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Over 1,000 of the most common fixed expressions and idioms in the English

This list has been compiled of the most fixed expressions and idioms in the English language-with 1,157 items. The reason that we have posted this list is to get our current and potential
students to start thinking like a linguist, so that they can have an easier time translating things,
and more productive study time when they sit down to complete their assignments. This list has
been compiled for the sake of students who are enrolled through Level 3 of a Broad Sky
Alternative Language Academy program. Though this list in no way should be thought of as a
complete list of idioms and fixed expressions, it should however be thought of as a reference tool
for a student trying to classify his/her native language, and as an aid to help said student break
down said language into the most basic parts of usage. What we mean by basic parts of usage is
essentially, all the different situations that a speaker of any language will generally find
him/herself in when speaking whatever language on a daily basis. Though this list has been
written in English, it needs to be clarified that it has been compiled as a template for all
languages. Though for some English (in this list, American) idioms, there may not be an exact
equivalent item that can be translated perfectly, there is almost always something that is close
To our readers: When you sit down to take a look at this list, you ought to do so carefully, and
consider how we as speakers of American English both think, as well as talk, about the every day
situations that happen around us. You will notice that for most of these phrases, 1. there are
multiple ways of saying the same thing, and 2. it is a constant puzzle to match the phrase with
the right preposition. Not sure what a preposition is? Well, to give a quick clarification, a
preposition can be looked at as 1. a word that connects two nouns, as well as 2. a word that
indicates the position of a particular noun in relation to another noun. While you yourself are
probably already a master of "just knowing" when to use a particular preposition, you will find
that when you sit down and think about many of the fixed expressions that appear on this list, the
particular preposition used in the expression is often arbitrary, or just random. Yet you will
notice that the phrase by itself is just a very common phrase that you already had memorized.
Yet, when you are forced to look at an expression such as "on foot", you will perhaps puzzle
over why it is considered an acceptable part of speech, but it is not grammatical. Shouldn't it be
"on feet" as opposed to "on foot"? The reality is that such expressions are "just that way", and
there is no real way to translate them literally. They are called "fixed expressions" for a reason.
So, without further ado, we ask you to use this list to start thinking about how you will translate
your everyday life from English, into whatever other language you are learning. We guarantee
that if you even learn as much as a third of the fixed expressions on this list by the time you are
in Level 3, you will be well on your way to having a great and deep understanding of your
respective foreign language of study. Embrace, cherish, and add on to this list!
during the day
at night
in the meantime
in the next few+NOUN
for the time being

a remote chance
Its not likely that
to quit a job
to remember to+INF
to forget to+INF
for the most part
many years ago
Its been a long time since
In my opinion
Under/given the circumstances
Im taken aback that
To get the bill
At full speed
To take ones time + gerund
To take responsibility for
To get/be accustomed/used to
For the sake of
In order to
To hurry up and
To speed up
To slow down
To have money saved up
To be bored out of ones mind
Out in the open
In secret
To be sure/certain of
Wide open
Shut tight
The fact that
To say the least
Watch out (for)!
To be in trouble (with sbdy.)
Sorry to bother/trouble you, but
Would you mind if?
To go wrong
Go away!
Lets get going
To be short/missing a
Something is missing (from)
In the middle of the night
To be mistaken about
Lets check it out
To make sure that
To be taken by surprise
To strongly disagree
To decide between (2 choices)

To make up ones mind (about)

To have plans (for)
It isnt worth it!
Its not worth the trouble (of/to+gerund)
To take part in smthg.
To have trouble+gerund
On the way to
To have time for smthg.
For free
To my amazement
To keep in mind that
To relate to/with sbdy.
To keep smthg.+adj.
To have a hunch that
I cant help (doing it)
To keep sthg up to date
To have feelings for
To keep sbdy. Informed (of smthg.)
To keep under control
To keep track of
For just a+time word
To show up for
To show up early/late
To have a knack for
To be partial to
To do away with
For example
To go over smtg (fig)
To manage to
To take note of
To take notice of
To make up for smthg.
To put stock in
To save up (for)
At the time, I
(that was)back when
Back then,
For the record,
For as long as I can remember,
To lose sleep over
Oh, come on!
Im just kidding!
For what its worth,
To be right/wrong about
Tit for tat/an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth
To have a strong need for

