Often, we have seen people asking these similar questions every time – “Is there a difference between Idioms and Phrases?” But do you know what is actually the difference between the two? Well, these are two different terms that exist in the English grammar. One needs to identify themselves with the same at an early age because using them in your regular language helps you sound more like a native user of that language.

So, let’s learn this. But if we talk about the same in a short manner – All the idioms can be classified as Phrases but not all phrases can be identified as Idioms.

Without wasting any further time, let’s quickly jump into learning more about them.

What is the Difference Between Idioms and Phrases?

Idioms are expressions or phrases that have no literal meaning. They are an expression or a saying that has a figurative meaning which cannot be directly understood by reading every word.

For example – ‘The best of both worlds’ – which means you can enjoy two different opportunities at the same time.

Example – “By working part-time and looking after her kids two days a week she managed to get the best of both worlds.”

A phrase, on the other hand, is a compound verb where a verb is combined with an adverb or a preposition. These phrasal verbs often have idiomatic meanings which cannot be understood by just reading what each word means.

For example – Give someone a hand Help

Example: I need a developer like you to fix this issue. Can you give me a hand?

Are Idioms and Phrases Useful for the IELTS Exam?

While preparing for your IELTS exam, it is highly important for one to learn a variety of English idioms and phrases to sound more like a native user of the English language. Also, it’ll help you to clear your exam in one single attempt.

So, one should learn a variety of idioms and phrases to have a good impact on the examiner; that he’ll get an idea of how good your language is.

Also, when these idioms and phrases are used in the correct context, they help an individual to score 100% marks in his/her exams. Plus, it’ll be easy for you then, to talk to people abroad, in the country that you’ve decided to move to.

Also Read: IELTS Exam Preparation Online: Check out the Best Books, Preparation Tips, Exam Fee & More

Idioms Vs Phrases

Given below is a list of some of the common idioms vs phrases:

  • Would you cut me some slack? – Don’t be so hard on me.
  • Don’t cut any corners. – Don’t take any shortcuts and produce shoddy work.
  • She let things get out of hand. – She lets things get out of control.
  • I’m going back to the drawing board. – I’m going to start over.
  • Hang in there. – Stick with it.
  • Don’t jump the gun. – Don’t do something before the allotted time.
  • He decided to let her off the hook. – He decided to release her from her responsibility.

Now, let’s learn the difference between Idioms and Proverbs with the help of some examples.

But how do you identify the difference between Idioms and Phrases?

Also Read: Important General Words for IELTS Writing Task 2 and Its Synonyms: How & Why Are They Important?

How to Identify the Difference between Idioms and Phrases?

The difference between idioms and phrases cannot just be determined by reading the definition of the idioms as well as phrases, but instead refers to the figurative meaning that is known only through its common use.

For example – A popular idiom, i.e., “It’s raining cats and dogs.” If one is familiar with this particular phrase, they would know that it’s raining hard.

Also Read: Synonyms for IELTS Writing Task 2: Enhance Your IELTS Writing Score

Difference Between Idioms and Proverbs and Phrases

Given below are some examples of idioms with their usage shown through sentences.

‘Speak of the devil’ – this means that the person you’re just talking about actually appears at that moment.

Example – “Hi Tom, speak of the devil, I was just telling Sara about your new car.”

‘See eye to eye’ – this means agreeing with someone.

Example – “They finally saw eye to eye on the business deal.”

‘Once in a blue moon’ – an event that happens infrequently.

Example – “I only go to the cinema once in a blue moon.”

‘When pigs fly’ – something that will never happen.

Example – “When pigs fly she’ll tidy up her room.”

Now, let’s learn something about proverbs.

Proverbs are short saying that is widely used to express an obvious truth.


  1. A bird in hand is worth two in the bush which means that the things we have are more valuable than what we hope we get – In my opinion, you should have taken that job opportunity because a bird in hand is worth two in the bush.
  2. Absence makes the heart grow fonder which means that when people we love are not with us, we love them even more than before – When I was with her, she always fought with me but now the distance has made her heart grow fonder.

Examples for Phrases used in the English Language

  1. Noun Phrase: Friday became a cool, wet afternoon.
  2. Verb Phrase: Mary might have been waiting outside for you..
  3. Gerund Phrase: Eating ice cream on a hot day can be a good way to cool off.
  4. Infinitive Phrase: She helped to build the roof.
  5. Prepositional Phrase: In the kitchen, you will find my mom.

Also Read: Which Tense to Use in IELTS Writing Task 2? Know about Which Tense to Use and When to Use It


Till now, you have only scratched the surface but still, there are “n” numbers of idioms, phrases as well as proverbs to learn if you’ve decided to sit in the next IELTS exam.

Another piece of advice that one can follow is to notice and follow the native speakers of the English language to see how they are talking, behaving, and acting while talking to someone. While you’re doing this, don’t shy away to ask if you do not know the meaning of any word. Because that is only going to help you to learn something new in life.

The above article presents a list of some of the idioms and phrases that one can learn while they are preparing for their exam.

Hopefully, you have found this information useful and if you have any doubts, questions, or queries regarding the same; feel free to use the comments section below and let us know all about it because we’ll be more than happy to solve them all.

Also, don’t forget to check out our other blogs.

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About the Author

Sakshi Bachani

Sakshi Bachani is a freelance Content Writer and Teacher. She has completed her Bachelor's degree from Delhi University.. She has been a freelance teacher for the past five years and has worked towards helping young kids achieve their dreams. She had also worked as an Intern teacher with an NGO. Apart from writing and teaching, she really enjoys music, animals, and plants. She even has her own little garden which she loves very dearly and can be sometimes seen buying more plants for herself.

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