Mastering English Idioms for Problem-Solving

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  • Post last modified:03/10/2023
  • Post category:English Idioms
  • Reading time:11 mins read

Mastering English idioms for problem-solving will help you improve your speaking skills. In this lesson, you’ll learn advanced English idioms that can help improve your speaking and make you better at English.

If you’re trying to get better at English, maybe for tests like IELTS, CAE, or TOEFL, or just to speak more like a native speaker with confidence, this lesson can help you a lot.

Listen to the podcast Speak Better English with Harry or watch it on YouTube at Learn English with Harry. englishclass101

list of english idioms

Mastering English Idioms for Problem-Solving

Today, we’re going to explore a fascinating topic that can help you understand English better and make your conversations more interesting. We’ll be diving into ’10 Idioms Related to Problems and Difficulties.’ Idioms are like secret codes in English that express ideas in fun and creative ways.

By learning these idioms, you’ll be able to talk about challenges and difficulties just like a native speaker. So, let’s get started.

at your wits’ end

Meaning: being extremely frustrated or unable to find a solution to a problem

Examples:

In the math exam, I couldn’t solve the last question, and I was at my wits’ end.

I asked the bank for a loan, but it was denied. I asked my parents for help. I’m really at my wits’ end.

to be grasping/clutching at straws

Meaning: to desperately seek a solution when there are few or no options left

Examples:

I lost my wallet and had no money. I searched the park, hoping to find it, but I was clutching at straws.

Clutching at straws, Sarah asked for an advance on next month’s salary to cover unexpected expenses.

I was clutching at straws, desperately seeking an extension for my assignment deadline.

I often see students clutching at straws as they try to find ways to get deadline extensions.

to go south

Meaning: something is not going well or has become worse

Examples:

My life has gone south – my relationship broke up, my landlord increased the rent, and I lost my job due to budget cuts.

The stock market often goes south when unexpected economic factors come into play.

The performance of Manchester United has gone south recently, sparking disappointment among fans.

Mastering English Idioms for Problem-Solving

Mastering English Idioms for Problem-Solving. English speaking skills. Improve English speaking skills. Upgrade your vocabulary. English grammar rules. Improve English speaking. Advanced English lessons on Zoom and Skype. Improve English speaking and writing skills. #learnenglish

in hot water

Meaning: to be in trouble or facing difficulties due to a mistake or wrongdoing

Examples:

John found himself in hot water when he realised he had forgotten his wife’s birthday.

Michael was in hot water with his boss after failing to send the report on time.

Emily ended up in hot water with her lecturer when she failed to hand in her paper on time.

to have you back to/ against the wall

Meaning: to be in a difficult situation with limited options and feeling trapped

Examples:

With his back to the wall financially, Mark had to take on a part-time job to make ends meet.

My back’s against the wall. If I don’t complete this report now, we won’t be able to collect the fees.

When I lost my wallet and had no money, I felt like my back was against the wall.

catch-22

Meaning: a problem with no good solution because two rules or conditions conflict with each other.

Examples:

I wanted to buy a car, but I needed a job for money, and I needed a car to get to the job. It was a catch-22.

I needed a job to get experience, but every job required experience. It was a catch-22.

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a can of worms

Meaning: a complicated or difficult situation that, once opened or started, becomes even more complicated or problematic

Examples: 

Bringing up that topic at the family dinner opened a whole can of worms.

Lisa’s relationship with her boyfriend is complicated. I’d suggest not getting too involved; it’s a real can of worms.

I wouldn’t touch this account; it’s a real can of worms.

vicious circle

Meaning: a cycle of problems that keep getting worse

Examples:

His debt led to stress, which affected his job, and losing his job worsened his debt. It was a vicious circle.

The boss wants us to do this, but accounts want the customer to pay, and they won’t – it’s a vicious circle.

Mastering English Idioms for Problem-Solving

Mastering English Idioms for Problem-Solving. English speaking skills. Improve English speaking skills. Upgrade your vocabulary. English grammar rules. Improve English speaking. Advanced English lessons on Zoom and Skype. Improve English speaking and writing skills. #learnenglish

think on your feet

Meaning: to make quick decisions or come up with solutions in a fast-paced and unexpected situation

Examples:

During the interview, I had to think on my feet and quickly answer unexpected questions.

It’s important to be able to think on your feet when unexpected tasks or challenges arise.

have a lightbulb moment

Meaning: suddenly understand something or have a bright idea

Examples:

While I was taking a shower, I had a lightbulb moment and came up with a brilliant idea for our project.

During math class, I had a lightbulb moment when I finally understood how to solve multiplications.

So those are all idioms, they are quite difficult idioms relating to problems and difficulties in your life in work, whatever it might be. Okay, let me go through them one more time:

As I mentioned before, if you want to practice these English idioms related to problems, please go ahead. If you have any problems or need more examples, you can reach out to me through the website www.englishlessonviaskype.com. I’m always glad to hear from you. If you have any questions, or concerns, or want to improve your English, just send me a message.

Thank you for joining us; we really appreciate it.

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more information

For more information on English grammar rules, English collocations and English idioms, check out the links below:

Advanced adjectives to describe travel experiences

Common phrasal verbs with UP

You can always study English advanced level at Learning English with the BBC and British Council Learn English.

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