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Proverbs are wise sayings in a language based on the practical experiences of
different kinds. They can mostly be used independently to explain a situation
in very few words.
Here are some common proverbs used in English which you can also use in your
day to day talks to cut the long talk short and still convey it with same
1. Absence makes the heart grow fonder – Our love for the loved
ones grows more with the distance.
The two brothers deeply wish to meet as they haven’t seen each other since 10
years. After all, absence makes the heart grow fonder.
2. Accidents will happen in the best regulated families –
Unforeseen can happen with anybody.
You need to be extremely cautious with electricity – The accidents will happen
in the best regulated families.
3. Actions speak louder than words – What people do shows more
about them than what they just say.
Hearing about her friend’s illness, she directly reached the hospital with a
cheque of 50,000 Rs/-. Her concern was evident – after all, actions speak
louder than words.
4. Appearances are deceptive – Internal truth of a person is
usually different from what is visible outside.
You should not believe strangers immediately. Appearances can be deceptive.
5. Never judge by appearances – Don’t use looks as the
criteria to assess someone.
I saw the CEO of a big blue chip company hanging out with his friends at a
local market in casual attire. Its true that you can’t judge someone by their
6. An apple a day keeps the doctor away – An apple eaten
everyday keeps you in good health.
My father has always stayed in a good health with his habit of eating an apple
everyday. For him, An apple a day keeps the doctor away has worked well.
7. Art is long, life is short. – Life is too short to learn
all the art in this world.
She always complained of getting bored. I advised her to learn some music or
painting. After all, Art is long, life is short.
8. Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater – Be careful to
not throw away good things with bad while cleaning.
She deleted some useful files also along with the useless ones while cleaning
her computer. I had advised her to be careful and not throw the baby out with
9. You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours – If you help me,
I’ll help you.
America is pushing the Indian government for FDI in retail. Indian government
will get the foreign currency while America gets a big market for its goods.
The principle is simple – You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours.
10. Beauty is only skin deep – Never judge by appearance – A
good looking woman may not necessarily be good by character.
My daughter-in-law is very beautiful but very cunning – Beauty is only skin
11. As you make your bed, so you must lie in it. – Be prepared
to face the consequences of your wrong actions.
To full his dreams, he had left his parents alone in their old age. Now his son
wants to go abroad with his wife and settle there. He has made his bed, now he
must life in it.
12. Honesty is the best policy – Being truthful saves you from
many problems. It is the best thing to do.
You may make a quick buck with dishonest means but ultimately you may not get a
good night’s sleep. Honesty is the best policy to follow for a happy life.
13. Beggars can’t be choosers – A needy person should accept
what is offered without complaining.
She was complaining about the amount of money they had sent. I asked her to
accept gratefully what she has got – Beggar’s can’t be choosers.
14. Big is beautiful – Large size is advantageous.
One way to separate good fruits from bad is the size. Big is beautiful.
15. Birds of a feather flock together – People with similar
qualities, seek each other’s company.
I am sure she must be a genius doctor. She is a close friend of Dr. Ram, who
referred me to her – Birds of a feather flock together.
16. The early bird catches the worm – The quicker one/ first
in line gets the opportunities.
He reached first and picked up the best deal. The early bird caught the worm.
17. Once bitten, twice shy – From experience, we learn to
avoid situation causing trouble or distress.
Its three years since she divorced her husband. Everyone is forcing her to
re-marry but she doesn’t want to. Once bitten, twice shy is the situation she
18. There’s a black sheep in every family – One member in
every family doesn’t fit into the characteristic of the family.
My son is the black sheep of our family. All of us are very talkative while he
is very reserve.
19. Two blacks don’t make a white – You can not justify
something wrong you have done because someone else has also done it.
You can not justify your late night parties just because your friend attends
them. Two blacks don’t make a white.
20. If the blind lead the blind, both shall fall- If a person
lacking in some expertise leads others, all of them shall fail.
They mistook me to be a great singer and sent their children to learn singing.
If a blind leads the blind, both shall fail.
21. In the country of the blind, the one eyed man is king –
The person with a little ability in a group of those with absolutely no ability
is at an advantage.
In the whole group, Marie is the only one who knows the basics of coding. She
is like that one eyed man who is a king in the country of blind.
22. There are none so blind as those who will not see – It is
useless explaining those who do not want to understand.
Her son usually misbehaves with the relatives but she doesn’t find anything
wrong in him. There are none so blind as those who will not see.
23. Blood is thicker than water – Family relationship is
stronger than others.
His brother was aware about his life threatening ailment but he did not call up
even once to inquire and they say blood is thicker than water.
24. Half a loaf is better than no bread – Be grateful for what
you get rather than complaining for what you don’t have.
Judiciously use the money your father sends you rather than complaining for the
things he can’t afford. Half a loaf is better than no bread.
25. You can’t make bricks without straws – You can’t
accomplish something without the right material.
Of course, you need to study hard to win a gold medal. You can’t make bricks
26. Don’t cross a bridge until you come to it – Don’t try to
deal with anticipated problems. Let them become realities.
The team captain was asked if he believes there are any match fixers in his
team and would he like to drop them. He replied, I don’t think so about any of
my boys. We have to wait for that bridge to come to cross it.
