Learning English as a second language is hard enough, but it can be especially difficult when you run into idioms in casual conversation that don’t mean what they seem. In this weekly series, we’re breaking down common English expressions that are used in everyday conversation, so you’ll be able to expand your language skills and have fun with new English phrases.
Today, we’re keeping to the theme of nature, but pay close attention, these idioms refer to situations beyond the outdoors!
a breath of fresh air (noun phrase): a new, imaginative approach
Ex: The honest transparency of the current presidential administration was a breath of fresh air to a country that was used to corrupt practices.
to add fuel to the fire (verb phrase): to make a bad situation worse
Ex: When the soccer players started arguing, Logan added fuel to the fire by encouraging the group to fight each other.
to be in hot water (verb phrase): to get in trouble
Ex: Lauren was in hot water with the school administration after she was caught cheating on the final exam.
to beat around the bush (verb phrase): to stall, avoid or gloss over a topic of conversation
Ex: When Sarah’s brother asked for her opinion on his girlfriend, she beat around the bush by talking about how nice the weather was outside.
calm before the storm (noun phrase): a quiet period before chaos occurs
Ex: Retail employees enjoy the calm before the storm in November right before customers start their Christmas shopping.
to rain cats and dogs (verb phrase): to rain heavily
Ex: They were glad it was raining cats and dogs after the long drought.
salt of the earth (adjective phrase): used to describe someone who is honest and good
Ex: Frank is the salt of the earth—he’s always willing to help out someone in the neighborhood.
to not hold water (verb phrase): used to describe a statement or argument that is not logical or strong
Ex: His argument that the sun revolved around the earth didn’t hold water with the scientists at NASA, who had decades of proven research against his theory.
to make a mountain out of a molehill (verb phrase): to make a fuss about nothing
Ex: The journalist made a mountain out of a molehill when she reported that the whole economy was crashing, when in reality it was just a minor recession.
dead in the water (adjective phrase): used to describe something that has no chance of succeeding or making any progress
Ex: After yet another budgetary setback, the manager declared the project dead in the water.
Try using these idioms the next time you practice your English skills. You’ll find yourself using them more naturally in conversation in no time!