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Richard-Business Eng
Professional Teacher
Commonly used idioms, expressions, sayings, maxims, adages, cliches, and proverbs - PART 3

NOTE:  In my opinion, it is not necessary for an English learner to learn the definitions of idioms, expressions and sayings (as well as maxims, adages, cliches, and proverbs).  Frankly, I would call them all expressions and not worry about the specific definitions.

 The important things are that you:

1  hear/read them
2  recognize them and understand their meanings
3  use them if you feel confident that you are using them in the correct context (situations).



An expression of a general truth, principle, or rule of conduct.

2. A brief, well-known statement of a general and practical truth, especially one that serves as a rule of conduct or a precept.



- Neither a borrower nor a lender be.

- It is wise to risk no more than one can afford to lose



1. A short popular saying, usually of unknown and ancient origin, that expresses effectively some common truth or useful thought.

2. A simple, wise, and short saying, widely known, often metaphorical, which expresses a basic truth, based on common sense or cultural experience – sometimes originating from religion or religious writings.



“Honesty is the best policy.”

“A stitch in time saves nine.”

“Cleanliness is next to godliness.”

“Crime does not pay.”

“Do as I say, and not as I do.”

“Do unto others as you would like them to do unto you.”

“Don't count your chickens before they hatch.”

Aug 17, 2016 3:26 PM
Comments · 4
That's a good one, Alan! We also have the same expression, referring to He / She's a wolf in sheep's clothing = Él / Ella es un lobo con piel de cordero
August 19, 2016

Nice one Richard! My personal advice to learners is always to understand such idioms, but avoid using them themselves. They're far more context-specific and rarer than many textbooks claim. For example, I don't think I've ever heard anyone say "It's raining cats and dogs".

That being said, as Laura mentioned it's surprising how often you see exact equivalents in other languages. For instance, "He's a wolf in sheep's clothing" in Chinese is "He's a a sheep-skin-wearing wolf" (披着羊皮的狼)

August 18, 2016

Thank you @Richard for another nice lesson:)

I found the MAXIM a bit  mind twister when I read this sentence in one breath--It is wise to risk no more than one can afford to lose.

 The examples of PROVERB you have given are really nice and we use in our day-to-day life.So easy to remember and easy to use them in sentences and conversation.

Thank you once again @ Richard for your effort:)

August 17, 2016

I put all of them into the same "basket" even in Spanish: idioms, sayings, maxims, proverbs .... 

I really like that proverb: A stitch in time saves nine and Do as I say and not as I do. In fact this last one could be translated literally into Spanish because we have the same proverb.

Thanks you for this enlightening discussions :)

August 17, 2016
Richard-Business Eng
Language Skills
English, French
Learning Language