Using idiomatic expressions
The correct use of idiomatic expressions will earn you merit points when you write your essays.
Get an "A" on a test, homework assignment, project, etc.
I heard that Susie aced the test yesterday
2 As easy as a pie
The test was as easy as a pie.
3 at the eleventh hour
at the last minute; almost too late.
He finished the project at the eleventh hour and he nearly lost his job.
4 all ears
eager to hear what someone has to say.
Tell me about your latest trip overseas. I’m all ears.
5 be broke
be without money.
I need to borrow some money. I am broke.
6 be on the go
be very busy (going from one thing or project to another).
I am very tired. I've been on the go since 5 in the morning.
exhausted; very tired
I need a break after this. I'm beat!"
8 beat around the bush
evade an issue; avoid giving a direct answer.
Stop beating around the bush! Just tell me what happened to my car.
9 bite off more than one can chew
take responsibility for more than one can manage.
Mrs Lee finds it difficult to finish all her work. She has bitten off more than she could chew!"
10 blow one's top
become extremely angry.
My father blew his top when he found out I had taken his car without his permission.
11 burn the midnight oil
study/work all night or until very late at night.
Johan is not ready for the test. He will have to burn the midnight oil."
12 call it a day
stop work for the day.
The labourers call it a day after working for five hours on the field.
13 can't make heads or tails of something
can't understand something at all;
find something confusing and illogical.
I cannot make heads or tails of your notes. Were you sleepy during the class?
14 catch one's eye
attract one's attention/interest.
This colourful advertisement caught my eye when I was in the bus.
15 change one's mind
decide to do something different from what had been decided earlier.
David did not go to Australia. He changed his mind when he heard that his mother is ill.
16 cost (someone) an arm and a leg cost a lot;
be very expensive.
This car costs him an arm and a leg. He has to get another job to help pay for it.
17 couch potato
someone who spends too much time watching TV.
You are becoming a couch potato. You need to get out and do some exercise.
18 Don't count your chickens until (before) they hatch (they've hatched) Don't assume that something will happen until it has happened.
I think you should not count your chickens until they’ve hatched. Wait till the boys win the competition this Sunday.
19 drop someone a line
write to someone
Do drop me a line when you have time.
20 drag one's feet delay;
take longer than necessary to do something.
Why are you dragging your feet? You should have finished your homework by now.
21 an eager beaver
a person who is always willing to volunteer or do extra work.
Rahim is an eager beaver. He is the first to volunteer for any job to be done.
22 feel blue
feel sad and depressed.
Rita is feeling blue because she has not heard from her boyfriend for a long time.
23 fire someone
dismiss someone from a job because of poor performance. Lokman might be fired if he continues to be late for work.
24 get it
understand something (often negative).
I don’t get it. Could you please explain it to me again?
25 get on one's nerves
irritate someone; make someone upset.
His constant chatter is getting on my nerves. Please tell him to keep quiet.
26 get out of hand:
become out of control; become badly managed.
The situation is getting out of hand. The relief centre can only hold forty people but we have one hundred people to care for.
27 give someone a hand
i. help someone.
ii. applaud someone
Please give a hand to the poor old lady. She is trying to cross the road.
The gardener has done a wonderful landscaping job. Let’s give him a hand.
have one's hands full stubborn; inflexible; unwilling to change.
It’s pretty difficult to get Simon to change his mind. He is hard-headed.
29 have one's hands full
Peggy usually has her hands full in the beginning of a new school term.
30 in the black:
profitable; not showing a financial loss.
The company is back in the black after suffering from great losses the last two months.
31 in the red:
unprofitable; showing a financial loss.
The company is in the red. We have to stop some of the workers if the situation continues.
32 keep an eye on
check something regularly.
Please keep an eye on the children while I go to the bank.
33 keep one's fingers crossed
hope for the best.
He is keeping his fingers crossed while waiting for the results of his interview.
34 lend someone a hand
Can you please lend a hand at the relief centre for the flood victims?
