Understand Idiomatic Expressions

Edited by Timbuktu, Charmed, Rose B, Lynn and 5 others

We all know that every language has phrases that cannot be understood literally. Even if you know the meaning of all the words and you understand the grammar completely but the meaning of the phrase is still confusing or may be different. This is just almost the same as trying to translate from a different language word for word that may just result into a different meaning. With idioms you may understand each word but you cannot interpret the meaning word for word. You have to do dig more and go deeper to understand what is behind the phrase.

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What is the meaning of idiomatic expressions?

Idiomatic expressions or simply idioms, are those verbal images that can add life to our communications, in writing and in speech. They liven up how we describe some people, things or even events that we encounter in our lives, compared with just using simple words, which are bland. We make use of these expressions to make our language more exciting and more meaningful. Having a good knowledge on how these idiomatic expressions are used, we can make our daily communication more effective.

To learn more about the idiomatic expression aside from taking English classes

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    You may also use the television or movies as your tool, as many characters in the movies use idiomatic expression.
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  2. 2
    Searching online also helps you to know what a phrase means instead of just trying to understand everything word for word.
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  3. 3
    Reading books is also helpful.
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  4. 4
    It is also recommended to have a dictionary of idioms.
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  5. 5
    By doing these things, you will not misinterpret what others may say, or sometimes you just tend to say, by using idiomatic expression.
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Idiomatic expression examples:

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    There are no flies on someone
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    This means someone is not slow. This person is not wasting time. (If you were to translate this literally, it would mean that there are no flies (insects) on someone. This is totally confusing if you translate or define each word to its meaning.
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  2. 2
    Have feet of clay
    .
    This means to have a defect of character.
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  3. 3
    Have money to burn
    .
    This means to have a lot of money, to have so much money that some can be wasted.
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  4. 4
    Food for thought
    .
    This means something to think about.
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  5. 5
    Fall between two stools
    .
    To come somewhere between two possibilities and fail to meet the requirement of either.
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  6. 6
    Dead and buried
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    This means gone forever.
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  7. 7
    Keep bankers hours
    .
    To work less than eight hours a day
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So if you encounter phrases that don't seem to add up or make sense, even if the grammar is correct, do not define the meaning literally to not interpret someone's words or phrase to something else. Always try to check what it means first.

The most useful technology to check and research things now is through online.

How to Avoid Misunderstanding Idiomatic Expressions

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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    Consider the context of the sentence
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    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
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    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
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    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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If you have problems with any of the steps in this article, please ask a question for more help, or post in the comments section below.

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Categories : Communications & Education | PL Check GREEN

Recent edits by: Nuance, Eng, Christine dela Cruz

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