This article explores the use of idioms and fixed expressions in the Cambridge Learner Corpus. As language learners, we often feel a great sense of accomplishment on discovering a new idiom or fixed expression, and we’re keen to put it to use right away. Perhaps as a result of this enthusiasm, we are prone to errors and the expressions are often overused. In this article, find out which idioms and fixed expressions prove most popular with learners, as well as which ones are the trickiest to master.
An idiom is a group of words in a fixed order that have a particular meaning that is different from the meanings of each word on its own(Cambridge English Dictionary). In other words, idioms often can’t be taken literally; they are code for another meaning, and there’s a degree of deciphering involved in understanding them. In a similar way, fixed expressions often take on a more nuanced meaning than their component words alone might suggest. Perhaps it’s this opaqueness in meaning which makes idioms and fixed expressions so intriguing and inviting to learners; successfully using them can feel like cracking a secret code!