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4 Comments

  • One of the fun things about idioms is how flexible they are (despite sometimes being called fixed expressions). In fact many of the most folksy ones are rarely used straight but rather alluded to (‘every cloud, as they say’) or messed around with: one of my favourite exploitations when I was researching this area was ‘You can lead a girl to Vassar but you can’t make her think’ (requires familiarity not only with English idioms but with the US higher education system for full understanding, but that’s kind of the point). But woe betide anyone with less than perfect English who tries to play around with an idiom; it will just be assumed that they have got it wrong, like your teacher in the pub, and they will most likely be corrected by some well-meaning native speaker.

  • […] Bending over backwards to hit the nail on the head – Have you got a bee in your bonnet about idioms? Do you bend over backwards to find opportunities to use them? If so, be careful not to go overboard; otherwise you might be at risk of putting your foot in it. […]