Number Practice- Idioms & Proverbs

Level: Intermediate

Topic: Numbers

Grammar Topic: Idioms

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Type: Lesson Plans

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Lesson Plan Text

 

Numbers idioms and proverbs   

Section A Page 1 

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: All the sentences above are in number order 

Written by Alex Case for UsingEnglish.com © 2008 

 

Numbers idioms and proverbs   

Section A Page 2 

Which of the underlined phrases on Section A Page 1 have the following meanings? 

 

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 18

th

 hole. 

 

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. 

 

Written by Alex Case for UsingEnglish.com © 2008 

 

Numbers idioms and proverbs   

Section B Page 1 

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 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 

 

Written by Alex Case for UsingEnglish.com © 2008 

 

Numbers idioms and proverbs   

Section B Page 2 

Which of the underlined phrases on Section B Page 1 have the following meanings? 

 

 

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. 

 

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. 

Written by Alex Case for UsingEnglish.com © 2008 

 

Numbers idioms and proverbs   

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 

Written by Alex Case for UsingEnglish.com © 2008 

 

Numbers idioms and proverbs   

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 

 

Written by Alex Case for UsingEnglish.com © 2008 

 

Numbers idioms and proverbs   

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 

 

 

 

Written by Alex Case for UsingEnglish.com © 2008