To be nervous about
To be jealous of
To be in doubt of
If I were you, I
If I were in your shoes, I
It bothers me that
To no end
To get involved with
To meddle in sbdys business/affairs
Something else
Somewhere else
Someone else
Something more
To be a good deal ($)
A good deal of...(part.)
To be a good idea
To be disgusted with/by
To be interested in
Enough of+(part.)
To worry about smthg.
To be concerned with
To take smthg into consideration
To withhold information
To reach an understanding (of)
To reach/come to an agreement
To come to the conclusion that
To strike a compromise
To make friends with
To stand for
To stand up against
Once in a while
To start to+gerund
To stop quit+gerund
To be good for+gerund
To be qualified to...
To go well with
To snack on smthg.
To get ready for
With all ones might
To be afraid of
Out of+emotion
To lose track of
To have a taste for
Lack of+NOUN

Tendency for/towards/to
To sort out
Behind sbdys back
Without warning
For fun
To look up to sbdy.
To look down on sbdy.
To frown upon smthg.
To turn on
To turn off
To get away with smthg.
In all honesty,
To tell the truth
To tell a lie
To brag about
To talk trash about sbdy.
To help out with smthg.
To give comfort to
To mistake smg/sby for
Concrete details
To be uncomfortable with smthg.
To hint at smthg.
To be annoyed by smg.
To save the best for last
First of all
In the future
In the past
Right now
The past few+time word
To change ones mind
To switch+NOUN+with sbdy.
To advise against smthg.
To give good/bad advice
A detailed explanation
I bet that
The kind of thing that
As an example of
An (un)biased opinion about
A beautiful view (of)
To turn/hand in...
Current events
It all happened so suddenly
To bring about
To catch up with
To ask for help
To make a sound

To be located in/at/etc
A change of+NOUN
To find out about
To leave for+NOUN
In memory of
Before long
To get ripped off (by)
To go for a ride
To go for a walk
Why dont we
To get ahead (fig)
To get ahead of ones self (fig)
To be running ahead/behind (at)
I used to+INF
To fall apart
To fall off
In denial
To get a second chance
One more time/once more
To beg for
It goes without saying that
To hold ones breath
Out of breath
Youre gonna make it
Rest assured that
To get hold of smg.
To do ones duty
In pain
To lead astray
To have a head/stomach ache
Spare change
Pocket money
To take a break/rest
Time to kill
To look like+NOUN
In mint condition
In good/bad condition
In power
To rise to power
To get a raise ($)
The sun comes up/goes down
To have/get a flat tire
To break up with sbdy.
To take off (clothing)
To put on
Down on ones luck

To wake up
To fall asleep
To have no idea about
To talk sbdy out of smg.
It makes (no) sense
To say goodbye
The right/wrong way
Its for the best that
Some day
To be enough/not enough
Heres to(toast)
To leave behind
You had better
To pack ones bags
To take forever (at)
It seems like
To take notes
To come for a visit
To take pictures
To make music
First things first
To run into smthg.
To give in (to)
To have a hangover
Under ones breath
To smell like+NOUN
To scream/yell at sbdy.
Every minute/moment
Every day/week/month
Once/twice per+TIME
Right before ones eyes
To act as if
To be happy/pleased with/about
To get/turn off (of)
To be related to
To have a good memory
A sense of
Hard/easy to find
In jail/in prison
To make progress (with)
To work on
To find ones way
To get lost
No more/anymore

To slip and fall (on)

On the weekend
To have/take a sick day
No time for
In/out of touch with
To lose control of
Out of reach
Within reach
To spend the+TIME(+doing smg.)
To be in luck
A table for#
To take it easy
To feel wronged
To come/stop by (at)
To pass through (smwr.)
A friend of mine/his/etc
One of my
A little
A lot
In pieces
On the mend
To return the favor
To do a favor for
Within range
Out of the area
Small town
Big city
To run up (a bill/tab)
To get over+NOUN
Few and far between
To look into smg. (fig)
To feel sorry for
To pretend to+INF
To let go of smg. (lit/fig)
To feel sorry for
To have fun+gerund
To have a good/bad time
Good night!
To wish someone well
To set free
Let go!
Call me+adj. (e.g. crazy)
Scared to death
To go crazy
To have a problem with
To take turns (at)or(+gerund)

