5 American idioms that you need to know
English can be difficult – there are so many words that sound the same but have different meanings, plus the spelling can be tricky too. But one of the most challenging parts is idioms – especially when they don’t seem to make any sense!
Here are 5 of the most common ones you’ll hear in the US:
1. For the heck of it
Scenario: Your mother is questioning why you and your friends want to drive across the USA wearing cowboy hats.
They say: “Why do you want to drive across the USA wearing cowboy hats?”
You say: “Just for the heck of it”.
You mean: I don’t have a firm reason but I want to do it anyway.
Scenario: Your friend wants you to go on a hot-air balloon ride but you haven’t got enough money.
They say: “Let’s go on this hot-air balloon! Tickets are $300.”
You say: “I can’t, I’m broke!”
You mean: I don’t have any money.
3. Under my skin
Scenario: Someone you don’t like has come to talk to you, then walked away.
They say: “Do you not like him?”
You say: “He really gets under my skin.”
You mean: He really annoys me and makes me feel uncomfortable.
4. Dropped the ball
Scenario: Your teacher is talking to you about a group project you did.
They say: “It looks like most people contributed, but Joe’s part wasn’t very good.”
You say: “He really dropped the ball on that section.”
You mean: He made a mistake, especially by being careless and failing to reach a goal.
5. Make a beeline
Scenario: You and your friend are trying to pass through a crowded college hallway.
They say: “Why is the hallway so crowded?”
You say: “As soon as class is over, students make a beeline for the chocolate chip muffins in the cafeteria.”
You mean: They head directly to the cafeteria.
Remember, if someone uses a phrase that you don’t understand, then don’t be shy about asking what it means. You’ll find that people are usually pretty happy to help you learn.
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