We love doing sequel posts, especially when it’s a sequel to a post you guys loved so much! This week, we pulled eight more common English proverbs, so that you can be speaking like a native in no time. Why not try learning one proverb a day? Just in the last week I’ve noticed how often I use them subconsciously (without thinking)!
A proverb is a saying or idiom that usually has a life lesson or piece of wisdom (knowledge) attached to it. They are so ingrained (planted, deep) in our daily language that one hardly notices they are sayings!
Two wrongs don’t make a right
Even though in math it’s possible for two negatives to make a positive, in life, two wrongs don’t make everything all right (back to normal, okay) again. This proverb means that if you do something wrong, doing a second thing wrong won’t always make the situation better. Many times, people who are angry do something for revenge (hurt the person who hurt you), but neither party usually feels good about it in the end.
If something’s going wrong, do your best to try again and make the situation better! That’s hard to do sometimes, I know..
Better late than never
This is a proverb that my high school teachers never liked hearing. It means that it’s better to do something late, than to never do it at all. And while this may be true for some things (like signing up for your first English class), it’s definitely not true for that essay you were supposed to turn in two weeks ago.
Birds of a feather flock together
Do you and your friends have similar interests and hobbies? That’s because birds of a feather flock together. A group of birds is called a flock. So, in layperson (simple) terms, people who like the same things tend to (usually) spend time with each other.
Enjoy spending time with your flock this week, especially as the weather is getting nicer! Whoo hoo!
A picture is worth a thousand words
Have you ever seen a photo and found it hard to describe? Perhaps the picture was incredibly beautiful, or the emotions in the faces of the subjects (people in the pictures) were difficult to explain. In these cases, we would say a picture is worth a thousand words! This means that pictures can be better at describing a situation than words can.
So take those photos! They definitely last longer and usually can show very fine details that, perhaps, we have no words for.
(Speaking of situations and emotions we have no words for, check out this great list I found recently. I had no idea that Jouska was a way to describe, “a hypothetical situation that you compulsively play out in your head.” I posted it here on our Twitter page.)
A watched pot never boils
Were you ever very hungry and waiting for the water to boil for some pasta, but it seemed to take forever? This is exactly what this proverb means! It’s better to busy yourself when you’re waiting for something, as it will make time seem to go by faster- or at least you won’t notice how long it takes.
Beggars can’t be choosers
I’ve been in situations before (as I’m sure many of us have) where I was desperate (really, really in need) for something, and the outcome (result, end) wasn’t quite as I had hoped. In such a situation when you really need something, sometimes you can’t choose what the outcome is.
If someone helps you by giving you whatever you need, then you can’t be too picky (unsure, not happy) about their gift. It might not be exactly what you wanted, but, beggars can’t be choosers.
For example, if you have nothing to write with, but all I have is a thick, pink pen to offer you, then you have to be satisfied with my pen…or you have nothing. You can’t ask me to find you something else!
Don’t worry, though. It might just motivate you to make the situation better on your own accord.
Easy come, easy go
If you’ve ever been the lucky winner of a lottery, you might find that it’s easy come, easy go with your winnings. When things happen easier, it’s also easy for them to go away.
Be a bit cautious (careful) and put some effort into the things you do. This might help you keep them a bit longer.
If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em
The best example of this proverb I can think of is the movie Grease. It’s a classic case of if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. In life you might find that as great as it is to be an individual, it can be easier to change your attitude about something and do what others are doing.
For the record, however, while this may be the case, I’m of the opinion that it’s always best to stay true to yourself!
Have you heard any of these proverbs before? Is there one proverb you can see yourself using or that you already use? Do you have any of these in your language? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!
Erin Duffin lives in Berlin, is an English teacher, yoga instructor, and has learned most of the lessons in these proverbs the hard way!