Nine English Idioms to Help You Sound Fluent

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Sometimes it’s hard to understand fluent speakers of the English language when they start using idioms in a conversation. That’s not entirely your fault.

Idioms (or peribahasa in Malay) are a group of words in a fixed order whose meaning differs from the phrase’s literal meaning. 

Because idioms are unique to the culture of a particular region, you cannot simply take a wild guess of their meaning without listening to sentence examples. 

Interesting fact: Did you know that there are an estimated 25,000 idiomatic expressions in the English language? Imagine attempting to memorise them all and getting confused in the process! 

That’s why my guest on our podcast today, AIia Zul, is going to help us break down nine idioms (a manageable number!) that are useful for use in meetings and conversations.

Alia, my friend from back at university, is an educational technologist who designs content for online classes for young learners. I thought it would be a nice change to have a guest join me for a simple explanation of the following nine idioms:

  1. It’s raining cats and dogs 
  2. Go on a wild goose chase 
  3. It takes two to tango 
  4. The pot calling the kettle black 
  5. See eye to eye 
  6. Beat a dead horse 
  7. Make hay while the sun shines 
  8. The elephant in the room 
  9. Get out of hand 

Notice that four of them make reference to animals (for cultural and historical reasons), whilst some can be used to address matters like teamwork, responsibility, problems, management control and more. 

Check out the video to hear Alia’s explanation and sentence examples. 

You can also listen to this session on SpotifyApple Podcasts or Google Podcasts.

Your challenge is to take notes and start using three or four of these idioms in your next conversation.

To a fluent and confident you!


Best regards,



Note: This episode was originally recorded for Learn English Bersama Madam Azimah on ManisFM.

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We’re Azimah, Amnah and Aisya from Malaysia. We created My English Matters as an online platform to help people improve their English.

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