AMERICAN IDIOMS STARTING WITH ‘A’

Welcome to our extensive list of American English idiomatic expressions! These kinds of phrases are used by native speakers all the time. Learn and use some of these idioms and you will be able to speak English in a more natural way. 🙂
  • About time:  Nearly time, high time. ex. “It’s about time you bought a new car!”
  • Absence makes the heart grow fonder:  Proverb that means that our feeling for those we love increases when we are apart from them.
 ABSENCE1ABSENCE2

  •  (To) act high and mighty:  To act proudly and arrogantly. ex. “He has been acting all high and mighty ever since he chased away that mouse.”

ACTHIGHANDMIGHTY

  • Actions speak louder than words: Proverb meaning that’s it’s better to do something about a problem than to talk about it.ACTIONSLOUDER2ACTIONSLOUDER

 

  • (To) act one’s age: To behave in a more mature way. Frequently said to a child or teen. ex. “Bill, stop throwing rocks! Act your age!”

ACTONESAGE2ACTONESAGE


 

  • (To) add fuel to the fire:  To make a bad problem even worse. ex. “He added fuel to the fire by bringing up old grudges while they were arguing.”

ADDFUELTOFIRE

 


 

  •  (To) add insult to injury: To make a bad situation even worse.

ADDINSULTOINJURY

 


 

  • Against the clock: To attempt to do something “against the clock” is to attempt to do something as fast as possible, usually in order to make a deadline. ex. “They were working against the clock to finish the project.”
 AGAINSTCLOCK

 
  • All out (adj./adv.): Full-scale; complete. ex: “They said it was only a few skirmishes, but it was an all-out war.”
 ALLOUT

  •  All set:  Ready (to go). ex. “All set?”
ALLSET

  • All thumbs:  Awkward. Clumsy.
  ALLTHUMBS

  • A little bird told me: When someone says “a little bird told me”, it means they don’t want you to know who told them.
 
ALITTLEBIRD


  • All in a day’s work: Typical; normal; par for the course. ex. “Talking to famous celebrities is all in a day’s work for some Hollywood reporters.”
ALLINADAYSWORK 

  • (From) all walks of life: (From) all social, economic, and ethnic groups. ex. “People from all walks of life voted for him, but he still lost the presidential election.”
 Workers
 
 
 
 


  •  Apple of someone’s eye:  Someone’s favorite person (and sometimes thing). ex. “Sarah was the apple of Tom’s eye for quite a long time. He was very much in love with her.”

APPLEOFEYE

 


  • Armed to the teeth: Heavily armed. ex. “The rebels were armed to the teeth.”
ARMEDTOTEETH


  •  At all hours (of the night): Very late at night, throughout the night. ex. “Her boyfriend would call her at all hours of the night.”
 ALLHOURSOFNIGHT

  • At each other’s throats: Fighting or arguing hard. ex. “They were at each other’s throats. The arguments never stopped.”  Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor were at each other’s throats as George and Martha.
 ATEACHOTHERSTHROAT

  •  At this stage: At this point. ex. “At this stage, it’s difficult to say who will win the election.”
 ATTHISSTAGE

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JANET’S PROFILE

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BUSY OR PRODUCTIVE?

Today I want to ask you a question about how you are studying to improve your English:  Many students believe they are too busy to spend any time studying or learning new words or skills outside of class time.  The question that needs answering is, “Are you being productive, or are you just being busy?” There’s a huge difference between the two!

I want you to imagine busy as being like an octopus with roller-skates. You have eight legs, all of them trying to go in a different direction, but nothing is going anywhere. But productivity looks like a tiger on a mission to catch its prey, just going forward and allowing nothing to distract it from its goal. So one of the key things about being productive is, ‘are you distracted,’ and if so, what is it that you need to stop doing of what you’re doing?

One of the main things that totally distracts most people and wastes too much time, is checking email, or even checking social media first thing in the morning. Now, if that’s your job, like if you’re in customer service, or you’re in social media, that’s something different. But if you’re in bed and you reach over to grab your phone, the first thing you do is check email and check social media, you’re in total reactionary mode. Your mind is being distracted without reason by whatever else is out there.

So what you need to do is get control of your life. What you do is, don’t go look at your phone first. First, be grateful that you’re alive. Meditate or just think about what you are going to do this day, before you get out of bed, and then consciously direct your mind on what you’re going to do. One of the things that have helped me is, I put a plan together of what I’m going to do the night before, for the next day.

