Idioms are one of the most important parts of speaking fluent English and in order to master the language you most certainly must master how and when to use idioms. Idioms are defined as a combination of words that have a metaphorical, figurative meaning, one that is completely different from their literal meaning. A quick example “It’s raining cats and dogs today” of course, doesn’t mean cats and dogs are literally falling out of the sky, it does however mean that there is a heavy rainfall today.
The correct use of idioms can take you to the next level of fluency and make you sound as a true native speaker, a native speakers that can appreciate the relevance of creative language. This article is meant to show how to increase the quality of your English and improve your communication while showing you how to remain relevant when using idioms.
Idioms are a great way of showing creativity and mastery of the language. The English language has around 5000 idiomatic expressions and around 7000 if you count expressions from the U.S., New-Zealand, Australia and so on. They can give color and meaning to an otherwise boring and banal language.
If you ever need to write an essay, a letter or anything really, idioms transform the text giving it a more creative and better sounding structure. They can help your writing regardless of what emotion or message you’re trying to convey, from happiness to anger, from sadness to sarcasm and everything in between.
Idioms are a way to better understand a country’s popular culture. As idioms reflect the tradition, social traits and habits of a country, they can give an interesting and unique view into how that country creates and updates its culture.
Idioms can make communication more efficient. As they are metaphorical expressions of certain events, human habits, natural occurrences etc. they can make communication much more efficient as certain issues can be addressed by simply using an idiom, thus avoiding the need to discuss it in greater detail.
While idioms are a great way to improve your language skills they need to be understood and relevant to actually be of any help.
The first “don’t” when it comes to idioms is to never use them if you don’t understand their meaning. While some idioms are obvious or so ridiculous that they can’t possibly be taken literally, others are subtle enough that a novice English speaker might confuse their meaning and get him or herself into a humiliating situation or simply have a hard time making themselves understood.
Another “don’t” is to never use idioms that have lost their relevance. Idioms have always existed in some form or another. Some examples of idioms are quite rural or archaic but they are given as an example to English students because they are easily understandable. This, however, doesn’t mean they are still relevant in day to day communication and can make someone sound out of place.
The final thing everyone should avoid is using idioms too often. Idioms can be a great way to improve your language skills, make communication more efficient but if used too often can be quite cringe inducing and can make even the best speaker sound ridiculous.