The rest of
To go for a hike
All night long
To try to+INF
To be confused about
Theres a chance that
This is between (you and me)/(him and her)
How come
To make a fuss over
To know about
To know how to
By any means necessary
In debt/indebted to
A pile of
To make good money
All over/around town
Out of town
To take smg. Seriously
At face value
By law
According to
To put up with smg.
To deal with
To make clear
In bed
At the table
To trust in sbdy.
Topic of conversation
To have faith in
To take effect
To sign up for
In connection with
To come across as
To get a point across
To be ignorant of
In the aftermath of
For no reason
To crash into
To get into an accident
In an emergency
To have/get the feeling that
To have the courage to
A wide variety of
To go on a date (with)
To be married engaged to
Its common sense

To keep a secret
To be in conflict with
Compared to/with
To stop for
On the side of the road
To feel threatened (by)
To score a goal (sports)
To apply for a job
Out for lunch/dinner
To fall in love with
In alphabetical order
To fail at+gerund
It sounds good/bad
A turn for the worse
To make a difference(in)
To finish+gerund
To succeed at
To be kicked out of
To be good/bad at
To be based on
To refrain from
In the way of
To be ashamed of
To be embarrassed by
In/out of fashion/style
To take over+NOUN
In that case,
In the event that
A long way to go
To sing to sbdy.
To think about
Not quite as+adj.+as
In silence
In compliance with
To take care of
To be impressed with/by
To take advantage of
On a diet
To be homesick
Frozen/fresh food
On ice
On tap
To hope for
To give credit to
To disobey orders

As usual
To allow sbdy. To
To put/place emphasis on
For dinner/for breakfast
The cause for
A strange turn of events
To make known that
To work as a team
To insist on+gerund
Plenty of
At midnight
At noon
To be close/nearby
To offer a solution
To travel the world
To check for
Thats what I thought
To be cut off (from)
To be prejudiced toward
In favor of
More or less
Too much+NOUN
With care
I guess/suppose that
Up to#amount(time, $, etc)
Its up to you
When it comes to,
To show weakness/strength
To give credit to
To take credit for
To be aware of
To drive sbdy crazy
Under stress
It doesnt matter that
To take offense (at)
To have the courage to
To come to the rescue of sbdy.
On purpose
To do the right/wrong thing
To make a decision
To see what happens
To talk at great length about
To raise/lower taxes/prices/etc.
To pay attention to
For the benefit of
In the short/long term

In harms way
As a matter of fact
In demand
A shortage of
To take the blame for
To suffer the consequences for
To be attracted to
The whole story/picture
To be drawn toward/to
To give someone the benefit of the doubt
To be of assistance (to)
With the exception of
To take place
To take sides (with)
For profit
To give smg a try
You dont get it
To go blind
To turn a blind eye to
To the best of my knowledge,
To a certain degree/extent
To go bankrupt
Without a doubt
To believe in smg.
To focus on smg.
To be crazy about smg.
To handle smthg well/badly (emotional)
In a bind
To put into question
To get dressed
To put on
To take off
Paralyzed with fear
For the good of
For the greater good
It will do you some good (to)
To be in a rage
To get worked up (about)
To confused smthg with smthg else
To trip over smthg.
In/out of line (with)
Sense of decency
Right to privacy
Under attack
To take inventory (of)
To make a list (of)

To be charged with
To be (found) guilty (of)
To put in jail/prison
To be in charge (of)
To take charge (of)
To sentence sbdy to
Life in prison
The death penalty
To be acquitted (of)
To face facts
To be ignorant of...
The reality (of the situation) is
What about?
Who is to blame (for)?
At fault (for)
At risk (of)
To look out over
To dream of/about
To sympathize with
To take a liking to
To have a (firm) grasp of
Never again
To take it easy
To take it slow
Once again,
For lack of better words,
To play along with
To show ones true colors
,at best,
(to put) on the air (radio)
to settle a/the matter
once and for all
to decline an invitation
to accept an invitation
to refuse to+gerund
to live up to smthg.
To make smg better/worse
To leave smg alone
Drop it! (lit&fig)
The damage is done
To be in/out of luck
Fame and fortune
To have high/low expectations (for)
Regarding X matter,
to put a dent in smthg.
to barely/hardly be able to do smthg.

