100 Most Frequent Used English Idioms
about to (do something)
- to be on the point of doing something
I was about to leave when the phone rang.
according to (someone or something)
- as said or told by someone, in agreement with something, in the order of something, in proportion to something
According to our teacher, there will be no class next week.
We did everything according to the terms of our agreement.
account for (something)
- to provide an explanation or answer for something
The bad weather accounts for the fact that few people came to the meeting.
- considering the fact that something happened, something that is usually assumed
"You don't need to phone him. After all, he never phones you."
all of a sudden
- suddenly, without advance warning
All of a sudden it became cloudy and began to rain.
as a matter of fact
"As a matter of fact, we have been to the history museum many times."
as far as
- to the extent or degree of something
As far as I know the movie will start in a few minutes.
- with regard to, concerning
"As for me, I think that I will return home now."
- in the same way that something would be, that
The drink tastes as if it were made with orange juice.
It seemed as if the whole town came to the concert.
as long as
- provided that, on condition that
"As long as you promise to be careful you can borrow my car."
as soon as
- just after something, when
I phoned my friend as soon as I finished dinner.
- with regard to, according to
"As to your question, I will answer it tomorrow."
The players were put into groups as to their ability.
- in addition, also, too
I plan to take a computer course this summer as well.
as well as
- in addition to
"Please bring your swimming suit as well as your towel."
back and forth
- backwards and forwards, first one way and then the other way
The argument went back and forth before the judge made a decision.
- to be in a better situation than before
My friend would be better off if he sold his old car and bought a new one.
break down (something)
- to divide something into parts, to separate something into simpler substances
We tried to break down the problem for further study.
The sugar began to break down soon after it was swallowed.
- to separate, to divide into groups or pieces, to put an end to something
Nobody wanted to break up their groups.
We usually break up into small groups during our class.
by the way
"By the way, could you please bring your laptop computer tomorrow."
carry out (something)
- to put something into action, to accomplish something, to do something
The scientist wanted to carry out several experiments before discussing the new medicine.
- please, hurry, go faster
"Come on, I only have a few minutes before I must go."
"Come on, stop doing that."
- to happen unexpectedly
I will not be able to go to the party if something else comes up.
come up with (something)
- to produce or find a thought/idea/answer
I tried to come up with a name for the new magazine.
deal with (something)
- to be concerned with something, to take action about something
We will deal with the boxes tomorrow.
end up (doing something or going somewhere)
- to do something that one had not planned to do, to go somewhere one had not planned to go
We ended up going to a restaurant after the movie last night.
figure out (someone or something)
- to try to understand someone or something, to solve something
I finally figured out how to use the new DVD player.
fill in (something)
- to write words in blank spaces
"Please fill in this form and give it to the receptionist."
find out (something)
- to learn or discover something
My mother is angry at me because she found out that I had quit my French class.
first of all
- the very first thing
First of all we prepared the garden and then we planted the seeds.
The city will close the public swimming pool for good next week.
- without doubt, certainly, surely
"I will go to the movie with you for sure next week."
get back to (something)
- to return to something
I was happy to get back to my work after my holiday.
get into (something)
- to become interested or involved in something
I do not want to get into an argument with my friend.
We will get into the details of the plan tomorrow.
get into (somewhere)
- to enter somewhere
My friend wants to get into a good university.
I bumped my head as I was getting into the car.
get out of (somewhere)
- to leave somewhere, to escape from somewhere
I want to hurry and get out of my house.
get rid of (something)
- to give or throw something away, to sell or destroy something, to make a cold or fever disappear
I bought a new television set so I want to get rid of the old one.
get through (something)
- to complete something, to finish something
My friend is having trouble getting through her final exams.
I have much reading that I must get through before tomorrow.
- to begin to do something
"Let`s go ahead and start now. We can`t wait any longer."
- to continue
The game will probably go on for an hour after we leave.
go over (something)
- to examine or review something
The accountant will go over the books tomorrow.
We plan to go over that question tomorrow.
go through (something)
- to discuss something, to look at something, to do something
The teacher decided to go through the exercise before the test.
go with (something)
- to choose one thing rather than another
We decided to go with the small rental car rather than the large one.
hang out (somewhere/with someone)
- to spend one`s time with no great purpose, to spend leisure time with friends
Recently my friend has been hanging out with a group of people who are not a good influence on him.
have (something) to do with (something)
- to be about something, to be on the subject of something, to be related to something
"The book has something to do with cooking but I am not sure if you will like it."
That problem has nothing to do with me.
- to wait a minute, to stop, to wait and not hang up the phone
"Please hold on for a minute while I lock the window."
in a way
- to a certain extent, a little, somewhat
In a way I want to go to the new restaurant but in a way I don`t really care.
- if, if something should happen
I will take my umbrella in case it rains.
- shared together or equally, in use or ownership by all
I had nothing in common with the other members of the class.
- giving all the details, item by item
The saleswoman explained about the new product in detail.
- for practical purposes, basically
The man's silence was in effect a way of disagreeing with the other people in the meeting.
- actually, the truth is
The man has been to China before. In fact he has been there three times.
in favor of (someone or something)
- to approve or support someone or something
Everybody is in favor of the new police chief.
My company is not in favor of changing our holiday schedule.
- in most situations or circumstances
In general, most of the people in our apartment are happy with the new manager.
in order to
- for the purpose of
They have decided to close down the school for the summer in order to do some major repairs.
in other words
- in a different (usually more direct) way
"In other words, if you do not finish the assignment by Wednesday you will not pass the course."
