Number one for English language teachers

Your English: Idioms: breath

Type: Article

We think Tim Bowen’s articles are a breath of fresh air!

‘When he was first elected, he was seen as a breath of fresh air in a country dominated by former militia leaders.’ A breath of fresh air is someone or something that is new, interesting and exciting and very different from what has gone before.

If you say ‘Don’t hold your breath’, you tell someone not to expect something to happen because it probably won’t, as in ‘If you’re waiting for him to apologise, don’t hold your breath’. You can also use this expression to talk about yourself, as in ‘They say they’ll settle the invoice by the end of this week but I’m not holding my breath’. 

If you say ‘Don’t waste your breath’, you tell someone that they should not give advice to a particular person because that person will not listen, as in ‘You can try telling him that he needs to give up smoking, but, if I were you, I wouldn’t waste my breath’

If something takes your breath away, it is extremely impressive or beautiful, as in ‘The view from the summit took my breath away’. The related adjective breath-taking can be used with the same meaning, as in ‘His performance in the second half was absolutely breath-taking’. 

The expression in the same breath is used for saying that someone has said two things that cannot both be true as they contradict each other, as in ‘She says the treatment is safe, and then in the same breath says that patients should be warned about possible side-effects’.

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