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Enrich your speaking skills: Common misuse of some idioms and sayings in our everyday conversations

The idioms and sayings that I’m about to discuss here are commonly and usually used by many people including radio and television presenters incorrectly. Idioms are fixed expressions. They do not need to be changed to suit anyone’s interests because you lack it correct usage or simply because that’s how you thought it right. The fact that you have heard people say it doesn’t mean that it is right. Let’s study the following:


What Evans told Kingsley opened old wounds. (wrong)

A more idiomatic expression is to reopen old wounds or to open up old wounds. And it means to remind somebody of something unpleasant, sad or painful that happened or existed in the past. For instance; Seeing Yaa again carrying the child at her back, reopened old wounds.


The devil you know is better than the angel you don’t know. (wrong)

This is a popularly used but it’s used wrong. The correct idiom or saying is: Better the devil you (than the devil you don’t). Note that the expression starts with Better… and it can be shortened to Better the devil you know instead of the full sentence. Again there is no mention of ANGEL. It isn’t unknown and uncertain why many people have replaced angel for devil in the saying.

The idiom or saying means that it is easier and wiser to stay in a bad situation that you know and can do something about rather than change to a new situation which you cannot do anything about it.


C.      The sweetness of the pudding

The sweetness of the pudding is in the eating. (wrong)

The proof of the pudding (is in the eating). Note that the correct word is proof not sweetness. And the idiom or saying can be shortened to, The proof of the pudding. It means you can only judge if something is good or bad when you have tried it.



The expression turn a new leaf is wrong. The correct idiom or saying is: Turn over a new leaf. The missing word is the preposition over. The saying means to change your way of life to become a better, more responsible person.



Ama has bitten more than she can chew. (wrong)

The idiom or saying means to try to do much, or something that is too difficult or too much of your strength. So, we should say:

 Ama has bitten off more than she can chew.

Let’s do well to familiarize ourselves with some of these correct usage of idioms or sayings to enrich our presentations


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Evans Kingsley Yaa


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