5 More Classic British Idioms

After wetting your appetite with our last 5 classic British idioms, we thought we would give you 5 more to wrap your head around. These next five are equally as popular as the last and have been said by people living in the British Isles for years. Level up your English by including these classic idioms in your speech and writing and you will be well on the way to feeling like a true Brit…

An arm and a leg

“I really like my new car, but it cost an arm and a leg!”

As we can see from the example here, I am very happy with my new car, but it cost…what?! In English we often talk about something costing an arm and a leg. This means the thing was very expensive and not at all cheap! Imagine someone is selling you a car, but what they want is one of your arms and one of your legs! Seems a high price to pay to me… and that’s why we use this classic idiomatic expression.

Barking up the wrong tree

“It wasn’t my fault. You’re barking up the wrong tree if you think it was me!”

So someone is accusing you of something they think you did but you want to tell them they’ve got the wrong idea? Then simply tell them they are barking up the wrong tree! Another classic idiom that needs a bit of explanation. Imagine a dog at the bottom of a tree barking at something up high in the leaves… but actually there is nothing there! The dog got the wrong idea and if you think someone else has got the wrong idea, then that is the perfect moment to use this idiom.

Beating around the bush

“This story has gone on forever. Stop beating around the bush!”

Imagine someone is telling a very long and boring story. You know they could easily finish the story by telling you the main point but they just keep going on and on and on. Tell them to stop beating around the bush and they should hurry up! Here’s another classic British idiom that can be used to ask someone to kindly arrive at the point of their story. The origin of this expression comes from medieval times when hunters used to beat bushes with sticks to force any animals quickly out.

Kill two birds with one stone

“We can kill two birds with one stone in town today. We’ll get you some shoes and me some trousers.”

Every so often a brilliant opportunity arrives where you can do two things with just one action. This is your moment to declare that you are able to kill two birds with one stone. Animal and bird lovers, don’t worry that it sounds a bit cruel, this idiom is used all the time in English as an expression for when we are able to conveniently complete two tasks in one go.

Put all your eggs in one basket

“A career in music sounds great, but you might be putting all your eggs in one basket.”

Indeed, a career in music would be fantastic, but wannabe singers and musicians are probably used to hearing this idiomatic expression. We say this when we want to warn someone that they may be putting all their hopes and efforts into a single opportunity, when really it’s better to put equal amounts of effort into more than one thing. If the music career doesn’t work out, then what will you do! The idea here is that if your basket is taken away from you, you will lose all your eggs.

Finished reading about these idioms? Now try the quiz below to test your knowledge!

5 British Idioms quiz

Think you know your idioms? Read the example and then fill in the gap with the correct answer!

Learn English with the News – Reports of price hikes have been registered at bars, restaurants and hairdressers in Italy

Some of Italy’s shops and restaurants have added a “Covid Tax” in order to make more money after months of lockdown. Watch the video and then check out our website for the accompanying exercises.

The news is a consistent source of entertainment, knowledge and discovery that never ceases to exist and always comes out with more and more material each day. Because it plays such a vital part in our lives and is so important to keep up with, it is without a doubt a piece of your everyday routine that can’t go ignored. 

Whether it is to understand the ramifications of recent legislation passed, to hear about recent events and grasp the potential consequences to your country, or simply hear about what is happening in other countries in order to compare them to what’s happening in yours, the news is certainly a staple in our lives and the most consistent way to get information.

This is why Scrambled Eggs has decided to unite two of your biggest worlds: learning English and keeping up with what is happening in the world. We hope our challenging daily exercises, composed of listening, vocabulary and comprehension exercises in English, will satisfy both of those above worlds in a satisfactory and also entertaining way.

So enough about introductions, let’s get to today’s Learn English with the News topic:

Adapted from this article.

Now that you’ve had a listen, let’s put your knowledge to the test with some of our vocabulary and comprehension exercises:

Reports of price hikes have been registered at bars, restaurants and hairdressers in Italy | Definition Match

Put the following words to the correct definitions.

Reports of price hikes have been registered at bars, restaurants and hairdressers in Italy | Fill in the Blank

Fill the empty spaces with the proper words.

Reports of price hikes have been registered at bars, restaurants and hairdressers in Italy | True or False

Indicate which sentences are true and which ones are false.

And that’s it for today’s English lesson, where you can improve your English with the news and current events. Do you have any comments or special requests for us for the next edition of Learn English with the News? Be sure to leave any feedback you have in the comments section below, as we would love to help you on your quest to learn the English language!

