English idioms are a group of words which have a meaning that is not obvious from looking at the individual words. They have developed over time and so they might seem random to you. English idioms often rely on analogies and metaphors.
To understand English as it is spoken in real life, you have to be familiar with idioms. They are used so much in everyday English that it is important to be aware of them. Some might even sound familiar to you from the German language.
- when pigs fly – this means that something will never happen
When pigs fly she’ll tidy up her room.
- tough cookie – a very determined person, a person who is difficult to deal with
There is a tough cookie on the phone, he insists to talk to the manager, shall I put him through?
- a piece of cake – when something is extremely easy to do
The test was a piece of cake.
- to go the extra mile – to make a special effort
If you want to become proficient in English, you’ll have to go the extra mile and start learning idioms.
- to costs an arm and a leg – when something is very expensive
Fuel these days costs and arm and a leg.
- don’t judge a book by its cover – this means you should not decide upon something based just on outward appearances
I thought this no-brand bread would be horrible; turns out you can’t judge a book by its cover.
- cash cow – the part of a business that always makes a profit and that provides money for the rest of the business
The new product became the company’s cash cow.
- too many chiefs, not enough Indians – used to describe a situation in which there are too many people telling other people what to do, and not enough people to do the work
There are too many chiefs and not enough Indians in that company.
- to hit the nail on the head – doing or saying something that is precisely right
He hit the nail on the head when he said this company needs more HR support.
- to kill two birds with one stone – to solve two problems at once
By taking my dad on holiday, I killed two birds with one stone. I got to go away but also spend time with him.