Number Practice- Idioms & Proverbs


Idioms including numbers to guess

By: Alex Case
Level: Advanced
Theme: Numbers
Study Area: Idioms
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Lesson Plan Content:

Number Practice- Idioms & Proverbs

Section A

Try to guess the missing numbers from the following proverbs and other idioms

  • On the ________________________________________________ hand I don’t want to give a speech at the conference, but on the other hand it will look good on my CV.
  • Luckily, the piano arrived at its destination all in ___________________________ piece.
  • __________________________________________________ heads are better than one when you are brainstorming original solutions to a problem.
  • When we fly to our LA branch we can kill _________________________________ birds with one stone and visit some of our local dealers.
  • I really tried to take part in the dance routine at the company’s end of year cabaret show, but I have _____________________________________________________ left feet.
  • When they heard that he had made the biggest trade of the year, the other traders gathered round his desk to give him high ____________________s and congratulate him.
  • __________________________________________________________ times out of ten, if you have a problem on the computer, it is something small that can be easily fixed.
  • The round of golf was quicker than we expected, so we moved onto the ____________ th hole for a quick drink before we went home.
  • We had both done an equal amount of work, so it seemed fair to divide the money ______________________________- ___________________________________.
  • The inventor of the Walkman was one in ____________________________ and Sony have never really managed to replace him.
  • I’ve been feeling like a ______________________________________________ dollars since our company took us away to that spa resort.

Hint: The sentences above are in number order. 


Match these explanations to the idioms above and use that to help check your answers.

  • Something that is extremely rare or unique, like finding a diamond in your garden
  • A bar on a golf course. That is, the place after the 18th
  • Slap somebody else’s hand above your heads. The number comes from the number of fingers you use.
  • Half each.
  • You can do two things with one action.
  • I can’t dance and/ or I am clumsy in other ways, as if my there is something wrong with my body
  • Feeling great, like someone who has just won the top prize in a television quiz show
  • Usually or almost always, expressed as a fraction
  • This phrase is used for weighing up two options, as if you were weighing two bars of gold on your hands.


Section B

Try to guess the missing numbers from the following proverbs and other idioms

  • We found out all the ideas we had for the new product’s name were already registered trademarks of our competitors, so we had to go back to square ______________.
  • It wasn’t such a bad mistake, but the manager already had ___________________ strikes against him and so finally he was transferred to a less important branch.
    He said the only reason negotiations broke down was because our suppliers were being inflexible, but I say it takes _______________________________________ to tango.
  • I’m in __________________________ minds about whether to accept the offer or not
  • Since we found out that the section managers are secretly dating each other, the employees have all been making excuses for not joining them for drinks in the evenings. As they say: two’s company,____________________________________’s a crowd.
  • I’m determined to get his permission, even if I have to get down on all _____________s and beg
  • With a nine to ___________________________________________________ attitude like that, he seems better suited to being clerical staff than a sales executive
  • The Sales Department and the Marketing Department both laid all the blame on each other for the unsuccessful third quarter, but I think it was _______________________ of one and half a dozen of the other
  • We thought we were going to have to look for another supplier, but at the _________th hour we solved our last remaining disputes and signed a new contract.
  • I can think of a __________________________________________ and one reasons why that new employee won’t be able to do this job.
  • I’ve told my secretary a ______________________________ times not to put any calls through to me when I’m meeting a client, but she’s too scared to ever say no to my boss

Hint: The sentences are in number order


Match these explanations to the idioms above and use that to help check your answers.

  • He has a bad reputation and has maybe been warned before. He is on his last chance. This comes from a similar critical situation in baseball.
  • This means “at the last minute”, like Cinderella coming home from the Prince’s ball.
  • This means starting again from nothing (“starting from scratch”), as if you have to start a board game like Monopoly all over again
  • This means you are very unsure what to do, as if you had more than one brain in your head.


Section C

Try to guess the missing numbers from the following proverbs and other idioms

  • He said he understood what he had to do, but I guess the instructions went in __________________________________________________ ear and out the other.
  • I was going to leave the party much earlier, but my boss persuaded me to have ___________________________________________________________ for the road.
  • Although his father could have easily found him a job in the family business straight away, he said that first his son had to learn how to stand on his own feet.
  • When one of the bankers arrived at work in a brand new Ferrari, they were easily able to put two and ___________________________ together and trace the missing money.
  • His boss told him that there are no ________________________________________ ways about it and he will have to change his habits or he will be fired.
  • The employees told the boss that _____________________________________ can play that game and if he continued to be so strict they would also be inflexible at work.
  • The boss thought that the management having pay cuts too would make us blue collar workers feel better, but I say that _____________________ wrongs don't make a right.
  • He seems to have a _________th sense that tells him how the market will move.
  • University graduates are a dime a _________________________________________ in this country, and many of them can only find simple clerical work.
  • I was just going to have ______________________________________________ winks before continuing my exam revision, but I didn’t wake up until the evening.
  • It’s a very clever idea, but the ___________ dollar question is “Will it make any money?”

Hint: The sentences are in number order.


Section D

Try to guess the missing numbers from the following proverbs and other idioms

We got some really big new contracts last year, but the deal with that Indian transportation company was the ______________________________________________ that got away.


He was going to give up when offering more money didn’t work, but I told him that there is more than ________________________________________________ way to skin a cat.

_____________________________________________________________ of these days I will sit down and sort out my retirement plan, but I always seem to be too busy.

I couldn’t stand a job where I had to travel all the time, but I guess _______________________________________ man's meat is another man's poison.


"I do not want to go to the meeting."
"That makes _______________________________________________ of us," I replied.

I told my cousin to think __________________________ before he decides to quit his job.

I plan to tell him a thing or _________________________ about his dog when I see him.

I did not want to take the job but compared to being unemployed it was the lesser of _______________________________________________________________ evils.

Let’s give Mr Smith ________________________________________________ cheers for 40 years of dedicated service to the company. Hip hip hooray…

The city workers stopped to take ___________________ after working hard all morning.

I’ve been in __________________________________________________________th heaven since my company car was changed from a Ford to a Jaguar.

Hint: The sentences are in number order


Section E

I for _________________________________________________________ do not believe that our president will really change the company policy related to hiring new staff.

They offered to give us another 5% if we delayed payment by a year, but we decided that a bird in the hand is worth _________________ in the bush and took the cash right away.


Many people believe that teaching the ______________________________________ R's is the most important role for schools.


Since the boss announced my promotion, I’ve been on cloud ______________________


You should speak to your colleague about that misunderstanding as soon as possible. Remember, a stitch in time saves ___________________________________________.

I would not touch that investment with a _______________________________-foot pole.

I can’t get a job without a work permit and I can’t get a work permit without a job. It’s a catch __________________________________________________________ situation!


I was a _____________ miles away and I didn’t even notice when it was my turn to speak.

Hint: The sentences are in number order

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