For other Learn English with the News segments, be sure to check out the rest of our posts:


Full Text:

“Italy’s consumers are being charged €2 to €4 more than before the coronavirus emergency as bars, restaurants and hairdressers add a ‘covid tax’ to the bill, according to consumer watchdog Codacons. Codacons has received dozens of reports on the increases in the price lists of hairdressers. Based on average costs in large cities, they have calculated how the price of a cut has gone from an average of €20 to €25, a rise of 25 per cent. Codacons also reports increases in the price of coffee at the bar, with cases of an espresso in Rome now costing €1.50 instead of the usual €1 or €1.10. In Milan the espressos are €2, up from €1.30. In Florence they are €1.70, up from the usual average of €1.40. The so-called covid tax has also been slammed by the National Consumer Union whose president Massimiliano Dona describes it as an “incorrect practice.” The hike in prices comes as many businesses struggle to get back to work after being closed for more than two months during the nationwide lockdown to contain the spread of the coronavirus. Businesses are operating amid reduced capacity due to social distancing as well as dealing with extra costs relating to sanification and protective equipment required under Italy’s Phase Two in the covid-19 emergency.”

Esame Cambridge o IELTS? Domande e risposte

Al giorno d’oggi avere una certificazione di inglese è più che mai una carta vincente che può fare la differenza al momento opportuno, come per esempio in una candidatura universitaria o durante un colloquio di lavoro. Non tutte le certificazioni sono tuttavia uguali e spesso riceviamo dai nostri studenti molte domande a riguardo. Nel blog di oggi rispondiamo ad alcune delle più frequenti domande sugli esami Cambridge e IELTS.


Quali sono le principali differenze tra gli esami IELTS e Cambridge (FCE, CAE e CPE)?

Per capire quale esame sostenere lo studente deve avere bene in mente il motivo per cui desidera ottenere una certificazione. L’ IELTS (International English Language Testing System) è stato espressamente pensato e creato per chi vuole lavorare o studiare in un paese anglofono. Gli esami Cambridge, al contrario, certificano il livello di conoscenza dell’inglese da parte dello studente ed è spesso riconosciuto da datori di lavoro (anche all’estero) e istituti di istruzione superiore.

Proviamo a fare qualche esempio per sciogliere ogni dubbio. Nel caso in cui lo studente volesse, per esempio, iscriversi in un’università di un paese anglofono o di un paese in cui è richiesta la lingua inglese, l’IELTS sarebbe probabilmente la scelta migliore. L’IELTS rimarrebbe sempre un’ottima scelta se lo studente volesse lavorare all’estero in un paese anglofono. Nel caso invece in cui si avesse bisogno di certificare la propria conoscenza della lingua in un paese non anglofono, per motivi lavorativi o personali, il consiglio è quello di sostenere un esame Cambridge.

Sono entrambi ugualmente difficili?

Si potrebbe dire che entrambi sono simili, nel senso che  per superarli bisogna imparare nello specifico le loro tecniche d’esame. La tecnica dell’IELTS può essere un po’ più complicata rispetto a quella degli esami Cambridge. Potrei mostrare ad esempio una prova di un esame Cambridge ad un madrelingua inglese e lui saprebbe senza problemi cosa fare. Con l’IELTS invece anche un madrelingua dovrebbe pensare alle domande e al modo in cui rispondere. I due esami sono dunque strutturati in modo leggermente diverso. La struttura degli esami Cambridge, sebbene ci siano dei format che bisogna necessariamente seguire (ad esempio una lettera o un report), non è tutto sommato così rigida. Un’altra differenza riguarda la modalità dello speaking: nell’IELTS questa parte è svolta dallo studente di fronte ad una commissione, negli esami Cambridge invece con un partner.

Cosa hanno in comune?

Entrambi gli esami sono suddivisi in 4 diverse aree di competenza: speaking, writing, listening and reading. Cambridge ha tuttavia un’ulteriore parte che verifica grammatica e vocabolario non presente nell’IELTS.

Quanto tempo ci vuole per preparare ogni esame?

Non esiste una risposta univoca a questa domanda. Le variabili sono molte e tutto dipende dal livello di partenza  dello studente e dall’obiettivo da raggiungere. Generalmente più si studia, più si sarà preparati all’esame. Può essere fondamentale in questo senso frequentare un corso in preparazione dell’esame, in modo da lavorare sulla sua struttura e sulle parti di maggiore difficoltà.

Come vengono valutati?

Gli esami Cambridge hanno più livelli orientati (A, B e C), mentre per l’IELTS lo studente è valutato da una scala da 1 a 9 (è dunque il voto a stabilire i differenti livelli). Questo significa che studenti con diversi livelli linguistici svolgeranno lo stesso esame per IELTS e diversi esami per il Cambridge in relazione al proprio target linguistico (il PET è per un livello intermedio B1, l’FCE per una qualificazione di livello B2 medio-avanzata, il CAE per un livello C1 ed il CPE per un livello C2). Se si sostiene l’IELTS per motivi accademici, è utile ricordare che la maggior parte delle università richiede un voto tra 6 e 7,5.

Per quanto tempo è valido una certificazione?

L’IELTS è valido per due anni mentre le certificazioni Cambridge non hanno una scadenza. Ovviamente se hai fatto un esame Cambridge dieci anni fa e da allora non hai più parlato inglese, la tua qualifica sarà formalmente valida ma difficilmente verrà presa sul serio. In questo caso ti potrebbe essere chiesto di sostenere nuovamente l’esame.


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