English Idioms for ESL / EFL Learners

Common Idioms in English

English idioms are usually difficult for ESL and EFL students to learn since they have so distinct meanings from the literal meanings of the words that make them up.

10 of the most common idioms are listed below with their definitions and example sentences.

1 - A drop in the ocean: a very small amount that will not have much effect.

The cost of the car is a drop in the ocean for a big company like that.

2 - Break the mould: change a situation by doing something that is very different from what most people usually do or have done in the past.

His last movie really broke the mould.

3 - Concrete jungle: unpleasant part of a city where there are many ugly buildings close together.

The city we used to live was a bit of a concrete jungle.

4 - Cry over spilt milk: waste time feeling upset about something bad that has happened and cannot be changed.

I know your computer is broken, but there is no point crying over spilt milk.

5 - Give sb your Word: promise to do something.

I give you my Word I won't tell your secret to anyone.

6 - Keep sb posted: regularly give someone information about something they are interested in.

Please keep me posted about any developments about your new job.

7 - Lose your bearings: become confused about where you are and where other things are.

I lost my bearings for a moment, but then realized where I was.

8 - No rhyme or reason: used for emphasizing that there is no reason or explanation for something.

There is no rhyme or reason for their last decision.

9 - Out of the blue: happening in a way that is sudden and unexpected, and does not seem related to anything that happened before.

Suddenly, out of the blue, he said he wanted to leave the city.

10 - Ring a bell: something that rings a bell sounds familiar to you, though you cannot remember the exact details.

Her name rings a bell, but I'm not sure if I've ever met her.

  • 15 January 2015, Thursday
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