Useful & Common English Idioms | Group 1 | Able Lingo ASL | Skillshare

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Useful & Common English Idioms | Group 1

teacher avatar Able Lingo ASL, American Sign Language (ASL)

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

6 Lessons (29m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. "backseat driver"

    • 3. "break the bank"

    • 4. "on thin ice"

    • 5. "go off the rails"

    • 6. "school of thought"

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About This Class


EXPLORE AND MASTER essential English idioms with a native English teacher.



  • We explore useful and common English idioms frequently used by native speakers
  • We examine the definition of each idiom and use images to guarantee understanding
  • We see each idiom used in the past, present, and future verb tenses
  • We do pronunciation practice using each example sentence
  • We explore each example situation to better understand why and how the idiom was used
  • We master essential English idioms



  • "backseat driver"
  • "break the bank"
  • "go off the rails"
  • "on thin ice"
  • "school of thought"


  • English idioms
  • English vocabulary
  • English verb tenses
  • English pronunciation
  • Active English grammar



  • Students will be able to use important English idioms immediately
  • Students will have mastered useful English idioms frequently used by native speakers in common life situations
  • Students will be more confident with their English proficiency and vocabulary skills
  • Students will be more fluent in English


  • A desire to improve, have fun, and be more confident using English
  • A computer, tablet, or smartphone to access the study material



  • Improve your communication fluency as you master common and useful English idioms
  • Boost your proficiency with important English vocabulary and phrases
  • Increase your overall vocabulary by learning alternative ways to say essential idioms
  • Increase your confidence and ability to communicate using the English language

LET'S HAVE SOME FUN as you expand your vocabulary and become more fluent in English.





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Able Lingo ASL

American Sign Language (ASL)


