Learning and understanding idioms

Whether you are preparing for IELTS or PTE or any other test of English language, you need to know the idioms of the language. Every language has idioms. Idioms are a set of words or a phrase which generally means something that the words together do not mean. A literal meaning of the words is not what the sum of the words mean. What you see is not what you get in the case of idioms. An example will help you to understand idioms better.

Let us take the idiom, “skeletons in the cupboard.” A literal meaning would be that a person has stored a skeleton (the bones of a dead body) in the cupboard. That would be the literal word to word meaning. Since it is an idiom, it means, “secrets” and the connotation is ‘not pleasant secrets’. A real-life example will make it clearer: The minister was thwarting an investigation as he was afraid of the skeletons in the cupboard tumbling out.

The idioms generally have a history or a story of how the idiom came about. Some of the stories are lost and today we only have the idiom and its meaning with its origins lost in obscurity.
If a student does not learn and understand idioms, he is likely to interpret the literal meaning of the phrase and hence make mistakes in answering the questions or understanding the context of the Reading passage or the audio in the Listening test.

While giving a list of idioms and their meaning is part of the website, we also decided to make learning idioms more fun. Each of the articles below explores idioms on a theme. Have fun learning!

Understanding idioms through video lessons
Ants in the dictionary
Space for our cousins