Learning common English proverbs and their meanings can enrich your daily conversation and vocabulary skills. English proverbs can be useful in daily life, speech, essays, quotes and exams like IELTS and TOEFL.
Each language has its own proverbs. For example the Turkish proverb Bana arkadaşını söyle, sana kim olduğunu söyleyeyim (“Tell me with whom you associate, and I’ll tell you who you are”) finds an equivalent in the English proverb A man is known by the company he keeps and in Spanish Dime con quien andas y te dire quien ares.
Don’t be afraid! Proverbs are easy for ESL students. You can easily understand and use them in everyday situations.
Common Proverbs Used in Everyday Life
1. It Takes Two to Tango – when two people work as a team, they are both responsible for the team’s successes and failures
2. There’s No Place like Home – a person is happiest with his or her family and friends
3. An Apple a Day Keeps the Doctor Away – if one eats healthy foods, one will remain in good health and will not need to see the doctor often.
4. Do As I Say, Not As I Do – follow my advice, but don’t follow my example
5. When in Rome Do As the Romans Do – when traveling, follow the customs of the local
people, or behave in an appropriate manner according to how people around you behave.
6. Curiosity Killed the Cat – being curious about other people’s affairs may get you into trouble.
7. Don’t Bite Off More Than You Can Chew – don’t assume more responsibility than you can handle; don’t be overconfident
8. Don’t Put All Your Eggs in One Basket – don’t risk losing everything at once
9. Where There’s Smoke, There’s Fire – when there is evidence of a problem, there probably is a problem
10. No Pain, No Gain – nothing can be accomplished without effort
11. Practice Makes Perfect – doing something many times improves one’s skill at it
12. Rome Wasn’t Built in a Day – Important work takes time, and you should not rush it or expect to do it quickly
13. Beggars Can’t Be Choosers – people who need something should be satisfied with what they get even if it is not exactly what they wanted.
14. A Leopard Cannot Change His Spots – a person cannot change his or her basic character once it has been formed
15. Money Does Not Grow on Trees – money is not easily obtained
Common Proverbs and Their Meanings
16. You Can’t Teach an Old Dog New Tricks – elderly people can’t change their behavior or learn anything new
17. He Who Laughs Last, Laughs Best – (the person who succeeds in making the last move has the most fun
18. Beauty Is in the Eye of the Beholder – what seems ordinary or ugly to one person might seem beautiful to another
19. Blood Is Thicker Than Water – members of the same family share stronger ties with each other than they do with others
20. A Friend in Need Is a Friend Indeed – a person who helps at a difficult time is a person who you can really rely on.
21. Love Is Blind – one sees no faults in the person one loves
22. Actions Speak Louder Than Words – people’s actions are more convincing than their words are
23. Better Late Than Never – it’s better to do something late than not to do it at all
24. Better Safe Than Sorry – it’s wiser to be cautious and careful than to be hasty or rash and so do something you may later regret.
25. Haste Makes Waste – rushing things leads to mistakes or poor results
26. You Reap What You Sow – you eventually have to face up to the consequences of your actions.
27. The Grass Is Always Greener on the Other Side of the Fence – another place or situation always appears to be better than your own
28. The Best Things in Life Are Free – the things that give a person the most happiness don’t cost anything
29. No News Is Good News – if you do not hear new information about a situation, it is probably because nothing bad has happened.