ESL Learning: Time Idioms

ETO Time

If you’ve ever watched the UFC, you may have heard the announcer, Bruce Buffer, yell, “It’s time!”

What does he mean when he says, “It’s time”?

In this blog post, we will discuss this saying and two other idioms related to time.

It’s time: now is the time to do something


  • Son, you’re 16 now. I think it’s time for you to start practicing your driving skills.

  • The mothers of the world say that it’s time for us to stop fighting each other.

Moment of truth: a situation that requires us to face a challenge and find out more about ourselves and our plans


  • Today we face a moment of truth. We will open our restaurant and start inviting customers to eat our delicious food! What will they think?

  • The people of Earth are having to face a moment of truth as we experience the negative effects of polluting our planet.

Now or never: something must be acted on now, because the opportunity may not remain for much longer

  • It’s now or never. We need to make sure that we leave our children with a truly better world.

  • If we really want to be happy, we must choose to be happy now or never.

ETO Hourglass


Well, it’s time to say goodbye for now. When you reach your moments of truth, remember that we all have challenges in life. It’s now or never for us as a planet to work together, and 2014 is the year of teamwork!

Why not join the ETO family? Let’s work together to make the world better. For a free class, just click here.

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By Joseph

ETO American English teacher


How to Talk About Time: 3 Idioms

Time is a topic that I am very fascinated with. For those of you who haven’t heard this word so far, “fascinated with” means very interested in.

Let talk about some time idioms:

ETO Time

Rome wasn’t built in a day.

  • As we learn a new language, we must be patient with ourselves. After all, Rome wasn’t built in a day.
  • When we are building our dreams, we have to take our time. As they say, Rome wasn’t built in a day.

Each of these sentences speaks about the idea that everything big and important requires lots of time to finish. The phrase is used to encourage people to be persistent (be willing to do things over and over again until we succeed). The Roman Empire was a huge group of nation states. It was the biggest empire in Europe before the European Union.

The main idea is that anything worth having requires time to create. By the way “building our dreams” describes when we take the time to focus on creating the things that we really desire (really, truly want).

It’s about time!

  • Ah, the train station has a healthy restaurant. It’s about time!
  • It’s about time for us to become better listeners.

This is a phrase that is used to describe that the time for something has arrived. Perhaps we were even feeling like the thing we are talking about should have already come in the past. In the first example, the speaker has been waiting for a healthy food option to be available at the train station. Maybe there were only junk food restaurants (restaurants with unhealthy food) before.

The second example describes how now is the time for us to listen better.


Now is the time.

  • Now is the time for me to improve my speaking!
  • Why wait? Now is the time for me to move forward.

This idiom describes how this moment is the perfect time to take action. There is no need to wait. The time has arrived for right action.

So Rome wasn’t built in a day, but it’s about time to think about the best ways for us to learn language.

Have you tried a free online English class with ETO? Now is the time!

There’s no time like the present! Notice how present, a word that we use to describe right now, also means gift. This moment is a gift for you.  Use it to benefit yourself and the generations to come, and you will be satisfied when it is your time to go.

Blessings for Long Life and Happiness in Every Moment.


By Joseph

ETO American English teacher

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ESL learning: Travel idioms


Today, we’re going to talk about idioms related to travel.

Travel is something that gives us a lot inspiration, and allows us to learn about the world and ourselves. Travel also helps us to experience more beauty.

As the old saying goes, a flower becomes more beautiful when we say that it is beautiful.

And this is true for travelling the world as well. So let’s get started.

Let’s hit the road

This phrase means to start a journey, to leave a place, or to go away from one’s home.

  • Our bags are packed, and my cousin is here to look after the house. It’s time to hit the road!

  • We want to be at the beach by tomorrow afternoon, so we should hit the road tomorrow morning about 10 am.

Off the beaten track

This is an idiom used to describe a place that is not visited very often.

  • Even though Namhae is off the beaten track for most foreigners, it is a beautiful part of South Korea!

  • It takes courage to travel off the beaten track, but as Robert Frost wrote, “I took the road less travelled by, and that has made all the difference.”

On the road again

This phrase means that we are travelling another time, looking for more adventure, experience, fun, and beauty.

  • We’re on the road again, and we’re having so much fun!

  • I can’t wait to get on the road again!

Do you want to hit the road, get off the beaten track or get out on the road again? There are opportunities for you to work from so many beautiful parts of the world. Use English as your vehicle to get there!

If this was interesting or useful to you, you may also be interested in many of our new English topics at EnglishTutorOnline. Get started with a free class today!

By Joseph

ETO American English teacher

War & Peace Idioms


In 1969, Edwin Starr sang a song called War for Motown Records. It became a big hit*, popular in the United States and many parts of the world, and its chorus is:

*A big hit is a song that is very popular in a country or in the world.

War! What is it good for? Absolutely nothing!

Today, many people around the world agree with this song. But while we are finally starting to figure out how to live peacefully with each other on this planet, we still have to learn the idioms around war. Just for fun, though, I’ve included one about peace.

All is fair in love and war

This idiom is used to explain that in war and in romantic relationships, many people used to think that tricking others was okay to do. Living in the age of the internet and the International Criminal Court, the idea that it is acceptable to lie during war or during relationships is quickly changing. In English, we call this new inability to lie to each other transparency.

Friendly fire

In English, we use friendly fire to describe when a person is shot accidentally (or on purpose) by a person from his own army or an allied force. This idiom is also used to describe soldiers who are accidentally killed by bombings, artillery fire, and/or explosions that came from one’s fellow soldiers or a friendly force. Of course, to those who are wounded or killed by friendly fire, it does not feel friendly at all!

Give peace a chance

This phrase became popular during the Peace movement of the 1950s and 1960s, and it suggests that we do our best to find a different way to create a solution, without violence or disrespect. John Lennon and Yoko Ono recorded a song with the same name in 1969 that became very popular.


In conclusion, English is a language that was used during colonization and imperialism, a time during history in which the British and Americans took over huge parts of the planet. Back then, it was a language of war. But now, it has become a language of peace.

Today, most Americans and British people believe that war is not the answer to solving our problems. English is also a language that is now used to communicate and collaborate between people from Korea and Japan, Israel and Palestine, or France and Germany. The movement for peace, justice, and working together in the world is now being communicated in English.

Do you know any more War or Peace idioms to share? We invite you to leave your comments on this blog. We’d love to hear about it.

Would you like to create more peace, wealth, and success in your life? Sign up for a free class with ETO here. In the meantime, please stay subscribed to our Facebook, YouTube & Twitter pages!!

By Joseph

ETO American English teacher

Image credit (second): War_Peace by Davidmartindel


ESL Learning: Weather Idioms

How’s the weather where you are today?

Let’s talk about some idioms related to the weather.

It’s raining cats and dogs: this is a phrase used to describe very heavy rain. Very, very heavy rain, so heavy that it sounds like animals are landing on the roof! Some people claim that the origin of this phrase is the Greek “cata doxa”, which translates to something like ‘beyond previous experience or belief’.


There is also a sadder explanation for the beginning of this phrase in English. Long ago, before we had good rain drains in cities, many cats and dogs would die during heavy rain because they would drown in suddenly flooded streets. In English, we call sudden flooding flash floods.

Nowadays, “it’s raining cats and dogs” can be used for any time when it is raining unusually hard.


  • The weather report says that it will be raining cats and dogs tonight. We better not go to the soccer game.

  • Oh my gosh! It’s raining cats and dogs out there! My clothes are totally soaked!

  • When it’s raining cats and dogs, it’s important to be careful while driving. Some drivers will slow down suddenly, and others may panic. You may want to pull off the road until the rain slows down, if it is safe to do so.

Come rain or shine: we use this phrase to express that it doesn’t matter what the weather will be like. It is often used to let someone know that he or she can depend on us (or is expected) to be somewhere despite any challenges, including bad weather.  This phrase may also be expressed as rain or shine or come rain or come shine.

come rain or shine


  • I’m going to meet you here at 10 am, come rain or shine.

  • Although there were protests throughout the city, my taxi driver got me to the airport. He’s the  best! He always gets me there, rain or shine.

  • Come rain or come shine, no matter what comes, a good husband will be loyal to his wife, as long as she is loyal to him.

How’s the weather up there?: this phrase is used to ask the literal (exactly as the words suggest) question about the weather when someone is at a higher elevation. It can also be used when someone short is speaking to someone taller. Be careful not to ask this question to someone who is embarrassed of being tall. This phrase can also be used when a short person is positioned higher than you are, like a child who is sitting on his father’s shoulders.

  • Wow! You must really be enjoying your vacation to the mountains! How’s the weather up there?

  • Hey, Shaq! How’s the weather up there?


No matter how the weather is, ETO is here for our clients. So come rain or come shine, you can count on us. It may be raining cats and dogs, but you can have an exceptional class from the comfort of your own home. Check out what our clients have to say about us!

We’re happy to be at your service in any weather!

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By Joseph

ETO American English teacher

ESL Learning: Work idioms

Love it or hate it, we’ve all got work to do in our lives.

Let’s talk about some phrases and idioms that we use around work.

work ethics

Tremendous work ethic/Great work ethic: dearly valuing hard work, and able to work hard for long amounts of time. Someone who has a tremendous work ethic will most likely succeed after learning to direct his or her actions well.


  • She works two jobs in a row, and still comes home and cooks dinner! She has a tremendous work ethic.

  • You must develop a great work ethic to succeed in business.

  • He does not have a great work ethic, so he was happy to find a job where he did not have to work too hard.

Work smart: use logic and strategy to do your work in the best possible way.


  • Because he learned to work smart, he does not have to work so hard.

  • One way to work smart is to find ways that we are wasting time in our work.

  • She decided to work smart, and started having a personal assistant answer her company’s emails.

midnight oil

Burn the midnight oil OR Burn the midnight lamp: work late into the night. Often, artists and musicians say that they do some of their best work late at night.

To explain the root of the phrases ‘burn the midnight oil’ and ‘burn the midnight lamp’. Before the times of electricity, we, of course, used oil lamps to light our homes after the sun had set.


  • The project is due tomorrow, so we might have to burn the midnight oil to complete it.

  • Some people are sleepy the next day after they burn the midnight oil.

  • “I continue to burn the midnight lamp, all alone.” –Jimi Hendrix

Jimi Hendrix, considered to be one of the best American guitarists of all time, even has a song called “Burning of the Midnight Lamp:

Jimi Hendrix was famous for burning the midnight oil in the music studio, often erasing his band mates’ tracks, re-recording while playing their instruments, and experimenting with new effects and alternate tuning for his guitar well into the morning hours.


Burning the candle at both ends: working (or playing) until late at night and getting up early in the morning.

A candle that burns at both ends will be finished quickly, and working (or playing) too hard and not getting enough sleep are considered to be bad for people’s health in English speaking cultures.


  • After five days of working 15 hour days, he slept almost all weekend. Too much burning the candle at both ends!

  • I’m going to sleep! I’ve got work in the morning, and I won’t be burning the candle at both ends!

  • Get some sleep, my dear; you don’t want to be burning the candle at both ends.

So in conclusion, remember to get enough sleep. It’s okay to burn the midnight oil sometimes, but don’t burn the candle at both ends!

It’s good to have a tremendous work ethic, but it’s even more important to work smart! Believe in yourself, and know that amazing things are in the works for you and ETO this year.

If this was interesting or useful to you, you may also be interested in many of our new English topics at EnglishTutorOnline. Get started with a free English class today!

Thanks for visiting our blog. May your work be successful, purposeful, and joyful in all that you do!

By Joseph

ETO American English teacher

Idioms & Slang- Needle in a Haystack

This post is part of an ongoing series of posts from our website that help you learn more about idioms and slang. Let’s learn about a needle in a haystack today!


Have you ever lost something? Have you ever looked for something that you could not find? Imagine trying to find one small single needle in a haystack! Wouldn’t that be very difficult? Of course it would!!!