- in the proper place or location
Everything in the room was in place when we arrived for the meeting.
in some ways
- in some unspecified way or manner, by some unspecified means
In some ways I know what my friend means but in some ways I do not.
in terms of (something)
- with regard to something
In terms of our agreement with the other company we were not allowed to sell the products online.
- early enough
I did not come home in time to meet my cousin.
keep (someone or something) in mind
- to remember and think about someone or something
I told my co-workers to keep the new starting time for work in mind.
- somewhat, more or less, moderately
I was kind of tired when I arrived home last night.
look for (something)
- to try to find something, to hunt/search for something
My friend has been looking for her credit card all morning but she can`t find it.
look up (something)
- to search for something in a dictionary or other book
I will look up my friend's name in the telephone book.
I looked up the word in the dictionary.
make a difference
- to cause a change in a situation
It does not make a difference whether our boss comes to the meeting or not.
- to seem reasonable
His new proposal really does make sense.
- to make certain, to establish something without a doubt
I want to make sure that my friend is going to meet me tomorrow.
more or less
- somewhat, to some extent
I more or less have decided to study business next year.
No matter how hard that I try, my piano teacher is never satisfied.
not at all
- certainly not
I am not at all happy with my new computer.
- certainly, definitely, naturally
"Of course you can use my car if you want to."
on the other hand
- however, in contrast, looking at the opposite side of a matter
He is very intelligent but on the other hand he is very lazy and always gets low marks at school.
- at the scheduled time, exactly at the correct time, punctually
Our train arrived exactly on time.
- again, one more time, once more
I tried once again to phone my boss at his home .
open to (something)
- to be agreeable to learn or hear about new ideas or suggestions
Most members of the class were open to the teacher's ideas.
pick up (something)
- to get or receive something
I will pick up my dry cleaning tomorrow.
I picked up a copy of the newspaper at the station.
point out (someone or something)
- to explain or call attention to someone or something
My teacher was very kind when she pointed out the mistakes that I had made.
put out (something)
- to produce or make something (a product/brochure/report/CD/movie/paper)
The company puts out a newsletter every month for the employees.
regardless of (something)
- without considering or thinking about something, without regard to something
Regardless of the weather we are going to go fishing tomorrow morning.
"I forgot to bring my book but I will go home and get it right away."
rule out (someone or something)
- to decide against or eliminate someone or something
The police ruled out the man as a possible bank robber.
We decided to rule out Monday as the day to have our meeting.
run into (something - a fact/trouble/problems/difficulty)
- to experience something, to encounter something
The mechanic ran into trouble when he was fixing my car.
I ran into some interesting facts when I was researching my essay.
set up (something)
- to establish something, to provide the money for something
The newspaper company provided the money to set up the new travel magazine.
The company set up a unique situation to test the new product.
- to appear, to arrive, to be present
"What time did your friend show up for the party?"
- until now
So far no one has entered the speech contest at the television station.
so to speak
- as one might or could say, this is one way to say something
We had a good time at the restaurant, so to speak, although the service was not very good.
sort of (something)
- to be almost something, to be similar to something, to be not quite something
"Did you finish cleaning the kitchen?"
"Sort of, but not really."
stick with (something)
- to continue doing something, to not quit something
My brother has been able to stick with his trumpet lessons since he was a child.
take advantage of (someone or something)
- to use someone or something for one's own benefit
We took advantage of the beautiful weather and went to the beach.
take care of (someone or something)
- to look after or give attention to someone or something
You should take care of your health or you will become sick.
take out (something)
- to remove something from somewhere, to extract something
The teacher told us to take out our books.
I took out some onions from the refridgerator.
take over (something)
- to take control of something, to take command of something
The large company wants to take over some of the small companies in our area.
- to happen, to occur
The soccer game took place on the coldest day of the year.
to the extent that
- to the degree that, in so far as
I plan to provide information about the new company policy to the extent that I am familiar with it.
turn in (something)
- to give something to someone, to hand something to someone
I arrived at school early so that I could turn in my essay.
- to be found or known, to prove to be true
It turned out that more people came to the party than we expected.
- until, as far as a certain point, approaching a certain point
Up to last week I had never been inside a bowling alley.
There were probably up to thirty people at the meeting.
up to (someone) to decide/do (something)
- to be responsible to choose or decide something
It is up to the company president to decide when the meeting will start.
- accustomed to
My friend is not used to living in such a big city.
with respect to (something)
- referring to something, concerning something
I do not know what the company will do with respect to the old computer system.
work out (for the best)
- to end successfully
I hope that everything will work out for my friend when she moves to London next week
How These Idioms Were Chosen
Which idioms to learn and which to teach is important for both students and teachers. While this decision can be made in a random manner, a better way is to examine a specific body of English material and decide which idioms are the most frequently found. This type of collection of material is called a corpus (the plural for corpus is corpora).
There are many corpora available. These include the Collins Cobuild Corpus in the United Kingdom and the Michigan Corpus of Academic Spoken English (MICASE) in the United States. The MICASE corpus is a collection of recorded speech from the University of Michigan in the United States. The material includes lectures, casual office discussions and study group sessions in various faculties of the university. They are taken from one particular style or purpose of naturally occurring English. Different idioms will be used in a conversation, a novel, a news report or a scientific paper. Any list of idioms will be different depending on the English corpus that is used to compile that list. However, most corpora contain idioms that are common to all corpora and any list that is used will be composed of idioms that are often found in much English language material.
The MICASE corpus is easily available to anyone with Internet access and it is the corpus which was used to produce this list of the 100 Most Frequently Used English Idioms. The idioms that occur in this list of frequently used idioms are the most frequent idioms that are found in an academic setting in the United States.
from Idiom Connection