I usually plan out just the daily things, maybe one or two days out, maybe a week out.  Just as important as planning your daily activities, you’ve got to prioritize them  as well. Did you know that productive people actually end up having more time, more free time and more time to spend with their loved ones. But if you’re just always being busy, and use it as an excuse and somehow that feeds your ego some way, that’s only going to work for so long. Eventually you’re going to come face to face with yourself and you won’t be happy with the outcome!

If you want to be that high-performer, if you want to be that successful person, if you want to have that higher life design, you really have to determine the difference between busyness and productivity. Also consciously directing your mind of, what am I going to be doing today?  Who am I going to be if I don’t improve my English today?

Once again, think about it. Do you want to be productive, or do you just want to be busy? I assume you want to be productive.   So, in your daily plan, give yourself some time to concentrate on learning something new in English.  Write down the time in your calendar book, just like you have written the time we have a lesson. Maybe you only have 15 minutes in the morning, but still you can do something productive in 15 minutes.  Maybe it will be to read 5 new words and revise them?  Then maybe you have 30 minutes in the evening.  Instead of turning on the television, open up a book. Read an English book…any book that you want to read just for pleasure.  Read that book everyday, even if it is only one or two pages!  Soon, you will see how much of that book you have read.  I always have a book in the bathroom.  I do exactly that; I read one or two pages a day.  It is surprising how much you can read during this time!

If you want to learn English, you must spend some time practicing and reading and studying outside of class.  There is no reason why you should not be able to find some time for this.  You are not too busy; you are just not managing your time in a productive way.  So, slowly and methodically, is often the way to be more productive and reach your goals.  Now, make a plan…

You can learn better English and you can be more productive.

JANET’S PROFILE

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TONGUE TWISTERS

Try reading this out loud…

TONGUE TWISTERSDearest creature in creation,
Study English pronunciation.
I will teach you in my verse
Sounds like corpse, corps, horse, and worse.
I will keep you, Suzy, busy,
Make your head with heat grow dizzy.
Tear in eye, your dress will tear.
So shall I! Oh hear my prayer.

Just compare heart, beard, and heard,
Dies and diet, lord and word,
Sword and sward, retain and Britain.
(Mind the latter, how it’s written.)
Now I surely will not plague you
With such words as plaque and ague.
But be careful how you speak:
Say break and steak, but bleak and streak;
Cloven, oven, how and low,
Script, receipt, show, poem, and toe.

Hear me say, devoid of trickery,
Daughter, laughter, and Terpsichore,
Typhoid, measles, topsails, aisles,
Exiles, similes, and reviles;
Scholar, vicar, and cigar,
Solar, mica, war and far;
One, anemone, Balmoral,
Kitchen, lichen, laundry, laurel;
Gertrude, German, wind and mind,
Scene, Melpomene, mankind.

Billet does not rhyme with ballet,
Bouquet, wallet, mallet, chalet.Blood and flood are not like food,
Nor is mould like should and would.
Viscous, viscount, load and broad,
Toward, to forward, to reward.
And your pronunciation’s OK
When you correctly say croquet,
Rounded, wounded, grieve and sieve,
Friend and fiend, alive and live.

Ivy, privy, famous; clamour
And enamour rhyme with hammer.
River, rival, tomb, bomb, comb,
Doll and roll and some and home.
Stranger does not rhyme with anger,
Neither does devour with clangour.
Souls but foul, haunt but aunt,
Font, front, wont, want, grand, and grant,
Shoes, goes, does. Now first say finger,
And then singer, ginger, linger,
Real, zeal, mauve, gauze, gouge and gauge,
Marriage, foliage, mirage, and age.

Query does not rhyme with very,
Nor does fury sound like bury.
Dost, lost, post and doth, cloth, loth.
Job, nob, bosom, transom, oath.
Though the differences seem little,
We say actual but victual.
Refer does not rhyme with deafer.
Foeffer does, and zephyr, heifer.
Mint, pint, senate and sedate;
Dull, bull, and George ate late.
Scenic, Arabic, Pacific,
Science, conscience, scientific.

Liberty, library, heave and heaven,
Rachel, ache, moustache, eleven.
We say hallowed, but allowed,
People, leopard, towed, but vowed.
Mark the differences, moreover,
Between mover, cover, clover;
Leeches, breeches, wise, precise,
Chalice, but police and lice;
Camel, constable, unstable,
Principle, disciple, label.

