The Apple Tree

Learning Idioms in Context: The Apple Tree

Here is a short story about a man who had spent his whole life planting trees in his garden. You’ll find idiom definitions, example sentences, conversations, and a short quiz after reading the story.

Once upon a time, there was a poor man who never had the chance to go to school. He tried to convince his parents to let him study but still rejected. After a year, his parents have decided to let him enroll in the nearest school, but he needed to take it with a grain of salt due to multiple rejections received.

With what happened, he ended up rejecting the idea of studying as he thought that there were other fish in the sea. With this, he spent his whole life planting trees in his garden. He had an apple tree that bore a lot of fruit. 

The apple tree made the man very rich. He tried to save for a rainy day, too. The man and his wife were very blissful for a long time although both of them did not experience to study in a school. As a man without a college degree, he believed that every cloud has a silver lining. But one day, the man came up with an idea and thought, “Why we need to wait for this tree to bear fruit? I am also paying more taxes now than before. Let us sell the whole land and make a tremendous amount of money.”

The man was very upset to wait for the apple tree to bear fruit each season. The foolish man’s wife also agreed, so they decided to sell the land at a high price. Though the price was costly, the land was sold quickly because of the apple tree. The man and his wife moved to the city and lived happily. They did not apply for any job as they thought their money was enough to support their lives. After a few years, the man realized his mistake. He ended up poor again.

Every cloud has a silver lining

  • to get some benefits in a bad situation
Example Sentences

Do not be upset of not winning the class presidency as I am sure that every cloud has a silver lining.

For every trial or difficulties that you encounter in life, you need to remember that every cloud has a silver lining.

A: Things are not easy for me these past few days.

B: I knew that your company’s sales are not doing well, but you don’t need to worry because every cloud has a silver lining. 

Save for a rainy day

  • to save money to be used in times of unforeseen trouble, or need
Example Sentences

Benny has been aiming to buy a new smartphone, but his brother advised him to save for a rainy day.  

Delia has been saving a portion of her monthly salary because she believes that she needs to save for a rainy day.

A: Daniel, what is your top priority now?

B: I plan to save for a rainy day and pay off all my debts.

Take (something) with a grain of salt

  • to evaluate something to check its authenticity and never believe immediately
Example Sentences

Every time that the new employee talks about an information that is not formally announced yet by the board, I need to take it with a grain of salt.

A lot of politicians nowadays are making a lot of promises before the election, but make sure to take these promises with a grain of salt.

A: I can’t believe that I am reading a lot of articles with full of exaggerations.

B: Yes, these articles online should always be taken with a grain of salt.

There are other fish in the sea

  • mostly being said when someone has been unsuccessful or has broken up with his/her partner
  • can also be applicable to excellent opportunities, possibilities that one can find
Example Sentences

My boyfriend suddenly broke up with me so my sister has advised me that I don’t need to be hopeless as there are other fish in the sea.

Martha is very disappointed because she fails to ace the annual promotion, but she still strives to do her best as there are other fish in the sea.

A: Leslie, my son has been so depressed because his girlfriend left him.

B: There are other fish in the sea, so your son should cheer up. 

You can’t have your cake and eat it too

  • someone cannot do or have two options at the same time when these options conflict with each other
Example Sentences

It’s true that I can’t have my cake and eat it too because I have been working very hard to pay for my big house, but I rarely go home.

Lenny wants to be promoted to get a higher salary, but she is afraid that she might have less time for her daughter, so she accepts the fact that she can’t have her cake and eat it too.

A: Why is it that I am paying more taxes in the past few months.

B. Your company has boomed. So, you can’t have your cake and eat it too. If you want more sales and company growth, never expect to pay less tax.


1. Always think that ____________________ in this world because there are many opportunities that are coming in your way.

2. John has been told to ________________ because he keeps on spending all his salary.

3. You did not fulfill your promises to me so everything that you will say, I need to ________________.

4. Don’t be frustrated as ____________ so keep moving, and do your best always.

5. I ___________ because I wanted to be fit, but I cannot promise not to pig out when the foods are grilled pork and fried chicken.

Efforts and courage are not enough without purpose and direction

Famous Quote: Efforts and courage are not enough without purpose and direction

Most people make decisions about the actions they will take at the moment they arise, without much planning on their part. With this, they don’t realize that they are losing something essential in their lives, something that cannot be recovered, and they are wasting their time and efforts. Your goals serve as your guide as to what purpose you are headed to. It will lead you in the right direction.

Your goal is what you want to achieve, while purpose is the reason behind achieving your goal. Think about it in another way, living without having a dream, without having clear goals, is like sailing aimlessly. Some are clear about where they want to go, and others get carried away by the tides.

The importance of having a purpose

The importance of having a purpose lies in the fact that it will allow you to organize yourselves better to know how to work or act, what things or results to look for. When you know where you are going, you can set goals that fit and align with your long-term goals. Hence, this assures that you are on the right path.

Your purpose inspires your actions. They stimulate you, and they encourage you, they move you to do. They push you to climb steps and the bar of your effort. Having a clear purpose allows you to reorient yourself if you get lost or don’t know what to do. It makes all your effort be directed towards a particular goal. In short, they give meaning to your effort and bring results.

Successful people know what their goals are and perform the daily actions necessary to achieve those purposes. Time is limited and is the same for everyone. And since time is limited, perhaps you should ask yourself what you can do to make the most of it. 

