The Most Common Idioms (according to Teacher Diane)

10 February 2015 by Diane


About to (do something)


         Planning to do something at the moment             

         I was just about to take a shower.  Can I call you back?

About time

Used to convey that something happening now should’ve happened earlier

It’s about time he got a job.  He’s been unemployed for over a year!

After a while

After an unspecified amount of time

I’m sure you’ll get used to the cold weather after a while.

Ahead of time


We made sure to eat lunch ahead of time because we knew we wouldn’t have time to stop.

All along

From the beginning

I can’t believe that he knew the information all along and didn’t tell us.

All day long

The entire day

He sits down all day long.

All of a sudden

Quickly and without warning

Then, all of a sudden, a car crashed into me from behind.

All in all

With everything considered; on the whole

All in all, I’d say it was a success.

All the while

At the same time

Here I was thinking that you were downstairs working, and you were upstairs in bed all the while!

As if / as though

As would be the case if

She behaved as if he weren’t there.

Any day now

Sometime in the near future; very soon

The package should be arriving any day now.

As far as I know

Based on the information I know

As far as I know, she’s at home.  That’s what she told me.

At a moment’s notice

With little warning or time for preparation

I can be ready at a moment’s notice.

At a time


We can only take one person at a time.

At last


We made it to the top of the mountain, at last!

At times


She takes her anger out on her boyfriend at times.

Be better off

To be in a better position

You’re better off without him!

Be into (something)

Have an interest in (something)

He’s really into football.

Be up in the air

To be undecided

Our plans are still up in the air at the moment.

Benefit of the doubt

Believe what someone tells you when you are doubtful

I’m not sure if he’s telling the truth, but I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt.

By all means

Of course; certainly

May I make a suggestion?  By all means.

By the way

Used to introduce new information, not related to what is being discussed

By the way, I saw Marie at the store today.

Close call

Something bad that almost happened

We almost missed the flight.  It was a very close call.

Cross one’s mind

Think about something

It never once crossed my mind that she might be unhappy.

Either way

In both situations

I know that it might rain, but I’m going to go to the game either way.

Every so often


I go out to dinner every so often.

Feel like it

Have the desire to do something

Why are you headed to the city today?  I’m not sure, I just feel like it.

For a change

Contrary to how things are usually done

I’ll drive this time for a change.

For the time being

Temporarily; until another arrangement is made

She’s working two jobs for the time being until her husband can get back on his feet.

For good


At the age of thirty, he left home for good.

For the best

A bad situation has some positives

Thomas and Susan broke up, but I think it’s for the best.  They were arguing all the time.

From now on

From this moment until the future

From now on, I will no longer tolerate lateness.

From scratch

Starting from the beginning with only the basic ingredients

After the business failed, they decided to start again from scratch.

From time to time


He stops by from time to time to say hello.

Good for nothing


His parents told him that he was good for nothing.

Go for it

Take a chance

There’s an audition for a new TV series.  I think I’m going to go for it!

Have a hard time with

To have difficulty doing something

I’m having a hard time with the new computer software.  Can you help me?

In case

In the event that something happens

Bring an umbrella in case it rains.

In fact

In reality; really; actually

This is a really good computer.  In fact, many people say it’s the best.

In other words

Another way to say something

I’m really tired.  In other words, I think it’s time to go home.

In the way

Acting as an obstacle in achieving a goal

Nothing would get in the way of achieving his dreams.

It’s beside the point

Irrelevant; not important

That’s very interesting, but beside the point.

In the meantime

The period of time between now and when something is supposed to happen

The flight leaves at 7pm.  In the meantime, let’s grab dinner.

It’s a matter of time

Sure to happen at sometime in the future

He’s going to apologize.  It’s only a matter of time.

Keep in mind

Remember and think about someone or something

If any jobs open up at your company, please keep me in mind.

Make a long story short

To leave out parts of a story to make it shorter and bring it to an end

To make a long story short, Thomas is in town this weekend and we made dinner plans for tomorrow night.

Make sense

To be understandable

None of the things that he said made any sense to me.

Might as well

It’s probably better to do something than not to do it

We might as well leave now.  There’s no harm in being early.

More often than not


He remembers my birthday more often than not.

No matter what

Regardless; it makes no difference

We’ll be at your show, no matter what.

On the spot

At the moment without much time for thought

She decided to join them on the spot.

On the way

Moving towards a place

I was on my way to the café when I ran into an old friend.

On purpose


I think he stepped on my foot on purpose.

Out of the question

Not allowed or permitted

I’m sorry, but you can’t take our car.  It’s out of the question.

Run out of time

Not have enough time to complete something

Hurry up!  We’re running out of time before the deadline.

Since day one

From the beginning

I’ve loved him since day one.

Sleep on (something)

Think about something as you sleep

Can you give me tonight to sleep on it?  I’ll have an answer by tomorrow.

So far

Up until this point

They’ve made very little progress so far.

Take one’s time

Don’t rush

Take your time!  We have a lot of time to spare.

Take it easy


On Sundays, he likes to take it easy.

Time is up

There is no more time

Time is up.  Everyone please put their pencil down and close the test booklet.

To one’s face


He told me to my face that he couldn’t trust me.

Touch base


Let’s touch base sometime next week.

Up to date

With the most recent information

I was out last week.  Can you bring me up to date?

Up to you

It’s your decision

I don’t care what we do.  It’s up to you.

What for?


I know you’re in London, but what for?

What’s new?

Do you have any recent news?

Hi Bob.  What’s new?

Word for word

In the exact words

I memorized the speech, word for word.

Worth it

Sufficiently good to repay any effort, trouble or expense

All of the extra time I devoted to studying was worth it.  I scored the highest in the class!



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