35 live from hand to mouth
survive on very little money; have only enough money
to pay for basic needs.
Ros and the children live from hand to mouth after the fire destroyed their house.
36 make a mountain out of a molehill
make something seem much more important than it really is.
Susila is making a mountain out of a molehill. I am sure the boys are perfectly capable of looking after themselves.
37 make up one's mind
decide what to do
Moses has to make up his mind whether to continue his studies or take up a job.
38 on the dot exactly at a given time.
If you do not come on the dot, we will leave without you.
39 (on the) cutting edge
using the most recent technology
This car boasts of having a cutting edge technology. It has a computer and tracking system.
40 pull someone's leg tease someone by trying to make her/him believe something that's untrue.
She pulled my leg when he said that he had quit his job to get married.
41 Rain or shine
no matter what the weather
"We're leaving for Cameron Highlands, rain or shine."
42 rain cats and dogs
It’s raining cats and dogs now. You better leave later.
43 read someone's mind:
know what someone is thinking.
I can read your mind. I know you are very hungry and I have ordered pizza.
44 rub someone the wrong way
I cannot stand Robert. He seems to rub me the wrong way every time we discuss something.
45 sleep on it take some time to think about something before making a decision.
You should sleep on it first and we will discuss again tomorrow.
46 To make his own bed; now let him lie in it.
Someone has caused his/her own problems; he/she will have to solve them himself/herself.
He insisted that he should take up the project alone. So, he has made his own bed, let him lie in it.
47 under the weather
Susan was feeling under the weather yesterday, so she decided not to go to work."
48 until you're blue in the face
You can advise him until you're blue in the face, but he won’t change his ways.
49 wet behind the ears inexperienced and naive.
I do not think Suresh is suitable for this project. He is still wet behind the ears, having only joined us last month.
without an opinion of one's own.
You better check with the other members. John can be wishy-washy at times.
you can use these for your PT3 essays, as well as SPM essays. I often use these phrases in my essays myself, especially for informal letters and narrative esssays.
Read these idioms often and you will be able to use them by heart in your essays too. If I can do it, so can you!
1. Feeling under the weather – feeling unwell
If you ever feel under the weather, just drink a lot of liquid and get plenty of rest.
2. Eleventh hour – at the last minute
To get flying colours for your exam, you must avoid doing things at the eleventh hour.
3. Around the corner – something is getting near
When exam is around the corner, students will start to feel the pressure of it.
4. Over the moon – feeling very happy
I am feeling over the moon for your invitation to visit your country!
5. On the cloud nine – feeling very happy
Jeane is feeling on the cloud nine after got the news that she is accepted to Harvard University.
6. Hit the books – study hard
You may need to start hitting the book because exam is around the corner.
7. Brainstorm – to think very hard
I recommend you to be in a study group so that you can brainstorm these tricky questions with them.
8. Birdbrain – expression for someone who is not so smart
Don’t be a handsome man with a birdbrain.
9. Bookworm – someone who likes reading
I am not telling you to be a bookworm, but you need to start reading more to write better essays.
10. Hang in there – don’t give up yet
Despite all the chaos happening in your house, just hang in there because after every storm, there will always be a rainbow.
11. Give/lend a hand – to help someone
If you want to have a happier life, make it a habit to lend others a hand to achieve their goal.
12. Give it a shot – give it a try
Just give this competition a shot, you may be able to unleash your hidden potential.
13. Make up your mind – to decide something
I had to make up my mind as fast as lightning because my sister’s life is currently on the line.
14. Time flies – time passing fast
It is common to feel that time flies during an examination. So just keep track on your time and you will never hand in an empty paper.
15. Speak your mind – say what you honestly feel
Quit beating around the bushes and speak your mind. I have no time to argue with your endless mambo jumbo.
16. Beating around the bushes – avoid giving direct answer.
17. Mumbo jumbo – words that intend to confuse
18. Bear in mind – remember
I hope that I have shared enough information about how to write a good essay. Bear in mind that you can always ask me for more tips and advices in the future!
