common idioms and idiomatic expressions for ielts learners

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IELTS idioms


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    Common Idioms and Idiomatic Expressions for IELTS Learners Mr.Bi


    Increase your vocabulary and speak more natural English by studying the idioms and expressions below. These are some of the most common expressions in English.

    Caution: maximum two expressions in an IELTS essay or speaking test to avoid verbosity and ambiguity. Some idiomatic expressions appear to be less formal in academic writings.

    Expression 1: as easy as pie means "very easy" (same as "a piece of cake")

    Example: He said it is a difficult problem, but I do not agree. It seems as easy as pie to me!

    Expression 2: be sick and tired of means "I hate" (also "can't stand")

    Example: I am sick and tired of doing nothing but work. Let us go out tonight and have fun.

    Expression 3: bend over backwards means "try very hard" (maybe too much!)

    Example: He bent over backwards to please his new wife, but she never seemed satisfied.

    Expression 4: bite off more than one can chew means "take responsibility for more than one can manage"

    Example: John is so far behind in his studies. Besides classes, he plays sports and works at a part-time job. It seems he has bitten off more than he can chew.

    Expression 5: broke means "to have no money"

    Example: I have to borrow some money from my Dad. Right now, I'm broke.

    Expression 6: change one's mind means "decide to do something different from what had been decided earlier"

    Example: I was planning to work late tonight, but I changed my mind. I shall do extra work on the weekend instead.

    Expression 7: Cut it out! means "stop doing something bad"

    Example: That noise is annoying. Cut it out!

    Expression 8: drop someone a line means "send a letter or email to someone"

    Example: It was good to meet you and I hope we can see each other again. Drop me a line when you have time.

    Expression 9: figure something out means "come to understand a problem"

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    Common Idioms and Idiomatic Expressions for IELTS Learners Mr.Bi

    Example: I do not understand how to do this problem. Take a look at it. Maybe you can figure it out.

    Expression 10: fill in for someone means "do their work while they are away"

    Example: While I was away from the store, my brother filled in for me.

    Expression 11: in ages means "for a very long time"

    Example: Have you seen Joe recently? I have not seen him in ages.

    Expression 12: give someone a hand means "help"

    Example: I want to move this desk to the next room. Can you give me a hand?

    Expression 13: hit the hay means "go to bed" (also "hit the sack")

    Example: It's after 12 o'clock. I think it's time to hit the hay.

    Expression 14: in the black means "the business is making money, it is profitable"

    Example: Our business is really improving. We have been in the black all year.

    Expression 15: in the red means "the business is losing money, it is unprofitable"

    Example: Business is really going poorly these days. We have been in the red for the past three months.

    Expression 16: in the (very) nick of time means "not too late, but very close"

    Example: I got to the drugstore just in the nick of time. It's a good thing, because I really need this medicine!

    Expression 17: keep one's chin up means "remain brave and keep on trying"

    Example: I know things have been difficult for you recently, but keep your chin up. It will get better soon.

    Expression 18: know something like the back of your hand means "know something very, very well"

    Example: If you get lost, just ask me for directions. I know this part of town like the back of my hand.

    Expression 19: once in a while means "sometimes, not very often"

    Example: Have you been to the new movie theatre? No, only see movies once in a while, I usually stay home and watch TV.

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    Common Idioms and Idiomatic Expressions for IELTS Learners Mr.Bi

    Expression 20: sharp means "exactly at a that time"

    Example: I'll meet you at 9 o'clock sharp. If you're late, we'll be in trouble!

    Expression 21: sleep on it means "think about something before making a decision"

    Example: That sounds like a good deal, but I'd like to sleep on it before I give you my final decision.

    Expression 22: take it easy means "relax"

    Example: I don't have any special plans for the summer. I think I'll just take it easy.

    Expression 23: to get the ball rolling means "start something, especially something big"

    Example: We need to get this project started as soon as possible. I'm hoping you will help me get the ball rolling.

    Expression 24: up to the minute means "the most recent information"

    Example: I wish I knew more about what is happening in the capital city. We need more up to the minute news.

    Expression 25: twenty-four/seven means "every minute of every day, all the time"

    Example: You can access our web site 24/7. It's very convenient!

    Expression 26: Put off means postpone

    Example: Charrie can't forgive Archie for putting off their wed

    Expression 27: Dispose of means to get rid of

    Example: She disposed of her dirty shoes.

    Expression 28: Break open means to open with the use of force or violence

    Example: The thieves broke open the bank safe.

    Expression 29: Turn away means to dismiss

    Example: He turned away all the employees before taking the phone call from his wife.

    Expression 30: To plead guilty means to confess one's guilt

    Example: The case will continue because he did not plead guilty.

    Expression 31: To build castles in the air means to indulge in reveries

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    Common Idioms and Idiomatic Expressions for IELTS Learners Mr.Bi

    Example: The newlyweds are building castles in the air.

    Expression 32: To take pride in means to be proud of

    Example: My grandmother takes pride in her garden.

    Expression 33: Go cold turkey means to suddenly stop taking a drug which you had been taking regularly

    Example: "Did it take you a long time to quit smoking? No. I just went cold turkey, and I never smoked again."

    Expression 34: Tear down means destroy

    Example: They will tear down the house by noon.

    Expression 35: Stick by means to adhere closely to

    Example: I love him very much for sticking by me.

    Expression 36: Iron will means great determination

    Example: She may look very fragile, but she has an iron will.

    Expression 37: Good breeding means polite manner, usually formed by a good education

    Example: Everybody expects him to have good breeding because he's a Yale graduate.

    Expression 38: Crave for means to yearn for

    Example: Many pregnant women crave for green mangoes.

    Expression 39: Keep up with means to keep pace with

    Example: Allen speaks so fast that it is very hard to keep up with what he is saying.

    Expression 40: Stand up for means to defend

    Example: Even if his whole family disagrees, he will stand up for their relationship.

    Expression 41: To take a fancy to a thing means to admire someone or something as a desire to have it

    Example: Megan has taken a fancy to my dress.

    Expression 42: To move heaven and earth means to do something by using all means necessary

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    Common Idioms and Idiomatic Expressions for IELTS Learners Mr.Bi

    Example: Ken will move heaven and earth just to make his wife happy.

    Expression 43: Save your skin means save your life

    Example: Don't worry about me because I know how to defend myself. Just save your skin.

    Expression 44: hot button means hot issue

    Example: Last year the election in the US was a hot button.

    Expression 45: go fly a kite means to leave me alone

    Example: I'm very busy right now. Why don't you go fly a kite?

    Expression 46: blow off steam means to express frustration or anger

    Example: Don't blow off steam in front of your father if you don't want to be grounded for a month.

    Expression 47: at the end of one's rope means being at the limit of one's patience or endurance

    Example: I hope she did it correctly this time for I am already at the end of my rope. I do n't want to end up firing her.

    Expression 48: all over the map means the act of not sticking to the main topic of discussion

    Example: I don't like attending meetings conducted by our new boss because it's often all over the map.

    Expression 49: have a score to settle (with someone) means to have a problem to clear up with someone; to have to get even with someone about something.

    Example: I have a score to settle with John since he insulted me at our party.

    Note: a similar expression of this idiom is to settle a/the score (with someone), though they are not the same.

    Expression 50: To take (someone/something) into account means to remember to consider someone or something, to consi


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