Idioms For IELTS Speaking: Idioms And Phrases For IELTS SpeakingUpdated on 25 April, 2022
Study Abroad Expert
Study Abroad Expert
IELTS (International English Language Testing System) is a standardized English Language proficiency test taken by non-native English-speaking candidates to study or work in an English-speaking country. To score band seven or more, applicants need proficiency in vocabulary and expertise in using idioms for the IELTS speaking test.
Idioms are widely used to communicate in English. The non-native speakers may not speak the language as proficient as when compared to native people. This break in communication usually leads to a lower score on the IELTS test. However, once the usage of idioms is mastered, one can expect effective communication to impress the examiner in the speaking test.
An idiom is an expression or a phrase in a language, the meaning of which is non-literal and not attached to the existing phrase. In simple words, an idiom is a group of words in an order with a particular meaning while the meaning of each word is different. Idioms are used and asked in most language proficiency examinations. There are many idioms for IELTS that are asked in the exam. The common idioms for the IELTS speaking test are discussed further in the article.
A verb phrase consists of the main verb and a helping verb. Together, these verbs can help words highlight the person's mood, and tone. In such a case, an adverb, preposition, and auxiliaries can be combined with the verb to change the phrase's meaning.
On the other hand, a phrasal verb is a mix of verb and another element. The other element could be an adverb or a preposition. With an addition of the element, the complete meaning of the verb changes.
Phrase and phrasal verbs can be quite useful in IELTS speaking test. Here is a table with the difference between a phrase verb and a phrasal verb to understand the concept better.
|Phrase Verb||Phrasal Verb|
|Definition||It is a verb having more than one word.||It is a verb followed by a preposition or an adverb.|
|Additional Elements||Auxiliary or modal verbs are added to the main verb.||Prepositions or adverbs are followed by the main verb.|
|Verbs||It has more than one verb.||It has only one verb.|
|Number of Words||It can have up to four words.||It generally has only two words.|
|Example||Is working, can go, has been, should have been etc.||Turn down, look after, think about, talk through etc.|
As idioms and phrasal verbs are an integral part of the IELTS speaking exam, here is a list of common and useful idioms for the IELTS speaking section:
Applicants should have a good knowledge of the meaning and usage of idioms and phrases for the IELTS speaking test.
Idioms can be pure idioms, binomial idioms, partial idioms, prepositional idioms, proverbs, euphemisms, and cliches. The common ones are phrasal verbs, prepositional verbs, and partial idioms. For non-native English applicants, it is essential to learn the usage of all of these.
Here are some idioms used in IELTS speaking tests with their usage in a question and answer form:
|Idiom||Meaning||Usage (Question)||Usage (Answer)|
|To have a whale of time||It means to enjoy a lot.||Can you tell us something about your hometown?||Start the answer by saying that your native place is Singapore, India, or any place you belong to, and that’s a fantastic destination with a cross-cultural environment. One cannot get bored in Singapore/India as there are engaging activities for every age group. My entire childhood has been a memorable journey. Anyone visiting the city can have a whale of a time.|
|To be on cloud nine||Being extremely happy about something that has happened.|
Tell us what you felt after being accepted to your dream college?
|I was on cloud nine when I got the news from my parents. It was a lot of hard work and dedication that got me here.|
|It makes my blood boil||It means to be disgusted and infuriated.||How well do you get on with your friends?||My friends are my family. I am a happy and outgoing person; therefore, I have made many friends. I have a lot of good friends, except one. I mainly do not like her because she is too selfish and disappointing. She yells and mistreats me. Even the thought of her makes my blood boil.|
|I hit the ceiling|
To become extremely angry.
|Tell us about one terrible memory from your childhood days?||Though I do not remember everything clearly, there is something that my parents always talk about. Cycling was always my favorite hobby. My mother got me a new bicycle when I was 13. However, my brother borrowed it, and he crashed it. I hit the ceiling when I got to know about it. Luckily, I got a new one the next day.|
|On the dot||Exactly at the right time.||Tell us about one habit of yours that everyone should have.|
I am quite a disciplined person with many good habits. To be precise, I would speak about my punctuality. I feel everyone should be punctual. Whenever I am supposed to reach any place, I am always on the dot. I do not make delays unnecessarily, which has helped me in life.
|Find my feet|
To be comfortable with something.
|Why did you take up this particular subject?||Mathematics was never my strength. Even then, I took up Mathematics for my graduation, and there is a long story behind it. I was weak at it in my school days, but I always tried to understand it better. Slowly with the help of my father, I found my feet and got better at the subject. He helped by giving me extra time. Soon, it became my favorite subject, and now I am pursuing it further.|
|Set in their ways||It means not wanting to change.|
How would you describe your parents?