19. Stretch our legs – get some exercise
Upon reaching Mount Kinabalu’s base point, we stretched our legs and prepare mentally for the journey.
20. Cross my mind – to think about something
You crossed my mind too often lately that I cannot resist but to write you this letter.
21. Slip my mind – to forget something
Pardon me for my carelessness, I will make sure that this task will not slip my mind anymore in the future!
22. Give a piece of your mind – give some of your thoughts/ideas
Let me give you a piece of my mind about how to handle stress.
23. Cross your fingers – to wish good luck
I hope you have done your best in the competition. Let’s just cross our fingers and hope for the best!
24. Safe and sound – safe
I am glad that you reached in Tenom safe and sound. Send my regards to your family!
25. Out of the blue – without warning
Dark skies and raging thunders, it was terrifying. I was alone in the house and out of the blue, I heard a sound of shattered glasses in the kitchen. It turned out my naughty cats dropped my favourite cup!
26. Get cold feet – getting nervous
I am pretty sure that Usain Bolt also gets cold feet before every competition. So worry no more. If he can do it well in every race, so can you!
27. I’m all ears – I’m listening intently
I know that all those troubles in your house is bothering you a lot, but bear in mind that I’m all ears.
28. See eye to eye – agree with each other
To be able to see eye to eye with your partner is the key to a successful marriage. Even if you cannot do so, compromise is the plan B!
29. At your fingertips – easily accessible
With the latest technology advancement nowadays, searching for information as detail as someone’s home address is at our fingertips.
30. The bottom line – the final result
The bottom line of the research is that every yea, people eliminate tons of garbage in their household.
31. Rain check - to cancel something now but will accept it later
Due to my parents’ current financial situation, I need to take a rain check for the annual dinner.
32. A blessing in disguise – something good behind an event
Be strong my dear friend, believe that there is a blessing in disguise. This depressing event will make you a better and stronger person in the future. Hang in there!
33. Every cloud has a silver lining – something good behind an event
34. Be in hot water – to be in dangerous situation
I regret my decision for coming to this adventure. Not only it was giving me a hard time surviving in a deep forest, it also made me be in hot water when we encountered the tiger!
35. Call it a day – to stop something after working hard
I decided to call it a day after 5 hours of doing revisions and exercises.
36. Rome was not built in a day – things take time to succeed
Lee Chong Wei is among the greatest badminton player in the world because he started training early. It shows that Rome was not built in a day. Greatness takes time to achieve.
37. You can’t judge a book by its cover – you cannot tell someone’s true personality simply by appearance
I was feeling blue when I found out that I got that worst looking cookie among my friends. However, it tasted phenomenal because the ugliness was cause by ample of chocolate chips! This made me realize that we cannot judge a book by its cover.
38. Go to the extra mile – to make extra effort for something
In order to be better than your friends, you must go to the extra miles where nobody has been.
39. Bite your tongue – to avoid talking
Michone bit her tongue and squeezed the hands when they were making fun of her.
40. Grab a bite – eat
Remember to grab a bite before starting your day.
41. Practice makes perfect – with a lot of practices, you will get better
Just like the guy in the movie Whiplash, he practiced drumming all day and night because he knows that practice makes perfect.
42. Raining cats and dogs – the rain is heavy and noisy
I was starting to feel worried, my parents still had not fetch me from school and I had a sixth sense that it will rain cats and dogs soon!
43. You are what you eat – if you eat healthy food, you will get a healthy body
Obesity is a forever rising issue among every range of ages. So bear in mind that you are what you eat. Start practicing healthy lifestyle now.
44. Race against the clock – an attempt to do something very quickly
Never race against the clock while finishing your assignments.
45. At the crack of dawn – early in the morning
We started our journey to conquer Mount Everest at the crack of dawn.
Download link for these idioms' list and meaning: IDIOMS
Good luck writing boys and girls. i hope you can get flying colours result for you exam!
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