It is also essential to note that people have a purpose in their lives, which is the engine that leads them to face challenges and difficulties to achieve that purpose. Every day, you have opportunities to make the necessary changes that allow you to improve your quality of life. So what are you waiting for to take control of your life? Why don’t you spend a few minutes now deciding what you want to do with your life? 

John F. Kennedy: A charismatic leader with courage and purpose

John F. Kennedy is one of the most remembered American politicians who served as the 35th president of the United States. He is known as a leader with a sense of purpose and a risk-taker. He also neither complained nor stopped moving for any trials he had encountered in his life that made him known to have the ability to inspire people to act.  

A Young Man Lived In A Village

Learning Idioms in Context: A Young Man Lived In A Village

Here is a short story about a young man who lived in a village. You’ll find idiom definitions, example sentences, conversations, and a short quiz after reading the story.

There was a young man who lived in a village. He was one of the most responsible residents in that village. All the residents loved him. He was known to help anybody at the drop of a hat. Sometimes he bites off more than he can chew, but he never complained.

The longer he lived in that village, the more that he was on a wild goose chase due to some not genuine request, but he was still there to help. With this, people admired him. His attitude became contagious. He made himself available to those who were in need. On the other hand, it became natural that other people rain on his parade as they thought he was doing this with a purpose.

Some of his neighborhood created a feeling of unhappiness against him. But one day, when he turned nineteen years old, a fantastic thing happened. He received numerous birthday greetings. Most residents invited him to dinner, but he needed to take a rain check. Everyone thanked him for his effort to help others in times of need.   

The residents gathered together. The young man was asked:

“What motivates you to help us?”

Moral of the story: Always do good and ready to help others.

Bite off more than you can chew

  • to promise something to do which is hardly achievable 
Example Sentences

I like to suggest that you don’t be afraid to bite off more than you can chew when you are not that skilled enough to complete the task.

Mylene bites off more than she can chew because she takes significant risks for every venture she is engaged for her business.

A: Are you sure that you can handle all these teams?

B: I am not sure as I bite off more than I could chew when I agreed to manage these three teams.

At the drop of a hat

  • without any hesitation or immediately, without delay
Example Sentences

My father is my hero, and he is ready anytime for me at the drop of a hat.

Due to the traffic condition tonight, you can’t expect me to arrive in our meeting place at the drop of a hat.

A: What do you love most to do?

B: Travelling is one of my hobbies. I’m ready all the time at the drop of a hat.

On a wild goose chase

  • to chase or search for something impossible to find 
Example Sentences

Jim has been on a wild goose chase trying to find for a blue rose in a nearby garden. 

Sam was on a wild goose chase trying to search for free food in the canteen yesterday. 

A: You look so tired. What happened?

B: My sister and I were on a wild goose chase after our dog vanished into woods.

Rain on someone’s parade

  • to ruin or spoil someone’s plan 
Example Sentences

Daniel rained on his brother’s parade by giving him more tasks so that he cannot attend his classmate’s birthday party.

I don’t like to rain on your parade, but I think you are not capable of joining our group yet.

A: It seems that you wanted to say something. What is it?

B: It is never my intention to rain on your parade, but there is a piece of bad news.

Take a rain check

  • to refuse or decline an offer nicely but might be taken up later
Example Sentences

Sharon has to take a rain check for a lunch invitation this Monday.

Alma cannot decide to join the annual camp, but she said that she would like to take a rain check on it.

A: Are you coming with us tonight?

B: I will take a rain check as I have a lot of tasks to finish.


  1. I don’t want _______________ because it is very risky.
  2. Linda’s boyfriend is reliable because he _______________any time.
  3. Investigators are frequently _______________ .
  4. My mother has to _______________ as she never wanted to be a loser.
  5. Most of the time, wise people always _______________ before making a decision.
A dream doesn't become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination, and hard work

Famous Quote: A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination, and hard work

Hard work and success go together. The vast majority of people who have achieved success claim that for a considerable time. They had to work hard to break through to get what they wanted. There is no magic formula that will lead you to success, and there is also no short route to reach it because success in life depends on a series of factors to which you must dedicate time. Those who strive, sacrifice, and work hard to achieve their goals are those who enjoy the triumph since it requires effort, energy, time, study, and passion for achieving success.

Hard work causes all your senses to be anchored to the goals you set. This strategy has the advantage, which is an effective means to accumulate energy, achieve conviction, and adopt positive habits. The power of determination will give you that excellent preparation so you can face the most difficult challenges in life. With this, there will be no challenge you can not overcome. You will feel inside that burning fire that will lead you to demand more each day until you achieve all the goals you have set.

Hard work can lead to smart work.

While it is true that you should work hard with a goal in mind, working hard that leads to working smart also matters. The more you focus and exert effort, the more that you establish efficient goals and strategies to obtain excellent results. Successful people usually invest time, energy, personal, and spiritual strength to come up with good results. They love the work they do and have the determination to succeed. They believe in what they do, know their skills, and apply them in their projects with high performance.

Consistency and hard work guarantee success

Taking much hard work and finding the passion in the things you do guarantee success. You will be surrounded by good energies that will keep you motivated. If you are executing the activities you love most, and then the hard work will be a much lighter burden since your positive emotional state will cause additional energy to give you that extra effort that makes a difference.

Colin Powell: A Military Personnel, Diplomat and Politician in the United States

Colin Powell was a military, diplomat and politician in the United States although born with Jamaican parents. He was a four-star general in the United States Army, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the Persian Gulf War later became the Secretary of State during the George W. Bush administration. Powell pointed out that the qualities of a good leader were marked by having the ability to give the greatest effort.