It rings a bell

10 cool English Idioms you can use today

The English language is full of idioms – expressions that don’t seem to make any logical sense but somehow describe a specific feeling or situation.

It rings a bell

10 cool English Idioms you can use today

The English language is full of idioms – expressions that don’t seem to make any logical sense but somehow describe a specific feeling or situation.

Ben Lloyd-James

Ben Lloyd-James

Ben's been teaching English for over 17 years. He didn't move to France for the cheese and croissants, but he's not complaining.

So, instead of saying ‘it’s easy’ we might say ‘It’s a piece of cake!

Why? Well: ‘because.’ (Actually we do know that this expression first appeared in the 1930s, but people argue about the exact origins).
But native speakers do use them. And they’re really useful and fun to know as well. They’re useful because we use this kind of language a lot, so whether you want to travel or work in English or just want to enjoy Downton Abbey you’re going to hear them.
Here are 10 awesome idioms that you can use today:

An important part of the answer is ‘action verbs’ – words that accurately and concisely show what you’ve done. Carefully choosing the right verbs will help you to communicate a general dynamism as well as showing self awareness and knowledge of the job you are applying for.

So with this is mind here’s a useful list of 30 of the most useful action verbs, along with some examples so you can see how you could use them.

Maybe you’ve already noticed that in English we don’t just manage people, but we can also manage processes or projects. It’s a verb we use a lot, so you might want to change it for something less basic

‘A storm in a teacup’
A storm in a teacup is a fight or controversy over something that isn’t important, and that will soon be forgotten. We use it to minimise the importance of a disagreement.
“Joel was furious when his parents confiscated his phone, but it was just a storm in a teacup and he soon forgot about it.”


‘Hold your horses’
Hold your horses means ‘calm down’, ‘stop’ or ‘wait a second’. We use it when we think
someone is trying to do something too quickly.
So when the bell rang at the end of the lesson and we all started to put our books away the teacher might say: ‘Hold your horses! The bell is for me, not for you. We haven’t finished this last exercise.’


‘To get carried away’
To get carried away is to become too excited and to lose control of what you do or say. For example – ‘I always get carried away at a the breakfast buffet’. I get so excited by the idea of all that food that I eat too much.
We often use it to stop people from losing control, or from forgetting something important:
‘Let’s not get carried away with the new project, we haven’t got the budget for it yet’


‘It rings a bell’
If something rings a bell it is familiar but you can’t quite remember it.
‘Do you remember Ronnie Omelettes from school?’
‘Well, the name rings a bell but I can’t remember what he looked like.’


‘To twist someone’s arm’
When you force someone to do something they don’t want to you twist their arm: ‘I’ve finally made a dentist’s appointment, my wife had to twist my arm but I’ve done it’.
It sounds violent but we often use it sarcastically to show that we really do want to do
‘Another piece of carrot cake? Ok, you’re twisting my arm but I’ll have some more.’


‘To get over something’
When you get over something you recover from it or you stop feeling unhappy about it. It’s often used to stop someone complaining about something.
‘Listen, you didn’t get the job. Now get over it and move on.’


‘To blow hot and cold’
The you blow hot and cold about something you keep changing your mind. You are
enthusiastic about it one minute, and the next you don’t like it.
‘I really don’t know if they will sign the contract or not, they keep blowing hot and cold


‘To go Dutch’
When you go Dutch you share the bill equally. It’s usually used in restaurants to suggest everyone pays for their own food & drink.
‘That was delicious. I’ll get this, I’ll pay.’
‘No, let’s go dutch.’


‘To be up in the air’
If it’s up in the air then it’s not decided yet, or it’s a problem that hasn’t yet been solved.
‘The whole future of the project is up in the air


‘Back to square one’
When you go back to square one you have to start again from the beginning. The approach has failed completely.
‘The plan didn’t work, so it’s back to square one


‘In a nutshell’
To put something in a nutshell means to describe it very briefly, in as few words as possible.
It’s often used at the end of an explanation to summarise what’s just been said.
‘She put it in a nutshell when she said it was a terrible idea’

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