Everything English

Writing and Grammar Tips (beta)

Contact a customer support specialist at 1-206-494-5992

Always Idioms

Because you can never know too many!

  • While Brandon was still brooding over the team’s loss two weeks later, most of his teammates had gotten over it by then.

The loss of Brandon’s team acts as an obstacle to Brandon’s mind – a stumbling block of sorts. Brandon can’t “get over it.” His teammates, however, have surmounted the obstacle (gotten over the loss) and moved on. To “get over” something means to not dwell on it and, instead, to carry on with other things.

  • Mei-li’s friends thought her four-hour daily practice sessions excessive, but she was of the opinion that practice makes perfect.

The saying “practice makes perfect” is often used by itself, to justify the practice of an activity that a person hopes to perfect. Here, Mei-li practices often and for extended periods because she believes that doing so will help her hone the skills she is working on.

  • When the blueprints were lost in the fire, the architectural team had to start again from scratch.

To “start from scratch” is to start from practically nothing. Essentially, the architectural team has to start planning anew when it loses its recorded plans in the fire.

  • We had planned to visit all of the sites listed in our tour book, but by Wednesday, we had run out of steam and spent the rest of the week by the beach, instead.

The steam from a machine signals energy spent – fuel used. When steam ceases to emanate from a machine, the machine has run out of fuel and has no energy. Hence, when people “run out of steam”, they lack energy. In this case, the subjects of the sentence (some tourists) do a lot before Wednesday and get too tired to visit the sites in their guidebook; instead, they spend the rest of their vacation relaxing on the beach.

  • Said was the perfect salesman; he wined and dined potential clients with a finesse unmatched by his colleagues.

Said is the perfect salesman, because he charms potential clients with fine meals and wine, making it hard for them to resist his pitches. A person who wines and dines others is treating them to lavish and/or expensive things, almost always with the aim of convincing them to do something. There’s an element of persuasion – and sometimes manipulation – involved in wining and dining.

  • While president of the union, Mr. Chen was criticized for turning a blind eye to its members offenses.

As a blind eye cannot see, a person who turns a blind eye is choosing to not look at something (by turning a blind eye, not a real eye) BUT is also trying to maintain the appearance of competence (by pretending to see). Turning a blind eye implies consciously ignoring something – choosing to take notice but do nothing.

  • Nicole and Carol got into a nasty back and forth about who was the better friend.
  • The parties went back and forth for hours, before agreeing to a settlement.

In the first example, a “back and forth” is an argument. Nicole and Carol take turns rebutting each other. The discussion goes back and forth, in the way a ball in competition might (think tennis or ping-pong).

In the second example, “back and forth” does not imply argument. It does, however, suggest a two-sided discussion, in which the parties take turn presenting their views.

(Visited 773 times, 1 visits today)