Common idioms and phrases for daily English communication


Alright! So, your pronunciation is great, your accent is native-like, and your word stress is spot on but you are still having a hard time engaging in daily conversations naturally and smoothly. Are you currently in that situation? Well, you are not alone. There are literally thousands of people, who are trying to speak English fluently, in the same situation.

But… We have got you covered! The thing you need is to learn how to use idioms and phrases in order to speak English better. 

So, what are those?

Idioms and phrases are groups of words that have a figurative meaning, which means that you can't figure out their exact meaning from the words they are made up of. Idioms and phrases are an essential part of daily communication in many languages, including English. They add color and depth to language, making it more interesting and engaging and a sense of nature to you when you speak English


How can you use them correctly?

It’s no doubt that when you speak English, adding idioms and phrases is significant. However, using idioms and phrases correctly can be tricky, and if used incorrectly, they can lead to confusion or even offense. Therefore, it's essential to understand how to use idioms and phrases in daily English communication effectively.

1. Understand the meaning of idioms and phrases

Idioms and phrases are phrases that have a figurative meaning rather than a literal one. For example, the phrase "Cost an arm and a leg" means that it's very expensive, but it has nothing to do with an actual arm and leg. Therefore, it's crucial to understand the meaning of an idiom or phrase before using it in conversation.

2. Beware of the context

Using an idiom or phrase out of context can lead to confusion or misunderstandings. For example, if someone asks you if you want to go for a walk, and you respond by saying, "Let's hit the road," it might not make sense because the phrase "hit the road" is typically used when leaving a place or starting a journey, not when going for a walk.
Try to use them in situations where they make sense. You can also ask a native speaker or someone familiar with the language if you're unsure about the context.

3. Don’t overuse them

While using idioms and phrases can make your language more interesting and engaging, overusing them can have the opposite effect. Therefore, it's essential to use idioms and phrases in moderation when you speak English.

4. Too much of anything is bad

Bruce Lee once said, “I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.” Do what he said, really, you don’t need to learn all idioms and phrases! Here is why:

  • There are simply too many idioms and phrases to learn them all. It's much more practical to focus on learning the ones that are most commonly used in everyday communication.

  • Some idioms and phrases may be outdated or no longer used in modern language, so learning them may not be very beneficial.

  • Attempting to memorize too many idioms and phrases can be overwhelming.

So, be like Bruce Lee!


You don't need to learn all idioms
You don't need to learn all idioms

Common idioms used in daily English communication

1. Idioms related to emotions and mood


  • Down in the dumps: feeling very sad

Ex: She's down in the dumps because she can’t speak English as well as her bestie.

  • Feel blue: to feel sad

Ex: Since my boyfriend left me I've been feeling blue.

  • Hit the roof: become extremely angry

Ex:  Dad will hit the roof when he finds out I dented the car.

  • Up in arms: angry or upset

Ex: The union is up in arms over the reduction in health benefits.

  • Make one’s blood boil: to make someone extremely angry

Ex: The way they have treated those people makes my blood boil.

  • Make one’s blood run cold: frighten someone very much

Ex: I heard a tapping on the window which made my blood run cold.

  • Over the moon: to be very happy

Ex: She was over the moon about/her new bike.

2. Idioms related to health


  • Under the weather: not feeling well

Ex: I'm feeling a bit under the weather - I think I'm getting a cold.

  • As fit as a fiddle: healthy and strong

Ex: My grandmother's 89, but she's as fit as a fiddle.

  • Alive and kicking: healthy and active

Ex: She said she'd seen him last week and he was alive and kicking.

  • On the mend: becoming healthy after an illness

Ex: She's still in the hospital, but she's definitely on the mend.

  • Out of sorts: in an unhappy mood

Ex: Peter overslept this morning and has been out of sorts all day.

3. Idioms related to money


  • Cost an arm and a leg: very expensive

Ex: The repair work cost an arm and a leg.

  • Born with a silver spoon in one’s mouth: be rich from birth

Ex: He has never worked hard for anything because he was born with a silver spoon in his mouth.

  • Go from rags to riches: to start your life very poor and then later in life become very rich

Ex: He went from rags to riches in only three years.

  • Bring home the bacon: to earn money for a family to live on

Ex: I can't sit around all day - someone's got to bring home the bacon.

  • Break the bank: to cost too much

Ex: It only costs $2. That's not going to break the bank.

  • Flat broke: not having any money at all

Ex: I can't help you. I'm flat broke

  • Save for a rainy day: to save money for a time when it might be needed unexpectedly

Ex: Luckily she had saved some money for a rainy day.

  • Go Dutch: to agree to share the cost of something, especially a meal

Ex: I'll go Dutch with you to the movie if you want.

4. Idioms related to love


  • Head over heels: completely in love

Ex: Laura fell head over heels in love with Chris.