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1. Introduction: Oh, boy. Oh, yeah. We're going to talk a boat. English idioms. Okay, here are the idioms. We're going to study back seat driver, break the bank, go off the rails on thin ice school of thought. All right, so for each idiom will explain it, and we'll give you the definition. What does it mean? We'll also see an example sentence in the past, present and future verb tenses and will do pronunciation. Right. You can repeat the example. Sentences out loud after me. This is a great way to boost your pronunciation. Then we'll explore the example. Situations. We learn new vocabulary and talk about other ways to save English idioms. I like that. Well, as we study, we are going to master essential English idioms. I'm ready. Let's do it. Yes. 2. "backseat driver": Let's talk about the idiom. Backseat driver, a back seat driver or to be a backseat driver. Okay, so what is a backseat driver? Well, a backseat driver is a person who gives unwanted advice to the driver. Okay, So the passenger is anybody in the car who's not driving, right? They could be sitting beside them or behind them somewhere else in the car. And this passenger decides that I'm going to tell the driver what I think they should do. Oh, turn here. Await. Move over here. Don't go in this lane. Go their way. Turn little right. And so the drivers like, Why is this person telling me what to do? I didn't ask for advice, something like that. But they're trying to control how I drive. Right? So back seat is just the rear seat, Right? So up front, you have the front seat. Then you have the back seat. Now, a backseat driver is just the term you wouldn't say a front seat driver if it's someone who is trying to tell the driver how to drive. It's just the term back seat driver. So if a person is seen in front and they're trying to control the driver and the drivers. Like, What are you saying? You could still call them a backseat Drivers. Just someone who gives unwanted advice or thoughts. Opinions, perspectives to the driver. Come on, you need to go faster. All you should have turned left back there. Oh, what do you not gonna turn right now? It's usually a stressful situation and unwanted, not wanted. This lady, this is the face that you probably have if you're the driver, right? I'm trying to drive here. Why do you keep talking? And this lady, she's just driving. And she looks very calm and collected and having a great day. Looking back, she's wearing her sunglasses. Maybe underneath her There's fire in her eyes. You said back seat driver. All right, let's take a look at this idiom use in the past, present and future. I'm going to read each sentence out loud and then pause so you can repeat out loud after me . That's boost your pronunciation. Here we go. Is to the past first, repeat out loud. On the way here. Tom was such a back seat driver, it was terrible. Okay, So in other words, we could say something like on the way here. Tom was really trying to control how I drive. Or Tom was telling me what I should do when I was driving, and it was driving me crazy because it was distracting me. Right? All right, let's do the president. Repeat out loud. Stop being a backseat driver. I can't focus on what's happening in the road. Okay, so maybe this lady right here, she's gonna turn around and she says, Stop being a backseat driver. Stop telling me how I should drive. Let me drive. I can do it. I've done it before. I will do it again. Zip it. Be quiet. Oh, zip it. If you tell someone to zip it, it's like a zipper for a court. Right? Zip. It means close your mouth. Be quiet. Shut up. Okay, so back seat drivers could be very distracting. Distracting means you can't focus because they keep talking, right? All right, let's do the future. Repeat out loud. Promise me you won't be a backseat driver during this cross country trip. Okay? So promise me you won't bother me while I'm driving. Or promise me that you won't tell me how to drive hearing this cross country trip. All right, a cross country trip like the United States is a very big country. We've got lots of space. So maybe if you drive from like California to Florida, that's all the way across. Country doesn't have to be that far for to be cross country, maybe California, even to like, uh, Illinois or somewhere. But it's cross country. You're covering a big section where you're traveling across a big section of the country. That's a cross country trip. All right, so if you if someone refers to you as being a backseat driver, it's not a compliment. It's negative because it means if you're if they're saying your backseat driver, that means you're you keep bothering them and telling them how to drive. If you call someone else a backseat driver, you're you know, it's it's negative. You're really trying to tell them. Stop bothering me. Okay, so, uh, we talked about the idiom back seat driver to be a backseat driver or a backseat driver. It means a passenger who gives unwanted advice to the driver. All right, so it has to be someone in the car with the driver who keeps talking and saying things like , Oh, go faster. It slowed that. Watch out, Watch out! There's something in the road. Turn left. It's very annoying. Uh, OK, so we did it. We talked about this idiom. Great. 