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Do You Know Your Arse From Your Elbow? Learn Your English Idioms

11 Idioms to help you sound like a native English speaker

Idioms are a set of words exclusive to each individual language. The meaning of these words or structures is often deceiving and utterly different from the literal translation, confusing new language learners. They reflect the country’s culture and familiarising yourself with them truly deepens your knowledge of the local, colloquial, everyday language. Using these terms will be of great benefit when travelling, working or settling in the UK. Especially if you want to impress the locals and show you have a deeper connection with their language than most foreign speakers.

Turn yourself into an advanced level foreign speaker

If you’ve been learning English and are now at a stage where you have achieved good basic understanding, this list can help you take your skills to the next level. Starting with our list of English idioms, you can start building a vocabulary list which you can enhance by copying phrases you read or hear in your target language. This vocabulary will provide you with that added knowledge that helps you become the sophisticated bilingual speaker you’ve always wanted to be! With these local idioms up your sleeve, you can’t fail to impress the natives you meet and chat with. Knowing these phrases demonstrates deeper cultural awareness and will aid in social integration, earning some respect for your language skills from the Brits in no time.

Get a real grasp of the English language with the following:

Once you’ve learned the real meaning of these idioms and how to use them correctly, you’ll sound like you’ve lived in the UK for years. Here’s our starter list to help you sound like a pro. See below our top 11 and their meaning:

  1. He doesn’t know his arse from his elbow – we are not referring to someone who has a poor understanding of biology, but instead someone who has made a mistake or keeps getting things wrong.
  2. Working your socks off – this has nothing to do with removing anyone’s socks and actually refers to a person that is working extra hard.
  3. It’s a piece of cake – if the English were actually referring to cake with this one, we’d need more bakers! When used this means that something is really easy.
  4. Over the moon – an unlikely place to be, unless we are referring to being really happy, a much more frequent occurrence.
  5. The ball’s in your court – not only used when playing sport as you may have guessed. It actually means that the decision or power lies with you. It’s your choice.
  6. Barking up the wrong tree – no dogs involved when using this term or trees for that matter! It simply means that the person in question has misunderstood, or got the wrong idea.
  7. Biting off more than you can chew – this is not about some hungry person stuffing their face with food. Instead, this phrase refers to someone who has taken on more than they can manage.
  8. It costs an arm and a leg – don’t worry, no limbs have been used as a form of payment! This is a way to express that something was very expensive.
  9. At the drop of a hat – no reference to headgear here. This just means that something is done instantly.
  10. You’ve missed the boat – this doesn’t mean you’re late for your travel plans or missed your holiday. It’s an expression of being too late to make the most of something or having missed an opportunity.
  11. Don’t count your chickens before they hatch – you don’t have to be a farmer to use this one! This expresses the need to wait for an outcome before assuming a result.

The importance of idiomatic language learning for language professionals

If you’re a language teacher, interpreter, translator or content writer working in a foreign language or between a foreign language and your own, knowledge of idiomatic terms is crucial. Idioms and proverbs are an ideal way to directly connect with a native speaker, crossing linguistic and cultural barriers and demonstrating mastery of their language. This is why at BeTranslated we assure all our professional translators are certified native speakers, guaranteeing cultural sensitivity in our translations, both in understanding the source text and writing the final translation.

And there you have it.  Now you are well on your way to communicating like a true English speaker!

If you are in need of any help translating and presenting your business documents, marketing material, web content, offers, etc in a professional and authentic way, contact us at our translation service agency where we are ready to assist you with all that you require.

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