Idiom Examples and Exercises
An Introduction to Common Idioms for Students

Many students preparing for university request help understanding common idioms for language learning.

In this introduction there are several simple idiom examples with definitions, examples sentences to show use, example use in conversation and idiom exercises.

What is an Idiom?

  • a group of words,
  • that have a different meaning,
  • when together,
For example: “break a leg”
Meaning: good luck
Does not mean: damage your leg

Common Idioms

  1. jump the gun
  2. kill two birds with one stone
  3. under the weather
  4. spill the beans / don’t spill the beans
  5. bite your tongue
  6. keep your chin up
  7. hit the books

Idiom Definitions

  1. Jump the gun: to do something too soon, before the right time
  2. Hit the books: to study or do homework
  3. Keep your chin up: to remain positive and not get down during difficult times
  4. Kill two birds with one stone: to do two things at the same time
  5. Under the weather: feeling unwell
  6. Don’t spill the beans: do not reveal the secret information
  7. Bite your tongue: to stop yourself from speaking

Example Sentences

  1. Tommy jumped the gun and started eating his dessert before finishing his dinner.
  2. Sarah has a big test tomorrow, so she needs to hit the books tonight to prepare.
  3. Even though he lost the game, Tim kept his chin up and congratulated the winner.
  4. Mom decided to go grocery shopping on her way home from work to kill two birds with one stone.
  5. Jenny stayed home from school today because she’s feeling a bit under the weather.
  6. Tina promised her friend she wouldn’t spill the beans about the surprise party.
  7. Even though he was angry, Jack decided to bite his tongue and not say anything hurtful.

Example Conversations

Samantha: “I can’t wait for the pizza to arrive. Can I have a slice now?” Mom: “Not yet, Samantha. Let’s wait for everyone to sit down first. Don’t jump the gun!“

Johnny: “I have a spelling test tomorrow, but I want to play video games.” Dad: “Johnny, you need to hit the books and study for your test before you can play.“

Amy: “I lost my favorite toy at the park today.” Friend: “Don’t be sad, Amy. Keep your chin up. Maybe we can look for it together tomorrow.”

Mom: “We need to buy bread for sandwiches and milk for cereal. Let’s go to the grocery store.” Sarah: “Can we also get some apples for my snack? That way we can kill two birds with one stone.“

Teacher: “Tommy, you look tired today. Are you feeling okay?” Tommy: “Not really, Teacher. I’m feeling a little under the weather.“

Sara: “I have a surprise gift for Mom’s birthday!” Brother: “Shh, Sara! Don’t spill the beans. It’s a secret!“

Dad: “Mom made broccoli for dinner tonight, and I don’t like it.” Mom: “Dad, remember to bite your tongue. We should try new foods and be polite.”

Idiom Exercises

Identify the Correct Idiom

Delete the incorrect idiom:

  1. I have a headache today and feel a little dizzy, so I’m (under the weather / hitting the books).
  2. When you are taking a test, it’s important to (keep your chin up / spill the beans) and do your best.
  3. If you want to finish two tasks at the same time, you can (jump the gun / kill two birds with one stone).
  4. When you want to say something but it might hurt someone’s feelings, it’s better to __________ (bite your tongue / hit the books) instead.
  5. My sister loves to talk and sometimes she (jumps the gun / spills the beans) about surprises before they happen.
  6. If you are feeling sad, it’s important to (keep your chin up / kill two birds with one stone) and find things that make you happy.
  7. When you have a secret, it’s important to (bite your tongue / hit the books) and not tell anyone.

Complete the Sentence with the Correct Idiom

Fill in the blanks:

  1. I’m feeling a bit __________ today, so I think I’ll stay home and rest.
  2. If you want to finish your homework quickly and have time to play, try to __________ and do your chores at the same time.
  3. My mom told me not to __________ and tell my brother about his surprise party.
  4. When you want to say something, but it might hurt someone’s feelings, it’s better to __________ instead.
  5. If you’re feeling down, try to __________ and think positively.
  6. When you have a big test coming up, it’s important to __________ and study hard.
  7. During a race, if you start running before the signal, you will __________ and get disqualified.

Give an Example with Idiom Use

Give an example of a situation where someone might need to:

  1. “jump the gun”
  2. “bite your tongue”
  3. “keep their chin up”
  4. “kill two birds with one stone”
  5. “hit the books“

Example #1: starting to build a house before the land has been properly surveyed and approved for building.

Reading Comprehension Exercises

The English for study skills lessons will have a section to improve reading skills. Follow this link to read the reading texts and answer the simple reading comprehension questions.

Comprehensive List of Idioms

If you are interested in learning idiom then visit our special page where you will find many idioms with the definitions and example sentences.