My parents are very cooperative in my choices and decisions. They have always helped me become independent. However, they are not very welcoming to a few modern thoughts. They are set in their ways, in that respect. It creates some clashes among us as they always have their own experience.
|Burn the midnight oil||To stay up till late for a meaningful reason.|
What was the reason behind having such good academic scores?
I always wished to study abroad after high school? It was not easy for me to reach here as I had to burn the midnight oil every day. I am not an early person, and I usually get my work done at night.
|Down in the dumps||It means you are disappointed and sad.|
How many colleges did you apply to?
|Based on subject requirements and ranks, I had submitted my application to eight colleges, and I was a bit down in the dumps with the results as I got six rejections. Luckily, I soon received admission confirmation from this prestigious college, and I am very happy about it.|
|To be over the moon||It means to feel fulfilled and happy.||What did you do on your last birthday?|
My last birthday was the best. I was over the moon because my sister visited us after six years in the USA. It was an emotional yet amazing day. My parents arranged a surprise birthday party in the evening, and I was showered with several gifts.
Now that you know some common and valuable idioms for the IELTS speaking test, practice them regularly for a good band score.
|IELTS Eligibility||IELTS Registration||IELTS Syllabus|
|Academic IELTS||IELTS Band Score||IELTS Writing Task 1|
|IELTS Writing Task 2||IELTS Slot Booking||IELTS Band Score Chart|
Here are some more examples of idioms used in IELTS speaking tests (in alphabetical order from a - i).
|A blessing in disguise||A positive thing that isn’t recognized until later||I failed in the English test during my pre-boards. It proved as a blessing in disguise to push myself hard to achieve a distinction in my final board exams.|
|A drop in the ocean||A small portion of something big.|
The budget sanctioned for marketing the product is just a drop in the ocean.
We need more than this to increase the sales.
|Actions speak louder than words||It is better to do something rather than just talk about it.||We must take steps to control increasing pollution levels. Actions speak louder than words.|
|An arm and a leg||Very expensive||My vacation to Hawaii cost me an arm and a leg|
|Back to the drawing board||When an attempt to do something fails and it is time to begin all over again but in a new way||I only scored 5.5 in my IELTS test. I have to be back to the drawing board now.|
|Bite my tongue||Want to say something but stopping oneself||I have to bite my tongue in front of the manager about the deadline of the task given.|
|Bite the hand that feeds you||Hurt or upset someone helping you.||I was teaching him English, and he did not inform me about his good scores. One should not bite the hand that feeds you.|
|Cut to the chase||Leaving all the unnecessary details and getting to the point directly.|
Long discussions during the meeting will only lead to a waste of time.
Let us cut to the chase.
|Every cloud has a silver lining||Believing that every bad situation has a positive side that will eventually result in something good||Don’t be upset over your broken engagement. Every cloud has a silver lining.|
|Fixed in their ways||Not wanting to change from the normal ways of doing things||My parents are very fixed in their ways. They never like using online banking rather prefer vising the bank.|
|Found my feet||To become comfortable in what you are doing||I wanted to be a doctor but ended up being an engineer. However, I have found my feet.|
|Go the extra mile||Doing much more than was required when doing something||My husband go to the extra mile to take care of me during my pregnancy.|
|Got up on the wrong side of the bed this morning||To refer to someone who is having a bad day||Seems the teacher got up on the wrong side of the bed this morning. Her mood is terrible today.|
|Hit the nail on the head||Say exactly the right thing||I think you have hit the nail on the head. That is why you got this project.|
|If it is not one thing. It's the other||When everything seems to be going wrong||I got late for the exam and now missed my admit card. Seems if it is not one thing. It’s the other.|
|IELTS Score for UK||IELTS Score for USA||Validity of IELTS Score|
|IELTS Speaking Topics||IELTS Reading Tips||IELTS Preparation Books|
|Types of IELTS Exam||IELTS Academic vs General||IELTS Exam Pattern|
Here is a list of some more useful idioms for IELTS speaking tests (in alphabetical order from j - z).
