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Some Common English Idioms, Part II

An idiom is basically a phrase that is figurative and used to describe literal situations with words that may not be clear to a non-native speaker. Last month we went through a selection of common idioms, and in this lesson we can go through some more that you may hear when you are speaking English with somebody.


So I think to kitesurf all year around,

um, as a job and to do it 24/7,

you need a break, and I mean, it may not seem like time off!

Captions 19-21, Sam Light - In a Nutshell

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The slang expression "24/7" is best explained in this video: 


It's basically 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Caption 22, World's Toughest Job - Official Video

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What do you want to get off your chest?

Caption 16, Comic-Con 2015 - Jennifer Lawrence

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To "get something off your chest" is to admit something that has been bothering you.


Alaska's wide and very isolated mountains ranges are a paradise for these animals,

but a nightmare for us,

because it's like trying to find a needle in a haystack.

Captions 35-37, Nature & Wildlife - Search for the Ghost Bear

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A needle is a small, very fine object, and to find it in a haystack, which consists of countless fine pieces of hay, is very difficult indeed—and this phrase thus means that something is very difficult or nearly impossible. 


If I was, for instance, being put into a courtroom with lawyers,

I am not a lawyer,

so therefore, I would feel like a fish out of water.

Captions 14-16, English - Common Phrases

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To feel "like a fish out of water" thus means to feel out of place or uncomfortable.


Hang in there, guys!

Caption 56, Movie Trailers - Disney's Frozen

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To "hang in there" means to be patient and to wait for something.


But they don't know where they're going

in the fast lane.

Captions 16-17, Echosmith - Cool Kids

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This is often used in the expression "to live life in the fast lane," which means figuratively to live an exciting or stressful lifestyle, which may, depending upon the context, be a good or bad thing. The phrase is often about somebody who is on the verge of losing control of their life. A song by the 1970s pop group the Eagles called "Life in the Fast Lane" states that it will "surely make you lose your mind."  


Further Learning
Go to Yabla English and watch the "Common English" videos Part I and Part II to learn more about some English idioms. 

Irregular Verbs - Part 2

Irregular Verbs - Part 1

Irregular Verbs - Part 3

In last month's first part, we saw how a regular verb conjugates into the past tense and past participle by simply adding -ed to the end of the infinitive: ask/asked, talk/talked, watch/watched etc. Irregular verbs, on the other hand, each follow their own set of rules of conjugation. There are, however, some more basic patterns that can help you remember how to conjugate some of these irregular verbs. 


Some verbs switch their central vowels to an "o" in the past and past participle, such as the verbs "to break" (broke, broken),"to choose" (choose, chosen), "to forget" (forgot, forgotten), "to freeze" (froze, frozen), "to get" (got, gotten), "to speak" (spoke, spoken), "to tear" (tore, torn) "to wake" (woke, woken) and "to wear" (wore, worn). Here is the verb "to steal" in the past and past participle:


Then they took you away, stole you out of my life

Caption 41, Lana Del Rey - Blue Jeans

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They've stolen my heart away. 

Captions 49-50, George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four - BBC TV Movie

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Many verbs with "ee" as the central vowels change to a single "e" in past and past participle, and these are made easier in that the past and past participle forms are the same: "to bleed" (bled), "to feel" (felt), "to keep" (kept), "to lead" (led), and "to meet" (met). A few more examples using the verbs "to sleep" and "to feed":

The Frog slept all night and it was hardly light.

Caption 8, Fairy Tales - The Frog King

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They have fed quite well.

Caption 53, Nature & Wildlife - Search for the Ghost Bear

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Further Learning
Find examples of the verbs listed above in past and past participle and learn them by searching for examples on Yabla English to see them used in a real-world context.