Learn the hard way

To learn something from a bad experience or a mistake

“Listen to your parents’ advice about drinking and driving so that you never have to learn the hard way.”


Go along with

Agree with somebody or support someone’s proposal

“The rescue team leader suggested waiting till the heavy rain let up and they all went along with that.”


A bad patch

A difficult time

“These are troubled times for his business. He’s going through a bad patch but I am sure he’ll bounce back. “


Have the gift of the gab

Have a way with words. Speak fluently and confidently. .

“Good comedians have the gift of the gab.”


Practise what you preach

Follow your own advice

“The teen was annoyed by her mother’s double standards and told her to practise what she preaches.”


Keep up with the times

(also move with or change with the times)

To be modern and adapt to the time you are living in

“Some elderly people are finding it hard to keep up with the times when it comes to technology .”


Off the top of my head

You say something without having the time to think about it or check the facts.

“I know the gallery offers free entry an hour before closure but I can’t remember exactly what days of the week off the top of my head. I would need to look it up.”


Out of the blue

Suddenly, unexpectedly

“It was on her twelfth birthday that out of the blue, the girl announced she had written a novel and aspired to become a writer.”


Put something on hold

Stop the progress of something and leave it till later

“Paternity put his promising career on hold, which he secretly resented at first but then came to terms with and never regretted.”


What’s in store

What’s coming in the future, what is about to happen

“What’s in store for you this year?.”


A better understanding

Offer an insight.

“Reading all of the president’s personal letters helped the biographer have a better understanding of the politician’s trajectory.”


To be in for a surprise

Same as saying you are going to have a surprise.

“Get familiar with the CAE speaking before exam day or you might be in for a surprise.”


Day in, day out

Happening every day for a long period of time

“The girl was given rice for dinner day in, day out.”


Jump to conclusions

Come to a conclusion without having enough information

“Let’s not jump to conclusions before we’ve heard both sides of the story .”


Words fail me

Unable to find the right words to express something,

“She was so surprised by the news that words failed her and the next few seconds seemed like hours.”


Go a long way

Go far, be successful

“When it comes to relationships, honesty goes a long way.”


Out of the question

It’s impossible, not open to negociations.

“When the tenants asked their landlord for investement in home improvements, he replied it was out of the question for the time being.”


In tip-top shape

In perfect condition

“The council offers courses to keep your bicycle in tip-top shape.”


Do your bit

To do your part of what has to be done.

“Each volunteer did their bit and before they knew it, the task had been completed and they could call it a day.”


Note to students

It’s revision time. If you would like to receive a handout with activities covering all the phrases of the day posted over the previous month, send me an e-mail with the subject “Phrase of the day” and I will forward the exercises to you. Happy revising!