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From A to Z: All About Idioms

As American accent training specialists, Pronunciation Workshop is dedicated to helping you improve your life through improved English pronunciation. However, there’s much more to the English language than pronunciation. Speech patterns, slang terms, and subtext can make learning and understanding the English language difficult.

Of all the nuances of the English language, idioms are probably the most difficult to learn. English, like most other languages, evolves with the events and speech of the time, and allows for a great deal of creativity and imaginative language.

In this blog, we’ll help you understand what idioms are, how they’re incorporated in the English language, and how you can learn idioms to better understand the English language. Idioms aren’t just a crucial part of speech in the United States, they can be fun to use as well!

What is an idiom?

In the simplest terms, an idiom is a frequently used expression that has no relation to the literal meaning of its words. Idioms are considered to be “figurative language” or language where words are used imaginatively and unusually for an entirely new meaning. Puns, similes, metaphors, hyperbole, euphemisms, and personification are other examples of figurative language.

What idioms are common in American culture?

There are countless idioms in American culture, with new idioms popping up each and every day to fit with the demands of politics and pop culture. Even if you speak English as a first language, it’s difficult to keep up with all the idioms that make it into everyday speech!

  • A Dime a Dozen - Very Common
  • Bun In The Oven - Pregnant
  • Hit The Sack - Go To Sleep
  • Pulling Your Leg -  Joking With You
  • That’s the Last Straw - My Patience Has Run Out
  • It’s Not Rocket Science - It’s Not Difficult
  • Easy Does It - Slow Down
  • Cut Me Some Slack - Don’t Be So Critical
  • Bent Out of Shape - Upset
  • Under The Weather - Sick

These are just a few of many common idioms in the English language that can make it into everyday conversation. Check out more idioms to further enhance your English language knowledge!

Why do idioms matter?

English is an incredibly complex language—an amalgamation of many different cultures, styles, and etymological origins—which can make learning English (especially conversational English) a huge challenge.

If you’re a doctor from another country looking to provide excellent patient care in the United States, or a business professional looking to advance your career and find success, clear and concise communication is critical. For the highest level of success and fulfillment in any aspect of life, you must be heard and understood, and be able to understand others as well.

That’s where idioms can make things tricky. Idioms are such a huge part of the English language, and they’re almost thoughtless for most native English speakers. When someone uses a common idiom and you don’t understand the idiom (or you take it quite literally), it can create a disconnect between you and the other person. These kinds of misunderstandings are common and absolutely forgivable, but they can make it difficult to truly connect with your patients, your coworkers or new friends.

How do I adjust to English idioms?

You can spend all day and all night looking at lists of idioms and trying to memorize and understand them—but they won’t make an ounce of sense unless you hear them in context and make use of the in the real world.

Ultimately, the only way to make sense of idioms is to get out in the real world and hear them in action. Try some idioms out in your everyday speech, make some mistakes, and learn from these mistakes—it’s the only way to learn and understand any language. With enough practice and experience, you’ll improve your understanding of the English language, have better conversations, and find more success and fulfillment in business and life!

Try Pronunciation Workshop today!

Pronunciation Workshop has over 24 years of experience helping corporations, medical professionals, and individuals reduce accents, improve communication skills, and have a better understanding of the English language. We’re here to help you pass your medical exams, land your dream job, or develop better personal relationships in your life, all through a series of simple, step-by-step english pronunciation classes. Get started with Pronunciation Workshop today!