Idioms are expressions that have a figurative meaning and cannot be understood through their literal interpretation. This means that they are different from what is traditionally implied by the words themselves. One of the most popular idioms in English is “a drop in the bucket.” This phrase means to do something small and inconsequential, or for an event to not make much difference. It can also be used when referring to a large number of people as a way of comparing them with other quantities, such as drops in a bucket. 

To complement your English classes in Singapore, becoming familiar with some of the common idioms used in conversations can help you express yourself better. This article will provide you with more examples of idiomatic phrases so that you can start using these popular English expressions yourself!

Know These 15 Common Idioms

1. On the ball


Means – sharp, intelligent, aware of the current situation.
Example – In the real-estate business, you should always be on the ball. Otherwise, you may not make profits.


2. Once in a blue moon


Means – rarely, not so frequently.
Example – My family is quite thrifty. So, it’s only once in a blue moon that we spend lavishly on food.

3. Every cloud has a silver lining


Means – every negative or bad situation has a good aspect. The silver lining is indicating the sun behind the clouds.
Example – John’s company fired him and understandably, he was upset about it. But he wrote about his experience and became a successful blogger guiding others through their career journeys. This milestone made him realise – every cloud has a silver lining.

4. A blessing in disguise


Means – an apparently bad or unlucky event that turns out to be a fortunate one.
Example – It was her first day at the office. But there was heavy rain and as a result, she missed her morning train. Later at work, her colleague told her that the train had met with a horrible accident. At that moment, she thought,” What a blessing in disguise.”

5. Food for thought


Means – something you should seriously think about or consider.
Example – Understanding the stock market has definitely given me food for thought. I think I may start investing in stocks.

6. Rule of thumb


Means – a principle or method that’s only based on practical experiences. But it has no scientific or logical support.
Example – Before carrying out conversations in English, a key rule of thumb is to always practise on your own first.

7. Call it a day


Means – to stop what you are doing. Because you are tired or you have done enough.
Example – Once I have typed above 10,000 words, I usually call it a day to rest.

8. Kill two birds with one stone


Means – succeed in/complete two jobs through a single action.
Example – After taking up English courses for a few months now, I enjoy learning this new language and am starting to contribute translation services in my workplace. It’s like killing two birds with one stone.

9. Feeling under the weather


Means – feeling unwell, tired, or ill.
Example – After eating too much street food, he is feeling under the weather now.

10. Don’t cry over spilled milk


Means – don’t get disappointed about the past events. Because you can’t change those moments.
Example – Tony barely passed his test and began to cry. But, his teacher patted his shoulder and said, “Don’t cry over spilled milk, okay? Now, you just need to know where you went wrong and avoid making the same mistakes.”

11. Fish out of water


Means – feeling uncomfortable in a strange or hostile situation.
Example – Having moved to a new school, he feels like a fish out of water as everyone already knows each other.

12. Go the extra mile


Means – to put in more effort to please somebody, to do something special to impress a person.
Example – This travel agency is truly excellent. They are always ready to go the extra mile for their tourists.

13. Throw caution to the wind


Means – to act without considering the consequences, to do an activity without thinking about the negative sides.
Example – Samantha is never one to throw caution to the wind. She always makes a decision after much consideration. 

14. Play by the ear


Means – to do something according to the situation and without any previously-made plan.
Example – It’s my first time attending English courses in this school! So, I may have to play by the ear.

15. Hit the books


Means – To start studying
Example – Interested to improve your English and know more idioms? It’s time to hit the books here at ULC. Check out our Youtube channel and get started in our English courses today.

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