laid off.
face the music
to confront a difficult situation, usually one a person has caused
You're the one who stayed out all night. Now you have to face the music and take a test you probably won't pass.
get off track
to get diverted, to veer from a plan
I didn't mean to get off track. Let's continue talking about the main subject of our meeting.
______ hands are tied
nothing can be done
I'm sorry, but my hands are tied. You will have to talk to the manager.
My sister wanted to help with our legal case, but her hands are tied.
____ hit the nail on the head
to say or do exactly the right thing
That's exactly what I meant! You hit the nail on the head.
jump the gun
to start before time (this comes from racing--the idea of beginning before the gunshot that can begin a race)
Sorry--I didn't mean to jump the gun. Let's start with the first item on the agenda.

Answer the Questions

1. Did you have to agree to disagree with someone recently?

2. Do you believe in not airing your dirty laundry?

3. What is one thing you may have to bite the bullet and complete this coming week?

4. Do you know anyone who has a chip on his/her shoulder?

5. Name one time you had trouble delivering the goods.

More Questions

6. Describe a time when you had to face the music.

7. When you talk about something important, do you tend to get off track sometimes or stay focused?

8. Has there ever been a time when you needed help, but someone's hands were tied?

9. Do you have a friend who often hits the nail on the head?

10. Can you think of a time when you jumped the gun?

Contact Us
* Speak Method is a branch of I.E. Tutoring which holds the copyright to all materials on this site.