Learning a new language isn’t just about learning grammar rules and vocabulary. Knowing how to get your message across is already a great start, don’t get me wrong! But there is a way to go one step further and help you sound like a native English-speaking person: idioms.

An idiom is a phrase, an expression or a group of words used together, the meaning of which is not directly understandable from the meaning of the individual words. For example, in the sentence ‘This car cost me an arm and a leg’, I don’t really mean that I exchanged an actual arm and leg for my new car. Here, the phrase ‘an arm and a leg’ means ‘a very high price’. Every language in the world has its own idioms, which often can’t be translated literally to another language. They can be tricky to master but they will definitely help you sound like a native speaker!

Here is a list of 5 frequent idioms of the English language you should start using right now!

Speak of the devil

When you say speak of the devil, it means that the person you were just talking about enters the room you are in.


Person A: “Did you know that Patrick just got engaged?!”

Person B: “Speak of the devil! He just came in, let’s go congratulate him!”

Once in a blue moon

When you say that something only happens once in a blue moon, it means that it happens very rarely, almost never.


“Since she moved to London, I only see Jane once in a blue moon. She’s just so far away now.”

Add insult to injury

When you add insult to injury, you make a bad situation even worse.


“First, they took our free coffee and tea in the break room, and now they just reduced our break time from 15 to 10 minutes. That’s just adding insult to injury!”

A no-brainer

When you say that something is a no-brainer, it means that this decision or choice is really easy to make and quite obvious.


Person A: “What should we do for Jane’s birthday?”

Person B: “Well, that’s a no-brainer! Let’s just bring a cake to work on Friday and surprise her!”

To be/sit on the fence

When you are on the fence about something, it means you can’t decide between two different options, you are indecisive.

Person A: “What are you having for lunch”

Person B: “I’m on the fence. I can’t decide between the chicken salad or the soup!”