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Questions tagged [idioms]

Use the idiom tag for questions which a dictionary cannot answer about set phrases with unusual meanings that can't be properly understood just from the separate words in them.

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2answers
1k views

How had you known?

I caught this dialogue on TV: A: Who was that guy you spoke at the parking lot with? B: How'd you known? The second sentence, as I understand, is a contraction of "How had you known?" It ...
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3answers
443 views

Plural for “balance of nature”

Is it correct to use "balances of nature" plural form, for natural equilibriums or are there some other ways to say the same thing in plural form?
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74 views

What is wrong about the following phrases about the number of women in state legislatures?

According to a recent study by Rutgers University, […] in every election since 1968. [A] the number of women in state legislatures has grown [B] the number of women who are in state ...
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1answer
44 views

gone “on a nighttime visit” - is it a predicative or an adverbial?

“. . .when you're on the train home tomorrow, you're so -" But what they were, they didn't find out. Hermione had turned to the portrait of the Fat Lady to get back inside and found herself ...
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1answer
2k views

Is “had done it” an idiom?

Harry caught sight of Malfoy, Crabbe, and Goyle's triumphant faces as he left, walking numbly in Professor McGonagall's wake as she strode toward the castle. He was going to be expelled, he just ...
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1answer
753 views

Is “on my way” an adverbial complement?

“I’m on my way home.” (John Steinbeck, East of Eden) Is on my way an adverbial complement; home modifying on my way?
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1answer
5k views

“with eyes and curiosity” vs. “with curious eyes”

It is a great list, which would tempt anyone with eyes and curiosity. As all prizes should, the Turner gives the appearance of rewarding achievement, when what it is really doing is luring in the ...
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2answers
90 views

Is using “not have a drop” correct in this context?

Is this idiomatically correct? Those feelings kept gnawing at me so I had to turn to alcohol to soothe my nerves even though I have not had a drop in a while.
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2answers
1k views

Idiom/phrase that means “at the slightest annoyance” [closed]

I'm looking for an idiom or phrase that means "at the slightest bit of annoyance". I want to use it in the following context: "Jesus!" It was a word my boss would spit out at the drop of a hat. ...
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2answers
101 views

where is the subject?

I have this sentence : Today's lecture will spark a lot of discussion, and I just want to let you know that I welcome it, so please feel free to jump in. I have three questions: Where is the ...
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1answer
3k views

Idiomatic English expressions for “dead tired”, “soaking drunk”, “full packed”

I have a question about using pairs of adjectives in everyday English speech. Italian uses pairs of adjectives to emphasize a quality and some idiomatic and colloquial expressions are commonly ...
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2answers
36 views

Does this noun phrase denote the result of the verb?

“I think I’ll be a clown when I get grown,” said Dill. Jem and I stopped in our tracks. ‘Yes sir, a clown,” he said. “There ain’t one thing in this world I can do about folks except laugh, so ...
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What 'nitty gritty' means in this context exactly?

I understand 'nitty gritty' is something specific; the essential thing. Is it also applied in these following lines? "correcting the average amount of errors that I am presented with is too nitty ...
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3answers
3k views

“not to know A from B” VS “not to know a B from a bull's foot”?

I've been doing some research and I came across the idioms "not to know A from B" and "not to know a B from a bull's foot". As far as I know they seem to have the same meaning "to be ignorant" or "to ...
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1answer
283 views

What idiom should I use for this paragraph?

What idiom should I use for the following phrase? Is the last line fine? He often had to get up at four AM. Sometimes he had to lift on an old minibus colt to get to his office. He would sit on the ...
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2answers
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What's the difference between “take it easy” and “take care” when you are parting from someone?

When I'm parting from someone, I say, "See you around." Sometimes I've heard people saying "Take it easy." or "Take care". What's the implication of these phrases? I understand that when I take an ...
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7answers
17k views

What does “Don't take my words at face value” mean?

What does "Don't take my words at face value" mean?
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1answer
659 views

“Play Ping-Pong with the designer”, real Ping-Pong or not?

One reason manufacturers like Ligne Roset or Vitra charge significantly more is the involvement of a top designer, Mr. Breitling said. “You’re investing time and money in playing Ping-Pong with the ...
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1answer
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“get into one's head” in a sentence

“Don’t let the salesperson pressure you,” Mr. Springer said. “It’s your money after all. You have to get into your own head and say, ‘I’m here because I want to evaluate this.’ Be pretty critical, ...
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1answer
144 views

Can a preposition be put before a noun phrase that expresses a period of time?

He's worked hard all year. When I speak the sentence in Korean, ‘all year’ can select a postposition or be used alone. For English, is this sentence, ‘He’s worked hard for[during] all year,’ proper?
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1answer
778 views

What image lies behind the expression “Take a bow”?

