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More English Proverbs

May 16th, 2010

There are a lot of phrases in the English language that are commonly used in literature and conversation. Knowing and understanding the meaning of such common English phrases is important for a student who wants to cultivate good language skills. One type of commonly used English phrase is known as a “proverb.” A proverb is used as a reminder or as a kind of recommendation in an appropriate situation. Although it may seem that there are many English language proverbs to know, they are relatively fun to study. Here are some common proverbs a student of the English language should be familiar with.

“Birds of a feather flock together.”

This proverb is often used in situations that have little to do with birds. The concept is that birds of a certain type will fly from place to place in a group together. It is used when a person is attempting to imply that a person has similar habits or tastes as someone they associate with. It is likely most often used when a person doesn’t seem like they would associate with a person or group being spoken about. Here is an example for better clarification: “I saw him talking to a clown. You know what they say; birds of a feather flock together.” This would imply that the person may also be a clown or act like a clown.

“The early bird gets the worm.”

This is one that can potentially sound really silly when an English language student first hears it. It is basically used as a recommendation to get up or arrive early every day. The bird represents the person and the worm represents a goal, since birds eat worms. Why would any person want a worm? Here is an example of it in use: “I am setting my alarm to wake up early so I can start driving before there is much traffic. You know what they say; the early bird gets the worm.”

“The best defense is a good offense.”

This proverb is used in situations where a person may be wondering how to prevent a situation from happening. It can be seen as a reference to a sporting event. There are many situations where the proverb is appropriate to use. For instance, “If a person wants to prevent a dirty floor, they can clean the floor regularly. The best defense is a good offense.”

“Look before you leap.”

Here is a good proverb for most situations involving an element of risk. It is used as advice to recommend a person proceed carefully, to prevent jumping into something new unprepared. For instance, it is generally wise to do research about a new city prior to a visit.

“Actions speak louder than words. “

This common proverb uses an English language technique that relates two things that are not normally similar. In this phrase the two things being related are actions and words. The proverb is basically comparing how effective actions and words are for conveying how serious a person may be. The proverb is used when one person is talking to another person about something they want to do or how they feel about something. The person they are speaking to can use the phrase as a response to recommend to the person to use actions to better show how serious they are about doing something. The phrase is best used when someone has talked about doing something many times and has not done yet done it. Here is an example: “The politician made many promises to the people, but the people wanted to see the politician actually do something. Actions speak louder than words. “

“Don’t count your chickens before they are hatched.”

This is a proverb that actually has little to do with chickens, unless a person is actually focused on growing chickens. The phrase is basically a way of saying that it is best to wait until a process is complete, prior to counting the results of the process. If a person wants to count chickens, then it is better to count the chickens after they have hatched from the eggs. This is because some of the chicken eggs may not hatch. This phrase can be used in any situation where there is a process that gives a result. It is used to recommend to a person not to make plans that are based on something that has not happened yet. Here is an example: “The person bought a lottery ticket and began shopping for a new airplane with the prize money they planned to win in the lottery. Their friend recommended that they go airplane shopping after winning the lottery instead, as they should not count their chickens before they are hatched. “

“Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket. “

Continuing on the egg theme, this proverb also has little to do with eggs or baskets. The basic concept this proverb is stating is that it is good to have multiple plans for a better guarantee of success. For instance, it can be wise for a person to have a primary job and also a small business to better guarantee a successful income. Here is an example: “The person was good at sports in school, but also made sure to study and make good grades. The person knew it may not be wise to put all of their eggs in one basket. “

You may have noticed the word “they” used as a kind of reference for some of the proverbs. The only “they” is the other English speakers using the same proverb and also saying “You know what they say” to another person. The concept of the unnamed “they” is a common and somewhat silly habit of English language speakers. It is used to add the appearance of importance to anonymous quotations. For some fun with native English speaking friends, say “You know what they say” and follow it with a ridiculous statement unrelated to the conversation. They will likely be highly amused.