I am unable to find the difference between the normal sentences and idiomatic expressions.How to understand the idiomatic expressions.

1 Answer 1


What is an idiom first?

An idiom is a group of words established by usage as having a meaning not deducible from those of the individual words.

Do you see the clue there?

When you see a group of words that actually don't make any sense in the context if read as normal words, suspect that it could be an idiom.

Take any idiom in a sentence and you'll find it odd i.e. not fitting in the sentence as normal words.

Don't go out; it is raining cats and dogs
Don't beat around the bush, come to the point
A small group of employees have control over the entire organization ~ Yeah! Tail wagging the dog!

If you see all these sentences, the part in italics actually does not go with the flow of the sentence if those words are read individually. What do cats and dogs have to do with rains? What has beating the bush to do anything to come to the point? Why a tail would wag the dog; how is it connected with the organization?

But if you study those idioms, you'll find that they not only perfectly fit in the sentence but also add great flair to the sentences.

  • Okay @Maulik how many idioms are there in english to learn becasause I am not able to read a Reading compreshension passage or a newspaper
    – satish
    Nov 17, 2015 at 6:06
  • 1
    How many to learn? As many as you can. There's no end! However, you can opt for top 10/20/50/100 frequently used idioms. Here is top 50 for example.
    – Maulik V
    Nov 17, 2015 at 6:49
  • 3
    @satish "how many idioms are there in english to learn" There is no fixed number because new ones are invented all the time and old ones go out of fashion. Asking how many there are seems like a strange way of trying to learn a language. How would you react if somebody asked you how many verbs there are to learn in your own language? Nov 17, 2015 at 10:27
  • 3
    @MaulikV - I like your link for the "top 50 English idioms". I'm somewhat glad to see that raining cats and dogs isn't on it - it's an idiom that everyone learning English is taught, but is never actually used by native speakers any more!
    – AndyT
    Nov 17, 2015 at 10:56
  • 2
    @AndyT: except by people in their 70s or 80s.
    – TimR
    Nov 17, 2015 at 13:02

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .