Common Idioms To Improve Your IELTS Score – Topic : Knowledge And Understanding

 

1. Up to speed

If you are up to speed, you have all the latest information about something.

We try to keep people entertained and up to speed with what’s going on in town.

NOTE: You can say that you bring someone up to speed, or that they get up to speed when you give them all the latest information about something.

I guess I should bring you up to speed on what’s been happening since I came to see you yesterday. The president has been getting up to speed on foreign policy.

 

2. get the hang of something

If you get the hang of activity, you learn how to do it well. [INFORMAL]

After a few months, you will start getting the hang of the language and expressing yourself quite well.

 

3. get the picture

If you get the picture, you understand what is happening in a situation. [INFORMAL]

NOTE: This expression is often used when someone does not understand something immediately.

Anna was giggling. She was beginning to get the picture.

 

4. get the wrong end of the stick or get hold of the wrong end of the stick

If someone gets the wrong end of the stick or gets hold of the wrong end of the stick, they completely misunderstand a situation or something that is said. [INFORMAL]

Did I get hold of the wrong end of the stick? Was that not what he meant?

 

5. get your head around something or get your head around something

If you get your head around a fact or an idea, you succeed in understanding it or accepting it. [BRITISH, INFORMAL]

At first people laughed at me because they simply could not get their head around what I was telling them.

It’s hard to get your head round figures this big.

 

6. go in one ear and out the other

If something that you tell someone goes in one ear and out the other, they pay no attention to it, or forget about it immediately.

I’ve told him so many times – it just goes in one ear and out the other.

 

7. a grey area

If you call something a grey area, you mean that it is unclear, for example, because nobody is sure how to deal with it, or it falls between two separate categories of things.

Tabloid papers paint all sportsmen as heroes or villains. There is no grey area in between.

 

8. not have a clue

If you do not have a clue about something, you do not know anything about it, or you have no idea what to do about it. [INFORMAL]

I don’t have a clue what I’m supposed to be doing.

 

9. jump to conclusions

If someone jumps to conclusions, they decide too quickly that something is true, when they do not know all the facts.

Forgive me. I thought you were married. I shouldn’t jump to conclusions.

NOTE: You can also say that someone ‘jumps to a/the conclusion’.

I didn’t want her to jump to the conclusion that the divorce was in any way her fault.

NOTE: People sometimes use ‘leap’ instead of ‘jump’.

The medical establishment was careful not to leap to conclusions.

 

10. put two and two together

If you put two and two together, you correctly guess the truth about something from the information that you have.

He put two and two together and guessed what the police were searching for.

NOTE: You can say that someone puts two and two together and makes five, to mean that they guess something more exciting or interesting than the truth.

Mr. Lane’s solicitor said that the police had put two and two together and made five.

11. read between the lines

If you read between the lines, you understand what someone really means, or what is really happening in a situation, even though it is not stated openly.

He didn’t go into details, but reading between the lines it appears that he was forced to leave.

NOTE: You can also talk about what is between the lines.

He didn’t give a reason, but I sensed something between the lines.

12. take something on board

If you take an idea, suggestion, or fact on board, you understand it or accept it. [BRITISH]

NOTE: The literal meaning of this expression is to take something onto a boat or ship.

I listened to them, took their comments on board, and then made the decision.

 

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