3. "break the bank": Let's talk about the idiom. Break the bank to break the bank. Okay, Break the bank means to lose, to use up all of your money to go broke and not be able to pay for things. So you lose your money. Poof. It's gone. I'm OK. So this lady here, she's a I don't know what happened. I broke the bank, and the money's gone. Okay, so I have examples here in the past, present and future using the idiom break the bank. All right. So I will read the sentence out loud and then pause so you can repeat out loud after me and practice your pronunciation. Here we go. Tom broke the bank after he used his life savings to buy losing lottery tickets. Okay, so if we're talking about life savings, this is the money that you've saved up over a long period of time could be alive. That could be a little It doesn't matter. Just means you've been saving for a long time. And Tom used his money all his life savings to buy losing lottery tickets. He Tom lost all his money. Tom's funds disappeared. Tom's life savings went out the window after used his life savings to buy losing lottery tickets. OK, let's do the presence. Repeat out loud. You're breaking the bank right now by spending so much money. Stop it. Okay, so this one is in progress, right? Present, progressive. It's happening right now, and it hasn't finished. All right, So someone else's spending like crazy. And then their friend maybe says, Hey, you're breaking the bank. You're losing all of your money. Stop it. Right. Okay, so there's a chance that they won't lose all of their money if they stop. But if they keep going, then they're going to, you know, break the paint completely, lose all of their money. All right, The future. Repeat out loud. I'm afraid Henry will break the bank if he doesn't stop buying flashy gold teeth. Okay, so I'm afraid Henry will lose all of his money. I'm afraid all of Henry's money will be gone if he doesn't stop buying flashy gold teeth. Okay, so we're talking about flashy gold teeth. Think of like the rappers. They like to wear the gold chain chains and stuff like that and they like toe get gold teeth. And, like maybe with diamonds in them or something. But in this situation, Henry, maybe he's a janitor. Or maybe he works somewhere. He doesn't earn a lot of money, but he likes the bling bling. He likes the gold teeth and he keeps buying them. And if he keeps doing that cause gold teeth are expensive, right? So if he spends all his money on gold teeth, he's going to break the bank. He's going to lose all his money. All right, So we talked about the idiom break the bank to break the bank, and it means to use up all of your money to go broke. In other words, Broke means poof. It's all gone. All your money is gone and you're not able to pay for things. All right, this is the idiom break the bank. 4. "on thin ice": Let's talk about the idiom on thin ice to be on thin ice. So we're talking about situations in a relationship. Doesn't have to be a romantic relationship. It can be. But it could just be a relationship between two people friends, boss employees, stuff like that, maybe even family members. Okay, so it means if you're on thin ice, it means to be in a risky or dangerous situation. And when it says dangerous here, we're not really talking about life threatening. We're not talking about a situation where you're going to maybe die. That's very not quite. How this idiom works on thin ice means that there's some situation where you're dealing with another person and you've done something that the other person doesn't like, right. So if you come to work late all the time, the boss doesn't like that, and they're going to notice, right so you would be on thin ice with them because they're going to be watching you. And if you keep doing it again, maybe you'll be punished. Maybe you'll be fired. So on thin ice, kind of, you know, think of like you're on a lake and there's a thin layer of ice, and as long as you tiptoe and you're careful and you don't make any quick movements and you don't jump or anything, you could make it across. But if you do something wrong, crack the ice breaks and you fall in right, so that's kind of a similar idea. So let's see, in this picture over here, the man is pointing the finger right in the face of the lady. And if it's going to be a situation about on thin ice, the woman has probably done something to upset the man. Now there are many possibilities when people are together, how one can make the other upset. But maybe she did something. Maybe she bought something. Maybe she spent way too much money and she keeps doing it over and over, and now she's on thin ice with him. He's upset with her because she keeps doing something and he doesn't trust her. This picture over here, ladies, she kind of looking at us with their eyes closed a little bit. Mm. So if she's looking at us like that, we're probably on thin ice with her. We've done something that she either doesn't like us. She dislikes us or she doesn't trust us. But she's like, Mm, right? So she's unhappy with us. All right, let's see this idiom in the past, present and future. I'm going to start with the past and read each sentence out loud that I will pause so you can repeat after me and booster pronunciation. All right, here we go. Let's do the past repeat out loud. Amy was on thin ice because her husband thought she was cheating. Okay. And when we're talking about cheating, we're probably not talking about cheating on an exam or a test where you hide the answers. You know, you wrote the answers on your hand, and you're like, No, not that kind of cheating that is cheating. But here, if we're talking about Amy and her husband and cheating, he thinks that she is dating another man or seen another person or has another romantic relationship outside of their relationship. So that could be a good reason for someone to be on thin ice. So Amy was on thin ice because she did something to upset her husband. He thinks she's cheating. Whether or not it's true or not, he doesn't trust her and she's on thin ice. And if it keeps happening, I don't know. Maybe he'll leave. Maybe he'll take the