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24 English idioms almost everyone makes mistakes

If you are going to live in the United States or interact with native English speakers, you need to master the most commonly used idioms. Their peculiarity is that they are often confused and lost in translation. Edition Reader's Digest has collected 24 most common idioms that many people use incorrectly.

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Right off the bat

The essence of the error: Bat and back

  • Correctly: Right off the bat
  • Wrong: Right off the back

What does the idiom mean: From the very beginning

Play it by ear

The essence of the error: Ear and year

  • Correctly: Play it by ear
  • Wrong: Play it by year

What does the idiom mean: Don't make clear plans; just see what happens.

Two peas in a pod

The essence of the error: Pod and pot

  • Correctly: Two peas in a pod
  • Wrong: Two peas in a pot

What does the idiom mean: Two people who get along great.

Dog eat dog world

The essence of the error: Dog eat and doggie

  • Correctly: Dog eat dog world
  • Wrong: Doggie dog world

What does the idiom mean: In some place (named in the conversation) people are rude and aggressive.

Got off scot-free

The essence of the error: Scot and scotch

  • Correctly: Got off scot-free
  • Wrong: Got off Scotch-free

What does the idiom mean: Something got away with someone.

On the subject: Three words in English that Russian speakers constantly confuse

Nip it in the bud

The essence of the error: Bud and butt

  • Correctly: Nip it in the bud
  • Wrong: Nip it in the butt

What does the idiom mean: Don't focus on the bad and make it worse.

That's right up my alley

The essence of the error: Up and in

  • Correct: That's right up my alley
  • Wrong: That's right in my alley

What does the idiom mean: This is exactly what I like.

Add insult to injury

The essence of the error: Insult and salt

  • Correctly: Add insult to injury
  • Wrong: Add salt to the injury

What does the idiom mean: Make a bad situation worse.

The ball's in your court

The essence of the error: Court and hand

  • Correctly: The ball's in your court
  • Wrong: The ball's in your hand

What does the idiom mean: It's your turn to make a move.

She's at your beck and call

The essence of the error: Beck and beckon

  • Correctly: She's at your beck and call
  • Wrong: She's at your beckon call

What does the idiom mean: She is always ready to help you when you need it.

Chalk it up to the good weather

The essence of the error: Chalk and chock

  • Correctly: Chalk it up to the good weather
  • Wrong: Chock it up to the good weather

What does the idiom mean: Give it credit.

You've got another think coming

The essence of the error: Think and thing

  • Correctly: You've got another think coming
  • Wrong: You've got another thing coming

What does the idiom mean: Be careful - if you think this is the result of your actions, think again!

Don't use your friend as a scapegoat

The essence of the error: Scapegoat and escape goat

  • Correctly: Don't use your friend as a scapegoat
  • Wrong: Don't use your friend as an escape goat

What does the idiom mean: Scapegoat is someone who is accused of something.

He's on tenterhooks waiting for her to call

The essence of the error: Tenterhooks and tender hooks

  • Correctly: He's on tenterhooks waiting for her to call
  • Wrong: He's on tender hooks waiting for her to call

What does the idiom mean: A tenterhook is a hook used to dry clothes, but being "on tenterhooks" means that a person is impatient for something to happen.

Rest assured, the issue being discussed is front and center

The essence of the error: And and in

  • Correctly: Rest assured, the issue being discussed is front and center
  • Wrong: Rest assured, the issue being discussed is front in center

What does the idiom mean: The subject of discussion is the main priority.

On the subject: Marry an American: 6 Slang English Words to Remember

I'll take the fifth

The essence of the error: Take and plead

  • Correctly: I'll take the fifth
  • Wrong: I'll plead the fifth

What does the idiom mean: The essence of the concept "take the fifth" is to avoid admitting guilt. Its use is based on the Fifth Amendment to the US Constitution, which boils down to not having to answer a question in court if it makes you guilty.

That gallon of milk should tide you over for the rest of the week

The essence of the error: Tide and tie

  • Right: That gallon of milk should tide you over for the rest of the week
  • Wrong: That gallon of milk should tie you over for the rest of the week

What does the idiom mean: You should have enough of something to hold out until you get more.

For all intents and purposes, the library is the best place to find out-of-print books

The essence of the error: Intents and intensive

  • Correctly: For all intents and purposes, the library is the best place to find out-of-print books
  • Wrong: For all intensive purposes, the library is the best place to find out-of-print books

What does the idiom mean: Practical reasons or practical sense.

The child's reading skills are a work in progress

The essence of the error: Work in and working

  • Correctly: The child's reading skills are a work in progress
  • Wrong: The child's reading skills are a working progress

What does the idiom mean: Work in is a way of saying there is room for improvement, but progress is being made.

He told his constituents a bald-faced lie

The essence of the error: Bald-faced and boldfaced

  • Correctly: He told his constituents a bald-faced lie
  • Wrong: He told his constituents a boldfaced lie

What does the idiom mean: If you say bald-faced to someone, it means to call him shameless. And if you say bald-faced lie, then it means telling an outright lie.

The concert whet my appetite for more rock and roll

The essence of the error: Whet and wet

  • Correctly: The concert whet my appetite for more rock and roll
  • Wrong: The concert wet my appetite for more rock and roll

What does the idiom mean: Whet means to sharpen your interest.

It's a moot point to bring up an alibi after the trial

The essence of the error: Moot and mute

  • Correctly: It's a moot point to bring up an alibi after the trial
  • Wrong: It's a mute point to bring up an alibi after the trial

What does the idiom mean: Moot point means that something is in doubt or has little practical value for the situation.

Try to get a sneak peek of your birthday present

The essence of the error: Peek and peak

  • Correctly: Try to get a sneak peek of your birthday present
  • Wrong: Try to get a sneak peak of your birthday present

What does the idiom mean: Sneak a peek - a call to look at something earlier than you should; spy.

Her deep-seated opinion is that they should move to Wyoming

The essence of the error: Seated and seeded

  • Correctly: Her deep-seated opinion is that they should move to Wyoming
  • Wrong: Her deep-seeded opinion is that they should move to Wyoming

What does the idiom mean: Directly deep-seated should be understood as something firmly rooted, such as an idea.

Miscellaneous English Educational program Special Projects idioms

Read also on ForumDaily:

Three words in English that Russian speakers constantly confuse

10 free online English courses that start right now

Marry an American: 6 Slang English Words to Remember

5 mistakes that prevent you from learning English

10 mistakes in English that even people with good language skills make

10 Russian words that cannot be translated into English

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