|Keep an eye on him||Watch someone or something carefully||The student at the last bench seems to cheat in the exam. Keep an eye on him.|
|Kicked the bucket||Died||Did you hear this? James kicked the bucket in a road accident.|
|Let sleeping dogs lie||Avoid a conflict||There is no point arguing with her. I would better let the sleeping dogs lie.|
|Let the cat out of the bag||Tell someone something that you were not supposed to||I told your mother about our last weekend party. I be sorry I did not mean to let the cat out of the bag.|
|Practice makes perfect||Continuously doing something to improve||We should keep studying for IELTS. Practice makes perfect.|
|Rule of thumb||Principal that is strictly adhered/kept to||As a rule of thumb, I don’t work on weekends. I spend the time with my family.|
|Smell a rat||To sense that something is not right||The candidate said he has done certification in Digital Marketing but does not remember the year. I can smell a rat.|
|The ball’s in your court||Telling someone it’s now their turn to make a decision||You have been selected for admission to two international universities. The ball is in your court now.|
|Tongue-in-cheek||Something said in humor rather than seriously||It was all tongue-in-cheek. He did not mean to hurt you.|
|Under the weather||Unwell||She could not attempt the exam as she was under the weather.|
|Until the cows come home||For a very long time||He has been trying to get admission in an international university until the cows come home.|
|Water under the bridge||Things from the past that is not important anymore||The two brothers have disagreements in the past for business decisions. But it’s all water under the bridge now.|
|Working against the clock||Not having enough time to do something||We are working against the clock to meet the deadline of the project. Let us hurry up.|
|You are what you eat||If you eat bad food, you will be unhealthy. If you eat well, you will be healthy.||Always eat healthy. You are what you eat.|
|You can’t judge a book by its cover||The belief that outside appearances do not reveal what someone or something is really like.||He is a simple man but is the CEO of a company. Don’t judge a book by its cover.|
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Every person has a different way to describe things. Sometimes some languages and cultures have a certain set of phrases that have special meanings. In English too, idioms and phrasal verbs are commonly used. In the IELTS speaking test too, the candidate is assessed on the use of idiomatic language as a part of the assessment. It is suggested that the candidate should use less common idioms and vocabulary and highlight awareness of style and collocation.
The English language has thousands of idioms that are commonly used. However, there are some common idioms used in IELTS speaking and regular conversations. Some of the examples of the idioms are as follows:
|A white lie||To tell a lie that is not very serious||I hope you don’t get in trouble for telling a white lie about your health.|
|Better late than never||It is better to do something late than never do it||I learnt swimming when I was 30. Better late than never.|
|Child’s play||Very easy to do||He is proficient in using Microsoft office. The PPT was child's play for him.|
|Day and night||Continually working without break or stopping||He studied day and night to score well in the IELTS exam|
|In the red||To owe money, do not have money.||I can’t afford a luxury vacation at the moment. I am in the red.|
Many more idioms with examples are given under the ‘Some Useful Idioms for the IELTS Speaking Test with Meaning’ section.
Idioms are used in the common day-to-day language as well. Some idioms are common in various cultures and languages. In the IELTS speaking test, idioms are commonly asked and used. For a language learner, it is important to use the correct phrase in the right order. This is also known as collocation. For example, keep quiet. You will never say quiet keep. In the IELTS exam, a candidate is assessed on the common idioms for IELTS speaking. A candidate must know how to use and pronounce these idioms right.
Important Resources to Read About IELTS:
|How to Prepare for IELTS in One Month||Common Spelling Mistakes in IELTS||Tips to Improve Pronunciation|
|How to Fill IELTS Answer Sheet||How to Prepare For Computer Based IELTS||How to Improve IELTS Score From 6.5 to 7|
|IELTS General Training Exam||IELTS Introduction Sample||How to Write Conclusion in Writing Task 2|
|IELTS Essay on Art and Culture||Global Warming Essay For IELTS||Government and Society IELTS Essay|
There are thousands of idioms in the English language. The idioms for IELTS are a common section and part of the test that the candidate is assessed on. Examples of some of the simplest and most commonly used idioms are as follows:
Meaning - raised/developed
Example - I was brought up in India.
2. Idiom - To run in the family
Meaning - similar qualities among family members
Example - My parents love to travel and I like to explore the world. It actually runs in the family.
3. Idiom - Give someone the green light
Meaning - to give permission
Example - I am given the green light by my parents to go on a vacation with my friends.
4. Idiom - Out of the blue
Meaning - something that happened unexpectedly
Example - I got a promotion which was out of the blue.
5. Idiom - Bookworm
Meaning - someone who reads a lot
Example - I gifted my friend a book on her birthday. She is a bookworm.
Idioms can add colors and weightage to the candidate's conversation with the examiner. By using more relevant idioms during the IELTS speaking and writing test, the candidate can improve their lexical resource, increasing their chances of improving the band score and performing well on the test day.
To score higher in the IELTS speaking test, it is suggested not to use common idioms and conversational vocabulary. To score band seven and above in IELTS, the candidate should focus on showing some awareness of style and collocation. Collocation is a combination of words that are commonly used together. For example, fast food, keep calm, get started, and more.
|MAP Essay IELTS||IELTS 9 Band Essay||Types of Essays in IELTS|
|Double Question Essay IELTS||IELTS 8 Band Essay||IELTS Essay on Animals|
|IELTS General Reading Section||Capital Punishment Essay IELTS||IELTS Essay on Health|
|Causes and Effects of Obesity IELTS Essay||Business and Money IELTS Essay||Modern Technology Essay IELTS|
A candidate can use idioms in IELTS academic writing; however, it is suggested not to use common idioms like IELTS speaking. It is better to use informal idioms and the appropriate ones. Using the idioms unnecessarily can only result in a bad IELTS score.
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