Learning Idioms in Context: Making New Friends

Here is a short story about Dave’s interest to make more friends. You’ll find idiom definitions, example sentences, conversations, and a short quiz after reading the story.

There was a young boy named Dave. He had one friend, and he wanted to make more friends. He thought that he was on the ball to make more friends in the neighborhood. 

Dave was never happy without a lot of friends around him, so he decided to go out alone without his mother. He spent his whole day walking around in the neighborhood but did not meet any new friends. He thought that he might be barking up the wrong tree, so he moved to another block. A few days later, he did not make any new friends.

Dave decided to travel to meet new friends in the next town. He thought that this would not cost an arm and a leg, but he has spent his extra allowance while travelling. After spending a month, he realized that he had thrown caution to the wind when he decided to move in this town to make new friends. He went back home, and his mom accepted him and let him off the hook.

Let someone off the hook

Meaning
  • to release someone from blame or responsibility
Example Sentences

Dale was suspected of cheating in their monthly exam, but he was left off the hook when he got a failing score.

Jenny was scheduled to clean their house, but her mom let her off the hook because Jenny has received an excellent score in her Math exam. 

A: Danny did not attend the orientation. Are you sure that he can follow all the rules?

B: He is a fast learner, so let him off the hook. I am sure that he will do good.

On the ball

Meaning
  • knowledgeable and competent
Example Sentences

The new company director is really on the ball as the sales target went beyond what’s expected. 

Rhea completed her report so quickly as she is on the ball with this kind of task.

A: Why is it that you can get that formula quickly? Is there any secret?

B: My mother said that I need to study well so that I will always be on the ball on any subject.

Barking up the wrong tree

Meaning
  • to make a wrong assumption or choice in something 
Example Sentences

Rexy is barking up the wrong tree because he always focuses on his problem rather than its solution. 

The cops were barking up the wrong tree as they point a man that was nowhere in the crime scene. 

A: Sara told me that I became so addicted to mobile games because I have my smartphone with me always.

B: She is barking up the wrong tree because I don’t see any mobile games app on your phone.

Cost an arm and a leg

Meaning
  • expensive
Example Sentences

I would love to invite all my friends and relatives for my birthday celebration, but this will cost an arm and a leg when I do that. 

To look pleasant and charming, most movie actors and actresses undergo cosmetic surgery that costs an arm and a leg for them. 

A: What’s your birthday wish gift this year from your parents?

B: I know this wish will cost an arm and a leg for my parents, but I hope I can have a new pair of Nike shoes.

Throw caution to the wind

Meaning
  • to decide without thinking of the risk or its adverse effects
Example Sentences

Tourists are warned not to throw caution to the wind when they visited an area for the first time. 

Samantha throws caution to the wind when she goes shopping as she always buys expensive dresses and shoes. 

A: I want to swim in the deep area now! Do you want to go with me?

B: I can’t! I never throw caution to the wind when I go swimming, as I am not sure about the sea current.

Quiz

1. Letty is always _____________ because she was the youngest in the group.

2. My mother is absolutely _____________ when it comes to cooking my favorite recipe.

3. My sister is _____________ because she always insists that our youngest brother eats all her food in the refrigerator.

4. Celia is very thrifty because she never tried to buy an item which ______________.

5. Teenagers usually ________________ and end up regretting it.

Learning Idioms in Context A Mother's Love

Learning Idioms in Context: A Mother’s Love

Here is a short story about the love of a mother to her child. You’ll find idiom definitions, example sentences, conversations, and a short quiz after reading the story.

Sarah was sitting in her bed, thinking of her child Emma. Suddenly, Emma came in and asked, “Hi, mom. I am looking for you because I like to hug you first before I hit the sack tonight.” 

Sarah smiled, hugged her daughter and replied, “Thank you for being such a lovely and obedient child.”

“It’s not rocket science to be an obedient child,” Sarah insisted. “I think I should be the one thankful as you never had the last straw no matter a perfect storm comes in anytime. I admire you for that, mom.”

Sarah smiled and said, “Emma, I am your mother, and I should be there for you no matter what happens. I make sure that you grow with a sense of responsibility and never miss the boat.”

Sarah and Emma went to bed with a smile.

Hit the sack

Meaning
  • go to bed
Example Sentences

George always plans to hit the sack at nine o’clock in the evening.

Samuel thinks that he should better hit the sack as soon as his mother arrived.

A: You look so tired. You need to rest now.

B: Yes, I will. I am going to hit the sack after I finish my homework.

It’s not rocket science

Meaning
  • something that is not difficult to do
Example Sentences

Going to the meeting on time is not rocket science.

Cleaning your house regularly is not rocket science.

A: I can’t think of other words anymore. I guess you win again.

B: It’s only a simple crossword, my friend. It is not rocket science.

The last straw

Meaning
  • someone’s patience has run out
Example Sentences

People always wait for the last straw before they take action for their country.

Jerry is not going to wait for the last straw as he immediately reported his sister’s dishonesty to their mom.

A: I am sorry. I was not able to arrive on time.

B: You are always late, and this will be the last straw.

