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5 Essential English Idioms for Sounding Like a Native Part I

So you’re in an American bar.

It’s loud, but you can make out what people are saying.

You hear a fellow drinker talking about hitting books…

…another is talking about twisting someone’s arm…

…and it sounds like someone’s been stabbed in the back.

What the heck is going on?

You scratch your head and wonder why you’re still lost even though you can translate the words.

Well, you’ve just had your first introduction to English idioms.



English idioms are a group of words which have a meaning which isn’t obvious from looking at the individual words.

They have developed over time and so they might seem random to you. English idioms often rely on analogies and metaphors.

Because they’re used so often in everyday English, if you don’t know them, it’s almost impossible to understand the context.


1. (To) Hit the books

Literally, hit the books means to physically hit, punch or slap your reading books. However, this is a common English idiom among students, especially American college students who have a lot of studying to do. It simply means “to study,” and is a way of telling your friends that you’re going to study. It could be for a final exam, a mid-term test or even an English exam.

 “Sorry but I can’t watch the game with you tonight, I have to hit the books. I have a huge exam next week!”

2. (To) Hit the sack

Just like the first idiom, the literal meaning of this would be physically hitting or beating a sack (a large bag usually used for carrying things in bulk such as flour, rice or even soil). But actually to hit the sack means to go to bed, and you’d use this to tell your friends or family that you’re really tired, so you’re going to sleep. Instead of saying hit the sack you can also say hit the hay.

“It’s time for me to hit the sack, I’m so tired.”

3. (To) Twist someone’s arm

To twist someone’s arm literally means to take a person’s arm and turn it around, which could be really painful if you take it exactly word for word. If your arm has been twisted it means that someone has done a great job of convincing you to do something you might not have wanted to to do.

And if you manage to twist someone else’s arm it means that you’re great at convincing them, and they’ve finally agreed to do something after you’ve been begging them.

Tom: Jake you should really come to the party tonight!

Jake: You know I can’t, I have to hit the books (study).

Tom: C’mon, you have to come! It’s going to be so much fun and there are going to be lots of girls there. Please come?

Jake: Pretty girls? Oh all right, you’ve twisted my arm, I’ll come!

4. (To be) Up in the air

When we think literally about something up in the air, we have the idea that something’s floating or flying in the sky, perhaps an airplane or a balloon. But really if someone tells you that things are up in the air it means that these things are uncertain or unsure; definite plans have not been made yet.

“Jen have you set a date for the wedding yet?”

“Not exactly, things are still up in the air and we’re not sure if our families can make it on the day we wanted. Hopefully we’ll know soon and we’ll let you know as soon as possible.”

5. (To) Stab someone in the back

If we take this idiom literally we could find ourselves in a whole lot of trouble with the police, as it would mean taking a knife or another sharp object and putting into a person’s back.

However, as an idiom, to stab someone in the back means to hurt someone who was close to us and trusted us by betraying them secretly and breaking their trust. We call the person who does this a back stabber.

“Did you hear that Sarah stabbed Kate in the back last week?”

“No! I thought they were best friends, what did she do?”

“She told their boss that Kate wasn’t interested in a promotion at work and Sarah got it instead.”

“Wow, that’s the ultimate betrayal! No wonder they’re not friends anymore.”








(Idiom): It’s on the tip of my tongue

Expresión: (Tener algo~) en la punta de la lengua
Esta expresión significa que estás a punto de decir o recordar algo.
“Sé la respuesta… la tengo en la punta de la lengua, sólo dame un segundo más”.

Idiom: (to be ~ / To have something ~) on the tip of someone’s tongue
This idiom means that you’re about to say or remember something.
“I know the answer… It’s on the tip of my tongue, just give me another second”

Top 10 Foreign Language “Faux Pas”

TOP 10 “Faux pas” en idiomas extranjeros
“Faux pas” es una expresión de origen francés que significa “paso en falso”, en este caso tendría el significado de “10 meteduras de pata en el aprendizaje de idiomas extranjeros” o “10 false friends” desde el punto de vista del inglés.
El diario británico “Telegraph” nos muestra 10 idiomas (entre ellos: francés, español, portugués, japonés, coreano, alemán, turco, noruego, sueco y ruso)  con los que debemos tener cuidado con los “false friends” (falsos amigos, palabras que suenan similar en distintos idiomas, pero que tienen significados diferentes).

TOP 10 Foreign Language “Faux Pas”
“Faux pas” is a term of French origin that means “false step” in this case would mean “10 blunders in foreign language learning” or “10 false friends”.
British newspaper “Telegraph” shows us 10 languages (including: French, Spanish, Portuguese, Japanese, Korean, German, Turkish, Norwegian, Swedish and Russian)  with which we should be careful of “false friends” (words that sound similar in different languages but have different meanings).

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Did you know…? Facts about tea

¿Sabías que…?
Hay 4 tipos principales de té: “blanco”, “oolong”, “verde” y “negro”, pero dependiendo de la influencia cultural estos 4 tipos pueden convertirse en miles de variedades
Es la segunda bebida más consumida en el mundo. Siendo el agua la primera, por supuesto.
Té puede ayudar a disminuir el apetito.
Y además, el té puede luchar contra las caries!

¡No esperes más y prepara una buena taza de té!

Did you know…?
There are 4 main types of tea: white, oolong, green and black.
But depending on the influence of culture, these 4 types can turn into thousands of varieties!
Tea is the second most consumed beverage in the world, the first being water of course.
Tea can help decrease your appetite.
Also, tea can fight cavities!

Don’t wait more, and let’s have a good cup of tea!