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14 Idioms and Expressions related to LEARNING

Hi dear English learners! Are you learning for your exams? I prepared 14 idioms and expressions related to learning which can be extremely useful, especially if you are planning to take IELTS, FCE or CAE exams. 

My students sometimes ask me how many idioms there are in English and whether they have to know them all or what percentage of them they need to know. I usually advise them to learn the most common ones for starters and build up their knowledge of idioms, phrasal verbs, collocations and other phrases in time; just like any other vocabulary.

14 idioms and expressions related to learning

How to learn idioms and other expressions?

Some idiomatic expressions may sound a bit difficult to understand from the context so you need to look them up in the dictionary and try to understand their meaning.  When you do that, look for example sentences. It’s a good idea to keep a small idioms diary and add your idioms and other phrases to it together with their meanings and example sentences. If you find it difficult to understand or remember it, it may help to look up its origin and read more about it. Once you understand and memorize your phrase the most important thing is to use it in your writings or speech. You’ll be surprised how many idioms and other expressions you can learn this way.

Let’s look at our expressions related to learning :

  • Brush up on something
  • Rack my brains
  • Hit the books
  • Learn something by heart
  • Bookworm
  • Make sense of something
  • On the tip of my tongue
  • Go in one ear and out the other
  • Burn the candle at both ends
  • Burn a midnight oil
  • Pull an all-nighter
  • A piece of cake
  • A walk in the park
  • A breeze

14 idioms and expressions related to learning

Brush up on something

To brush up on something or to brush something up is a phrasal verb which means to improve your knowledge of something you’ve partly or mostly forgotten. 

  • I need to brush up on my Spanish before I go on holiday.
  • You are having a driving test on Monday. Shouldn’t you brush up on traffic rules and regulations at weekend?

Rack your brain

If you rack your brain or brains, you are trying very hard to remember something. 

  • I’ve racked my brain trying to remember where I’d left the keys.
  • Programming is not an easy job. You’ll rack your brains before you learn how to do it right.

14 idioms and expressions related to learning

Hit the books

If you hit the books then you study really hard.

  • Don’t you think it’s time to stop playing games and hit the books?
  • My exam is in two days. Sorry, I can’t go out with you. I’d better hit the books.

Learn something by heart

To learn something by heart means to memorize it so that you can reproduce it without much thinking about it.

  • Milly is going to recite the poem she’d learned by heart at the school performance.
  • Actors usually learn their lines by heart before their rehearsals.

14 idioms and expressions related to learning

Bookworm

A bookworm is a person who reads a lot.

  • Our twelve-year-old daughter is such a bookworm. She reads books every day.
  • I was a real bookworm when I was younger. I remember reading books all the time, in transport, while waiting in queues, and even while eating.

Make sense of something

If you make sense of something then you can understand something complicated.

  • I like to watch a scientific programme on TV but I can’t always make sense of it.
  • Can you make sense of that book? What do you think the writer wants to tell us?

14 idioms and expressions related to learning

On the tip of your tongue

Sometimes you can’t remember something immediately and if you say that it’s on the tip of your tongue it means that you will soon remember it.

  • I can’t remember what’s the name of the hotel we stayed in but it’s on the tip of my tongue. I’ll tell you as soon as I think of it.
  • I hate it when something is on the tip of my tongue but it won’t come to mind.

Go in one ear and out the other

If something goes in one ear and out the other, then you forget it quickly.

  • You never listen to me. Everything I tell you goes in one ear and out the other.
  • You should focus on the lecture and make notes if you can’t remember. Don’t allow things to go in one ear and out the other.

14 idioms and expressions related to learning

Burn the candle at both ends

Sometimes, when the exams are near, you stay up all night or all day learning with very little sleep. That’s when you can say that you burned the candle at both ends.

  • I may have burned the candle at both ends, but I passed all my exams. 
  • You should start studying earlier if you don’t want to burn the candle at both ends before the exam.

Burn the midnight oil

To burn the midnight oil means to work or study until late at night.

  • “You look tired.” “Yeah, I burned the midnight oil last night.”
  • Being a good student means that sometimes you have to burn the midnight oil and study until late at night.

14 idioms and expressions related to learning

Pull an all-nighter

This is a similar idiom. It refers to studying all night.

  • I’ll go to bed as soon as I get home. I’m so tired because I pulled an all-nighter last night.
  • Mark and I pulled an all-nighter last night trying to make up all the studying we’d missed.

If something is easy to learn we say that it is a piece of cake, a walk in the park or a breeze.

  • It’s a piece of cake to learn irregular verbs in English.
  • Compared with my Biology exam, English was a walk in the park.
  • For such an experienced driver, learning to ride a motorbike is supposed to be a breeze.

14 Idioms and expressions related to learning

  • Brush up on something
  • Rack my brains
  • Hit the books
  • Learn something by heart
  • Bookworm
  • Make sense of something
  • On the tip of my tongue
  • Go in one ear and out the other
  • Burn the candle at both ends
  • Burn a midnight oil
  • Pull an all-nighter
  • A piece of cake
  • A walk in the park
  • A breeze

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Idioms and expressions related to learning
Idioms and expressions related to learning
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