To nearly/almost do something
To carry smthg out
To put into action
In effect
To draw attention to
To admit defeat
To save/lose face
To keep in touch with sbdy.
To be out of touch with reality
Qualities in+NOUN
(To use an) approach to
To fill in the blank(s)
To fill up the tank
To run on empty
Because of+NOUN
To have an eye/ear for smthg.
To take a shot at smthg.
Without regard for
Difference of opinion
Conflict of interests
To be attentive to details
For sale
For rent
In/out of use
To feel inferior to
At the moment,
Living situation
At war with
What to+INF
In/out of focus
In need of
The ability to
To move on (from)
Its a matter of+NOUN
In/out of shape
To stay in shape
To be accepted to/at
To resist temptation
Sometimes I wonder,
To live in fear of
Theres no reason that
To assert authority
To have authority over
Its not a big deal if
Full-time job
Part-time job

To interview for a job

To be represented by
To be a symbol of
To compare smthg with
To agree on an issue
To go on a trip
To see the best in
To give in to (pressure)
Under pressure
For the rest of the+TIME
To go abroad
A change of plans
In the military
In a good/bad mood
To work for+NOUN
To get inspiration from
To make a recording (of)
To end up+gerund
To wish/hope for
To push for smthg.
To face adversity
Hearing loss
To make smg official
Proportionate to
To escape unharmed
To get away from
Over my dead body!
To have good standing (in)
To get a loan (from)
By the time
To keep a secret
To test ones luck
To be available for
On guard for
At least
At the spur of the moment
On the spot
Disregard for
Take-out food
To work through a problem
Up for grabs
On a (adj.) basis
Only on the condition that
To put effort into smthg.
a+NOUN+like that
Not only,but also

On its own merit

Out with the old, in with the new
To be compensated for
To spend the night (at)
To stay with sbdy.
To be such a...
To make smg a priority
To give a speech (about)
To have an impact (on)
To render sbdy. speechless
A shining example of...
To meet in the middle (fig.)
Set in ones ways
To right a wrong
To get even with sbdy.
One thing left to do
Out of+NOUN (lack)
To refresh ones memory
To turn up/down the volume
A wide variety of
You dont belong here!
To bring back to life
At a high/low point
On ones own
For personal gain
To come to the surface
For life
For good (final)
To starve to death
Dying of thirst
To take an exam
To pass a/the test
To stay in school
Per hour
Per day
By the week
By the month
To vanish without a trace
To be prone to
Too ADJ+for ones own good
To see the point in
The point of smthg.
A firm believer in
To set a good example
To set smthg in stone

A change of heart
To get a foot ones foot in the door (fig.)
To feel dizzy
To feel drowsy
At sea
On land
To get sea-sick
Up in the air
To have second thoughts about smthg.
To breathe a sigh of relief (about)
To gasp for air
To take the lead (in)
To lead sbdy on
To not know any better
Right now
Just a minute ago
as hard as one can
to enjoy+GERUND
On vacation
To be busy doing smg.
Its up to you
To drive over/under the speed limit
To get pulled over by the police
To get arrested (by)
To not have a penny to ones name
To stay awake
To stay up late
To get up early
On time
To hold the door (for)
In anticipation of
What do you make of this?
One of lifes lessons
One step at a time
All at once
Little by little
At a glance
At first glance
To make excuses (for)
To show respect (for)
In the mail
To put to the side
On the side
To have good/bad manners
To mind ones own business (about)
A preconceived notion (about)

before its too late

to see/recognize a pattern/trend
to be in chaos
to bring order to
to trouble sbdy. for smg.
To agree to do smthg.
To go back on ones word (about)
To turn someone in (THE LAW)
Law and order
To keep the peace
To become obvious that
To wish smg. on sbdy.
To have legal troubles
To be held responsible (for)
To be a big fan (of)
To convince sbdy of
In the streets
Out in the cold
In the sun
In the shade
In the snow
What is going on?
In traffic/in a traffic jam
To get a ride to(work)
Who knows?
To get on/off (pub trans)
To take time off (work)
Leave of absence
On call
To tie ones shoes
All the way to
The whole time...
To be missing
An attempt at+gerund
Figure of speech
To take pride in
To be proud of
To manage to do smthg.
A good nights sleep
A night of drinking
To be up all night
A hard days work
To find out for ones self (about)
To find out that
To be far along (with)
A bundle of

