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Your English: Idioms: music and song

Type: Article

Not for the first time, Tim Bowen's article on idioms is music to our ears.

If you say that something is music to your ears, you are very pleased to hear it, as in 'Their offer of help was music to my ears'. On the other hand, if you have to face the music, you accept punishment or criticism for something you have done wrong, as in ‘Many MPs will have to face the music over their expenses claims’.

If you make a song and dance about something, you complain a lot about it in an annoying and unnecessary way, as in ‘It’s only a minor operation and a very simple procedure but she’s making a real song and dance about it.’ When you dance to someone’s tune, you do what they tell you to do because they call the tune (they are in control).

People who change their opinions or attitudes can be said to have changed their tune, as in ‘He always used to be pro-smoking but now he’s changed his tune’. If you understand the feelings, opinions, or needs of a group of people, you can be said to be in tune with them. A failure to understand such feelings, however, would mean that you were out of tune with them, as in ‘The government is often accused of being out of tune with the aspirations of young people’.

In many situations, it’s important to strike the right note (create an appropriate mood by the way you speak or behave), as in ‘He struck the right note by praising their work’, and if you strike a chord with someone, you produce an emotional reaction in them, as in ‘Her tale of woe struck a chord with Edward’.

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