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Example Sentence
To be a dime a dozen
To be very common or have little value.
Books like this are a dime a dozen.
Better late than never!
It’s better to happen late than not to happen at all.
He finally gave me the money he owed me. It’s better late than never!
Break a leg!
Good luck!
I hope the exam goes well tomorrow. Break a leg!
To cut somebody some slack
Not being overcritical.
“He’s late again”…“Cut him some slack – his dad is in hospital at the minute”.
To cut corners
To do something with less effort to save time or money.
I don’t like cutting corners when I’m preparing a dinner for guests.
Easy does it!
A way of telling someone to do something slowly or carefully.
“Can I throw it up there?”…”Yes, but it’s breakable so easy does it!”.
To get something out of your system
To do something you’ve been wanting to do so you can move on.
Let the children play for another hour to get it out of their system.
To get your act together
To start working harder or organising yourself in a more effective way.
He’s so disorganized and untidy! He really needs to get his act together!
To give someone the benefit of the doubt
To start trusting what someone says.
She said she was late because her train was cancelled, so we gave her the benefit of the doubt.
To go back to the drawing board
To start over again because it isn’t working.
If our predictions are wrong, then we’ll have to go back the drawing board!
To hang in there
Not giving up.
Just hang in there! You only have three more days to revise before the exam.
It’s not rocket science
A way of saying that you think something is not complicated or difficult to understand.
I just need to put the washing in the washing machine – it’s not rocket science!
To let someone off the hook
Not holding someone responsible for something.
At first, he was suspected of stealing the money, but he was left off the hook when they saw the real thief on the camera.
To make a long story short
To tell something briefly without giving all the details.
To make a long story short, she ended up going to Rome on holiday.
No pain, no gain!
You have to work hard for something.
You have to go to the gym every day to see results – No pain, no gain!
To be on the ball.
To be doing a good job and reacting quickly to changes or developments.
You’ve thought of some great ideas – You’re really on the ball today!
To pull someone’s leg
To joke with someone.
Stop pulling my leg – you didn’t win the lottery!
So far, so good!
Things are going well so far.
Everything is working well in the new programme – So far, so good!
The last straw
The latest problem in a series of problems, that makes it hard to continue or accept the situation.
He’s arrived late again morning – that’s the last straw! I’m going to have to give him a warning.
Speak of the devil
The person we were talking about has just showed up.
“Did you hear what happened at John’s house yesterday? Oh, here he is… speak of the devil”.
The best of both worlds
To enjoy the benefits of two very different things at the same time.
He lives in the country and works in the city so he has the best of both worlds.
Time flies when you’re having fun!
You don’t realise how long something lasts because you’re having fun.
I can’t believe it’s time to go home already! Time flies when you’re having fun!
To make matters worse
To make things worse.
Don’t say anything to him - you’ll make matters worse.
To be under the weather
To be sick.
He’s feeling under the weather today.
To wrap/get your head around something
To begin to understand something complicated.
I’m finding it hard to get my head around these complex issues.
You can say that again!
To completely agree with what someone has said.
“It so warm in here!”… “You can say that again!”
Your guess is as good as mine
I have no idea.
“What is she doing down there?”… “Your guess is as good as mine!”
A blessing in disguise
A good thing that seemed bad at first.
Losing my job was a blessing in disguise because I found a better job within a month.
To kill two birds with one stone
To get two things done at the same time.
I killed two birds with one stone and picked up the groceries on the way to collect the children.
To spill the beans
To let secret information become known.
We’ll all be there at 6 for the surprise party – don’t spill the beans!
To catch somebody red-handed
To discover someone while they’re doing something bad or illegal.
He was caught red-handed taking money from the till.
To bring something to light
To discover something or make it known publicly.
These problems should have been brought to light much earlier.
To get wind of something
To hear a piece of information that someone else was trying to keep secret.
I don’t want my colleagues to get wind of the fact that I’m leaving.
To keep your head above water
To be able to manage, especially when you have financial difficulties.
The business has lost a lot of money this year, but we are trying to keep our heads above water.
To take something in your stride
To deal with a problem calmly and not let it affect other things you are doing.
When he became famous, he learned to take criticism in his stride.
To sink or swim
To be given no help and left to succeed or fail on your own.
My manager gave me no help when I started – I was left to sink or swim!
To hold your own
To be equally successful in a situation.
Jack held his own in the argument.
To live to tell the tale
To deal with or continue to live after a difficult or unpleasant situation.
We had a horrendous journey to get there, but we lived to tell the tale!
To make ends meet
To have just enough money to get what you need.
Every month, we have just enough money to make ends meet.
One thing leads to another
A series of events where each event is the result of a previous one.
At first, we were just talking to each other now and again, but one thing led to another, and he asked me to go on a date.
To open the door to something
To allow something new to begin.
Doing the course opened the door to new possibilities for employment.
To get someone’s wires crossed
To have a different understanding of the same situation
We must have got our wires crossed – I thought you were coming today instead of tomorrow.
To get something off your chest
To express something that you have thinking about and want to say.
He went to meet the councillor to get some things off his chest.
To be in the right place at the right time
To be in the best position to make the best of an opportunity.
He met his favourite actor because he was in the right place at the right time.
To have something going for you
To have things going well towards a successful end result.
He’s got a great career, a nice house and a lovely family. He’s got everything going for him!
All good things must come to an end
When enjoyable experiences can’t last forever.
I’ve enjoyed every minute of the holiday, but all good things must come to an end.
To be on your guard
To be careful to avoid getting into a dangerous situation or being tricked.
If you’re walking home late at night, you always have to be on your guard.
To keep your eye on the ball
To keep your attention on what you are doing.
To succeed in business, you have to keep your eye on the ball.
To keep your eyes peeled
To watch very carefully for someone or something
Keep your eyes peeled for the delivery man arriving.
Out of/from the corner of your eye
Seeing something happening to the side of you.
I saw something moving out of the the corner of my eye.
To get out of hand

To get out of control. 

More and more people

arrived at the part and

it got out of hand.

To bite the bullet

To get something over with

because it is inevitable.

I hate going to the

doctors, but I’m just

going to have to bite

the bullet.

To call it a day

To stop working on


I’m so exhausted –

Let’s call it a day!

To bite off more than you can chew.

To take on something that you

are not able to finish.

We bit off more than

we could chew in the

original proposal.

Curiosity killed the cat

A way of warning someone

not to ask too many questions

because it can lead to harm.

You need to be careful

what you say at the

meeting today.

Remember, curiosity

killed the cat!

To be the best thing since sliced bread

An excellent person, thing or


She thinks the new

touchscreen computer

is the best thing since

sliced bread!

To beat around the bush

To avoid speaking about

something directly.

Stop beating around

the bush and get to the


The ball is in somebody’s court

They have all the power and

can make the next move.

It’s up to you what

you want to do – the

ball is in your court.

To cost an arm and a leg

Something is very expensive

or valuable

The repair work cost

an arm and leg.

A penny for your thoughts?

A way of asking someone

what they are thinking.

You haven’t said very

much today – a penny

for your thoughts?

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