Useful Expression for IELTS Speaking is a document that summarizes the most used phrases in the IELTS Speaking section (note that these phrases can only be used in spoken language).
Health, sickness, and relaxation
- (to be) back on your feet
Meaning: to have recovered after a period of illness, or to have recovered after being in a bad situation (e.g financial)
– I’m finally back on my feet this week after being so sick with the flu.
– It took the company quite some time to get back on its feet after the financial crisis
- (to be) firing on all cylinders
Meaning: to be functioning as best as possible
– I’m firing on all cylinders now after training every day for two months
– He hasn’t really been firing on all cylinders lately, his work performance wasn’t very good last month.
- (to be) as fit as a fiddle
Meaning: to be very fit and healthy
Example: My grandpa is almost 90 years old and he’s still as fit as a fiddle.
- (to be) as fresh as a daisy
Meaning: to feel refreshed and energised
Example: I usually feel as fresh as a daisy after taking an afternoon nap.
- (to be) as good as gold
Meaning: to describe someone or something that is feeling, acting, or functioning well Example:
– I feel as good as gold after getting a massage yesterday.
– Despite the forecast, the weather was as good as gold on our trip down south.
– My cars about twenty years old, but it still works as good as gold.
- (to be) homesick
Meaning: when you really long for, or miss your home after being away for a period of time
Example: I was feeling so homesick during the first two weeks of living here. But after two months I got used to it. Now I never want to go home!
- (to be) on your last legs | on its last legs
Meaning: when someone or something is almost completely exhausted, broken or worn out
– My motorbikes pretty much on its last legs. I think I’ll need to buy a new one soon.
– Thank god you brought me a coffee. I was really on my last legs before that, and I’ve got another 2 hours of work to do.
- (to look | feel) like death warmed up
Meaning: when someone looks really unwell, because they are sick, tired, or exhausted
Example: Jenny looks like death warmed up today. She must have had a busy weekend partying.
- (to) kick the bucket
Meaning: when someone dies (could be offensive), or something is completely broken Example:
– When I kick the bucket I want to donate all my money to charity.
– I have to use public transport to get around now since my motorbike kicked the bucket last week.
- (to be) off colour
Meaning: to be feeling or looking unwell, when your face is pale or white
Example: I was feeling a little off colour after lunch, so I took the rest of the day off.
- (to be) as right as rain
Meaning: to describe someone or something that is feeling or functioning well (similar to as good as gold)
Example: I was quite sick yesterday, but after a good night’s sleep I’m feeling as right as rain.
- (to be) as sick as a dog
Meaning: to be very sick
Example: I was as sick as a dog last week. Thank god my mother was there to look after me.
- (to be | feel) under the weather
Meaning: to be feeling unwell
Example: I’m feeling a little under the weather today after such a busy week.
- (to be | feel) worse for wear
Meaning: to feel worn out, exhausted or unwell. Also can be used to describe an object Example:
– I’m really feeling a little worse for wear after partying all weekend.
– My motorbikes looking a bit worse for wear after driving it through the forest all day
- You are what you eat
Meaning: a phrase used to show the connection between your health and the food you eat
Example: I don’t eat pork. You are what you eat you know!
- (to be) as free as a bird
Meaning: to feel free of responsibilities or worry
Example: After finishing my final examinations and graduating from university I felt as free as a bird.
- (to be) green with envy Meaning: to very envious or jealous
Example: She was green with envy when she saw my new bicycle. 66. (to be) as proud as a peacock
Meaning: to be very proud about something, sometimes used in a negative context when someone is overly proud about themselves
Example: Christine has been walking around as proud as a peacock all day since she found out that she was the top student in the class.
- (to be) written all over your face
Meaning: when someone’s true feelings are very obvious because of the expression on their face
Example: She said she was okay, but I could see she was angry, it was written all over her face.
- (to be) quaking in your boots
Meaning: to be very scared, especially so scared you are shaking
Example: I was quaking in my boots when I was at home alone last night. That horror film I watched the other night really scared me.
- (to) rub it in
Meaning: to continually talk about something that embarrasses or upsets someone, particularly a mistake they have made or something they have done wrong
Example: I know I’ve made a mistake, but you don’t have to rub it in all day.
- (to) run out of steam
Meaning: to lose energy, motivation, or enthusiasm when doing something
Example: I’m really starting to run out of steam with this project, it’s just starting to become very boring and tedious.
- (to) ruffle someone’s feathers
Meaning: to do something that annoys or upsets someone
Example: I really ruffled some feathers at the meeting last week with my new changes to the team member’s responsibilities. Many people were upset with the new workload.
- ups and downs
Meaning: the good times and the bad times
Example: My best friend and I have been through a lot of ups and downs together.
- (to be) water off a duck’s back
Meaning: when someone’s insults or criticism doesn’t affect you
Example: I’m not worried about what they are saying about me, it’s water off a duck’s back.
- (to be) weak at the knees
Meaning: to be overcome with an emotion so strongly that it makes you feel unstable while standing
Example: When I heard the terrible news about his death, I become weak at the knees and had to lie down.
- (to) wear your heart on your sleeve
Meaning: to show your feelings and emotions openly and not hide them
Example: I’m quite a shy person, not the type who wears their heart on their sleeve.
- (to be) the living proof of something
Meaning: to be an example or proof that something is possible or can be done
Example: Many celebrities are living proof that money can’t buy you happiness.
- (to be) no skin off my nose
Meaning: to say that something won’t affect you
Example: I don’t care if they don’t come to my party, it’s no skin off my nose.
- (to have) your head in the clouds
Meaning: to have an unrealistic view of things happening in your life, or to be daydreaming or absentminded
Example: Jenny really is out of touch with reality sometimes, she walks around with her head in the clouds all day.
- (to) cut like a knife
Meaning: when something causes great emotional pain or suffering
Example: When my girlfriend broke up with me, it really cut like a knife.
- (to) shake like a leaf
Meaning: to be so scared you are shaking with fear (similar to quaking in your boots)
Example: I was shaking like a leaf after the accident happened, it was a very frightening experience.
- (to be) as comfortable as an old shoe | pair of slippers
Meaning: to be very familiar and comfortable with someone or a certain situation
Example: She’s as comfortable as an old shoe standing in front of thousands of people, she’s been presenting seminars for years now.
- (to be) as innocent | gentle as a lamb
Meaning: to be a very gentle, innocent, or naïve person
Example: I’m certain she isn’t the one to blame for this terrible situation, she’s as innocent as a lamb.