A perfect storm

Meaning
  • a combination of challenging situations or events
Example Sentences

It’s almost a perfect storm if you studied all night for the whole semester, and yet you still get a failing score in your exam.

The governor is under a perfect storm of allegations about his performance and tax evasion issues.

A: How are you today? I heard about your company’s plan filing for bankruptcy.

B: Yes, that is correct. This will be a perfect storm for us as we are not sure about our job’s stability.

Miss the boat

Meaning
  • to miss something or lose an opportunity due to being too slow
Example Sentences

Be sure that you will not miss the boat when you always pay attention to other things instead of studying for your exams.

Eden and her friends are always searching for better opportunities so that they will not miss the boat.

A: You are still jobless right now? What are your plans?

B: I am planning to enroll in some workshops to upgrade my knowledge and skills. I still believe I have not missed the boat.

Quiz

1. ______________ as early as you can so that you can wake up early tomorrow.

2. Learning how to cook rice is not _______________.

3. The neighborhood is noisy all night, so I need to report them as I am not going to wait for ________________.

4. My sister has always experienced ________________ in her work due to her poor time management skills.

5. Glenda always ________________ as she never prepares well in her job interview. 

Learning Idioms in Context: Leticia’s Jobs

Here is a story about a lady who has a different job each day. You’ll find idiom definitions, example sentences, conversations, and a short quiz after reading the story.

On Monday morning, Leticia’s mother sent her off to work in their nearby garden. Leticia was under the weather that day, but she still obeyed her mother. Leticia watered all the plants and did the task with a smile. As she crossed a path to the other side of the garden, she dropped the bucket.

When she told her about it, Leticia’s mother shook her head. “Be careful next time,” she advised. “You should learn how to hold a bucket properly. You should practice today and remember that tomorrow when you go again in our garden.”

On Tuesday morning, Leticia’s mother sent her off to work in a nearby grocery store. Leticia did her job well, so the grocery owner gave her a bonus for that day. Leticia remembered her mother’s words, went to the mall to reward herself. On her way home, she realized that she had spent all her money.

When she told her, Leticia’s mother shook her head. “Be wise next time,” she advised. “You should learn how to spend your money wisely, get your act together, and save some for your future.” 

On Wednesday morning, Leticia’s mother sent her off to work in a park to offer volunteer work. Leticia did her job well, and the park manager gave her a beautiful white rabbit. Leticia remembered her mother’s words, so she decided to go home immediately without spending too much. But on her way home, the rabbit was frightened, jumped from Leticia’s basket into a nearby house, and never had the chance to find it. 

When she told her, Leticia’s mother shook her head. “Be quick next time,” she advised. “You should learn how to move fast and run after things quickly. Never try to get bent out of shape if you cannot get what you want.”

On Thursday morning, Leticia’s mother sent her off to work in a bakery. Leticia did her job well, so the owner gave her a dog. Leticia remembered her mother’s words, so she decided not to get the dog because she was afraid that she might not have caught it when it will suddenly run.

When she told her, Leticia’s mother shook her head. “Be grateful next time,” she said. “You should learn how to recognize the significance of rearing a dog. I believe that having a dog gives you the best of both worlds. it can be your cuddly companion at the same time bring health benefits to you.”

On Friday morning, Leticia’s mother sent her off to the nearby garden again. Leticia was under the weather again, so it was evident that cutting corners was her strategy. Leticia watered the plants inefficiently. A few minutes later, she thought that some plants might die soon because of what she did. With this, she went back and watered all plants again. But as she crossed a path to the other side of the garden, she saw a cookbook, kept it, and went home. Leticia remembered all her mother’s words, and she got back home without dropping the book.

When she told her, Leticia’s mother didn’t shake her head. She hugged and kissed her daughter and said, “You don’t need to go to work anymore, and you don’t need to remember many things. Read this cookbook and stay with me.”

After a month of preparation, she became an excellent cook for her mom. Leticia’s knowledge paved the way to establishing a small restaurant. Leticia has remembered all her mother’s advised. A few years passed, her restaurant became one of the most famous restaurants in their area. 

Cutting corners

Meaning  
  • to skip some specific steps or processes to make something easier to finish and this can harm the output
Example Sentences

Stop cutting corners when completing a project as it has to be undertaken efficiently, whatever the cost.

Leila secretly finishes her task too quickly by cutting corners, and this causes some problems in her output.

A: The accounting team was suspended due to some discrepancy issues found. 

B: Yes, the team is under investigation. When the director finds out that they are cutting corners, I am sure they will be fired. 

Get your act together

Meaning
  • to work more efficiently or organize yourself and work well with defined goals
Example sentences

You must get your act together if you wanted to be the next leader of the research team. 

The department head warned him to get his act together because he had a constant poor performance.

A: I heard our senior analyst had a hard time completing his weekly reports on time.

B: Yes, that is correct. Our manager warned him to get his act together. Hopefully, he can change for the better.

Under the weather

Meaning
  • someone feels sick
Example Sentences

My daughter did not go to school yesterday because she was feeling under the weather. 

After a long walk, Dana was feeling under the weather for the next few days.

A: I did not see Michael the whole day. What do you think has happened? 

