A Quiz: 25 Common Idioms that you Really Need to Know

I know the feeling. I have been there. You have studied English really hard this year. You have been willing to go the extra mile a thousand times because you knew it was going to be worth your while.  You have even burnt the candle at both ends staying up too late and getting up too early when studying for finals. Now you feel really happy with your effort, and it is time to take a breather. At last, after struggling for a long time with English pronunciation you are able to communicate in English fluently and understand native speakers pretty well, at least in an academic context.

Just by sheer luck, at a party, you are introduced to a British person and you feel it’s your opportunity to shine. You feel confident. You have a little chat and everything is going well. You are beginning to relax when all of a sudden, you are like…

  • “Did he just say something about the skin of my teeth?”
  • “Hot potato? Where are the potatoes? I can’t see any! Oh my God! Is this English?”
  • “Did he just say “you rock!”?, and now what ? Am I supposed to take him to a rock concert or maybe he wants me to sing rock?”

Yes. I’ve been there. I know how you feel. Native speakers use idioms all the time, just like you do in your own native language, probably without realizing it. The good news is that you can do something about it. It’s true that it’s quite difficult to feel confident using idiomatic expressions when you’re speaking a foreign language, and I wouldn’t dare suggest  that you use them, but you need to know what they mean if you want to follow a conversation.

In this quiz you’ll find some very common idioms used by native speakers.

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Tool used: Riddle

25 COMMON IDIOMS

Do you know what these idioms mean ?

If something is on your bucket list

You need to buy it quickly

You want to do it before you die

It is something you do when it is raining

If you cut corners

You do something in the easiest or most inexpensive way

You are in a strong position when you are competing with someone else

You stop doing something before you have finished

If you bite off more than you can chew

You eat everything on a plate, thus depriving anyone else of having any

You take on a task that is way too big

You drink very heavily

If you hit the sack

you go to bed

you go to the gym

you quit your job

If you do something once in a blue moon

You do it very often

You do it once a month

You do it very rarely

If something is a piece of cake

It is easy or simple

It is very sweet

It is only for girls

If you see eye to eye with someone

You are in love with someone

You agree on something with someone

You have a dispute with someone

If you rock

You’re great

You love music

You love dancing

If you do something by the skin of your teeth

You do it by a very narrow margin, only just

You do it because you’re very stubborn

You do it because it’s important for your health

If you go the extra mile

You run a marathon although you haven’t trained for it

You pay a lot of money for something

You make a special effort to achieve something

If you cannot get your head around something

you cannot decide between two options

you don’t understand something

you cannot attend an event because you have a headache

If something is a far cry from something else

It is very different

It is very far

It is very irritating

If something is a hot potato

It is an issue that makes you very happy

It is an issue that sounds unbelievable

It is an issue which many people are talking about and which is usually disputed

If you beat around the bush

You do whatever it takes to help someone

You avoid talking about a difficult or embarrassing subject

You begin to talk about important things

If you pull yourself together

you calm down and behave normally

you state a fact so that there are no doubts or objections

you start studying for finals

If you blow smoke

You are a chain- smoker

you exaggerate or say things that aren’t true to make you seem better

You speak in an angry tone

If something is a no-brainer

it is priceless

it has no brains

it is an easy decision

If you take something with a pinch of salt

you don’t completely believe something

you add salt in it because it is insipid

you assume something is true without checking

If you hit the books

You throw the books away because you don’t plan to use them again

You begin to study in a serious way

You don’t like books

If something is up in the air

It is very light and it floats

It is very high and you cannot reach it

It is uncertain or unsure

If you sit tight

You wait patiently

You take a test or an exam

You are in a comfortable position

If you face the music

You do what somebody wants you to do

You are in an excellent state of health

You accept the consequences of your mistakes or actions

If something rings a bell

It sounds familiar

It is musical

It is important

If you cut to the chase

You take shortcuts to get somewhere

You leave the unnecessary details and get to the point

You stop chasing someone

If someone kicks the bucket

They die

They reveal a secret

They break their leg and have to use crutches

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63 thoughts on “A Quiz: 25 Common Idioms that you Really Need to Know

  1. Hi Christina,

    I switched from being an Engineer to English Teacher, some 5 years ago. Actually I retired early, after being made redundant as there was a recession in the Telecom Industry towards the end of 1999. I was creating websites, House Design Plans and other jobs but not ‘involved’ with people enough (and not making enough money).

    I have been working in China as a Native English Teacher for the past 4 years and will be teaching at HNU (Hunan University in Changsha) from 11th September).

    Chinese Students, do not seem to learn many IDIOMS but its useful for any student wanting to become FLUENT in English (and help improve IELTS Grade to learn some of the more popular IDIOMS that are most common.

    This is a really good Quiz Christina – thank you very much for this.

    I will try and make good use of it in China.

    Teacher David.

  2. Yeah! My students already now some of them! But thanx to you they got ot find out some more 🙂 Спасибо!

  3. The quiz is very useful, some idioms are tricky and misleading to the wrong meanings. Anyway it is very interesting. Thanks

  4. Yes. I agree. Some idioms can be misleading, but most of them are easy to learn.
    Thank you for yor comment

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