So the next time you are trying to find something that is very hard to find you can say this is like finding a needle in a haystack.

What do I lose? There are two things that I am always looking for. They are my writing pens and my car keys. I have so many things in my office that finding a pen is like looking for a needle in a haystack.

Have you ever searched for a needle in a haystack?

What did/do you lose? Share with us in the comment section.

My last comments:

If you enjoy learning lots of new language for a range of topics, you might like our Social / Global English Program; it is packed with lots of unique classes & expressive language.

If you have never learned English online, but you want to try, please do not hesitate to book a free English class with ETO today!

In the meantime, please stay subscribed to our FacebookYouTube & Twitter pages.

Additional resource:

The idiom Dictionary: Here

By: Luke 

ETO American English teacher

Idioms & Slang – Count Your Blessings


This post is part of an ongoing series of posts from our website that help you learn more about idioms and slang.

Let’s get started

Do you feel lucky to be alive, lucky to have money or lucky to have two legs?

In this case we can say that we count our blessings.
This means we appreciate the things that we have.

It means we do not take things for granted.

My examples

I am happy to have a nice family, nice friends and a nice home.

I count my blessings every day.

Do you ever count your blessings?
If so, tell us in the comment box about the things you appreciate most.

Want to sound more like a native speaker of English?

Check out our class demo and see how natural and realistic our classes really are. Why not book a free English class with ETO today!

In the meantime, please stay subscribed to our FacebookYouTube & Twitter pages.

Other valuable resource:

The idiom Dictionary: Here

By: Luke 

ETO American English teacher

Idioms & Slang – What is a Cliché?


This post is part of an ongoing series of posts from the blog page on our website that help you learn more about idioms and slang. Let’s learn about clichés today!!!

What is a cliché?

A cliché is a certain kind of figurative language that we use a lot in spoken English. A cliché is basically a phrase or a sentence that is very similar to an idiom or a piece of American or English slang. Clichés are very useful but they should never be overused.


General clichés
What happens in the dark will come to the light.

Means: What you do in secret or privacy will eventually be seen by others.
No news is good news.

Means: Most news is bad & so long as there is no news, this means all is normal, which is good.

Descriptive clichés
That was crystal clear.
Means: Something if very clear and easy to understand.

He is colder than ice.
Means: He has a cold heart; he is mean or inconsiderate to others.

Funny clichés
That is the coolest thing since sliced bread.
Means: This means something is really useful, unique or really cool by any measure.

He is cooler than a fan.
Means: He is a very cool person.

I am cooler than a polar bear’s toenails.

Means: I am a very cool person.

Clichés about success and failure
When it rains it pours.

Means: Many bad things happen all at once.
It is not the end of the world.

Means: Failure is not so important and it is not going to stop everything from working.

The early bird catches the worm.

Means: People who do not wait get the most opportunities.

My last comments:

Please feel free to write in our comment box below your favorite clichés.

Also, check out our class demo and see how fun and realistic learning with a modern Native English Teacher can be.

If you have never learned English online, but you want to try, please do not hesitate to book a free English class with ETO today!

In the meantime, please stay subscribed to our FacebookYouTube & Twitter pages.

Other valuable resource:

The idiom Dictionary: Here 

By: Luke 

ETO American English teacher

Idioms & Slang – What is Figurative Language?

figurative language

If you want to understand English very well, you must know lots of figurative language.

Figurative language is language that does not reflect its literal meaning. Our ETO Courses are loaded with figurative language covering many topics.

A few popular examples of figurative speech

I know everyone in this city (actually I know many people but not all of them)

That man is a real snake (the man is immoral, but still a human in reality)

Can you give me a hand (means to give me help, not actually removing your hand)

What figurative language do you know?

Figurative language makes you sound more like a native speaker. Please feel free to share some other figurative language in our comment box.

Want to sound more like a native speaker of English?

Check out our class demo and see how natural and realistic our classes really are. Why not book a free English class with ETO today!

In the meantime, please stay subscribed to our FacebookYouTube & Twitter pages.

Other valuable resource:

The idiom Dictionary: Here

By: Luke 

ETO American English teacher