Learn 7 English idioms for describing problems!
How’s your day?
Is everything going well?
Or are you having any problems?
There are lots of ways of dealing with problems:
you can ignore them, sleep on them (see idiom below), or discuss them.
Just so you can talk about your problems, we’re going to help you learn
7 English idioms for describing problems!
Then, after listening to the definitions and example sentences, try our quiz below to see how much you can remember.
Level: Intermediate to Advanced (B1-C1)
Sleep on it
Not to make an immediate decision but to wait until the next day in order to have more time to think about it.
“You don’t have to decide right now, just sleep on it and let me know what you think tomorrow morning.”
Use a sledgehammer to crack a nut
To use more force or spend more money than is necessary.
“Sixty armed police officers stormed into the building looking for the elderly tourists. It was like using a sledgehammer to crack a nut.”
Let sleeping dogs lie
Not to talk about things which have caused problems in the past; not to try to change a situation because it might cause more problems. If you wake up the “sleeping dog”, it might attack you.
“The government felt it was best to ignore the situation and just let sleeping dogs lie.”
Come up against a brick wall / Hit a brick wall
To be unable to continue an activity because there is an obstacle or problem to deal with.
“The new law means that this building can’t be used as a factory or office, so we have to stop working and move out asap. We’ve hit a brick wall!”
Be up in the air
If something is “up in the air”, no decision has been taken about it.
“They still haven’t decided where to get the new office. It’s all still up in the air.”
A bone of contention
Something controversial that people spend a lot of time arguing or fighting about.
“Deciding who would end up with the house in the country and who would get the flat in the city was the main bone of contention.”
We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it
We’ll deal with that problem at the appropriate moment.
“Don’t worry about how we’re going to finance the project – we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.”
Now try our quick exercise to see how much you can remember! Answers below.
1 If no decision has been taken about a problem, this problem is still up in the _______.
2 If you don’t talk about things which have caused problems in the past, or, you don’t try to change a situation because it might cause more problems, you let sleeping _______ lie.
3 If you decide to deal with a problem at the appropriate moment and not before, you decide to cross that _______ when you come to it.
4 If you don’t make an immediate decision about a problem but wait until the next day so you can have more time to think about it overnight, you decide to _______ on it.
5 If you’re unable to continue an activity because there’s an obstacle or problem that you need to deal with, you’ve come up against a brick _______.
6 Something controversial that people spend a lot of time arguing or fighting about is a _______ of contention.
7 If someone uses more force or spends more money than is necessary in order to resolve a problem, they use a sledgehammer to crack a _______.
Air, dogs, bridge, sleep, wall, bone, nut
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