These are all examples of commonly used idioms in the English language. Most native speakers of a language are comfortable with idioms in their native tongue. However, for second language learners, these can be very tricky. This is because idioms often have little to no connection to the literal meaning of the words they are made up of. Let’s take a look at an example.
Joe kicked the bucket.
If we look at the meanings of these words literally, this sentence says that Joe used his foot to kick an actual, physical bucket. However, because we are familiar with this expression, we understand it to mean that Joe has died.
You are going to write a short explanation for one of the following idioms. Imagine that your reader is an alien from another planet. He has just arrived on Earth, has never heard this expression, and does not understand its meaning at all. You should explain the idiom in two ways -
Literally - What is the actual, literal, meaning of the phrase? Refer back to the example of kicking the bucket. The literal meaning is that someone used his or her foot to strike a large container.
Figuratively - What does this phrase mean for native speakers who are already familiar with it? The figurative meaning of kicking the bucket, for example, is dying.
Then, try to explain to your alien why your idiomatic expression means what it does. Try to find a connection between its literal meaning, and its figurative, or idiomatic meaning.
Choose one of the following:
- Can’t see the forest for the trees
- It’s all Greek to me
- Curiosity killed the cat
- Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth
- Get down to brass tacks
- Go out on a limb
- Let sleeping dogs lie
- Not playing with a full deck
- Something smells fishy
- Wear your heart on your sleeve