Avoid Misunderstanding Idiomatic Expressions

Edited by Eng

Although it is impossible to be familiar with all idiomatic expressions out there, there are some ways to avoid misunderstanding and to be able to guess somehow what is being said. The more common ones are easy to follow, but at some point, you will encounter some newer ones which you have not heard of before. When this happens, here are some ways for you to get an idea what is being said:

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  1. 1
    Consider the context of the sentence
    This is a very old advice that parents and teachers would normally teach kids when they are just starting to learn to read. This applies well enough when you hear some unusual phrases in a conversation. You have to consider what the overall context is in the conversation and from there, you will be able to make a guess of how the idiomatic expression relates to the conversation. Of course, this makes the assumption that you are listening actively to the conversation and that your mind is not dwindling somewhere else.
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  2. 2
    Confirm your understanding
    Consider the context of the sentence and if you want to make sure your understanding is correct, you may want to convert the sentence into a simple language and get the agreement of the other person if your understanding is correct or not. There's no harm in wanting to clarify something that you have heard in a conversation.
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  3. 3
    Consider the body language of the speaker
    Body language helps give further meaning to any spoken language. If you see that the overall appearance is light and that he may be joking, then consider that in putting meaning into an idiomatic expression. Some of these expressions may not have a positive meaning if the words are taken literally. However, if you link together all other clues that you get in the conversation, then you will realize that it has a totally different meaning.
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  4. 4
    Widen your horizons by reading constantly
    There's no better way to get more familiar with idiomatic expressions but to read different types of materials constantly. If you read novels, you will find a lot of idiomatic expressions there. And what's good with that is since you are reading it and you taking your own pace, you actually have the opportunity to check the meaning by yourself. You can pause as you read and carefully examine the way the sentence has been structured and from there, you can reflect as to what it means. After that, if you see the same expression in another sentence, you'll better understand the true meaning of it.
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  5. 5
    Read an idiomatic expressions handbook
    It will be very helpful if you spend some time everyday reading a few entries in an idiomatic expressions handbook. The more idea you have prior to hearing an expression, the easier it will be for you to fully comprehend the meaning of what's being said.
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  6. 6
    Ask a question
    If all else fails and you really can't figure out what is being said, there is nothing wrong in directly asking the person you are talking to for some clarifications. You can be very honest that you didn't understand a particular line and that's why you want some clarification.
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APA (American Psychological Association)
Avoid Misunderstanding Idiomatic Expressions. (2015). In VisiHow. Retrieved Mar 26, 2017, from http://visihow.com/Avoid_Misunderstanding_Idiomatic_Expressions

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MLA (Modern Language Association) "Avoid Misunderstanding Idiomatic Expressions." VisiHow, visihow.com/Avoid_Misunderstanding_Idiomatic_Expressions Accessed 26 Mar 2017.

Chicago / Turabian VisiHow.com. "Avoid Misunderstanding Idiomatic Expressions." Accessed Mar 26, 2017. http://visihow.com/Avoid_Misunderstanding_Idiomatic_Expressions.

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