Petal, panel, and canal,
Wait, surprise, plait, promise, pal.
Worm and storm, chaise, chaos, chair,
Senator, spectator, mayor.
Tour, but our and succour, four.
Gas, alas, and Arkansas.
Sea, idea, Korea, area,
Psalm, Maria, but malaria.
Youth, south, southern, cleanse and clean.
Doctrine, turpentine, marine.

Compare alien with Italian,
Dandelion and battalion.
Sally with ally, yea, ye,
Eye, I, ay, aye, whey, and key.
Say aver, but ever, fever,
Neither, leisure, skein, deceiver.
Heron, granary, canary.
Crevice and device and aerie.

Face, but preface, not efface.
Phlegm, phlegmatic, ass, glass, bass.
Large, but target, gin, give, verging,
Ought, out, joust and scour, scourging.
Ear, but earn and wear and tear
Do not rhyme with here but ere.
Seven is right, but so is even,
Hyphen, roughen, nephew Stephen,
Monkey, donkey, Turk and jerk,
Ask, grasp, wasp, and cork and work.

Pronunciation — think of Psyche!
Is a paling stout and spikey?
Won’t it make you lose your wits,
Writing groats and saying grits?
It’s a dark abyss or tunnel:
Strewn with stones, stowed, solace, gunwale,
Islington and Isle of Wight,
Housewife, verdict and indict.

Finally, which rhymes with enough –
Though, through, plough, or dough, or cough?
Hiccough has the sound of cup.
My advice is to give up!!!

 

JANET’S PROFILE

The word ‘content’

The word content holds the secret of how to attain a higher level of peaceful consciousness. Content means “to contain.” You contain what you seek. It is in you, as you. No thing and no one outside you can give you or make you more than you already are. The treasure you seek, you already own. The treasure you seek, you already are.

We have all engaged in relationships, business situations, and living arrangements that demean us or lack integrity. Upon recognizing that we have sold out to fit in, we must say no to what does not serve us so we can make space for what does.

 

JANET’S PROFILE

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A note from Dasha’s father

It is not often that teachers get such feedback from parents.  I feel very nice to have a parent and a child that are happy with my lessons on skype!

“Hi! How’re you doing? I want to thank you for the “A” grade of Dashas English at school this trimester. You know, last september Dasha challenged a new English specialized school and before that I had a conversation with director of new school about the level of Dashas future classmates as far as they are studying English deeply since they were 8 years old (2nd grade in school. For the moment Dasha at 8th grade). So School Director recommended to deal with one of school teacher to have additional classes for Dasha. Before they started i had a conversation with additional teacher about the purpose of this additional classes pointing that I would love Dasha to start talking English and do not care about grades. After first lesson Dasha told me that English is not interesting for her to study with this teacher. After that we quit the additional classes and sterted SkypeEnglish with you. THANK YOU again for your contribution. I’m so happy to have your lessons for my lovely Dasha.”

 

JANET’S PROFILE

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ADVERB placement

Student: Why is the first one correct and not the second?

The kids work well at school.
The kids work at school well.

Teacher:  The first one is correct because there is a ‘rule of order’ of words in a sentence.  Basic English sentences, until you are at an advanced level of English, is: Subject, Verb, Object.
Then, we usually, put the modifying adjectives, before the noun they are talking about.  The kids (subject)   Or the smart (adjective) kids… AND THE ADVERB comes after the verb…work well….we put the adverb right after the verb to avoid misunderstanding as to which word the adverb is modifying.

Here’s another example…
The dog barked loudly at the postman.
If you move ‘loudly’ to the end of the sentence, you are actually putting the most emphasis on the fact that the dog barked at the postman.  By putting ‘loudly’ at the end…it is almost as if you were saying something as an ‘afterthought.’  When in fact, what you really want to say, is that the dog BARKED LOUDLY…not just barked…so the location of the adverb gives more emphasis.

JANET’S PROFILE

Dyslexia, ‘Should I Have My Child Tested?’

By:  Janet A. Hellis, M.A.  Michigan State University

English Language Consultant, Private Tutor, Former University Instructor and Teacher Trainer

It is thought that the earlier a child with dyslexia is diagnosed, the more effective their future treatment will be.  However, this may in fact not be possible or practical.  Most cases of dyslexia in children are not noticed until a child starts school and begins to experience difficulty with reading, spelling or math.

