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Paul Sparks, Online Business English Lesson Plans, Lesson Material and Ideas for Grade 2 English Conversation Lessons at Xiangtan Normal University...




Lesson 19 - Idioms



LESSON OBJECTIVES: The purpose of this lesson is to increase the vocabulary of the students, enabling them to find out new English words through a fun activity.



ace: make an "A" on a test, homework assignment, project, etc.
"Somebody said you aced the test, that's great!"

all right (1): expression of reluctant agreement.
A: "Come to the party with me. Please!"
B: "Oh, all right. I don't want to, but I will."

all right (2): fair; not particularly good.
A: "How's your chemistry class?"
B: "It's all right, I guess, but it's not the best class I've ever had."

all right (3): unharmed; in satisfactory condition.
A: "You don't look normal. Are you all right?"
B: "Yes, but I have a headache."

and then some: and much more besides.
A: "I'd guess your new computer cost about $2,000. "
B: "It cost that much and then some because I also bought extra RAM and VRAM."

as easy as pie: very easy.
"I thought you said this was a difficult problem. It isn't. In fact, it's as easy as pie."

at the eleventh hour: at the last minute; almost too late.
"Yes, I got the work done in time. I finished it at the eleventh hour, but I wasn't late.

bad-mouth: say unkind, unflattering, embarrassing (and probably untrue) things about someone.
A: "I don't believe what Bob said. Why is he bad-mouthing me?"
B: "He's probably jealous of your success."

be a piece of cake: be very easy.
A: "Bob said the test was difficult, but I thought it was a piece of cake.""

be all ears: be eager to hear what someone has to say.
A: "I just got an e-mail message from our old friend Sally."
B: "Tell me what she said. I'm all ears!"

be broke: be without money.
"No, I can't lend you ten dollars. I'm completely broke until payday."

be on the go: be very busy (going from one thing or project to another).
"I'm really tired. I've been on the go all week long."

be on the road: be traveling.
"You won't be able to contact me tomorrow because I'll be on the road."

be up and running: (for a technological process) be operational; be ready to use .
"Dave's ESL Cafe on the Web has been up and running since December 1995."

be used to (+Ving/noun): be accustomed to; not uncomfortable with.
"It won't be hard to get up at 5:00 AM. I'm used to getting up early."

beat around the bush: evade an issue; avoid giving a direct answer.
"Quit beating around the bush! If you don't want to go with me, just tell me!"

Beats me: I have no idea.
A: "What time's the party?"
B: "Beats me!"

before long: soon.
A: "I'm really tired of working."
B: "Just be patient. The weekend will be here before long."

bite off more than one can chew: take responsibility for more than one can manage.
"I'm really behind with my project. Can you help me? I'm afraid I
bit off more than I could chew!"

blabbermouth: a very talkative person--especially one who says things that should be kept secret.
"Don't say anything to Bob unless you want the whole office to know.
Bob's quite a blabbermouth."

blow one's top: become extremely angry.
A: "Was your father upset when you came home at 3 AM?"
B: "He was more than upset. He blew his top!"

the bottom line: the most essential information.
"The discussion lasted many hours. The bottom line was that
the XYZ Company isn't for sale."

Break a leg!: Good luck!
"I understand you have a job interview tomorrow. Break a leg!"

break someone's heart: make someone feel very disappointed/discouraged/sad.
"Joe broke his mother's heart when he dropped out of school."

bug: annoy; bother.
"I'm trying to concentrate! Don't bug me!"

burn the midnight oil: study/work all night or until very, very late at night.
"I'm not ready for the test tomorrow. I guess I'll have to
burn the the midnight oil."

by the skin of one's teeth: barely succeed in doing something.
"I'll have to start earlier the next time. This time I only finished by the skin of my teeth."

call it a day: stop work for the day.
"It's late and you've accomplished a lot. Why don't you call it a day?"

can't make heads or tails of something: can't understand something at all; find something confusing and illogical.
"I can't make heads or tails of your e-mail. Were you having problems
with your computer?"

catch one's eye: attract one's attention/interest.
"This brochure about Tahiti caught my eye when I was at the travel agency."

catch some Zs: sleep for a while; take a nap.
"You look tired, Dave. Why don't you catch some Zs?"

change your mind: decide to do something different from what had been decided earlier.
A: "Why are you working this week? I thought you were going to be on vacation."
B: "I changed my mind. I'm taking my vacation next month."

chow: food.
"How's the chow in the university cafeteria?" 

chow down: eat.
"It's almost 6:00. Are you ready to chow down?"

a cinch: something that's very easy to do.
A: How was the test?
B: It was a cinch. I finished it quickly and I know that all my answers were correct."