money. Maybe he'll do something that would hurt her situation and is kind of a risk for her because she's doing something which could hurt her lifestyle if she cheats on him. And he's the one making all the money and he divorces her than suddenly. Whoa. Where'd the money go? Stuff like that. Okay. So that it fits in to be in a risky or dangerous situation in a relationship with another person. Because you've done something or I've done something that we could say jeopardizes puts in danger the relationship. So not like danger, Like kill, kill, murder, murder? No. Like, like in danger of having a bad relationship, a relationship with a low level of trust. All right, so let's do the present Repeat out loud after me. I'm on thin ice with my parents right now because they don't trust me. Okay, so this is a good situation where the kid, they've done something where they've demonstrated they're not very trustworthy or their parents don't believe what they're saying. And now they're on thin ice. So when they say to their parents. Hey, I want to go to this concert. I want to go on this trip. I want to do something that parents are like. But how? We don't trust you. How can we let you go? We have to give you money and trust you and you'd have to make decisions. And you've already shown us. You've demonstrated that you're not mature enough to make those decisions. You're on thin ice, right? Okay, let's do the future. Repeat out loud after me. If Sam doesn't Iraq arrive on time, he'll be on thin ice with the boss. Okay, so this is the worker who may be comes in late sometimes. And now we could say he's on the boss's radar. Radar is like the military thing. Not only military, but that planes. They send out the invisible waves, and you can comptel when they're objects or birds or planes that are flying or moving toward a location. And he's on the boss's radar because the boss has been noticing. Sam has been coming in late lately, and now he's on thin ice with me. Sam is on thin ice with the boss because Sam is doing something that now the boss doesn't trust him right? Is putting their their work relationship in danger. It's risky behavior for having a good work relationship, all right, so we talked about the idiom on thin ice to be on thin ice, and we're talking about in a relationship between people most likely as to be in a risky or dangerous situation. So if I'm on thin ice with you, I've done something that you don't trust me very much. Right now, you probably probably upset with me. You're thinking, What is he going to do now? Is he going to make things worse? What's happening? But I just don't trust him, right? So I'm in a risky situation because maybe I need something from you. And if I'm on thin ice with you, you don't trust me. You don't probably don't want to help me, and it's bad for our relationship, all right. It's a good idiom. Useful idiom 5. "go off the rails": Let's talk about the idiom. Go off the rails to go off the rails. All right, so when we're talking about rails, the idea of rails are like the train tracks right where the two tracks, where the train is on top, Right? Those air, the rails. Okay, So to go off the rails means to begin acting in a bad or crazy way. So it's usually sudden something big happens in the person starts acting. And people are like, What is this? Who is this? Isn't who I thought it was. All right. So this lady right here, she flipped out, flipped out is another word. Another way to say gold. She went crazy. She went off the rails, She flipped out, She freaked out. And it's probably not something she usually does. So some sort of situation occurred happened and she went off the rails. She went crazy. And maybe she's going to start beating someone up or attacking someone I don't know. And over here we just have a crazy face, because regularly your normal, your calm, your collected. But you went off the rails, you went crazy. All right, so let's take a look at this idiom in the past, present and future. I'm going to read each sentence out loud and then pause so you can repeat out loud after me and improve your pronunciation. All right, so let's start with the past. Here we go. Repeat, out loud. Mary went off the rails when she saw her first paycheck. She was soon fired. Okay, so maybe there was, like, great miscommunication about the pay or about how much money or benefits Mary was going to be receiving. So when she got her first paycheck, she said, Okay, let's check it out. What? And then she went off the rails. She went crazy. So, like presaged rails, You know, the train is on the rails, the two tracks. But if the train goes off, it crashes. Bad things happen. So it's kind of like a person going crazy and usually walk in this direction. But then, ah, they go crazy. All right, let's take a look at the present. Repeat out loud. Do you hear that? The boss is going off the rails. We'd better watch out. Okay, So in this situation, I'm imagining some workers are talking and they could over here, they can hear what's going on in the next room. They over here it. And in the next room, maybe someone is screaming, shouting, throwing things I don't know, but the other employees outside the here it then they're like the boss is going off the rails. The boss is going crazy. The boss is freaking out. He's flipping out, and we better watch out. In other words, we need to be careful because something's not right. And if we get in the bosses way, maybe it's not a good place to be. Maybe we'll be fired. All right, let's take a look at the future. Repeat after me. We're pretty sure Tom will go off the rails when Steve smiles at Tom's wife. Okay, so in other words, we're pretty sure Tom will go crazy. We're pretty