C1 and C2 English Idioms

C1 and C2 English Idioms

You really need to be on the ball if you’re going to follow this lesson because I am going to teach you different C1 and C2 idioms to help you build your vocabulary and improve your skills when having a casual conversation.

On the ball

So, let’s begin with an idiom that I’ve already mentioned which is on the ball and to be on the ball is a C1 idiom and it means to be quick to understand and react to things.

So, it’s like you’re just really ready and alert. And often this idiom is going to follow the verb to “be” and you could use it in the affirmative. And say, look, you really need to be on the ball for the important meeting tomorrow.

Or you may hear people use it in the negative and say something like, well, he didn’t sleep much last night, so today he’s just not on the ball.

I always try to be on the ball when I come up with these lessons I try to react and always give you the best information, provide some nuance.

So, throughout the lesson I’m going to tell you the meaning of each idiom. Plus, I‘ll talk a little bit about how it’s used.

In this lesson, we’re looking at both C1 and C2 idioms. These are Cambridge’s highest levels of proficiency, and we’re going to start with C1 idioms and then move into some more challenging C2 idioms.

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And look, I’m confident that if you learn these idioms, you’re going to be able to pass any type of exam IELTS, TOEFL, it doesn’t matter.

Flying colors

I really think you’ll be able to pass any of these exams with flying colors, and that is the next idiom that I want to teach you with flying colors.

This means to do something such as pass an exam successfully. And often you’re going to use this with the verb “pass”, to pass with flying colors. It’s a common collocation.

To pass something with flying colors, well, you passed the vetting process with flying colors. You passed the breathalyzer with flying colors.

Now, if someone were to test your pronunciation and speaking fluency, I’m sure that you would like to pass with flying colors.

Turn a blind eye

The next one that I have for you is to turn a blind eye. This means to ignore something that you know is wrong. And unfortunately, I think we can all relate to this idiom.

You see something that you know is wrong, but you don’t say anything. You don’t do anything; you turn a blind eye. You may follow this idiom with the preposition “to” to turn a blind eye to something.

The teacher turned a blind eye to cheating during the quiz. Or maybe I know that Emmy stole the cookie, but I decided to turn a blind eye to the situation. 

For years, the government turned a blind eye to the recruitment of immigrants by the meatpacking industry.

Obviously, I’m not going to turn a blind eye, no matter how absurd I find all of this.

The easy way out

Then we have the easy way out. I really like this idiom. Who does not like the easy way out? So, this really refers to what is easiest in a difficult situation.

And often you may use this idiom with the verb take. To take the easy way out. Have you ever taken the easy way out? When it comes to these vocabulary lessons, I try not to take the easy way out and just teach simple, basic vocabulary.

I try to tackle some advanced words and phrases and give you nuance and context. And to give you some context as to how this idiom is used.

I have some news headlines for you, LeBron James taking the easy way out on offense. Are regulators about to take the easy way out and declare CBDA drug?

African currencies are crashing and there’s no easy way out.

How on earth?

How on earth? What on earth? Why on earth? This is a great idiom for conveying some emotion. It’s used when you’re extremely surprised, confused, or angry about something.

How on earth did this happen? Why on earth are you changing jobs? What on earth is that?

I told you that this idiom can convey emotion.

And when that happens, people may emphasize the individual words and possibly even speak slower, in which case you’re not really going to link the words together.

What on earth are you doing? How on earth did you get that?

But if somebody is speaking casually and naturally, they may say it a little faster and, in that case, we can link some of these words. So, what on earth or where on earth?

Why on earth would we have sex? Why on earth would you turn around and give the contract to the Chinese? How on earth is that possible?

In light of or really in the light of something

And then there’s in light of or really in light of something.

And this means because of or as a result of, and typically it’s something that you learn about or become aware of, and therefore a change is going to be made.

So, I could say in light of recent events, we cancelled the match, and this is a good collocation with this idiom.

In light of recent events, you may be thinking in light of learning new vocabulary.

C2 Idioms

Let’s move on to those C 2 idioms, which may not be as common, but they’re great to learn because they’re really going to help you express your thoughts, opinions, and feelings, like this next idiom, which is at the end of your rope.

At the end of your rope.

It means having no strength or patience left. And it’s a great way to emphasize that. And of course, you can replace that possessive pronoun with others. My rope, his rope, her rope. But I could say I’m at the end of my rope.