To sympathize with
To go shopping (for)
To go hunting (for)
To go fishing (for)
to need a break (from)
I cant tell if/whether
To be obsessed with
The idea/notion that
To show ones appreciation (for)
To be skilled at/in
To be trained for/at
To be thankful for
To be obedient to (authority)
To be confused about
To be out of breath
To condemn sbdy for
To say harsh words to
To bite the bullet and
A snide remark
To increase productivity
An unlikely scenario
To have free time
To surrender to smthg.
In memory of
To be getting late
To be getting cold
To warm up
To cool down/off
To be freezing
To have hard feelings about smthg.
To breed contempt
To have contempt for
All things considered
To be better off+gerund
To commit a crime
To swear an oath (to)
To keep/break a promise
A means to do smthg.
To come up with the money (for)
to feel like doing smthg.
A misguided effort (to)
To keep a clean house
To be brutally honest
To hurt sbdys feelings
Apology accepted!
To drag ones feet (fig)

Out and about

Never mind!
To complain about smg.
At odds with sbdy.
To beat the odds
On the coast
To go through customs
To make drama (about)
A healthy environment
To protect the environment
To calm down (about)
To consider every possibility
To calm ones nerves
To be satisfied with
To conduct an interview
To take smg for granted
To be amused by smthg.
to no end
Back and forth
To no end
To let smthg happen
To get over smthg.
To stand in the way of progress
Work in progress
In the process of
In the middle of
To remind sbdy of smthg.
A particular place and time
To come to the aid/assistance of
To come to the rescue
To refresh ones memory
A lack of common sense
Due to
To make a good/bad impression on sbdy.
Compared to/in comparison with
To have an advantage over sbdy.
A first impression of
To have power over
In public
To get in the way (of)
To take shots (alcohol)
To be certain of smthg.
To admit fault
To have a fight (with)
To hold smthg against sbdy.
To treat sbdy/smg like

To be different from
Thanks to
Because of
To take a nap
On top of
to wait in line (for)
over and over (again)
Its a tie!
To have the right of way
On the fence (fig)
In search/pursuit of
In the past
In the present day and age
To prove a point
To prove ones worth
Its a case of
The right amount
It is beyond all understanding why
Full of
Just in time for
To pick sbdy up (from)
To hand in (home)work
To hand smthg out
To do chores
To shoot at sbdy/smthg.
To be in a hurry
To yell/scream at sbdy.
Out loud
To let out a noise (sigh/laugh/scream/etc)
To knock on a door
To keep smthg/sbdy in mind
A waste of time
To know how to+INF
To spy on sbdy.
To shed light on smthg. (fig.)
How often?
To demand restitution
In court
On trial
To lower ones standards
A sip of
A bite of
To repair damage
A giant+NOUN
To be critical of
To go to bed

To get up in the morning

The answer to (a question)
To promise to+INF
On display
The meaning of smthg.
To be mean to sbdy.
To treat sbdy with kindness/cruelty
To give an explanation (of)
To owe sbdy a favor
To lock ones self out (of)
For the love of
To go in the direction of
Its your turn!
To get rid of smthg.
To deprive sbdy of smg.
To beg for forgiveness
To keep quiet
To be upset about smg.
To play in a band
The/an opportunity to
To interact with
To inform sbdy about
To be allowed to+INF
To be eager to+INF
To eagerly await smthg.
To do nothing but
To have good/bad social skills
To be knowledgeable about
To be skilled at
To take sbdy hostage
A day off work
To sign up for smthg.
To make fun of smthg.
To run out of time
Time is running out
To be available for
To make comments about
In/out of context
To make up for lost time
Its nice to.for a change
A change of scenery
To lose ones train of thought
The majority of
To make up for lost time
To have good/bad intentions
To culminate in+NOUN

