10 English Idioms for Communication & Miscommunication

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Do you know what it means to drop someone a line, get your wires crossed, or beat around the bush?

These are all examples of idioms that we’re going to learn today!

Idioms and informal expressions like these are used frequently in movies, TV shows, and casual conversations. But a lot of English textbooks don’t teach you these expressions! So you might be confused when you hear them in real life.

That’s why I created the 300+ English Idioms Course – to teach you the most common idiomatic expressions and help you use them. Click on the link for more information about the idioms course.

All right, let’s learn 10 idioms for communication and miscommunication.

#1 – “I’m looking for a job. Please drop me a line if you hear of any good opportunities!”

To drop someone a line means to contact the person. It can be by phone or e-mail.

#2 – “I need to get ahold of Tina to tell her that tomorrow’s class is canceled.”

To get ahold of someone (or get hold of someone) means to communicate with them – usually by phone.

#3 – “Keep me posted on your plans for this weekend – maybe we can meet up.”

To keep someone posted (or keep someone in the loop) means to update the person, inform the person of the most current information. In contrast, if someone has not been kept informed, they can say, “I’m out of the loop” – meaning they don’t know the most recent information.

#4 – “I heard through the grapevine that Dan and his wife split up. Is it true?”

If you hear something through the grapevine, it means that you hear the news indirectly – through a friend of a friend, for example, and not directly from one of the people involved. News that you hear through the grapevine may be true or it may be untrue.

#5 – “Stop beating around the bush and just tell me what happened to the camera I lent you.”

If someone is beating around the bush, itmeans they are trying to avoid answering a question or talking directly about a particular issue. Instead, they tell stories or talk about details that are not exactly the most important part.

#6 – “I like having meetings with Nate because they’re so short – he always gets right to the point.”

To get right to the point or get straight to the pointis the opposite of “beating around the bush” – it means to talk about an issue directly, without wasting time discussing unrelated or unimportant details.

#7 – “The two politicians were talking at cross purposes during the debate – one argued strongly for immigration control, whereas the other was entirely focused on the educational system.”

“Talking at cross-purposes” describes when two people not only have different or opposing perspectives – but are actually talking about two completely different issues, or with completely different goals or philosophies. This means that they cannot even debate each other directly, because each one is focused on a different point.

#8 – “Sorry, we must’ve gotten our wires crossed. I wanted you to come at 7 PM, not 7 AM.”

If two people “get their wires crossed,” it means they have a mistake in communication that leads to a misunderstanding.

#9 – “I haven’t actually talked to my sister yet – we’ve been playing phone tag all day.”

“Playing phone tag” describes that situation when two people telephone each other various times during the day, but can’t talk directly because each time one person calls, the other person is not available. Then when the other person calls back, the first person is not available – and this situation repeats several times.

#10 – “At parties, I always end up saying something stupid and putting my foot in my mouth.

“Putting your foot in your mouth” is when you accidentally say something stupid, offensive, or embarrassing – any type of comment that you wish you hadn’t said, and then you feel ashamed or embarrassed!

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Let’s keep learning idioms, because  there are so many amazing expressions in English! Each lesson in my 300+ idioms course teaches you idioms related to a certain topic. But I don’t just tell you what the idioms mean… instead, I actually help you figure it out yourself.

After you learn the idioms, there are also quizzes and writing exercises to help you review and practice the expressions. Make sure to check out the 300+ idioms course – I hope to see you inside!

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