Top 6 English Idioms for ESL Students

Ever heard phrases that suggest one thing but aspire otherwise entirely? Well, such phrases are called ‘Idioms’. Idioms are simply a group of words whose meaning is not clear by their components. Since idioms are used in conventional English to a great length, not having their knowledge can be unsettling.

The key to understanding idioms is to never take them literally. To know their true meaning, you have to understand their context. To give you a better idea, experts at PapersHelm have compiled a list of top 6 American English idioms for ESL students. Read on to know your idioms today and feel more secure in your knowledge of the English language.

Hit Sack/Books

In a literal sense, this idiom would mean hitting/beating sack or books with a physical object. But, the true meaning of ‘hit the sack’ orhit the books’ is far simpler. In the former sense, it means to go to bed and is used when telling friends or family members that you are tired and wish to sleep.

‘Hit hay’ can also be used as a substitute. The latter idiom is most commonly used among students to show that they have a lot to study and its time they get to it. Try this idiom with your friends next time you are about to prepare for a test for an extra flair.

Stab Someone in Back

Nope, this is not a bragging statement by a killer; rather it’s an idiom with serious meaning. To stab someone in the backimplies to hurt someone, or break their trust by revealing a secret. When you end up doing conspiracy in someone’s absence, you earn their distrust. Such a person is also known as a ‘backstabber’.

Sit Tight

Sit tight generally conveys a meaning that you have to sit in somewhere and squeeze your body in a tight position. This will not only be uncomfortable but also seem awkward to an onlooker. Delve deeper and understand the essence of this idiom. If you tell someone ‘to sit tight’, you are asking them to wait patiently without taking further action, until told otherwise.

Go Cold Turkey

No, this does not mean you turn into a turkey every Christmas or Thanksgiving. This strange English idiom means to quit or suddenly stop addictive behaviors such as drinking alcohol or smoking.  The idea is that when a person quits a destructive habit like drugs, they tend to look like a cold, uncooked turkey. So, we at PapersHelm analyze that next time you see someone with similar symptoms, know that they went cold turkey.

Pitch in

When taken literally, these words would make no sense. But metaphorically, this idiom means that one should contribute to, or join in a cause to achieve some goal. For example, we can all pitch in to buy a gift for our friend. Here pitch in refers to contributing money. But it can be used to represent ideas among other things.

Face the Music

In a literal sense, this idiom would mean to physically turn in direction of music. But this idiom has a much harsher meaning. It actually means to face reality and accept good and mostly bad outcomes. A person may avoid a situation due to fear or embarrassment. However, when someone tells you ‘to face the music’ there is no option, but to do so and accept your punishment.

If you are looking to upgrade your English skills, or want to pass an English exam with flying colors, then these idioms can set the groundwork for your success. Idioms can help your transition abroad easier and allow you to be part of local culture.

PapersHelm reviews that idioms are an important part of the English language and every student should be familiar with them. For improving English and finding your feet, learn these idioms by experts at PapersHelm.

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