[Idiom] Idioms?

Status
Not open for further replies.

firewell

Member
Joined
Dec 14, 2009
Member Type
Student or Learner
Native Language
Russian
Home Country
Ukraine
Current Location
United States
I remember a long time ago, when I was taking ESL in school, we had this textbook about idioms (and now I'm not sure the word "idioms" was used) that I found extremely useful. The "idioms" listed in that book were mostly in the "verb + preposition" form, e.g. "believe in" or "root for". Basically, combinations that can't be explained logically and you just have to memorize. Other learners sometimes ask me to explain why they must use a certain preposition with a certain verb, to which I would like to respond by giving them that kind of a book and telling them to stop trying to understand it, and just memorize. However, when I search for books or internet pages about "idioms", I get stuff like "last straw" or "when pigs fly" etc, which is all very nice, but hardly useful for people who don't understand the difference between "care for" and "care about".

So my question is twofold:
1. Are such "verb + preposition" combinations really called "idioms", or did my memory fail me on that? What are they really called then?
2. Are there any books/other resources anyone can recommend that concentrate specifically on such combos?
 

Boris Tatarenko

Senior Member
Joined
May 6, 2013
Member Type
Student or Learner
Native Language
Russian
Home Country
Russian Federation
Current Location
Russian Federation
1. I guess you mix up "idioms" with "phrasal verbs".

Under idioms we usually understand something like "every cloud has a silver lining", "let's sleeping dog lie", "take something with a grain of salt". There's a huge range of idioms in English and they are utterly helpful in certain situations when English words simply cannot describe something.

As far as "phrasal verbs" are concerned, they are a combination of a verb and preposition, or a verb and an adverb, or a verb with both an adverb and a preposition. Sometimes a phrasal verb has a meaning which is absolutely different from the original verb. On the other hand, from time to time meanings of some phrasal verbs are really easy to guess. :-D As for me, I do try my best to memorize them, however I still do not use many of them in my everyday speech. I mean they're like stuck in my "passive vocabulary".

2. I'm a student and I'm learning languages for the most part, so books containing many phrasal verbs, idioms, natural expressions etc. are extremely useful. That's why I rush to the biggest bookstore in Moscow if I feel that I badly need a new book of this kind :-D.

I'd highly recommend you series of books called "English Phrasal Verbs in Use" by Cambridge Press. They're divided into several groups based on a learner's language level. There are "essential", "intermediate" and "advanced" stages or levels whatever it's called. Moreover, you can find not only books about phrasal verbs but also about idioms "English Idioms in Use", or collocations "English Collocations in Use" and so on and so forth. Certainly, there are many other books besides these ones but it's just my humble opinion.

I hope that helps. ;-)
 
Last edited by a moderator:

firewell

Member
Joined
Dec 14, 2009
Member Type
Student or Learner
Native Language
Russian
Home Country
Ukraine
Current Location
United States
Thank you, that's exactly what I was looking for!

I guess my memory didn't fail me completely, what I needed was not "idioms", but "phrasal verbs with idiomatic meaning".
 

emsr2d2

Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Jul 28, 2009
Member Type
English Teacher
Native Language
British English
Home Country
UK
Current Location
UK
Boris's second example should read "Let sleeping dogs lie".
 

Boris Tatarenko

Senior Member
Joined
May 6, 2013
Member Type
Student or Learner
Native Language
Russian
Home Country
Russian Federation
Current Location
Russian Federation
The funniest thing is that this particular idiom is my favourite one and I've just found out (thanks to you, ems) that I pronounced it incorrectly all the time. :lol:
 

Skrej

Key Member
Joined
May 11, 2015
Member Type
Native Language
English
Home Country
United States
Current Location
United States
Yes, although idioms are different from phrasal verbs, the confusion is understandable. Many, if not most, phrasal verbs are idiomatic.

Both an idiom and a phrasal verbs carry as part of their definition the idea that the collective meaning is different from the meanings of their separate parts. Often that meaning may be so different that you're unable to even guess at the group meaning by knowing the individual meanings.
 

tedmc

VIP Member
Joined
Apr 16, 2014
Member Type
Interested in Language
Native Language
Chinese
Home Country
Malaysia
Current Location
Malaysia
Correct me if I am wrong but I thought sayings like "every cloud has a silver lining" comes under proverbs. And idioms are phrases which are also phrasal verbs but phrasal verbs are not all idioms.
 
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top