Essentials of Good English


Irrespective of what field or profession one works in, the use of English is very important these days. Communication using English has become pertinent for all professionals in every formal sector. This is why we need to ensure that our command over the language is clear. Apart from ensuring that our grammar is perfect, we must also focus on using tools to enrich our communication. For example, we can use proverbs to explain ideas better.


Meaning of Proverbs

A proverb is basically just an expression or saying based on common sense or experience. They are nothing but common and traditional sayings which explain some truth. They are often metaphorical in nature.

The origin of most common proverbs generally lies in local or universal truths and principles. This is why it is easy to translate and use them in any language. In other words, they have universal use regardless of their original language. This, in turn, makes their appeal and application more direct.

The main characteristic of a proverb is that it explains a truth or principle. This truth can be from diverse fields like human experience, history, advice, etc. They can also be philosophical in many ways.

The origin of many proverbs lies in historical, religious and literary texts. Many others have no known origin and arise from common sayings in local languages.

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Famous Proverbs and their Meanings

The following are some common English proverbs along with their meanings:

1) Birds of the same feather flock together – people with common characteristics always end up together.

2) He who plays the piper calls the tune – when one has to act according to a superior’s wishes.

3) Out of sight, out of mind – once you lose sight of a thing, you can forget it altogether.

4) Beggers can’t be choosers – when a person is in a difficult position, he can only take whatever he gets.

5) All is well that ends well – everything is acceptable as long as the ending is favourable.

6) Two heads are better than one – two people can do a better job together than one person doing it alone.

7) Look before you leap – always be cautious before doing something big or important.

8) Robbing Peter to save Paul – when somebody harms one person to cause some benefit to another.

9) Make hay when the sun shines – making full use of a given opportunity.

10) Out of the frying pan and into the fire – entering one difficult situation from another.

11)  A drowning man catches all straws – a person in difficulty will make use of any help he receives.

12) Well begun is half done – just starting a venture successfully is enough to fulfil it completely.

13) Better late than never – it is better to delay something than not doing it at all.

14) A bird in hand is better than two in the bush – better to have something than having nothing at all.

15) Too many cooks spoil the broth – plans often fail when too many people work on it together.

16) It never rains but pours – things are never as good as they can or should be.

17) Rome was not built in a day – difficult tasks always take time to accomplish.

18) You reap what you sow – your results are just consequences of your own actions.

19) Every dog has his day – every person can have lucky days and favourable outcomes.

20) Hunger is the best sauce – everything tastes good when you are hungry but have nothing to eat.

21) The proof the pudding is in its eating – we can know whether something is good or bad only after trying it.

22) Once bitten twice shy – a person who has been in a bad situation before is always cautious.

Solved Question on Proverbs

Which of the following examples describes the proverb “Do not count your chickens before they hatch”?

(a) The teacher started teaching even before all the students arrived in class.

(b) The little girl asked her parents for a gift despite it not being her birthday.

(c) The boy started celebrating even before he got his exam results.

Answer: The correct answer is (c). Not counting chickens before they hatch is a very common proverb. It basically means that if a plan is contingent on the happening of an event, one should not execute it until it actually happens.

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