Useful Idioms With An English Speaking Practice Quiz Ep 463

A photograph of a garter snake slithering through grass. We explain some interesting English idioms in todays English speaking practice lesson.

📝 Author: Hilary

📅 Published:

💬 2138 words ⏳ Reading Time 11 min


Useful Grass Idioms Explained - English Speaking Practice

Today we learn some useful English idioms, we explain them, in detail, and provide examples of how you might use them in an everyday English conversation. Along the way, we identify difficult vocabulary and finish the podcast lesson off with a quiz to help you with your English speaking practice.

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Most Unusual Words:

Fence
Envy
Acquisition
Exaggeration

Most common 3 word phrases:

PhraseCount
The Grass Is4
A Fence Is2
In The UK2
If You Like2

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Transcript: Useful Idioms With An English Speaking Practice Quiz

Hi and welcome to this latest podcast. How about we look at some idioms today? It’s always good to learn new idioms, because there are just so many of them in English that you need to just keep learning them gradually. You couldn’t possibly learn them all at once.

It’s a bit like those phrasal verbs – it’s just good to keep ‘nibbling’ at them, just keep doing a bit more on it. So the first idiom that we’re going to look at today, was something which I distinctly remember two different people saying to me last week. So they are current!

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Three ‘grassy’ idioms

So today – what about these three idioms? ‘Grassy idioms’ if you like?

  • The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence
  • Don’t let the grass grow under your feet
  • A snake in the grass

Do you know the meaning of any of these phrases before we begin? The word ‘grass’ here is a noun – GRASS. And ‘grass’ is something that we grow particularly well in the UK. It’s such a rainy summer here this year that the grass is still green in August. And grass is what lawns are made of – that’s LAWN, lawn. And ‘grass’ is what cows and sheep eat. And grass is what’s on the ground at Wimbledon Tennis tournament or even in Wembley Stadium.

So grass is everywhere in the UK. And notice also – because I come from the north of the UK originally, I say ‘grass’, but ‘graass’ is the southern pronunciation. If your first language isn’t English, then you can choose which way you say it! ‘Graass’ or ‘grass’!

’The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence’

OK. So the first idiom - ‘The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence’. What does this one mean? Well, a ‘fence’ first – that’s a noun, spelt FENCE. And a fence is usually made of wood, but it could be metal too. You even have ‘electric fences’. And the main point of a fence is to keep animals in – to stop your cows or your sheep or your goats escaping. But fences also mark different areas of land, perhaps because the land is owned by different people.

If you have a garden, you may have a fence around it, or between your garden and your neighbour’s garden. Your ‘neighbour’, NEIGHBOUR, your ‘neighbour’ is someone who lives next to you – or ‘next door’ as we often say. Another popular saying is ‘Good fences make good neighbours’ – meaning that if your fences are kept in a good state of repair, if your fences are looked after, there are less likely to be disputes between neighbours.

📷

A photograph lush green grass. Useful English idioms explained while we practice speaking English.

©️ Adept English 2021

It means it’s clear where the boundaries are, where the fences are. And everyone gets on better with one another. So ‘The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence’. This could be taken literally. You could be standing by a fence at the end of your garden and looking over into your neighbour’s garden and seeing that their grass is greener.

That’s possible. But usually when an English speaker says this, ‘The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence’, they’re much more likely to be using it as an idiom. And it means that ‘someone else’s situation is better than mine’. If you like, it’s an expression of envy, ENVY – which is when you look at someone else and think ‘Oh - they are so much better off than I am!’.

Or ‘Look at their car!’ Or ‘their husband’ or ‘their wife’ or ‘their lawn’ or ‘their house’! ‘So much nicer than mine!’ And of course, this may or may not be true. Sometimes that’s what we do, as human beings – we always imagine someone’s situation is better than ours. People might change jobs because of it. They expect the new job to be so much better – and then they might find out that it isn’t!

