Idioms are set phrases with a specific meaning that is different from the literal. In fact, with many idioms, the literal meaning of the words is either absurd or doesn't make any sense at all. It's the particular phrase as a whole that has meaning in an idiom.
Every language has idioms. Different countries and even regions that speak the same language do as well. While some English idioms are common among most native speakers, there are idioms in Australia or the United Kingdom that would make no sense to someone in the United States, for example, and vice versa.
The tricky thing about idioms is that the only way to really learn their meaning is to ask or look it up and then memorize it. You can't figure it out through logic--that's what makes it an idiom in the first place.
It can help to start looking at lists of some of the most common English idioms. For practice, you can try to use these in speech and notice when others use them as well.
Below are some of the English idioms that you will encounter very frequently. Work on your fluency with these English idioms for 6+ and ESL.
The idiom examples below are also common ones. Flip the flashcards for idiom example sentences for each English idiom
The idioms below are somewhat less common than the ones above, perhaps because they are not useful in as many different situations or they are not used as frequently among younger people as they once were. However, they are all still examples of English idioms you will encounter sometimes.
Idioms are usually casual in nature, so in most cases, you wouldn't use them in a piece of formal writing. However, like many other types of figurative language, idioms can make your vocabulary and writing more colorful and interesting. Want to practice English idioms? Check out our practice pages below.