Idioms are very important because they help you to understand natural spoken English. But also they’re very important in IELTS Speaking. Cause if you want a band 7 or above, the band descriptors tell us that you must use some less common and idiomatic vocabulary. In this article, I want to show you a bunch of idioms for IELTS that you can use for any topic in IELTS Speaking, and the effective way of learning idioms.
What is the best way to learn idioms for IELTS? When you are watching a film, or a video or listening to a podcast and you hear an interesting expression. Then make a note, check the meaning and then learn it. Because then you’ve got the context, and you’re getting kind of just one or two idioms a day which is easier rather than learning a list of 20 idioms.
Lots of students can find idioms to be a real challenge. They get confused about which ones they should learn and How to use these idioms. Well, there are thousands of idioms in English. I suggest that you just learn maybe one a day. As a part of your daily English diet if you like. I also suggest that you shouldn’t go and look for lists of lots of idioms to learn them. It is not effective I think.
Now I realise it’s a bit ironic because I’m giving you a list today, but I am gonna try and give you the context that will help you see how to use it better.
Idioms for Expressing Opinions
Let’s have a look first at How you can express your opinion in IELTS Speaking using idioms. We can take a typical question about your opinions.
For example, if the examiner asks you “Many governments are investing in space travel. What do you think about this? “
You could say, “My take on this is it’s a good idea”. Here, My take on this means my opinion. Or you could say, “To my way of thinking, it’s a good idea.”
Now, if you are not sure if it’s a good or a bad idea. You could say, “I’m in two minds about this”. Here two minds mean two different opinions / you are not sure. And then you could go on to say,
“I’m in two minds about this. On the one hand…, On the other hand…”
A similar expression is, “I’m on the fence about this”. It also means you are not sure about this. You could say, ” I think I’m on the fence about this. On the one hand it’s a good idea, on the other hand maybe it is not”
Now if you want to describe the most important thing. Then you can use “To boil down to“. This means the most essential thing.
So we can say “It boils down to money. Can we afford to invest in space”. A simple way of using it is to say “It boils down to one thing” and then you mention what the most important thing is. For example, It boils down to one thing, our planet is in danger, so we need to explore space.
Idioms for Expressing Likes and Dislikes
So very often in IELTS Speaking Part-1, you might be asked if you like something. For example, Do you like fast food?
Now if you like fast food. You could say, “I love fast food, for me, pizza is the bees knees.” Here, bees knees = the best thing.
Question: Do you like picnics?
Answer: I love going into the countryside, it’s the bees knees.
Now if there is something that you don’t like a lot and you don’t dislike. You can say “I can take it or leave it” Here, I can take it or leave it = I don’t mind, I’m indifferent.
Question: Do you like your job?
Answer: I can take it or leave it.
Finally, if you dislike something, you can say, “It’s not my cup of tea“. That’s usually used in the negative. Here, It’s not my cup of tea = I don’t like it.
Question: Do you like rugby?
Answer: Nah, it’s not my cup of tea.
Idioms for Expressing Confusion
Sometimes in IELTS Speaking, there are some topics or subjects that can be confusing. Maybe you don’t know much about it or you find it confusing. Then there are a couple of nice idioms you can use to express that confusion.
Question: What do you think about Artificial Intelligence?
Answer: Well, to be honest, I can’t make head or tail of it. It’s just totally confusing for me.
Here, I can’t make head or tail means I don’t understand it.
Another similar expression is, I can’t get my head around it. It also means it’s confusing.
Question: What do you think about modern art?
Answer: I can’t get my head around it. It just looks like nonsense to me.
Idioms for Introducing people
In IELTS Speaking Part-2, sometimes you have to talk about a person. Maybe a person you know or a famous person. And very often you may say, “I’m going to talk about…” or ” the person I’m going to talk about…” Well there is a nice little idiomatic expression you can use here, which is “The person I want to talk about is none other than…”
“None other than” it’s used usually when the person you introduce is gonna be a surprise the listener. Now in the IELTS Speaking test, whoever you talk about is gonna be a surprise for the examiner, because they don’t know you. So in fact, you can use this for anybody.
Idioms for Saying Peoples/Places/Things are Very Good
In IELTS Speaking Part-3, you may have to talk about a person, a thing or a place. Now if you want to describe a person, a thing or a place as being very good. Then there are a number of different idiomatic expressions you can use.
For example, you can say:
- Harry Kane is hands down the best football player in the world.
- Harry Kane is second to none.
- Harry Kane is a cut above the rest.
- I think the world of Harry Kane
So, all of these expressions mean, he is very good or he is the best. You can also use these for places or for things.
Idioms for Saying Peoples/Places/Things are Normal
Now if you want to speak about things, places or people that are just normal, nothing special then a really nice idiom is to say “Run of the mill“. It means ordinary.
Question: Do you like this restaurant?
Answer: It was okay, but it’s a run of the mill restaurant.
Idioms for Saying Peoples/Places/Things are Not So Good
If you want to speak about things, places or people that are not so good, nothing special then a really nice idiom is to say “It’s not a patch on…“
- This movie is good. But It’s not a patch on the previous one.
It means the movie is not as good as the previous one.
Similarly, another expression is, “It can’t hold a candle to…” This one also means that it’s not as good as…
- The latest Marvel film is ok but it can’t hold a candle to the very first Marvel film.
- Spiderman is good, but he can’t hold a candle to batman.
So remember, just pick out one or two idioms from these, and start practising them and slowly build your base. Maybe one idiom a day. So the overtime, you’ll have a larger and larger base of idioms that you can use more confidently.