3 British Sayings You Can Use Anywhere

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Just like every other language, there are sayings in English that are used to say things differently. These sayings are often called idioms. They are common across all countries and are often funny, or they are a simple way of describing something complicated. Nearly all sayings come from history, many were created a long time ago and some use historic language too.

Understanding Sayings

Being able to understand saying is an important part of learning English. Using them at the right time can make people laugh, it can also really show you understand English and it can help build relationships with friends, new family and people at work.

Below are just 3 English sayings that may be useful at work, home or school.

Open a can of worms

This is a very common saying. It is quite a complicated saying. A can of worms is a very messy subject that once started may end up being a lot of work, trouble, effort or time. For example; you may suggest at work that someone tidies the office cupboard. But people who have worked there a long time know that if you start trying to do that you will find more and more things to tidy and it could take all day. They might say “do not do that, it’s a can of worms” or “do not open that can of worms”. It can also be used when talking about people who may get upset or want to talk a lot about something. You may think it is best not to mention a certain subject as it is a can of worms.

Don’t Shoot the Messenger

Again, this is a very common saying and one that it can be very useful to understand. It is quite a simple one to understand. It is something a person may say if they tell you something bad and you are angry with them. However, they were not the person that did anything wrong; just the person that told you. They may say “hey, don’t shoot the messenger”. By this they mean do not be angry at the person who told you the bad news as they are just the messenger.

Skeleton Staff

This is a very useful saying for word. A skeleton staff is a way of describing having very few people working. In fact, it means having the least amount of people working somewhere while still keeping it going. So this might be used over a holiday period perhaps. When no customers are coming in, the manager may suggest running a skeleton staff of just 2 people to make sure the shop is OK. Normally there maybe 10 people working but a skeleton staff is enough when it is not busy.