Identifying Dyslexia  

In practice, identifying dyslexia in younger children can be very difficult for both parents and teachers because the signs and symptoms are often subtle. In addition, some of the early signs of what ‘might be’ dyslexia, such as reversal of certain letters when writing, most commonly the letters b, d and p, q as well as numbers 2, 3, 6 and 9,  is something that many children do, but eventually grow out of.  Children, who are not dyslexic, usually stop reversing these letters by the end of second grade or by the age of seven to eight.  Rushing into a ‘general’ diagnosis of dyslexia, based solely on one or two symptoms, is not a recommended and may cause more psychological damage than if you had waited.  Certainly, diagnosing of dyslexia should be performed by qualified clinical diagnosticians.

Certainly, if  letter reversals when writing, are persistent and continue beyond the age of nine and if the child is experiencing difficulties in pronouncing words, skipping entire words or phrases, or skipping entire lines when reading, a closer examination of the cause is warranted.  Parents and teachers can also, when listening to the child read out loud, determine if their child has early continuing difficulties with differentiating sounds, particularly at the beginning or end of a word, which can also be a sign of possible reading difficulties in the future.

A child who appears perfectly normal, may gradually become anxious about school, and may refuse to go. The child, left undiagnosed and therefore, not treated for dyslexia, often feels frustrated and cannot understand why they are having such difficulty with learning skills that other children in their class find straightforward.  Alone and without help, these children are left to their own coping devices, sometimes with success, but more than often, they needlessly fall behind academically.

Many children, including younger children, may develop ways to compensate for their dyslexia, such as relying on their long-term memory more than usual or by ‘picturing’ the whole word. This ability may make a quick diagnosis even more complex as the ‘way’ the child compensates is not easily seen by the teacher or parent.   Indeed, having dyslexia is not synonymous with low intelligence.  On the contrary, in many cases, children who are dyslexic tend to have high levels of intelligence, thus their ability to find unique and creative ways of compensating for their brains inability to process visual queues normally.

Unfortunately, in Greece, there are no mandatory government screening programmes that have been suggested for children starting school.  Having your child diagnosed and treated remains the responsibility of educators and parents.

Before Diagnosing Dyslexia – Check for Other Health Problem                                                  

If you are concerned about your child’s progress with reading and writing, you should first talk to their reading teacher. If your child has private lessons with an English teacher, you may also want to discuss your child’s progress in reading and writing in that lesson as well. In addition, you may want to meet with other staff in the school. If you or your child’s teacher has a continuing concern, you should take your child to visit your family doctor or pediatrician. It may be that your child has health problems that are not connected to dyslexia but are affecting their ability to read or write. For example, they may have:

  • vision problems – such as short-sightedness (myopia) or a squint (strabismus)
  • impaired hearing – as the result of a condition such as glue ear
  • other conditions – such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

If your child does not have any obvious underlying health problems to explain their learning difficulties, it may also be that they are not responding very well to the method of teaching that is being used.

To help them learn to read, an approach can be used where words are understood by learning sound-letter matching and by sounding out and building up words using a method that is known as synthesis and segmentation.

If your child is still having difficulties, the next stage would be for them to receive additional teaching and support, possibly using a different approach, such as smaller group work or one-to-one teaching, and frequent ‘short burst’ inputs – for example, two to three times a day for 15 minutes. If this support is not able to be found within the public or private schools they attend, then having a good qualified and experienced Private Tutor, for one hour twice a week, and even three times a week, can make a great difference.  With Private Tutoring, many children happily find their own learning style and may eventually excel in classes they otherwise may have failed. Many children, even those with mild or moderate dyslexia, usually make good progress with this type of support.

A more in-depth assessment may be recommended if concerns still exist about your child’s progress after they have received additional teaching and support. The assessment will be carried out by an educational psychologist, who will be able to support the teacher, child and parent and help them to understand the child’s learning difficulties, as well as suggesting targeted support to help with the difficulty.

A Short Preliminary Test:  If you answer ‘Yes‘ to four or more of these questions, then your son or daughter may be dyslexic, and it is recommend that he or she takes a proper diagnostic test to receive a full assessment:

Are there any family members who experienced difficulty learning to read or spell when they were at school?
Is your child experiencing reluctance to go to school or feelings of failure at school?
Does your child have difficulties with spelling?
Does your child miss out words when reading?
Does your child have difficulty reading aloud?
Does your child sometimes skip lines when reading? 
Does your child experience difficulty copying from the board?
Does your child get confused about following instructions, for example when playing a game?
Is your child unable to count backwards from 100 down to 0?
Is anyone in your family left-handed?