I heard this expression in the Rihanna's eponymic song. I understand the general meaning, but where does it come from? What is the image behind?
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281 views

Is “I go for Avatar” as the most horrible movie acceptable?

When someone asks "What is the most horrible movie you ever watched?" which one is more correct as an answer? I go for Avatar. I will go for Avatar. Is there any other better-suited answer?
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1answer
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Is “a few seconds before” an idiom?

It was a few seconds before Mr. Dursley realized that the man was wearing a violet cloak. He didn't seem at all upset at being almost knocked to the ground. Source: Harry Potter and the ...
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1answer
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A bad swimmer: like a beer bottle in water

"Beer bottle" is a Korean idiom for a poor swimmer. You could express it as 저는 물에서 맥주병입니다 which would translate literally to "I, in water, am a beer bottle." The phrase obviously derives from the ...
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1answer
799 views

Difference between “out of the blue” and “unexpectedly”

What's the difference between out of the blue and unexpectedly? When I translate, "I apologize for calling like this, out of the blue" to French, I get Je m'excuse pour appeler comme ça, à l'...
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2answers
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What does “eating your hat” mean?

What does it mean to eat your hat? Does it mean to really eat the hat or does it mean you have disagreement to someone? This expression appeared in the comments of Shawn Mooney's answer to Can we add ...
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2answers
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“It's time … 'verb'/'verb-ed' …”

It's time colleges helped you compare apples to apples. (The Boston Globe) If the time is a present moment, why does the journalist use "help" in the past tense? Or is "helped" subjunctive?
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1answer
361 views

Is this an adjectival or adverbial phrase?

I want to know everything there is to know about you. Does ‘to know about you’ modify everything (adjectival function) or is it an adverbial phrase? Or are both possible?
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3answers
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How to translate “dropped my heart”?

There's a phrase in Thai, ตกใจหมดเลย [tòk-tɕɑi-mòt-lɤːi], which means "to be frightened", as if someone suddenly broke a glass on a floor behind your back. Literally, it can be translated "dropped-...
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6answers
13k views

When you don't understand a joke right away

In my native language we have lots of ways (some of them very funny) of saying that you, or someone else didn't understand a joke right away. That is, he/she needed some time to figure it out. I ...
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2answers
661 views

Does English have an expression for “Straw Enthusiasm”?

In Polish there's an expression Słomiany zapał which is a play on words, Straw enthusiasm and Straw going ablaze. The idea is that straw burns with a very bright flame but the fire dies out very ...
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4answers
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“When did you born?”

When did you born? What does the above question mean? Does it mean "When did you give birth" or "When were you given birth to"? The situation is that I'm trying to ask my friend his birthdate. ...
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2answers
7k views

Problem (with) doing something

When you want to say that you had or are having problems with something, what is the best way to express this: I'm having a problem with saying this correctly. I'm having a problem saying this ...
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2answers
12k views

Is it sleeting?

I know "It's raining" and "It's snowing" are commonly accepted English phrases. Now does the same form apply to other forms of precipitation? It's sleeting, It's graupeling, It's hailing. Are these ...
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1answer
18k views

“It is raining” or “it is rainy”?

I'm trying to say: I don't like the weather today because it is ____. (rainy / raining) I have to carry an umbrella for ____ (rainy / raining) weather. Should I use rainy or raining? Also, what ...
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2answers
672 views

Are “used to” + {infinitive / gerund } equivalent?

In the phrase We’re all used to (some-special-word) to mean something different. would it also be correct to switch the infinitive with the gerund form, resulting in: We’re all used to (some-...
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3answers
6k views

Should “bring a plate” be taken literally?

When someone is told to "bring a plate" to a picnic in Australia, does it literally mean just bring a plate? Or should they be bringing something else as well?
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1answer
6k views

What does “that would be that” mean?

A friend of mine watches BBC Top Gear. He sometimes hears the guys say "That would be that". What does that mean?
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3answers
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Walking up/down a level road/street

Is walking up/down the road/street applicable if the street is not sloped? I think I heard something about "with/against the numbering of houses" but I'm not sure if it's correct. Also, if that were ...
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2answers
1k views

What does “This was clearly her day off?” mean?

What does "This was clearly her day off?" mean? Is this offensive to the person, or is it simply stating something obvious? This question came from Area 51, but I am curious to know this.
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1answer
9k views

Why say “Wait your turn” but “Wait FOR…” everything else?

Why in English is the word "for" not used in the phrase "wait your turn?" Wouldn't it make more sense to say "Wait for your turn" as for other things on which one waits? Wait for the stop light not ...
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2answers
18k views

“Filled in for someone” meaning

What does filled in for someone mean exactly? An example of a sentence with the idiom: While you were off, I filled in for you. Does it mean the author of that sentence took over my duties ...