18 de junho de 2024

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Idiomatic Expressions 1 (for C1/C2 students)

Idioms are a crucial cog in the wheel of any language and that is the very reason why they are so very often chosen by native speakers over “ordinary language”. Our students may feel comfortable with the meaning of the verb “choose”, but what about the idiomatic “take one´s pick” which they are very likely to hear in colloquial everyday dialogues? In this post we are going to focus on the following 10 idioms: DO RIGHT BY SOMEONE – SHED LIGHT ON – MEAN WELL – SNAP OUT OF IT – HAVE A SAY – MAKE IT SNAPPY – IN THE SPOTLIGHT – TAKE A TOLL ON – FALL THROUGH THE CRACKS – WEAR THIN


1. Do right by someone: deal with someone in a fair and kind way

Ex.: “Tom is a great father. I´m sure he´s always done right by his kids.”, Monica told a friend.

2. Shed (some) light on: make something clearer; help someone understand a situation

Ex.: “This seems to be a rather complex issue. I think we should call in an expert who might be able to shed some light on the subject.”, said Mr. Wilcox at the meeting.

 3. Mean well: intend to be helpful or nice

Ex.: I know Jake may sometimes come across as a meddler, but he´s a good person really and I know he means well.

 4. Snap out of it: recover quickly esp. from an undesirable condition such as grief, depression or anger

 Ex.: “Hey, it´s no use crying over spilt milk, what´s done is done, just snap out of it and move on with your life!”, Howard told Larry.

5. Have a say: be allowed to express one´s opinion; help make a decision

Ex.: “I wish I could have had a say in that matter, but I wasn´t even invited to the meeting.”, Ralph told a coworker.

6. Make it snappy: hurry up; do something quickly

Ex.: “Hey, you haven´t packed your bag yet? You´d better make it snappy. We have a plane to catch!”, Bill told Gary.

7. In the spotlight: at the center of attention

Ex.: “Harry is a rather shy guy. He hates being in the spotlight.”, Michael told Justin.

8. Take a toll on: have a bad effect on someone or something;cause suffering or damage

Ex.: “Working overtime so often is starting to take a toll on our staff. We really need to hire some more people soon.”, George told Ronald.

9. Fall through the cracks: escape notice or attention

Ex.: “We´ve all been overburdened with work, that´s why some of our customers´ needs and requirements have been falling through the cracks.”, said Mirian at the meeting.

 10. Wear thin: diminish gradually; become less effective

 Ex.: “I wouldn´t be late to work again if I were you, the boss´s patience is wearing thin, you know.”, Greg advised a coworker.


Choose the alternative that best explains the meaning of the idiom in the sentences below.

1. “The sooner you snap out of it the better!”, Dennis told Hank.

a) Dennis told Hank he could beat the rush hour if he left home earlier.
b) Dennis told Hank the sooner he got out of bed the better.
c) Dennis told Hank he should get over it quickly.
d) Dennis told Hank the sooner he finished his assignment the better.

2. “I don´t think Mike has done right by his coworkers.”, said Tom at the meeting.

a) Tom thinks Mike has treated his coworkers unfairly.
b) Tom thinks Mike hasn´t helped his coworkers by doing the right thing.
c) Tom thinks Mike hasn´t treated his coworkers unfairly.
d) Tom thinks Mike has been making far too many mistakes recently.

3. If you tell someone to make it snappy, you tell them to…

a) take their time.
b) enjoy themselves.
c) get out of the way.
d) hurry up.

5. If a situation or something takes a toll on someone, it…

a) requires them to pay the toll.
b) helps them have a healthier life.
c) has a bad effect on them.
d) keeps them busy.

5. If something falls through the cracks, it…

a) doesn´t work according to the plan.
b) escapes notice or attention.
c) is tossed in the trash.
d) is broken.


Choose an idiom and write it in a space provided below according to its meaning.


1._________________________ diminish gradually; become less effective.

2._________________________ intend to be helpful or nice.

3._________________________ be allowed to express one´s opinion.

4._________________________ make something clearer.

5._________________________at the center of attention.


Choose the alternative that best explains the meaning of the idiom in the sentences below.

1. c     2. a     3. d      4. c      5. b

Choose an idiom and write it in a space provided below according to its meaning.

1. wear thin      2. mean well      3. have a say      4. shed light on      5. in the spotlight

Ref. FALE TUDO EM INGLÊS AVANÇADO – Author: José Roberto A. Igreja / Disal Editora

José Roberto A. Igreja is the author and co-author of several ELT books, including:

LET´S TALK ABOUT IT! – The Ultimate ELT Conversation Book  / Available on UICLAP as well


Let's Talk About It!: The Ultimate ELT Conversation Book (English Edition) por [Jose Roberto A. Igreja]

600 Phrasal Verbs (with Jonathan T. Hogan)

Talking Business

How do you say … in English?

Fluent Business English (with Robert C. Young)

What to say when …?

False Friends

English for Job Interviews (with Robert C. Young)

Say it all in Brazilian Portuguese!

American Idioms! (with Joe Bailey Noble III)