Day 4 English Idioms – Real Life English Boost – E-mail Series

Today we’re going to look at English idioms.


What is an idiom?

An idiom is a phrase or an expression that has a particular meaning that differs from the meaning of the individual words.


We use idioms a lot! If you can understand some of the most commonly used idioms, you will be able to understand natives better. Better yet? You’ll impress them if you use them!

Let’s look at these idioms:

  • Break the bank,
  • money doesn’t grow on trees,
  • flat broke,
  • dirt cheap,
  • under the table

1. Break the bank

Definition: To spend a large amount of money, often more than one can afford.

Context (when to use this idiom): you would use this idiom “break the bank” to describe a situation where someone spends a significant amount of money, often in a lavish or extravagant manner.

Example Sentences:

Kaylea really broke the bank on that designer handbag; it cost her a month’s salary.

The wedding reception was so extravagant that it practically broke the bank for the couple’s families.

I’d love to travel first class, but I’m worried it might break the bank.


2. Money doesn’t grow on trees

Definition: A reminder that money is not unlimited and should be spent wisely.

Context (when to use this idiom): you would use this idiom “money doesn’t grow on trees” when cautioning someone about their spending habits and encouraging them to be mindful of their expenses.

Parents often use this idiom with children when they beg for new toys.

Example Sentences:

You can’t keep buying expensive gadgets; money doesn’t grow on trees, you know.

I can’t afford to go out to eat every day – I have to remember that money doesn’t grow on trees.

My parents always reminded me that I need to save for the future; money doesn’t grow on trees, after all.


3. Flat broke

Definition: To have no money at all; to be completely out of funds.

Context (when to use this idiom): you would use this idiom “flat broke” to describe a situation where someone has no money left, often due to spending or financial difficulties.

Example Sentences:

After paying the bills, I’m flat broke for the rest of the month.

I can’t go out tonight; I’m completely flat broke until I get my next paycheck.

I thought I had enough money for the trip, but unexpected expenses left me flat broke.


4. Dirt cheap

Definition: Extremely inexpensive; costing very little money.

Context (when to use this idiom): you would use this idiom “dirt cheap” to describe something that is priced very low, often to the point of being surprisingly affordable.

Example Sentences:

I found this vintage jacket at the thrift store; it was dirt cheap!

The hotel rates during the off-season are dirt cheap compared to peak tourist season.

She got those concert tickets for dirt cheap because they were on sale.


5. Under the table

Definition: A term often used to describe financial transactions that are done secretly or without proper documentation.

Context (when to use this idiom): you would use this idiom “under the table” to refer to payments or agreements that are made in an unofficial or off-the-record manner.

Example Sentences:

He paid me under the table for helping him with his construction project.

The restaurant was paying some of its employees under the table to avoid taxes.

I heard they were giving cash bonuses under the table to keep the employees happy.


Let’s test your comprehension of these idioms.

Multiple Choice Quiz

1. What does the idiom “break the bank” mean?
a) To mend a broken piece of furniture
b) To spend a large amount of money
c) To hide money in a bank account
d) To win a large sum of money in a casino

2. What message does the idiom “money doesn’t grow on trees” convey?
a) Money should be invested in trees
b) Money can only be used for planting trees
c) Money is a renewable resource
d) Money is not unlimited and should be spent wisely

3. What does it mean to be “flat broke”?
a) To have a flat tire on your car
b) To be completely out of money
c) To have too much money
d) To be in good financial shape

4. What does the idiom “dirt cheap” suggest about the price of something?
a) It’s very expensive
b) It’s moderately priced
c) It’s overpriced
d) It’s extremely inexpensive

5. When might someone engage in an activity “under the table”?
a) When they’re gardening
b) When they’re painting
c) When they’re involved in a secretive financial transaction
d) When they’re organizing a party

6. When would someone likely use the expression “break the bank”?
a) When they receive their monthly salary
b) When they save money in a piggy bank
c) When they spend a small amount of money
d) When they make a large and extravagant purchase

7. What is the main idea behind the phrase “money doesn’t grow on trees”?
a) Money should be invested in environmental causes
b) Money is an unlimited resource
c) Money should be used to plant more trees
d) Money should be managed and spent wisely

8. What would you feel if you were “flat broke”?
a) Financially secure
b) Extremely wealthy
c) Completely out of money
d) Unconcerned about finances

9. What is a characteristic of something described as “dirt cheap”?
a) It’s extremely expensive
b) It’s very valuable
c) It’s moderately priced
d) It’s very inexpensive

10. In what situation might you hear about something happening “under the table”?
a) During a formal business meeting
b) At a public event
c) In a secretive or unofficial financial transaction
d) During a gardening workshop

Quiz Answers:
b) To spend a large amount of money
d) Money is not unlimited and should be spent wisely
b) To be completely out of money
d) It’s extremely inexpensive
c) When they’re involved in a secretive financial transaction
d) When they make a large and extravagant purchase
d) Money should be managed and spent wisely
c) Completely out of money
d) It’s very inexpensive
c) In a secretive or unofficial financial transaction


Idioms Fill in the Blank Quiz:

Use these idioms to fill in the blanks below: Break the bank, money doesn’t grow on trees, flat broke, dirt cheap, under the table

1. The vintage store was having a huge sale, and I managed to find a beautiful dress for ______________.

2. Jed was paying his employees ______________ to avoid paying taxes on their income.

3. My parents always reminded me that ______________, so I should be careful with my spending.

4. Due to unexpected medical bills, Austin found himself ______________ by the end of the month.

5. After splurging on a luxury vacation, Maisy ______________ and had to cut back on expenses.

Quiz Answers:

dirt cheap
under the table
money doesn’t grow on trees
flat broke
broke the bank

 
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