B: Michael has attended a whole night party, so now he is under the weather

Bent out of shape

Meaning 
  • someone that is angry or annoyed
Example Sentences

You should talk to Jacky and apologize to her before she gets bent out of shape.

Carol has no right to bent out of shape to her sister as she intentionally harms her.

A: Our Math teacher has given us a very difficult quiz. 

B: I think she did that because she was bent out of shape. Most of us were not paying attention during our Math class a few weeks ago. 

The best of both worlds

Meaning
  • a situation wherein you can benefit desirable traits of two different things
Example Sentences

Mae believes that residing in a university dorm offers her the best of both worlds: a place where she can both study and meet new friends. 

My sister gets the best of both worlds because she always overeats but doesn’t get fat! 

A: Hey, I have bought this bicycle for a very minimal amount. You will be surprised at its cost!

B: Don’t party yet! Most of the time, you can never have the best of both worlds when you buy an item that is so cheap, but the quality is not guaranteed. 

Quiz

1. Some businesses were used to __________________ and this led them to bankruptcy after a few years.

2. Simon was warned to _________________ if he wanted to stay long in his current company.

3. Jake was a bit ____________________. With this, he decided to rest instead of going to the movies with his friends.

4. My father gets ____________________ when we pronounce his name incorrectly.

5. Brian has ____________________ because he lives in a small village but only two miles away from the city.

Learning Idioms in Context The Productive Life of James

Learning Idioms in Context: The Productive Life of James

Here is a story about a man who is a good leader with excellent time management. You’ll find idiom definitions, example sentences, conversations, and a short quiz after reading the story.

When he was in his teenage years, James was a shy boy living in a small apartment. He had many days of loneliness and failure. But after he experienced the beauty of being outspoken, James had changed to a man full of confidence. With this, he became the class president when he went to college and fulfilled the task with a heart. When a class project was too complicated and took a long time to finish, he realized the need to have a break to be more productive. With this, he decided to call it a day to have enough rest.

After his busy day, James used to meditate, which helped him manage the stress a student’s life may bring. Of course, time management is vital as he gave a minute to do the planning for the whole week. As they say, waste not, want not. After years passed, James became a manager of a digital marketing company. He was known to cut some slack to his staff. He gave freedom to his staff and put no pressure on his work environment. Additionally, he used to wrap his head around the issue of team management, but he was able to face it.

James was very popular because of his outstanding work ethics. He was able to see eye to eye with all his staff about the goal of a specific task and finish it on schedule. This made him a good leader. He was able to listen to others to meet a common goal. These qualities made him victorious. While his life gave him some reasons to be sad, James believed that there were a lot more good reasons to be happy. 

Call it a day

Meaning
  • to stop, finish or give up like a day’s work or any regular activity and go back to home 
Example Sentences

The team realized that they were unable to complete the project, so they decided to call it a day.

Kara and Mia decided to call it a day and visited their friend’s house.

A: May we call it a day

B: I’m getting a little tired now. We still have a week left to do this.  

Cut somebody some slack

Meaning
  • to give someone more freedom or allow someone to relax and not put any pressure
Example Sentences

The manager cut some slack to the new staff.

Martha was cooking for the first time and told her friends to cut some slack as she was not an expert at all.

Father: I see that your grades don’t improve at all, and you still want to sign up for a swimming class? 

Son: Cut me some slack, Dad! I always obey you. Can you allow me to do something I want to do?

Wrap your head around something

Meaning
  •  to have a difficulty understanding something that can be very challenging or confusing
Example Sentences

John bought an expensive bracelet, but I could not wrap my head around her reason for getting it.  

I need the assistance of an accountant because I can no longer wrap my head around these tax forms. 

A: Hi, Emma. It’s been a few weeks that you are studying the data on file. What is going on?

B: Yes, this is not an easy job. It will take longer to wrap my head around this new policy.  

We see eye to eye

Meaning
  • to fully agree with someone or to have a similar view/opinion on something
Example Sentences

My parents and I are at peace now, as we see eye to eye about my decision to study abroad next year.

I’m so happy that we see eye to eye on what to watch on Netflix.

A: I heard you are getting married next year. What made you conclude that you will settle with Sara? 

B: We see eye to eye about almost everything— career, having children, and interest.

Waste not, want not

Meaning
  • to use something wisely and never waste anything so that you can use something when you are in need
Example Sentences

It is best to plan your weekly meals so that you can buy what you only need to prepare meals. Waste not, want not

You have to share this food with your friends because you cannot consume them before they expire. Next time you have to buy what you need. Waste not, want not.

A: My notebook has no enough pages for me to write my notes during our lecture.

B. That is because you did not write on both sides of your notebook’s pages. Next time, make sure to do that. Waste not, want not.

Quiz

1. The leader will ________________ too early because she needs to attend a meeting in the next few minutes.

2. Liza _________________ in her daughter’s study time.

3. I called my mom to assist me in cooking spaghetti as I can no longer _________________ these procedures in preparing it.

4. My girlfriend agreed to marry me as __________________ with many things.

5. Adam has the habit of planning his weekly to do’s. “__________________,” he said.