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Important and Common Idiom Video Presentations


Why Have a Site About Idioms?

Before you can begin to understand the need for a website about idioms, you need to know the definition of idiom.

One reason to have a site about English and American idioms is so that those learning English as a second language can find out what they mean! Idioms are confusing when learning a new language. You can't take them literally, but if you haven't grown up with them, you may not know at all what they mean. This does not mean it is necessary or even preferable to try to memorize the idioms and core metaphors of a language, as you may not come upon most of them very often at all and to make a special case of them in learning a language could well lead you to overproduce them in everyday conversations.

Another reason to have a site about idioms is that they are fascinating in their own right. What if I told you other sites about idioms cut corners? Would you think these sites had no corners? Of course not. You would surmise that I mean these sites were not very informative. What if I told you idioms were a hot-button topic? Clearly, I am not talking about a button you can push on this site, let alone a hot one.

I'm not going to give up my day job to write a site on idioms, though.

You do not know if I have a day job, or what it may be, but most readers probably knew what I meant by "not giving up my day job," just as you knew what I meant by cutting corners and hot button. Although some idioms are quite straightforward, for the most part, if you do not understand them automatically, understanding the meaning of each individual word would not always help you arrive at the true meaning.

We take all these expressions for granted, hardly noticing them or sparing a moment to reflect on the fact that the are, by themselves, almost incomprehensible. The more you start paying attention, the more you will notice how much we use them. The next time you watch TV, start listening for idioms. You'll be amazed. They are countless. How do people from other countries ever understand a word we say?

Idioms reflect our shared culture and provide a fascinating glimpse into linguistics. Instead of looking at language as individual words, used according to rules, we realize that language is often constructed by word chunks that we hear as if they are basic units. The fact that idioms exist while ignoring grammar, yet act as basic units of language, may show us that there is much more to language than your stodgy English teacher taught you.

Surely, these cannot be random phrases? They must have a history. So, another reason to have a site about idioms is to try to tease out this history.

How the Site is Organized

The pages on this site are listed in alphabetical order, to the extent possible, using the first letter of the first word of the idiom which is not an article (a, an, the). For example, if you were looking for "penny for your thoughts," you could use the alphabetical index above to go to P where you would find all the idioms on the site which start with P.

The idioms are also cross-referenced by words and also theme when possible. The easiest way to find a particular idiom is to search the site using the search box.

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