Dyslexia can usually be confidently diagnosed if a child’s reading and writing skills are poorly developed, despite appropriate teaching methods having been used, and their other abilities, such as their understanding of logic or their verbal skills being unaffected.

After your child has been assessed, you will receive a report that outlines their strengths and weaknesses, and what could be done to try to improve the areas that they are having difficulties with. Understanding what your child is good at and what they enjoy is an important step in developing an educational plan that tackles their weaknesses.   Being aware of having Dyslexia, can be an extremely positive asset.

The Power of the Gift of Dyslexia.

It is often thought that those diagnosed with dyslexia are held back by their disability. The reality, however, is that there are many notoriously famous people both in the past and the world today who have overcome this disability in order to accomplish great things in their lives. From Hans Christian Andersen to Anderson Cooper, the list is endless. Just take a look at a few of these famous dyslexics and what they have accomplished:

Hans Christian Andersen was Danish author, best known for his children’s stories such as “The Little Mermaid”, “Thumbalina”, and “The Ugly Duckling”.

Walt Disney, was fired from the Kansas City new paper for not being creative, he was also labeled as slow as a child. 

Ludwig van Beethoven was a German pianist and composer and is one of the most influential composers of all time. He continued to compose, perform, and conduct even after becoming completely deaf.

Orlando Bloom is an English actor best known for his role as Legolas in the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy and then as Will Turner in the “Pirates of the Caribbean” trilogy. He was also named the UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador in October of 2009.

Thomas Edison is an American inventor and scientist who has created innovations that have revolutionized the way things are done today. He invented the light bulb, phonograph, motion picture camera, and is credited with the creation of the first industrial research laboratory.

Charles “Pete” Conrad, Jr. was a naval officer for the American Navy, an engineer, an astronaut, and the third person to walk on the moon. He was the 20th person and the 10th American to fly in space and flew on the Gemini 5, Gemini 11, Apollo 12, and Skylab 2 space missions for NASA.

Leonardo da Vinci, an Italian inventor, is truly one of the original Renaissance men. He is best known for his art work. He is the creator of such masterpieces as “The Mona Lisa”, “The Last Supper”, and his drawing of the “Vitruvian Man”. He is also known for his technological conceptualization of the helicopter, the tank, the calculator, and many other modern day inventions.

Cher is an American singer, actress, director, and record producer but is best known as “The Goddess of Pop”. She got her start as half of the duo Sonny and Cher and has since won an Emmy Award, three Golden Globes, an Academy Award, a Grammy Award, a Cannes Film Festival Award, and a People’s Choice Award for her success in television, music, and film.

Anderson Cooper is a well known television personality as well as an American journalist and author. He spent many years filming journalism pieces in war-torn regions of Somalia, Rwanda, Bosnia, and is currently a commentator for CNN.

Tom Cruise is an American actor and producer who has had many leading roles in popular films throughout the past two decades. He has been proclaimed to be one of the few producers who can guarantee the success of of a billion dollar film franchise and is well known for his controversial support of the Church of Scientology.

Keira Knightley is an English model and actress who received her first break in international fame in the films “Bend it Like Beckham” and the “Pirates of the Caribbean” trilogy. “Forbes” magazine has listed her as the second highest paid actress in Hollywood, and is the only non-American actress to make this list. She has been nominated for several awards such as the Academy Award for Best Actress, two Golden Globe Awards for Best Actress, and the BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role for her acting in the film “Atonement”.

And perhaps the most famous and amazingly brilliant of all Dyslexic Famous People….

Albert Einstein was a German theoretical physicist, author, and is one of the most influential scientists and intellectuals of all time. He has published over 300 scientific and over 150 non-scientific works and has received several honorary doctorate degrees from numerous American and European colleges. His name “Einstein” has in modern day, become synonymous with the word “genius”.

As you can see, there are a variety of famous dyslexics who have become famous in a variety of genres. There are so many more that could not be listed, however the list is almost endless. None of these famous names let their disability hold them back. Instead, they rose above their insecurities and became some of the most notable names in literary, musical, and film history.

About the Author:  

Ms. Hellis has an M.A. in Education, Curriculum Development and Teacher’s Education, with an emphasis on Diagnosing Reading Difficulties and Dyslexia.  She has been working with children and adults of all ages for more than 25 years, both in Michigan and Greece, and has helped many students with Dyslexia to achieve their goals of success.

 

JANET’S PROFILE