Essential English Idioms
Here are the most common and essential English idioms which are used commonly in our daily conversations. At least two examples are attached to the idioms for the better comprehension. At the end of the idioms some tests and questions have been provided to you.
to dress up : to wear formal clothes, to dress very nicely
- We should definitely dress up to go to the theater.
- You don’t have to dress up for Mike’s party.
at last : finally, after a long time
- We waited for hours and then the train arrived at last.
- Now that I am sixteen, at last I can drive my parents’ car.
as usual : as is the general case, as is typical
- George is late for class as usual. This seems to happen every day.
- As usual, Dora received first prize in the swimming contest. It’s the third consecutive year that she has won.
to find out: get information about, to determine (S)
This idiom is separable only when a pronoun is used, as in the second example.
- Will you please try to find out what time the airplane arrives?
- I’ll call right now to find it out.
to look at : give one’s attention to; to watch
- The teacher told us to look at the blackboard and not at our books.
- I like to walk along a country road at night and look at the stars.
to look for : to try to find, to search for
An adverb phrase such as all over can be put between the verb and preposition, as in the second example.However, the idiom cannot be separated by a noun or pronoun.
- He’s spent over an hour looking for the pen that he lost.
- So there you are! We’ve looked all over for you.
all right : acceptable, fine; yes, okay
This idiom can also be spelled alright in informal usage.
- He said that it would be all right to wait in her office until she returned.
- Do you want me to turn off the TV? Alright, if you insist.
all along: all the time, from the beginning (without change)
- She knew all along that we’d never agree with his plan.
- You’re smiling! Did you know all along that I’d give you a birthday present?
little by little: gradually, slowly (also: step by step )
- Karen’s health seems to be improving little by little.
- If you study regularly each day, step by step your vocabulary will increase.
to tire out : to make very weary due to difficult conditions or hard effort (also: to wear out ) (S)
- The hot weather tired out the runners in the marathon.
- Does studying for final exams wear you out? It makes me feel worn out!
to call on: to ask for a response from; to visit (also: to drop in on)
- Jose didn’t know the answer when the teacher called on him.
- Last night several friends called on us at our home.
- Why don’t we drop in on Sally a little later?
never mind: don’t be concerned about it; ignore what was just said
- When he spilled his drink on my coat, I said, “Never mind. It needs to be cleaned anyway.”
- So you weren’t listening to me again. Never mind; it wasn’t important.
A. Choose the appropriate idiomatic expression to substitute for the italicized word or words in eachsentence below. Idioms from previous lessons are indicated by number.
1. Nan is trying to find the purse that she lost yesterday.
a. finding out
b. looking at
c. looking for
2. As is typical, Doug is late for the meeting.
a. At last
b. All along
c. As usual
3. Were you able to determine what his occupation is?
a. to find out
b. to pick up (Lesson 1)
c. to call on
4. I am very weary after all that physical exercise today.
a. turned off (Lesson 1)
b. tired out
c. never mind
5. John’s mother knew that he wasn’t telling the truth from the beginning.
a. all along
b. all right
c. little by little
6. Some old friends of mine visited us last night.
a. called on
b. called up (Lesson 1)
c. wore out
7. Eventually, Mario will be able to speak English better than he does now.
a. Never mind
b. Sooner or later (Lesson 1)
c. At last
8. Is it acceptable for Mary to borrow our car for a few hours?
a. right away (Lesson 1)
b. all right
c. step by step
9. Would you please give your attention to me while I’m talking?
a. dress up
b. look at
c. wear out
10. They waited for forty-five minutes until finally the waiter brought their food.
a. at last
b. little by little
c. at first (Lesson 1)
B. Fill in each blank with the appropriate form of an idiomatic expression from this unit only.
Bob: Jim, should we ___________________________ for the party tonight?
Jim: No, informal clothes are fine I’m ______________________ my shoes. Have you seen them?
Bob: No. Did you check that closet by the front door?
Jim: Of course, I did! Gosh, my legs hurt. I’m really _____________________ from playing so much soccer
Bob: What did you say?
Jim: Oh, __________________________. It wasn’t important.
Bob: Sorry, I’m ____________________ the TV news. It’s about the robbery.
Jim: Have the police ______________________ who stole the million dollars?
Bob: No, they haven’t.
Jim: ______________________ I’ve found my shoes! They were in that closet by the door
Bob: I told you so!