Learning American idioms is as important as learning the vocabulary, the sentence structure, and the grammar usage of American English. If you plan to stay in the United States, learning American idioms is a must.
Idioms are words and phrases in a language that have come into existence for a variety of reasons, some obvious enough, some inexplicable, but most of them appropriately and delightfully characteristic of the race that created them. American idioms are no exception; they reflect American culture at every social level. They are used in everyday life, in speaking and in writing, in movies and on television, and by people from all walks of life.
The following are some samples of common American idioms:
Dog in the manger: a very selfish person
e.g. Don’t be a dog in the manger! You no longer need this; why don’t you give it to us?
Through thick and thin: through good times as well as bad times
e.g. Don’t worry! I’ll stick by you through thick and thin.
Inch along: move very slowly
e.g. Business was inching along because of the economy.
You bet: yes, of course
e.g. “Are you hungry?” “You bet!”
Vested interest: a personal stake
e.g. He showed a vested interest in his uncle’s business.
Have a good mind to: tend to
e.g. I have a good mind to tell you the truth.
Act one’s age: behave maturely
e.g. Stop behaving like a teenager! Act your age.
e.g. He cannot succeed under his own steam; he needs the support of his family.
Take something on the chin: get a direct blow
e.g. The bad news was a shock to me; I took it on the chin.
Hold one’s end up: do one’s part; reliable
e.g. I know I can count on you; you always hold your end up.
Stephen LauCopyright© by Stephen Lau