To have (no) patience for

To suffer from
To kick/punch sbdy in the(body part)
To drop sbdy off at
In the wild
Instead of+gerund
To apologize for
For the duration of
To talk on the phone (with sbdy.)
To be angry with sbdy.
In good/bad taste
To have good taste (in)
To say smthg without thinking
without giving a thought to
To think smthg through
To react to smthg/sbdy.
On ones knees
On foot
In good/bad health
To go barefoot
A sense of decency
It is a sign that
To be opposed to
Back then,
In a nutshell,
To lay down ones life (for)
To be plagued by guilt
To be a metaphor for
To climb trees
To climb up a (specific) tree
Land/sea/forest-dwelling animal
To jump off a building/bridge
To go to a meeting
In a war zone
The height of smg.
The width of smg.
The length of smg.
At the height of+NOUN (an empire/an age/etc)
What color is?
As punishment
To spend money on
To have the potential to/for
To wreak havoc on
To come up with/devise a plan

To lift weights
To share smg with sbdy.
At all/not at all
To suffer the consequences (for)
Of X heritage (e.g. Scottish)
To be honest with ones self
To step outside for some fresh air
To follow ones instincts
To devote ones self to
To step aside
To dampen sbdys spirits
To make a/the prediction that
To spend ones life doing smthg.
On the verge of+gerund
The thing is,
It depends on
To look forward to
At the thought of
To pride ones self in/on
To lose consciousness
To knock sbdy unconscious
To lead a (ADJ) life
To flip a coin (for)
To roll the dice (for)
To proceed with caution
A stack/pile of
A deck of cards
To play cards
At will
At random
On command
At a loss
In a state of
In crisis
To perform surgery
To perform a play
A work of art
To go on a rampage
To throw a party
To throw a temper tantrum
I welcome the opportunity to
To accept a/the challenge
A set of
To play pool
To play chess
To play darts

To play X-ball
To swim laps (in pool)
A jack of all trades
By profession
To lend ones support to
To plan on+gerund
To smell like
From now on,
To get straight to the point (of)
To lose focus (of)
The main idea (of)
To recommend smg to sbdy.
To keep on schedule
To gain/lose weight
To have a preference for
I would rather.
To dress up as
To win a prize
To get exercise
To make a connection between
To mix 2 things together
Of special interest (to)
To bring smg to a boil
To have an air of+QUALITY
A wad/clump of
Resulting in+EFFECT
To set sail (on)
The high seas
To force sbdy to+INF
To be suspected of+gerund
To catch sbdy off guard (at/while)
In hindsight
To have no discipline
In slow motion
To be kicked out of/expelled from
To get fired (from)
To be open/closed-minded
To be disappointed by
To take smthg at face value
From what I can tell,
To be caught in a vicious circle
To pollute the environment
To contribute to smthg.
What kind ofis X?
In/out of tune

To sing off key

To apply for a job
A positive/negative environment
To be considerate/act considerately toward
To care about smthg.
The way of the world
To play an instrument
To strum on
To have talent (for)
To be mindful of
To make a transition to
To invite sbdy to
To get a flat tire
To have a spare/extra+NOUN
To step on the accelerator/gas
To step on the brakes
To fall victim to
To watch a movie
To look after (children)
To mow the lawn/grass
To set smg apart from smg else
To stand in for sbdy.
To find a replacement for
To have down-time
To pass out while/in the middle of
To stay awake for smthg
In advance (of)
Over time,
To have unintended consequences
In/with regards to smg.
To reduce smg to smg.
To turn smg into smg (else)
To hold on to
To receive preferential treatment (for)
Thats (not) my first choice
Lend me your ear!
It will only take a moment/minute/second
In the scheme of things,
To scheme/plot to do smthg.
To keep smg as a pet
To prevent fires
To put out a fire
To keep/prevent smthg from happening (to)
To happen to sbdy.
The moral of the story is
To make/lose a bet

To declare war
To go to church
To go to war