  • Love at first sight: strong and immediate attraction to someone you have just met

Ex: For Sarah and Samuel, it was love at first sight, and they have now decided to get married.

  • A change of heart: a move to a different opinion or attitude

Ex: You can have your money back if you have a change of heart

  • A match made in heaven: two people who are perfect for each other

Ex: Jules and Nora are a match made in heaven.

  • Love you to the moon and back: used to express the vastness of one's affection for another.

Ex: I love you to the moon and back, and I can't envision my life without you in it. Will you marry me?

5. Idiom related to food


  • Piece of cake: something that is very easy to do

Ex: The exam was a piece of cake.

  • Bread and butter: a person's livelihood or main source of income

Ex: Their bread and butter is reporting local events

  • Hard nut to crack: a problem that is very difficult to solve or a person who is very difficult to understand

Ex: She’s a hard nut crack. She won’t tell you anything!

  • Cry over spilled milk: to be sad about something can't be changed

Ex: It's no use crying over spilled milk - he's spent all the money, and there's nothing you can do about it.

  • A couch potato: a person who watches a lot of television and does not have an active life

Ex: He's turned into a real couch potato since he subscribed to the sports channel.

  • Cool as a cucumber: very calm, especially when this is surprising

Ex: She walked in as cool as a cucumber as if nothing had happened.

6. Other common English idioms 


  • Be in two minds: to be unable to decide about something

Ex: I was in two minds whether or not to come this morning.

  • Be sitting on the fences: to delay making a decision

Ex: You can't sit on the fence any longer - you have to decide whose side you're on.

  • Hit the books: to study

Ex: I must speak English well so I need to hit the books now.

  • Hit the sack: to go to bed

Ex: I have a busy day tomorrow, so I think I'll hit the sack.

  • Hit the road: to leave a place or begin a journey

Ex: I'd love to stay longer but I must be hitting the road.

  • Hit the nail on the head: to be exactly right about something

Ex: I think David hit the nail on the head when he said that speaking English fluently is hard.

  • Break the ice: to make people who have not met before feel more relaxed with each other

Ex: Someone suggested that we speak some English to break the ice.

  • Break a leg: used for wishing someone good luck

Ex: “Break a leg,” Tammy shouted as her daughter got ready to take the stage for her final scene.

  • Let one’s hair down: behave in an uninhibited or relaxed way

Ex: Oh let your hair down for once!

  • Take it easy: rest, relax, or be calm

Ex: Take it easy – You want to speak English well, you gotta be patient.

  • When pigs fly: used to say that one thinks that something will never happen

Ex: “I might wake up early to clean my room…” “Yeah right, you'll do that when pigs fly.”

  • A drop in the ocean: a very small amount compared to the amount needed

Ex: My letter of protest was just a drop in the ocean.

  • So far so good: satisfactory up to this particular time

Ex: "How’s your new job?" "So far, so good."

  • Like chalk and cheese: completely different from each other

Ex: My brother and I are like chalk and cheese.

  • On thin ice: to be at risk

Ex: His firm is just on the thin ice of bankruptcy.

  • Throw caution to the wind: do something without worrying about the risk or negative results

Ex: I threw caution to the wind and bought the most expensive one.


Common phrases used in daily English communication

1. To say hello


  • Hey, how’s it going?

  • How are you doing?

  • How have you been?

  • How is everything?

  • What’s up?

  • What’s good?

  • What’s new?

  • Hey there?

  • Great to see you!

  • Morning!

  • It’s a pleasure to meet you!

  • Long time no see.


2. To say goodbye


  • See ya!

  • See you soon.

  • Take care.

  • Until next time.

  • So long.

  • Talk to you later.

  • Have a nice day

  • Have a good one (common in the US)

  • Later!

  • Catch you later!


3. To say how you are doing


  • I’m doing great.

  • Couldn’t be better.

  • Pretty good!

  • I’m great.

  • Can’t complain, really!

  • Same as always.

  • Not so great.


4. To thank somebody


  • Thank you very much!

  • I really appreciate it.

  • Many thanks.

  • I owe you one!

  • I’m so grateful.

  • Thanks a lot!


5. To apologize


  • I’m sorry

  • My bad!

  • It’s my fault!

  • Pardon me.

  • Please accept my apology for…


6. To say I don’t know


  • I have no idea/clue.

  • I can’t help you there.

  • I’m clueless.

  • I’m not sure.


7. To agree


  • Exactly.

  • Absolutely.

  • That’s for sure.

  • I agree 100%.

  • I couldn’t agree with you more.

  • (informal) Tell me about it!

  • (informal) You don’t say!


8. To give opinions


  • In my opinion.

  • In my view.

  • As far as I’m concerned.

  • From what I know.

  • In my point of view.

  • To me.

How to speak English with confidence


Speaking long English sentences easier with Thought Groups


Wanna speak English like a native speaker? Try these 5 TIPS


Common idioms and phrases for daily English communication


10 must-know tips to speak English better