Cool it!: calm down.
"There's no need to be so upset. Just cool it!"

cost an arm and a leg: cost a lot; be very expensive.
A: "Your new car is really nice."
B: "It should be. It cost (me) an arm and a leg!"

cram: try to learn as much as possible in a very short time.
"Sidney did well on the test because he crammed for it. However, he probably
won't remember any of the information a couple of days from now."

crash course: short course designed to give a lot of knowledge/information in a very short time.
"Tom's company is sending him to a business meeting in Istanbul.
Should he take a crash course in Turkish?"

Cut it out!: stop doing something (that's annoying).
"You kids are making too much noise. Cut it out!"

Don't count your chickens before they hatch: Don't assume that something will happen until it has happened.
A: I'm sure that I'm going to win a lot of money in Las Vegas."
B: "Don't count your chickens until they hatch!"

dicey: uncertain; taking too much of a chance.
A: A friend of mine says I can make a lot of moneyif I buy stock in the XYZ company. Should I do it?
B: I wouldn't if I were you. The chances for success are too dicey."

down in the dumps: depressed; "blue."
A: "Is something wrong?"
B: "Not really, but I feel kind of down in the dumps."

drop someone a line: write to someone.
"I haven't written to my parents for a long time. I'd better drop them a line
today or tomorrow."

drag one's feet: delay; take longer than necessary to do something.
"Joe should have finished his project a week ago. Why is he dragging his feet?"

an eager beaver: a person who is always willing to volunteer or do extra work.
"Jan is certainly an eager beaver. Any time there's work to be done, she's the first to say she'll help."

Easy does it!: Be very careful! / Don't do anything too fast or too hard!
A: "I'm going to move the table just a little further from the window."
B: "Easy does it! If you move too fast, you might knock over the plant!"

an egghead: a very intelligent person.
"Jake didn't make very good grades in school, but his sister was a real egghead."

elbow grease: hard work; effort.
"Yes, the car is pretty dirty, but it'll look nice again with a little elbow grease."

far-fetched: difficult to accept; difficult to believe.
"That story's pretty far-fetched. Nobody's going to believe it."

feel blue: feel sad and depressed.
"I'm feeling blue because I haven't had any mail except bills for a long, long time."

fire someone: dismiss someone from a job because of poor performance.
"If you continue to be late for work, the company will fire you."

get going: leave.
"Look at the time! I'd better get going!"

get a kick out of something: find something amusing.
"I really get a kick out of listening to children talk. They say some very funny things."

get lost!: go away
"I wish he'd get lost and stop bothering me. I don't want to talk to him!"

get on one's nerves: irritate someone; make someone upset.
"I know you like that song, but it's getting on my nerves. Can you play something else?"

get a move on: hurry
"If you don't want to be late, you'd better get a move on."

get one's wires crossed: be confused or mistaken about something.
A: "Bill said there was a meeting this morning. Don't we have one?"
B: "No. The meeting's tomorrow. I guess Bill got his wires crossed."

get out of hand: become out of control; become badly managed.
"Your absences are getting out of hand, Bob. You'd better do something quickly to improve the situation if you want to keep your job."

