January is almost over! This month has been unseasonably warm in Vienna, but the clouds, the lack of Christmas markets, and a healthy dose of culture shock after the holidays means that I am glad that it’s almost over.
On mairibance.at in 2015, the end of the month means one thing. No, it’s not that I’m another few weeks closer to being able to take a holiday. The last Friday of each month is English Idioms Day.
I really like learning idioms in German, and I love to hear my students using them too. What is an idiom? It’s a fixed expression – a short phrase always using the same words. This sounds easy enough, but with idioms the phrase means something different to what the words suggest. Idioms are always descriptive, often humorous, and should not be taken literally.
Each month I’ll present a set of idioms about a theme. The weather, cats, food, business, school – if you can think of it, there will be an English figure of speech to explore! I’ll be explaining their meaning of each idiom, showing you how to use them in context, and giving lots of examples of other fixed expressions which are related to the same topic.
Without further ado, let’s look at our first set!
Idioms about Love
To fall in love, to fall for someone, to fall head over heels (vb.)
James and Helen fell in love when hey were seventeen.
He really fell for her.
The first time they met he fell head over heels.
She was head over heels in love with him too.
When English speakers talk about love, we like to do it through slapstick comedy.
To fall is not a negative thing when you’re talking about love, and I think it’s a great description of the feeling. The feeling suddenly happens to you, you don’t have time to get your balance, you forget where you are, and you sometimes make a fool of yourself. To fall head over heels is the most dramatic form of the idiom. Imagine tripping and doing a somersault before you hit the pavement – that’s falling head over heels.
Love at First Sight (n.)
When James and Helen met, it was love at first sight.
It was love at first sight is an absolutely fixed expression. We use the phrase when we talk about how people met. English speakers particularly like stories of a couple’s eyes meeting across a crowded room. Love at first sight is when you fall instantly in love with somebody the first time you see them, even before you have spoken. Some people even say that they knew they had seen the one – their future husband or wife – the very first time they saw them. Do you believe in love at first sight?
To be made for each other (vb.), it was a match made in heaven (n.)
They looked so happy together that I knew they were made for each other.
They were a match made in heaven.
A couple who are made for each other seem totally, completely, utterly happy and content together. Their friends and family can see it too. They might laugh at the same weird jokes, share interests, or put up with bad habits that other people can’t stand. They might also complete each other, which means that although elements of their personality are completely opposite, they still work perfectly together. Imagine two pieces of a jigsaw fitting together.
A match made in heaven is a relationship so perfect that it seems like God Himself must have organised it.
To pop the question (vb.)
James popped the question at the top of the Eifel Tower.
To pop the question is an idiomatic way of saying to propose – to ask someone to marry you. The man is supposed to get down on one knee when he asks the question will you marry me?
Heartbroken (adj.), Broken-hearted (adj.), to break someone’s heart (vb.)
He was broken-hearted when Helen said no.
Helen broke his heart.
This is a sad idiom. To be broken-hearted is to be so upset that you feel completely destroyed. You can be broken-hearted about anything you love, or any issue you feel passionate about – a sports team losing, moving away from a place you love, or the Scots voting against independence in the referendum last September.
Thankfully English also has an idiom to comfort someone after their heart is broken:
There are plenty more fish in the sea.
How did you find this post? Do you have any favourite English idioms that you’d like to share, or any other idiom themes to look at in the coming months? Do you have any fabulous German idioms which you think I should learn? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!
Until next time
Mairi : )
Image: alrogers at freeimages.com