English isn’t just about grammar; it’s also about learning common phrases to help you speak more naturally. We’ve put together 15 expressions that are important to know if you’re at the Elementary level, and we’ve grouped them by topics for your convenience.
Family and relationship
Family comes first
This means that your family is the most important thing in your life.
I love my friends, but when it comes to priorities, the genetic bond between us is stronger than other relationships.
👍I love my friends, but when it comes to priorities, family comes first.
Like father, like son
Use this when a son is very similar to his father in some way like in character traits, abilities, or speech and behavior.
He’s a great athlete, just like his dad.
👍He’s a great athlete, just like his dad. Like father, like son.
The odd one out
This expression is used to describe someone who is different from the rest of the group.
In our group of friends, Sarah always acts differently than the others because she doesn’t like sports.
👍In our group of friends, Sarah is always the odd one out because she doesn’t like sports.
An old soul
This idiom is used to describe a person, especially a child or young person, who demonstrates a maturity, understanding, or seriousness that is typical of someone much older
Sophie has always demonstrated an advanced level of wisdom beyond her years, even in her childhood.
👍Sophie has always been an old soul, even as a child. She’s very wise for her age.
Wear your heart on your sleeve
This means that you openly show your emotions and feelings.
I can always tell when Sarah is upset because she shows her emotions openly.
👍I can always tell when Sarah is upset because she wears her heart on her sleeve.
Countries and Nationalities
A kiss on the lips.
They were so deeply in love that they couldn’t help but kiss each other in public.
👍They were so in love that they couldn’t help but give each other a French kiss in public.
When you and your friends each pay for your own meal or activity, it’s called a “Dutch treat.”
Do you want me to pick up the bill or do you want to pay separately?
👍 Do you want me to pick up the bill or do you want to go Dutch?
A warm and sunny period in the fall.
After a cold and rainy September, we were surprised by an unseasonably warm October.
👍After a cold and rainy September, we were surprised by an Indian summer in October.
Russian roulette is about a very risky game of chance.
He was taking a dangerous risk with his life when he decided to drive drunk.
👍He was playing Russian roulette with his life when he decided to drive drunk.
It’s a saying based on a game where you pass a message by whispering, and it gets mixed up.
The message started as “I like ice cream,” but by the time it reached the last person, it had turned into “I hate mice dreams.”
👍The message started as “I like ice cream,” but by the time it reached the last person in the game of Chinese whispers, it had turned into “I hate mice dreams.”
Under the weather
When you’re not feeling well, this expression is used to show that you’re sick or not in a good mood to do your daily activities.
I’m not feeling well today, so I won’t be able to come to work.
👍I won’t be able to come to work today, I’m feeling a little under the weather.
Break the ice
Imagine you want to make a new friend or start a conversation, but it feels a little awkward. “Breaking the ice” means doing something to make it less awkward and start talking.
Before our important meeting, let’s do something fun to get acquainted and get to know each other.”
👍Before our important meeting, let’s do something fun to break the ice and get to know each other.
Storm in a teacup
When someone makes a big fuss or gets upset about a small problem, we say it’s like turning a small issue into a big one.
Don’t worry too much, it’s just a small issue blown out of proportion.
👍Don’t worry about it, it’s just a storm in a teacup.
It never rains but it pours
This phrase means that when bad things start happening, they often happen all at once, one after the other.
First, I lost my keys. Then, I experienced heavy traffic. Finally, my phone battery died. Everything seems to be going wrong at once.
👍First, I lost my keys, then I got stuck in traffic, and now my phone is dead. It never rains but it pours.
A ray of sunshine
That’s about someone or something that makes a person happier or a place more cheerful. If you want to talk about something good that happens in a bad situation, like finding a silver lining in a dark cloud, you can call that a “bright spot.”
👎Learning that I got the job brought some positivity into an otherwise dreadful week.
👍Hearing that I got the job was a ray of sunshine in an otherwise terrible week.
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