Hello and welcome back! How are you doing? Hopefully, you’re doing well. Do tell, how well do you know English proverbs and idioms? Do you think you can impress your friends with your perfect score on our quiz? Go on and test your knowledge of proverbs now. If you think you need to refresh your memory a bit, we kindly ask you to read on and learn some facts about proverbs.
A proverb is a short, well-known saying stating a basic truth, a common fact, or a piece of advice, based on common sense or experience. Proverbs are often metaphorical. Proverbs and an important part of communication and most likely appeared with the dawn of language.
One example of a popular proverb could be “Beggars can’t be choosers”. Do you know its meaning? It means that we should be satisfied with what we have, especially if we don’t have a lot. Another well-known saying is “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks”. This means that it’s really hard to change someone’s firmly rooted habits or teach them something new.
Some proverbs exist in more than one language because people borrow them from languages and cultures with which they are in contact. For example, a proverb of the approximate form “No flies enter a mouth that is shut” is currently found in Spain, France, Ethiopia, and many other countries.
The Bible (particularly the Book of Proverbs) and medieval Latin were important sources of proverbs in the West. There are many sayings from the Bible that have found their way into the modern culture.
We all heard the phrase “turn the other cheek” at some point in our lives. There are two instances in the Bible where Jesus tells his followers to turn the other cheek. This means that when you get hurt, injured, or offended, you should not respond with violence or seek revenge. Rather, you are to love the people who wronged you and let God (or fate, the universe, etc. – for those who aren’t believers) handle them.
“Casting pearls before swine” is yet another common saying that comes from the Bible. The full quote is as follows: “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.” It means presenting something valuable to someone who doesn’t recognize its worth and won’t appreciate it. An example of this saying in use could be: “To sing for them is to cast pearls before swine”.
Of course, not all proverbs come from Scripture. Sometimes they are taken from poetry, stories, songs, movies, and so on. Many well-known sayings by famous people, such as Shakespeare, have become proverbs. “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy” is one of the most famous ones. Hamlet says this to his friend Horatio, who is amazed by seeing a ghost. Hamlet reminds him that many things out there exceed his limited understanding. “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet” is yet another one. It means that the names of things do not affect what they are.
Proverbs can teach you a lot about a country’s culture. They show what’s important to the group of people, what is considered good practice, and what is considered an unwise behavior. Proverbs can also tell you the history of a place. For example, proverbs from farming communities will use a lot of farming language, and fishing villages will talk about the sea.
What is an idiom and how is it different from a proverb? An idiom is a phrase, saying, or a group of words with a metaphorical (not literal) meaning, which has become accepted in common usage. An idiom’s symbolic sense is different from the literal meaning or definition of the words of which it is made. Idioms are not easy to understand – especially for non-native speakers, because their intentions are usually symbolic. This makes them strange and difficult to understand for English learners.
And what is the main difference between idiom and proverb? An idiom is a group of words, which literal meaning is different from their symbolic one. A proverb is a statement expressing a belief or idea that is believed to be correct. The main goal of a proverb is to provide a message that is in some way beneficial to the recipient, or grants some kind of moral lesson. Idiom does not necessarily hold moral or social messages. An example of an idiom would be “To call it a day” (meaning: to stop the work that you are doing), and a proverb “A stitch in time saves nine” (meaning: a little effort to fix a smaller problem sooner saves you from a bigger problem in the future).
How much do you know about English proverbs? Will you be surprised by our questions, or do you anticipate a perfect result? Only one way to find out, so take the quiz and become an expert on proverbs!
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