27. If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it – If something is working
well, don’t try to improve upon it.
He has already made a name for himself in the society. His new campaign was
absolutely un-required as the results tell us. I had told him, if it isn’t
broken, don’t fix it.
28. A new broom sweeps clean - A new person at a new position
implements an aggressive and enthusiastic reform.
The new Marketing manager got a new advertising strategy implemented for a
complete makeover in the brand image of the company. The results are awesome.
The new broom has worked for them.
29. Let bygones be bygones – Forget you past complains and
start over afresh.
There’s no way you can save your relationship with your brother unless you let
bygones be bygones.
30. If the cap fits, wear it – Accept the words of criticism
if you think they are correct.
There was a major goof up in deal. The boss said, the cap fits me and I am
ready to wear it. Let’s get on to fix the problem now.
31. Don’t count your chickens before they are hatched – One
should not assume himself to be successful, unless the actual result is out.
The deal is not final yet, we don’t want any publicity for it right now. So,
keep the information confidential and let’s not count the chickens before they
32. Every cloud has a silver lining – Look for positivity in
every tough situation.
The silver lining to the cloud is that untimely high tide will help all the
debris of ship wreck to be thrown out to the sea shore in next few hours.
33. Cut your coat according to your cloth – Adjust your
expenditures according to your income.
She wanted to buy the biggest house in the area but the mother advised her to
cut her coat according to the cloth.
34. Comparisons are odious – Comparing once person with
another make them feel offensive.
Mark pulled up this project way better than Phillip could was the boss’s
statement in the meeting. Phillip felt belittled – obviously comparisons are
35. You’ve got to be cruel to be kind – For the benefits in
long term, you may need to do something unpleasant at present.
To instil the virtues of good behaviour and discipline in your children may
need you to be cruel to be kind.
36. Desperate diseases demand desperate remedies – Big
problems need bold and extremes steps to solve them.
Terrorist attacks in the country city were on the rise. Realising that
desperate diseases require desperate remedies, the home ministry ordered a
death sentence to the two most deadly terrorists.
37. Speak the truth and shame the devil – Avoid speaking lies
to save any future problems.
You seem to be not so serious about your relationship with her. I’m sorry if it
offends you but being her friend, I have got to speak he truth and shame the
38. Love me, love my dog – If you love me, you must accept me
as I am.
Knowing that her love for boxing will consume most of her time, he married her.
She had already told him, for a successful relationship if you love me, you
have got to love my dog.
39. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket – Redistribute your
resources. Don’t keep all your hopes on one.
The boss re-structured the team and re-distributed the accounts. He did not
want to put all his eggs in one basket.
40. The eye is bigger than the belly – The visual appeal of
the food tempts us to eat more even when we have no appetite.
Delicacies from all over the world were served in the party. I had had as much
as I could but couldn’t resist eating the ice cream as the eye is bigger than
41. Forbidden fruit is the sweetest - If something is
forbidden, our attraction to do that increases all the more.
If you prevent your child from eating chocolates, he will be all the more
attracted to eat them. Forbidden fruits are often the sweetest ones. So, limit
them but don’t ban them.
42. Man proposes but God disposes – We may make plans but
can’t control the outcome.
They had got their tickets reserved for the pilgrimage but had to cancel it due
to heavy snow fall. God disposed their proposal.
43. All that glitters is not gold – Everything that looks good
is not necessarily good. Don’t judge things by looks.
My colleague was very good and polite to me on face but he kept complaining
about my every small mistake to the boss. All that glitters is not gold.
44. The grass is always greener on the other side – Applies to
people who are always dissatisfied.
She always thought her friends were extremely happy in foreign countries but in
reality they were just making the ends meet. Her husband told her that grass is
always greener on the other side.
45. Beware of Greeks bearing gifts – Be careful of rival’s
They are biggest political rivals in the area but James speaking good of
David’s plan to combat terrorism made Dave suspicious of John’s Greek gifts.
46. Handsome is as handsome does – Deeds define a man’s
My father was a man of principles and he always lived up to them. Since
childhood, he taught us, your actions speak for you because handsome is as
47. Give a man enough rope and he’ll hang himself – If you
give excess freedom to someone they will eventually make themselves fall in
He gave his children a lot of freedom. However, the younger one got into a bad
company and became a drug addict. He hung himself with the enough rope his
father had given him.
48. Make hay while the sun shines – If you get an opportunity,
you must try to take immediate benefit out of it.
The world renowned physics scientist was visiting the college. Trying to make
the hay while sun was shining, I decided to show him my research papers and ask
him for an opportunity to work under him.
49. The road to hell is paved with good intentions – Without
actions, good intentions are useless.
The idea to build a network joining all the water bodies in the country was a
great one but the road to hell was paved with them never being put into action.
50. A swarm of bees in May is worth a load of hay – Right
activity in the season produces good yield.
The paddy crop was a major failure this year. It did not rain sufficiently at
right time – A swarm of bees in May is worth a load of hay.
Short reading comprehension, by Irina
Find this and other readings exercises in English Exercises .org
Sumo Wrestling: Reading and Listening Comprehension, by Judit Jékel
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´And Europe´s Worst Linguists Are…´ (Author-Bouabdellah), by Bouabdellah
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