Essential English Idioms

These Common
Sayings can
Confuse even
Native English Speakers!

Oftentimes, older students feel like a writing assignment is “thrown at them” perhaps unexpectedly, with seemingly unreasonable expectations of essay length, research requirements, and essay due dates. These experiences can sour even the most interested writer about current writing assignments and even assignments yet to come. But taking some time to understand the purpose for the assignment’s topic, length, and research required can provide motivation for the older student to write well.

     You can help your child with understanding the purpose for the assignment by engaging in conversation about the topic and why it is important to understand it. How does the topic impact society? How does it impact his or her academic preparation? How might understanding more about this topic broaden your teen’s own perspective on the world?

     Answers to these questions and more can help your child  “warm up” to the assignment at hand as he or she sees value in the time and effort required.

For example, a common English idiom is:
“It’s raining cats and dogs!”
Now, as an obvious earthly impossibility in its denotative sense, this exclamatory sentence must be re-translated into its connotative sense by the English language learner. Only by studying in in its social context as well as its linguistic context can the English learner understand that the sentence means that it is currently raining profusely.

Piece of cake =
An activity is very easy to accomplish

Feel under the weather =
Feeling ill

Seeing eye to eye =
Two people agree on something

Bite off more than you can chew =
Take on a task that is impossible

A penny for your thoughts =
What are you thinking about?

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