Get real!: Be realistic! / Don't be naive.
A: "I'm going to Las Vegas. I know I'll win a lot of money!"
B: "Get real! You'll probably lose a lot of money!"

get up and go: energy.
"I'm really tired. I don't have any get up and go."

go with the flow: take things as they come.
"There's no need to worry. Everything will be OK if you just go with the flow."

grab a bite: get something to eat.
"I'm really hungry. Would you like to grab a bite with me?"

hard feelings: anger; animosity; bitter feelings.
A: "I'm sorry that Jim got the job instead of you."
B: "I have no hard feelings toward him; I know that he had stronger qualifications."

hard-headed: stubborn; inflexible; unwilling to change.
"I don't think Julie will change her mind. She's pretty hard-headed."

hassle (verb): annoy; bother; interrupt one's normal routine.
"If you'd stop hassling me, I might get this finished on time!"

have one's hands full: be extremely busy.
A: "Will you be able to help us this afternoon?"
B: "I'm afraid not. I'll have my hands full trying to finish my research paper."

hit the books: study.
"I wish I could go to the movies, but I've got to hit the books."

hit the hay: go to bed; go to sleep.
"It's late, so I guess I'll hit the hay."

hit the sack: go to bed.
"I'm really tired. I think I'll hit the sack."

in over one's head: in a situation that is too much / too difficult for one to manage.
"Do you have time to help me? I thought I could do this myself, but I'm afraid I'm in over my head. I just can't handle things alone."

inside out: with the inner part on the outside and the outer part on the inside.
"Why are you wearing your tee shirt inside out?"

in the black: profitable; not showing a financial loss.
"What did you do to increase profit and eliminate losses? We've been in the black for two months in a row."

in the red: unprofitable; showing a financial loss.
"We have to do something to increase profit and decrease losses. We've been in the red for two months in a row."

jump the gun: do something before it's time to do it.
A: "How did Marsha know about the party? It was supposed to be a surprise."
B: "Chuck jumped the gun. Without thinking, he said, 'I'm bringing the cake at your party;
I hope you like it!"

jump to conclusions: decide something too quickly and without thinking about it or
considering all the facts.
A: "Angela just doesn't like me. She won't even say hello."
B: "You're jumping to conclusions. Actually, she's very shy."

junk mail: unsolicited mail (usually advertisements for something you're not interested in).
"I didn't have any letters today--only junk mail."

keep an eye on: check something regularly.
"You're busy, so you'll need to keep an eye on the time.
Remember that we have to leave at 4:30."

keep an eye out for: watch for.
"I'll keep an eye out for John. If I see him, I'll tell him you want to talk to him."

keep one's chin up: remain brave and confident in a difficult situation; don't despair or worry too much.
"I know that things have been difficult for you recently, but keep your chin up. Everything will be better soon."

keep one's nose to the grindstone: stay diligent; steadily work hard, without breaks or an uneven pace.
"If I keep my nose to the grindstone, I should be finished by the end of the day."

keep one's fingers crossed: hope for the best.
A: "How did you do on the test?"
B: "I think I passed, but I won't know until tomorrow. I'm keeping my fingers crossed!"

know something inside out: know/understand something thoroughly.
"If you have a question about grammar, ask Dr. Martin. She knows grammar inside out."

lend someone a hand: help someone.
"I can't do this alone. Can you lend me a hand?"

leave well enough alone: do nothing (because doing something would make things worse).
"Don't tell Jim how to discipline his children. Leave well enough alone."

a let-down: a disappointment; something that's very disappointing.
"It must've been quite a let-down not to be chosen for that job. I know you really hoped you would get it."

Let sleeping dogs lie: Don't cause problems by doing something when it isn't necessary.
"I know that what Julie said made you angry, but let sleeping dogs lie. If you say or do anything, you'll only make things worse."

live from hand to mouth: survive on very little money; have only enough money to pay for basic needs.
"Chuck and Alice are living from hand to mouth since Chuck lost his job."

live and let live: don't unnecessarily make things difficult; do as you wish and let others do as they wish.
"I'm not going to criticize Alice's family just because their habits are a little strange. My motto is 'Live and let live.'"

make a mountain out of a molehill: make something seem much more important than it really is.
"Calm down. There's really nothing to worry about. You're making a mountain out of a molehill."

make up one's mind: decide what to do.
A: Where are you going on your vacation?
B: Maybe Canada, maybe Mexico. I can't make up my mind."

