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
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 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 reveal a secret
They break their leg and have to use crutches
68 thoughts on “A Quiz: 25 Common Idioms that you Really Need to Know”
You rock…I mean brilliant. Just learnt from your quiz.
I’ve tried this quiz. Really fun :-*
It is very useful and different with Arabic idioms
Thank you for this ❤
I like it
Thanks. On my bucket list! 🙂
Great quiz! Mark Jackson,you should look up the movie ‘The bucket list’ starring Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson! It is an excellent movie. The movie rocks! 😉
Thanks Marcus for taking the time to comment.
It’s interesting how we can learn from each other ’cause you didn’t know ” on the bucket list” and I didn’t know “on the flip side” . 🙂
Very nice quiz. As an English teacher myself, I’d never heard the first idiom so as a result I didn’t score 100% 🙁
But on the flip-side I learned a new idiom. Many thanks for creating this!
Thanks for your comment, Cathy.
Yes, the two idioms you mentioned should have been in the quiz!
I’ll probably need to make another one next year!
Great quiz! I teach a lot of idioms on my site using explanation & examples– but this quiz is definitely more fun and more memorable! I hope you don’t mind if I link to it!
(It’s interesting to me that we only overlap on one idiom. Some– like “you rock!” are too recent for me– I recognize all of them, but several weren’t common when I was young. However, ‘going the extra mile’ and ‘by the skin of your teeth’ are from the Bible– thousands of years old, and many others have been used more than a century. You made an excellent selection!)
Very much appreciated! 🙂
THANK YOU HEAPS! I WILL share this on the Net.
Thanks for your comment!
It baffles me that you’re not allowed to use technology in your classes. It’s like denying all the possibilities it offers to teach and to learn languages.
Unfortunately, this tool does not provide a downloadable pdf or any other printable format.
Thank you very much for taking the time to comment and I hope your school changes their policy soon.
This is a wonderful quiz to use with my teen students. Unfortunatelly we are not allowed to use technology in the classroom. Is there any printable version of the quizz that I could access?
Thanks in advance
Thanks for commenting! Yes, it has a negative connotation but I never suggested otherwise, did I?
I should probably specify it so that it doesn’t lead to misunderstanding.
Hi Cristina, I like the quiz a lot, it’s really good. But there is one mistake, I believe. To cut corners is not to do something in the easiest or most inexpensive way. It means that you do not do something properly, correctly. Instead, you use inferior methods or materials or tools, and as a result, the finished product is not properly constructed or made. It may look ok, but it is not well done, and in the future there may be problems with it, as a result. For example, a house that is built by someone who cuts corners, will not be safe in the long term. It may have structural instability, bad materials, etc. So this idiom really means that you have done something in an incorrect way, in order to save money or time, but the finished result is not up to par, it is not as it ought to be, even if this cannot be seen from the outside.
Yes and more fun than a traditional quiz, isn’t it? Thanks for your comment!
I am glad you liked it. Thanks for your comment!
They are a lot of fun, aren’t they?
Thanks . It’s very useful and a good exercise
Nice test. ¡Thank you!
20/25 Very well. I’m happy. I can not copy the photo whith the score, but It’s true!!!!!!. I’m satisfied
Thank you so much, Ann!
Just to let you know that we’ve shortlisted this blog post for this month’s TeachingEnglish blog award and I’ll be putting up a post about it on today’s TeachingEnglish Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/TeachingEnglish.BritishCouncil, if you’d like to check there for likes and comments.
I did it :v
Thanks Teresa. I had a lot of fun making it,too. Glad you liked it!
I did the quiz and I liked it very much. It is challenging. Thanks a lot.
Thank you Eva! 🙂
Great and fun quiz! Thanks for sharing!
Thank you very much for your kind words! It’s great to have such feedback!
I am very happy you find the tool useful. I believe riddle has a lot of potential in the classroom, but I should say I’m right now exploring another one, which is even better. Have a look at playbuzz. It has a lot of possibilities!
thank you very much for this very motivating exercise.
20 students are working it at the moment having fun learning idiomatic English.
I personally thank you for introduc ing ‘riddle’ into my work life. I’m looking forward to creating my own exercises with it and including it into my lessons.
Thank you very for you comment!:)
Thank you for sharing this interesting quiz – it would be a great learning tool for intermediate to advance ESL students.
Thanks for commenting. I am glad you enjoyed the post!
Thanks for commenting! Yes, it has a negative connotation but I never suggested otherwise, did I?
Hi María, which ones would you say are not every day English?
I really liked the quiz! 😀
While some are not really every day English this was easy peasy
Hi Cristina, just a small correction: to cut corners isn’t really to do something in the easiest/most inexpensive way. It always has negative connotations. If your builder cuts corners, your house will not be safe.
Lovely resouse. Thanks a lot.
Thank you Christina. . it helps a lot.. i will give these to my students tomorrow.
Thanks José and you’re right. I typed the same answer twice but I spotted the mistake five minutes after being published and modified it. It should be fine now.
I did the quiz, Cristina. I liked it.
Question 20 has the same answer twice, I think.