Book of the Month
175 Common American English Idioms

Author: Madeleine Doan
$0 (free on kindle)



There are two exceptional things about this month's book. The first is that it is only available as an eBook, and therefore you can only read it if you have a tablet or other suitable device. The other thing is that it is currently available free on Amazon's kindle. In the past we have reviewed some other free eBooks on EFL, and discovered that they were expensive for the price. That is, the effort it took to understand the garbage on offer made the books a useless waste of time. This book on the other hand is a useful reference and is definitely recommended.

The topic is American English Idioms, but because American English is so widely available through Hollywood movies and TV shows there are few of these idioms that are not widely understood. (Most US idioms that are not used internationally come from US sport such as 'out of left field' a baseball idiom for something unusual and unexpected, or 'a Monday morning quarterback' - an American football idiom for someone who is wise after the event.) As the title says, this book deals with 175 common US idioms, and gives a quick, clear meaning for each of them.

This is a short book - if printed in standard font it would come to 61 pages. Part of the reason is that the author has not spent a lot of time explaining idioms, what they are and how they are used. Instead the eBook starts with a quick guide on how to use the book, gives a table of contents and gets straight down to listing the idioms. The idioms in the text are grouped by usage - for example 'Getting Angry' lists - among others - the idioms 'It's the last straw', 'to blow (one's) top', 'to get bent out of shape', 'to get hot under the collar', and 'to lose (one's) cool'. Each idiom is followed by an explanation (because you can get angry in different ways) and then an example sentence of the idiom in use. For instance -
Fed up [For someone to have had enough with something that has bothered them for a while.] I'm fed up with that dog that is always barking! I'm going to report it.'

One problem with the contents is that if you know some of the words describing the categories - such as 'scolding', then your English is probably good enough for you to also already know the idiom. The idiom 'Fed up' is listed along with all the other idioms at the back in an index so that you can look the phrase up if you have heard it but did not understand it. Sadly none of the book is hyperlinked, so despite the fact that it is an eBook you still have to flip through the text to locate things. There is also a list of internet abbreviations such as BRB (be right back) and IDK (I don't know) which is handy for talking to any modern teenager.

So who is this book for? Basically it is for those people who are reasonably competent in English, but still do not understand English speakers, because so much of native speech is made up of idioms. If you have ever thought 'I understood every word of that sentence, but none of the meaning', then this book is for you. One hundred and seventy-five is just a small percentage (a drop in the bucket) of the idioms in everyday use in US English - but if you have learned these, then you are off to a good start.

Verdict: A useful little book for those who don't usually use idioms
Assessment 6/10

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