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Why is it so important to learn English expressions?

Well, say you’re in an American bar.

It’s loud, but you can hear what people are saying.

Someone is talking about hitting books…

…another is talking about twisting someone’s arm…

…and it sounds like someone’s been stabbed in the back.

What the heck is going on?

You scratch your head and wonder why you can’t understand these English expressions, even though you can translate the words.

Well, you’ve just had your first introduction to English idioms.

If you don’t understand common idioms in English, it’ll be hard to truly communicate like a native speaker.

In this post, we’ll teach you nearly 100 English idioms and phrases that you need to make sense of the chatter at that American bar—and anywhere else!

But first, what exactly are idioms, anyways?


                                                                                         



                                                              





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What Are Idioms?


An idiom is a phrase whose meaning isn’t obvious from looking at the individual words.


They have developed over time and so they might seem random to you. Idioms often rely on analogies and metaphors.


Because they’re used so often in everyday English, if you don’t know them, it’s almost impossible to understand the context.


Learning common idioms in English will help you fit in with most situations, whether it’s at a basketball game, over a beer, studying or going out on a hot date.


The key to understanding English idioms is never to look at them or read them in a literal sense—the words just won’t make sense together. Instead, you need to learn them in context so you can understand their true meaning.


FluentU is a fun but effective tool for learning English idioms and phrases this way. FluentU offers authentic English videos, like movie trailers, YouTube clips, inspiring talks and more, that’ve been transformed into a language learning experience.


That means you get to absorb idioms and other natural, real language, without worrying that you’re missing something.

English Idioms with Common Verbs


1. Hit the books


english-idioms


Literally, hit the books means to physically hit, punch or slap your reading books. However, this is a commonly used expression among students, especially American college students who have a lot of studying to do. It simply means “to study,” and is a way of telling your friends that you’re going to study.


It could be for a final exam, a midterm test or even an English exam.


“Sorry but I can’t watch the game with you tonight, I have to hit the books. I have a huge exam next week!”


2. Hit the sack


english-idioms


Just like the first idiom, the literal meaning of this would be physically hitting or beating a sack (a large bag usually used for carrying things in bulk such as flour, rice or even soil). But actually to hit the sack means to go to bed, and you’d use this to tell your friends or family that you’re really tired, so you’re going to sleep.


Instead of saying hit the sack you can also say hit the hay.


“It’s time for me to hit the sack, I’m so tired.”

3. Twist someone’s arm


english-idioms


To twist someone’s arm literally means to take a person’s arm and turn it around, which could be really painful if you take it exactly word-for-word. If your arm has been twisted it means that someone has done a great job of convincing you to do something you might not have wanted to to do.


And if you manage to twist someone else’s arm it means that you’re great at convincing them, and they’ve finally agreed to do something after you’ve been begging them.


“Jake, you should really come to the party tonight!”


“You know I can’t, I have to hit the books (study).”


“C’mon, you have to come! It’s going to be so much fun and there are going to be lots of girls there. Please come?”


“Pretty girls? Oh all right, you’ve twisted my arm, I’ll come!”

4. Stab someone in the back


english-idioms


If we take this idiom literally, we could find ourselves in a whole lot of trouble with the police, as it would mean taking a knife or another sharp object and putting it into a person’s back.


However, as an idiom, to stab someone in the back means to hurt someone who was close to us and trusted us by betraying them secretly and breaking their trust. We call the person who does this a back stabber.


“Did you hear that Sarah stabbed Kate in the back last week?”


“No! I thought they were best friends, what did she do?”


“She told their boss that Kate wasn’t interested in a promotion at work and Sarah got it instead.”


“Wow, that’s the ultimate betrayal! No wonder they’re not friends anymore.”


 5. Lose your touch


english-idioms


Literally, this means to no longer have the ability to touch or feel with your fingers or hands. But to lose your touch actually means that you lose an ability or talent you once had when dealing with things, people or situations.


We use this when you’re usually good at a certain skill or talent, but then things start to go wrong.


“I don’t understand why none of the girls here want to speak to me.”


“It looks like you’ve lost your touch with the ladies.”


“Oh no, they used to love me, what happened?”


 

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