Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"

Follow the steps below to learn and use high-scoring native phrases on your next exam!

Step #1: Choose 3 of these idioms that you think are interesting.

Hard nut to crack- a person who is difficult to know well.

Jan is a hard nut to crack. I can’t figure her out.

One tough cookie- tough, strong (in life and/or physical strength)

My mom is one tough cookie. She raised my brothers and I all by herself, and still managed to get her college degree.

All things to all people- be everyone’s friend, do everything for others

I must stop trying to be all things to all people. It’s exhausting, and I have nothing left for myself.

Backseat driver- person who tells someone how to do something, when he/she is not in control and shouldn’t talk

I hate it when Mike acts like a backseat driver. He’s always telling me how to do my work, and he has no idea what I’m trying to do.

Tough as nails- super strong and tough

Victor is tough as nails, man. His could lift a car, I swear. I wouldn’t mess with him.

Jack of all trades, master of none- kind of good at many things, not really good at anything specific

Story of my life- jack of all trades, master of none. I can sort of draw, kind of sing, kind of play the guitar, but I’m not really good at any of these things.

Idioms to NOT use:

These phrases are used often by students, but native speakers don’t really use them anymore. They are boring!

couch potato and apple of my eye


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Step #2: Add the phrases you chose to your vocabulary notebook. Write your own example sentences using them.

These would be good for your vocabulary cheat sheet.

Step #3: Practice including them in your IELTS Speaking Exam answers. Answer the questions below.

How would you describe yourself?

Tell me about your best friend.

Describe a member of your family.

Tell me about a famous person you would like to meet.

How would you use today’s idioms?

Share your examples in the comments section below!

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