No way!: Absolutely not! / Definitely not!
A: "You didn't open this letter addressed to me, did you?"
B: "No way! I'd never read look at else's mail!"

nosh: snack.
"There's plenty in the refrigerator if you want something to nosh on."

Not on your life!: Absolutely not! (a strong "no").
A: "Someone said you cheated on the test. Did you?"
B: "Not on your life!"

now and then: occasionally; from time to time.
A: "Do you see Jennifer often?"
B: "No, not really. I see her now and then, but not regularly."

on the dot: exactly at a given time.
"We're leaving at 9:00 on the dot. If you're late, we'll go without you."

on the cutting edge: using the most recent technology.
"The university's computer lab is (on the) cutting edge. It has all the latest hardware and software."

once in a while: occasionally; from time to time.
A: "Would you like coffee or tea?"
B: "Coffee, please. I drink tea once in a while, but I generally drink coffee."

over one's head: too difficult or complicated for someone to understand.
"This explanation of cgi scripting is over my head. Can you explain it in a less technical way?"

plastic: credit card(s).
"Oh, no! I forgot to get any cash! I hope this restaurant accepts plastic!"

pull someone's leg: tease someone by trying to make her/him believe something that's exaggerated or untrue.
A: "Wow! Carl has done some really amazing things!"
B: "Don't believe everything he tells you. He was probably pulling your leg."

quite a few: several; numerous.
"I don't think I can meet you after work. I have quite a few errands that I have to do."

a quick study: someone who learns new things quickly and easily.
A: "Annie seems to be doing well at her new job."
B: "I'm not surprised. She's a quick study."

R and R: rest and relaxation (a vacation).
"I think you're working too hard, Dave. You need some R and R."

rain or shine: no matter what the weather is.
"We're leaving tomorrow, rain or shine."

rain cats and dogs: rain very hard.
"You can't leave just now! It's raining cats and dogs and you don't have an umbrella or raincoat!"

read someone's mind: know what someone is thinking.
A: "I'll be you're thinking of what you're going to have for dinner."
B: "Hey, did you read my mind?"
A: "No. I just know that you're always hungry and lunch was several hours ago!"

sleep on it: take at least a day to think about something before making a decision.
"The job that you're offering me sounds really good, but I'd like
to sleep on it before giving you my final decision."

a snap: something that's very easy to do.
A: "Is your job difficult?"
B: "No, actually it's a snap. In fact, it's so easy that it's a little bit boring."

sooner or later: eventually.
"You've been working too hard for too long. If you don't relax a little,
sooner or later you're going to get sick."

state of the art: using the latest technology.
"The company is very proud of the equipment in its
computer room. It's state of the art."

tight-fisted: very frugal; unwilling to spend money unnecessarily.
A: Do you think Charlie will donate any money to the activities fund?
B: No way! He's too tight-fisted!

two-faced: deceitful; disolyal; someone who pretends to be a friend but isn't.
"I thought he was my friend, but he's two-faced. He says nice things to me when we're together, but makes jokes about me when we aren't.

under the weather: ill; sick; unwell.
"Ted was feeling under the weather yesterday, so he decided not to go to work."

until you're blue in the face: forever.
"You can talk until you're blue in the face, but I won't change my mind."

wear out one's welcome: make someone uncomfortable by visiting too long.
A: "Can't you stay two or three more days?"
B: "No. I don't want to wear out my welcome."

wet behind the ears: inexperienced and naive.
"Don't include Fred as part of the bargaining team.He's just started working here and is still too wet behind the ears."

What's up?: What's new? What's happening?
"Hi, Dave. What's up?"

wishy-washy: uncommitted; without an opinion of one's own.
"Don't be so wishy-washy. Tell us how you really feel."

You've got to be kidding!: What you said can't be true. What you said is very surprising/hard to believe
A: "Did you know that Bob quit his job?"
B: "You've got to be kidding!"

yummy: delicious.
"Have you tried the cookies that Jonathan baked? They're yummy!"

zilch: nothing.
A: "How much money do you have?"
B: "Zilch. I'm broke until payday."


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