Having taught English for more than 5 years, I often have to explain idioms and fixed expressions to my students. With the time I have come to realize that some of them will never be used outside the classroom or during an exam.
Others seem to be really useful and can make even not such a confident speaker of English sound more fluent. So here are some idioms and phrases that will definitely make a difference when speaking English in informal situations.
Instead of saying that something is easy and simple to do you may want to say: “it’s a piece of cake”. It’s a pretty common phrase and everybody appears to be using it these days so you should also give it a try.
When telling a particularly long story because you are getting tired or your friends are getting bored and you want to get to the end and spare a few details you may say: “To cut a long story short” and then finish with what actually happened. Use this next time you are telling a story in English.
When you want to say that something is exactly the opposite of something else say “It’s the other way round”. For example, somebody says “The Sun goes around the Earth” and somebody else corrects them by saying “No, it’s the other way round”.
When you mean that you had to do something all over again or from the beginning use “I had to start from scratch”. For example, you had a business, you went bankrupt and you lost all your money, so you had to start from scratch.
When saying that you had to work or study all night, say “I pulled an all-nighter”. It’s an Americanism but it’s universally understood.
When doubting something say “I smell something fishy” It means that the whole thing looks suspicious not that somebody has eaten fish.
If you want to say that you don’t know any details about something try using “Your guess is as good as mine” or “I have no idea”. The first one sounds more cultured and the second one is rather informal.
When you don’t like something say “It’s not my cup of tea” Terribly British, I know, but it’ll surely make you sound more sophisticated.
Finally, when you want to finish work for the day say to the people you are with: “Let’s call it a day”, which means that you will stop work for the day and continue tomorrow.
Check out the phrases from above on the Internet to see them in context and try to make use of them when communicating in English.
You can provide some more useful idioms in the comments below.