I hate to do this, but kind of at the end of my rope I need to borrow some money. I was at the end of my rope. The financial pressure was crazy. You’re not giving me a lot of direction here.

I’m at the end of my row to the bitter end. This is a great idiom. It means until something is finished and it’s not always interchangeable with that.

Meaning if I’m eating something, I could say yeah, I’m going to eat my food until it is finished. I wouldn’t say I’m going to eat my food until the bitter end.

That just sounds really awkward. So, you’re really going to use this idiom when talking about an outcome that may not always be the one that you want, but you’re going to keep going.

We may not meet the deadline, but we’re going to work to the bitter end. You’re just going to keep fighting and fight is a verb that’s often used with this idiom.

It’s a common collocation to fight to the bitter end.

To fight to the bitter end

Let me show you. Southampton boss vows to fight to the bitter end. Youngsville police chief will fight until the bitter end. In proposed investigation, nurses warn of more strike dates in January as they fight to the bitter end.

Get off on the right or wrong foot

Next idiom is to get off on the right or wrong foot, and this just means to make a successful or unsuccessful start in something. Now it’s more common to use it in the negative and say that something got off on the wrong foot.

The team did not get along, so the project got off on the wrong foot. It’s also commonly used when talking about relationships to people.

When meeting each other doesn’t go well, It’s unsuccessful. It got off on the wrong foot. Why are you being so nice to me all of a sudden? I’m sorry we got off on the wrong foot.

We got off on the wrong foot here, and I believe it’s because we’re just too damn similar. You do? Absolutely.

Way over the top

Way over the top for something that may be exaggerated.

I could say it was supposed to be a friendly competition, but his performance was a bit over the top.

And that’s another good word you can use with this idiom.

Our acting was way over the top. What are you talking about? We were totally believable.

This is like secret agent stuff. I think safe room is a bit over the top. Ed thought with the 2 little ones. You can never be too cautious.

What do you think of my new theater? Get over the top.

Crack of dawn

The next idiom at the crack of dawn. This just means very early in the morning, usually the time when the sun first appears.

So, it’s a great way to emphasize that you’re up really early.

I could say this morning, I got up at the crack of dawn or we’ll have to get up at the crack of dawn for our flight.

I hate it when that happens, or my grandfather has been up since the crack of dawn

Have you ever gotten up at the crack of dawn?

Let me know down in the comments.

Change of heart

And then there’s change of heart. This is when you change your opinion or the way you feel about something, basically like a reversal in your attitude. And there are three things. That I want to point out when it comes to this idiom.

#1. overwhelmingly you will use this with the verb have. To have a change of heart

#2. I want to stress that this idiom really involves feelings, so you’re not always going to use it anytime.

You just change your mind. So, if I told you look this morning, I was going to make pancakes, but then I had a change of heart and I decided to cook some eggs instead, you’re not really going to use this idiom in that context.

I don’t have deep feelings when it comes to eggs or pancakes. But if I were to say something like she was going to sell her grandmother’s necklace, but she had a sudden change of heart, in this case, she has stronger feelings when it comes to this necklace. It’s more meaningful.

And that’s also a good collocation with this idiom, a sudden change of heart.

#3. Notice that because you’re talking about a change in your opinion or the way you feel most of the time people are going to use this in the past tense.

So, you would say that someone had a change of heart, or they had a sudden change of heart.

Review:

Idioms are a useful part of casual conversation, and I hope that learning these idioms will help your next conversation get off on the right foot.

And I know they can be difficult to learn, and I don’t want you to take the easy way out and avoid them. I want you to work hard to learn them.

I want you to fight until the bitter end. And even if you’re at the end of your rope and you’re thinking to yourself, how on earth am I going to learn all these different idioms?

Just take it one day at a time and try to learn and practice a little bit each and every day.

That way, the next time you have a conversation, you’re really going to be on the ball when it comes to using these idioms.

Now in light of the time. And I’m not even wearing a watch. But I just need to start wrapping things up because tomorrow I have to get up at the crack of dawn. 

Tell me which one is your favorite.

____________________

Check out these awesome phrases & Idioms books I recommend:

Cambridge Idioms Dictionary

IDIOMS and PHRASES Anglo,Synonyms and Antonyms Anglo,One Word Substitution

Oxford Dictionary of Idioms

3000 Idioms and Phrases+ 3000 Proverbs 

Idioms for Kids

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