If you are an English language learner in, or coming to the Unites States, (or communicating with American English speakers, for that matter,) you are likely to come across some idiomatic phrases and colloquialisms that may stump you. Don’t be stumped! Let us shed some light on some common phrases.

Let’s play a game: Fill in the blanks, and check your answers at the bottom of this post. (Answers are in a white typeface. Simply highlight the section to see the results.)

Have fun!!


When you are telling someone to slow down, or be patient, you could say, “Hold your ______!” (1)

If someone is pulling your ___ (2), you can say, “Give me a _____!” (3)

If you are working on a project and you become stuck, or feel that you have no more ideas,  you might say that you’ve, “hit a ____.” (4)

If you’ve been holed up in your house or in your office all day and need a breath of fresh air, you could say that you are going to go, “blow the _____ (5) off.” This can also be said of you need to let down your ____,(6) or loosen __.(7)

If you feel like you are working really hard but feel like you are not making any progress, you could say that you are “spinning your _____.” (8)

If there is someone in a group that just doesn’t want to participate in the fun that’s being had, or if they never contribute positive thoughts, they can be called a “stick in the ___.” (9)

If you want to say something, but the words just aren’t coming out, you may be “tongue ____.” (10)


  1. Horses
  2. leg
  3. break
  4. wall
  5. stink
  6. hair
  7. up
  8. wheels
  9. mud
  10. tied
So! How’d you do? Share your scores in the comments below.
What are some common phrases in your native tongue that may stump someone learning your language? (Can you include a translation?)