sure Tom will flip out. We're pretty sure Tom will freak out when Steve smiles at Tom's wife. So maybe Tom and his wife were together. And there's another guy, Steve, and he smiles at Tom's wife, and Tom understands this to be something inappropriate. Maybe Steve likes Tom's wife, but in a romantic way, which is not very good. That person is already married. Okay, so Tom is going to go crazy. And who knows what he'll do if he'll attack Steve Punch Steve, yell it, Steve. But something is going to happen. And this behavior is not regular for Tom. But it's such causes such a strong emotional reaction that he goes off the rails. All right, so we talked about the idiom go off the rails to go off the rails. It means to begin acting in a bad or crazy way. And if we're talking about going off the rails, it's usually something that happens fairly quickly. It's not like Azour Weeks. It's like, Boom! What happens in the They go crazy. All right, interesting idiom. 6. "school of thought": Let's talk about the idiom school of thought. OK, so a school of thought is a specific set of theories, opinions or ideas about a topic, right? So a theory is basically what we will think. What we think will happen in a certain situation could be an experiment when we add this chemical with that chemical because this has happened in the past where, assuming we're kind of guessing that this will happen in the future and then you test the theory to see if it's true or not, right. Opinions, just our perspectives, our way of thinking and ideas or just kind of thoughts that pop up in our head and like Ah ha, right, So a school of thought is basically a way of thinking. It says a specific set of who might be a group of ideas, ways of thinking. But right, that's a school of thought, right? This lady, she is meditating, I don't know, but she's focused on something, and she's like, Ah, and she is thinking in a certain way. It's her school of thought. Now this guy, he are too no maybes. A teacher's scientist politician, who knows. But he has a certain way of looking at things, right? Maybe we're talking about economics, and, uh, he uses economics that were proposed and, uh, supported by Milton Friedman, Friedman or something like that. And it's a certain way of doing things, a certain way of looking at the world. So he uses that school of thought. All right, so let's take a look at this idiom in the past, present and future. I will read each sentence and then pause so you can practice your pronunciation and repeat out loud after me. Great. Let's do it is through the past. Read used an old school of thought. He didn't install a toilet in his house. Okay, so a different way to say school of thought in this sentence is we could say Fred used an old way of thinking, right? So, old way of thinking it might be old fashioned vintage old, out of date, right? So his way of thinking is probably like his grandparent's. Maybe maybe he grew up on a farm. Maybe he's old now, and he lived a long He's lived for a long time, and he lived back when they didn't have toilets in the house. So when he built the house, he didn't put a toilet in used what's called an outhouse, which is just a little mini building outside the regular house where people go out and they go the bathroom. You know, they used the toilet, they go poop, they gopi stuff like that and they put out house outside the house because it smells bad. However, with new technology, with the new school of thought, we could say a new way of thinking, Uh, we have toilets so all the bad, crappy, smelly stuff just disappears. Flush it, push. It's gone. All right, I still the president, Repeat out loud after me and that is reading about a modern school of thought. And her parents disagree. Okay, so is this very vague? We don't have a lot of specifics here, but we can imagine what they might be talking about. Maybe her parents are very conservative on Anna's very liberal. Maybe her parents are more Republican. This is like the Democratic and Republican Party in the U. S. And they have very different viewpoints on things. So ah, maybe there's a new party, a new political party who wants to change the world and Anna loves it, and she likes their way of thinking. She likes their school of thought, and she's like, Hey, Dad and Mom. I found out about this and she's like, hard. She tells him all about it, and her parents are like, That's nice, but it will never work or I disagree with that. Okay, so let's do the future. Repeat out loud after me, this new school of thought will revolutionize the entire industry. Okay, so this new way of thinking this new perspective, this new way of looking at things will revolutionize Theo entire industry, right? Revolutionized means it's going to change it completely. All right, so it's it won't look the same from now until after it's the next chapter has been changed . There might be some things which are are the same, but overall it's like completely different, right? For example, cars, they revolutionized the industry of transportation, right? So a long time ago, people were using horses and like horses of the greatest, this is the way to go. And then someone invented the car or the automobile, and it revolutionized industry A whole new way of thinking a whole new way of living and interacting and looking at things okay. And the entire industry entire just means the whole industry, every part of it. All of it. Okay, so we talked about the idiom school of thought. A school of thought is a specific set of theories, opinions or ideas about a topic. It's just what you think about something or what. People have accepted that we're going to think about this topic. It's a way of thinking, all right.