Common Proverbs

A proverb is a short sentence that is repeated for generations. Proverbs are used to pass on wisdom in a way that is memorable. Some proverbs are metaphors and others are more literal. They are often used in a conversation when the speaker wants to give some advice or a warning. There are the 20 common proverbs in English:

Absence makes the heart grow fonder
  • Meaning: When you spend time away from someone, you will start feeling more affectionate toward that person.

Actions speak louder than words
  • Meaning: It's better to take action rather than just talking about what you plan to do

A picture is worth a thousand words
  • Meaning: It is much easier to understand something by seeing a picture rather than having someone tell ytou about it.
  • For Example, your friend who visited Italy could try to descrive the beautiful architecture to you, but you will undertand much better if you see pictures

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
  • Meaning: Beauty is subjective. It is a matter of personal opinion.To behold means to look, and the beholder is the person who is looking.

Beauty is only skin deep
  • Meaning: Physical beauty is only on the surface. A person's character is more important.

Better late than never
  • Meaning: This proverb is quite literal. It is vetter to do something late than never doing it at all.
  • For example:
    • Professor: Your essay is late. Are you turning it in today?
    • Student: Yes, here it is! Better lat than never.

Blood is thicker than water
  • Meaning: Family relationships are the most important. In this proverb, blood is a metaphor for family
  • For example:, if your mother needs your help but you want to spend time with a friend, someone might remind you that blood is thicker than water, and tou should prioritize your family.

Curiosity killed the cat
  • Meaning:Curiosity can get you in trouble sometimes.
  • For example:
    • Julie: I wonder what's in that abandoned house!
    • Amanda: Don't go there. Curiosity killed the cat

Don't bite off more than you chew.
  • Meaning: Don't attempt to do more than you are capable of.
  • For example, if you accept too many responsibilities at work, you might not be able to compleete them all, and then yopu may disappoint yourself or others.

Don't count your chickens before they hatch
  • Meaning: Don't make all your plans based on things that haven't happened yet.
  • For example:
    • Samantha: I'm sure I'll be accepted to Harvard, so I'll go ahead and rent an apartment in the area
    • Jessie: Don't count your chickens before they hatch. You haven't been accepted yet.
Don't put all your eggs in one basket
  • Meaning: If you put all tour eggs in one basket and you drop the basket, all your eggs will be broken. In other words, don't invest everything in only one opportunity. If it doesn't work out, you will lose everything. This proverb is similar to the one above, but not exactly the same.
  • For example:
    • Samantha: I'm only applying to Harvard because I'm sure I'll be accepted
    • Jessie: Why don't you apply to some other schools just in case? Don't pull all your eggs in one basket

The early bird catches the worm
  • Meaning: People who act quickly get better opportunities.
  • For example, if there is a sale at your favourite store, you will probablt want to go early to have more options.
  • Fun fact: Some restaurants offer discounts to people who come for dinner earlt. It's called the early bird special

Ignorance is bliss
  • Meaning: People are happy not knowing some things.
  • For example, if you find out something terrible about your spouse, you were probably happier whe you didn't know about it.

Money doesn't grow on trees
  • Meaning: We must recognize the value of money, because it is not so easy to come by. Parents love using this proverb with with their children.
  • For example:
    • Child: I want a horse!
    • Parent: Hos=rses are very expensive, and money doesn't grow on trees

People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones.
  • Meaning: People shouldn't criticize or insult others when they have their own faults that can be criticized.

Practise what you preach
  • Meaning: If you tell other people how important a particular behaviour is, then you should also exhibit that behaviour.
  • For example:
    • Parent: You should never smoke cigarettes
    • Child: But you smoke. Why don't you practice what you preach?

    No man is an island.
    • Meaning: Don't try to be independent in everything that you do. We depend on other people.
    • For example:
      • Helen: I don't need anyone's help. I'll run this whole company on my own!
      • Kevin: It's okay to ask for help.No man is an island.

      The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.
      • meaning: We always believe that other people have it better than we do, or that other opportunities would be better than what we already have. Imagine one person looking over her neighbor's fence and thinking that the grass in her neighbor's side.
      When in Rome, do as the Romans do.
      • Meaning: When tou are a visitor in another country or culture, you should follow their customs. Sometimes people just say: when in Rome!
      • For example, if you travel in China, you could try eating with chopsticks

      You can't teach an old dog new tricks.
      • Meaning: People get used to their habits, and it becomes very difficult to change.
      • For example,if you are used to watching TV everyday after work, it might be difficult to change tour habit and start doing something else, like exercising.