Some people are always envious. ‘The grass is always greener…..’ Sometimes we shorten it like that, but it has the same meaning – ‘The grass is always greener….’.

‘Don’t let the grass grow under your feet’

What about ‘Don’t let the grass grow under your feet’? Well, this is another of those sayings which is a bit flexible. You might hear this in different contexts like ‘She doesn’t let the grass grow under her feet’. It’s usually said in the negative. And it can be a command,‘Don’t let the grass grow under your feet’ or a comment that someone isn’t or shouldn’t do this.

So a bit of vocabulary. ‘To grow’ means ‘to get bigger’ or as in the case of grass I suppose, ‘to get taller’. And when it rains, grass can grow incredibly quickly. But if you stood in one place long enough for ‘the grass to be growing under your feet’, you would be standing there a very long time! So this phrase is not something that’s used literally.

It’s an ‘exaggeration’ – that’s EXAGGERATION. And when we’re using ‘exaggeration’, we emphasise a point by over-stating it. It’s like when you say ‘I’ve got a million of things to do today!’ It’s probably not literally ‘a million’. You’re exaggerating. So ‘Don’t let the grass grow under your feet’ is a bit of an exaggeration.

I’m not even sure grass would grow under your feet anyway. You’d be likely to leave yellow patches, where your feet were. But as an idiom, what does it mean? ‘Don’t let the grass grow under your feet means ‘Don’t pause, don’t wait, don’t lose time – go for all the opportunities that come your way!’.

If you’re someone who ‘doesn’t let the grass grow under your feet’, it means you’re quick, you get on with it, you don’t hang around.

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’A snake in the grass’

And the last one, ‘a snake in the grass’? Well, we don’t have many snakes in the UK. We have only adders, which are rare – and grass snakes, which are fairly harmless. But if you have snakes in your country, this phrase will mean probably more to you. A snake, SNAKE is a creature. It’s long and thin – and ‘hissy’ and it might bite you.

Examples of snakes are cobras, boa constrictors or pythons. And ‘a snake in the grass’ is something which you might come across literally – an unpleasant surprise when you’re going for your walk. That’s why we use this phrase ‘a snake in the grass’ as an idiom. Snakes will mostly try to hide away, but you may discover them by accident, frightening both you and the snake.

‘A snake in the grass’ as an idiom means that you thought something was safe and suddenly you find that it isn’t. It’s usually said of a person. It’s a person who is ‘a snake in the grass’. Perhaps it’s someone you work with, who you thought was friendly, but who you suddenly discover is not your friend and is not someone you can trust. They’ve been saying bad things about you to your boss when you weren’t there.

A ‘snake in the grass’ might tell your manager that you were looking for another job, (perhaps because ‘the grass is always greener….’) - before you were ready for your manager to know or before you’d been offered the job. There could also be ‘a snake in the grass’ in your friendship group, someone who seems nice, but who’s nasty behind your back to your friends when you’re not there.

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Nasty – most people don’t like snakes, which is probably unfair to snakes. You can’t help it if you’re a snake. But if you call someone ‘a snake’, you’re not usually being complementary to them! And ‘a snake in the grass’? Someone who appears trustworthy and whom you find out all of a sudden that you can’t trust.

Let’s practise ‘grassy idioms’

Anyway, there are three ‘grassy idioms’ for you, three idioms using the word ‘grass’, all with very different meanings.

  • The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.
  • Don’t let the grass grow under your feet….. and
  • A snake in the grass.

Do you want to just practise for a minute, copying me?

  1. The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence

  2. The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence

  3. Don’t let the grass grow under your feet

  4. Don’t let the grass grow under your feet

  5. A snake in the grass

  6. A snake in the grass

OK? I hope that you’ll listen to this podcast a few times, which will help you remember the three phrases and help you remember any new words, any new vocabulary that you’ve learned in this podcast.

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Enough for now. Have a lovely day. Speak to you again soon. Goodbye.

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