So…what exactly are idiomatic expressions? Why do we need to learn about them? Well friends, idiomatic expressions, as you will see, play an extremely important role in the English language and mastering them will make speaking English more fun and entertaining for you AND your audience! More importantly, adding idiomatic expressions to your English will make you sound like a NATIVE SPEAKER! We all want that, right? Okay, okay…enough chatting, let’s get to work!
Idiomatic expressions are common everyday sayings that native speakers use to add character, style and emphasis to the language. You may ask yourself, “How many of these expressions are there that I have to learn?” Well…there are A LOT! The English language uses about 25,000 idiomatic expressions! Don’t be worried though, we are going to learn some of the most important ones today to get you started.
The problem with idiomatic expressions is that they use figurative language that often does not correspond to the real message of the phrase. This probably is confusing, right? Well, let’s take a look at some idiomatic expressions to see what I mean…
To be between a rock and a hard place
“I don’t have enough money to pay my bills! I’m either going to have to sell my car or get another job. I’m really between a rock and a hard place!”
Do you understand the meaning? This phrase is used to describe a situation where you have to make a decision based on options that are all bad. The Spanish equivalent of this phrase is “Entre la espada y la pared.”
The cat’s out of the bag
“The surprise party for Mary was ruined when John accidentally told her about the plans. He really let the cat out of the bag!”
Got it? This phrase is used when a secret is made known to everyone. In Spanish, the equivalent to this phrase is “Levantar la liebre”.
I heard it on the grapevine that…
“There’s a lot of gossip floating around the office this week! I heard it on the grapevine that John went on a date with the boss!”
What do you think this means? That’s right; this idiomatic expression means that someone heard a piece of gossip through that was passed along from one person to another. Can you think of what the equivalent in Spanish might be? Alright…I’ll tell you: “Un pajarito me dijo que…”
To have a chip on one’s shoulder
“Lately John seems to always be in a bad mood at the office; I think he has a chip on his shoulder because he didn’t get that promotion he wanted.”
Did the example help you understand the message of this common idiomatic expression? This phrase means that a person continues to be upset about something bad that happened to them in the past; they can’t get over something. I think the best Spanish equivalent of this phrase is “Ser un resentido.”
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