7 Common Idiomatic Expressions in English to Start Using Today

Nov 18, 2015 | 2 comments

7 (Really Useful) Common Expressions in English

Love idioms in English?

Curious what someone means when they say:

  • “That was delicious, but not I’m in a food coma!”
  • “It wasn’t easy, but I quit cold turkey.”
  • “Go ahead and try it! You’ll find out that it’s really a piece of cake.”

Take a 5-minute break from work, learn some new fun and useful expressions in English, and then be sure to practice! You can share your practice examples in the comments section below.

A Piece of Cake

Example 1:

“I started preparing for this exam months ago – it should be a piece of cake!”

Example 2:

Person A: “How did the presentation go?”

Person B: “I was so nervous before the presentation but it was really a piece of cake!”

We say that something was “a piece of cake” to express that it was very easy to do or accomplish; it was much easier than we expected.


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Shoulda Coulda Woulda

Person A: “I’m so frustrated! I really wanted to attend the conference next week but I waited too long to register and now the registration is closed”

Person B: Should coulda woulda. No use in worrying about it now – do you know anyone else going? Maybe you can get information from a colleague or friend?”

This phrase is a great example of connecting speech sounds.

  • Shoulda = should have
  • Coulda = could have
  • Woulda = would have

In other words, yes you should have, could have and would have done something but now it is too late, there is nothing you can do, there is no use in worrying about it.

We use this to express our regret or frustration over something we didn’t do.

Cold Turkey

Person A: “I have got to stop smoking! I just signed up for marathon and I have to start training for it. When I run now I cough and cough – it feels terrible. But I really want to succeed in this marathon. It is one of my life goals.”

Persona B: “So what are you going to do? How are you going to quit?”

Person A: “I don’t know. I think I’m just going to stop cold turkey.”

To quit or to stop something cold turkey means to stop or quit immediately.

We use this expression when we stop or quit something that is an addiction and in which there may be difficult in quitting, for example: smoking, drinking too much alcohol, doing drugs.

No Big Deal

Example 1:

Person A: “I know you have a lot to do today but is there any way you could send a quick email to all the employees about the upcoming holiday party?”

Person B: “Sure, no big deal. I can get that done today.”

Example 2:

Person A: “Wow – congratulations! What a great accomplishment for you to win Employee of the Year!”

Person B: “Ah, it’s no big deal. It should really be an award for my whole department – our successes this year were a team effort.”

No big deal can have two possible meanings:

  1. We use it in a response to say that something is not difficult, hard or troublesome for us to do.
  2. We use it in response to a compliment that makes us feel embarrassed so we respond with this expression to say it isn’t really very special or important.

Food Coma

“Ugh! Why did I eat so much? I think I have a food coma.”

This is used to describe the feeling of sleepiness or drowsiness after eating too much food. Americans often use this phrase after their Thanksgiving dinner.

Take It Easy

Example 1:

Person A: “I am so glad it’s Friday! I can’t wait to get away for the weekend. What about you? What are you going to do?”

Person B: “Honestly, I think I’m just going to take it easy. I’ve been working so many extra hours lately that I need some time off.”

Example 2:

“Make sure you take it easy for the next couple weeks – no running or jumping around. Try to keep weight off of your ankle. It really needs time to heal after a sprain like that.”

We use ‘take it easy’ to express to rest, to relax, to be comfortable in many different situations.

In situation 1, the person will just relax for the weekend at home. And in situation 2 the doctor is instructing that a patient be very careful and to rest a lot after spraining or injuring an ankle.

Couch Potato

Person A: “So did you really take it easy over the weekend?”

Person B: “I didn’t do anything! I was just a couch potato.”

A couch potato is someone who spends too much time on the couch, usually watching TV or playing video games. In the United States, we imagine a couch potato is someone who only watches TV in their free time and eats potato chips. 🙂

It’s Your Turn to Practice.

Do you have any favorite idioms or expressions in English that you have learned? Or maybe you really like one of these expressions?

Try using 1 or 2 of these expressions in your own example or share an example with your favorite idiom. You can do so in the comments section below.

Have a great week!

– Annemarie

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