Number one for English language teachers

Your English: Idioms: turn

Type: Article

Tim Bowen does us a good turn by supplying another handy list of idioms.

‘We tried to get the plan accepted but we ran into problems at every turn’, meaning that problems were encountered every time they tried to do something. If you speak (or talk) out of turn, you say something that you should not say because you have no right to say it or because it upsets someone. The expression is often used when people want to say something that others might find controversial, as in ‘I hope I’m not speaking out of turn but I think you’re all missing the point’.

If you do someone a good turn, you help them in some way, as in ‘You could do me a good turn by taking all that stuff that’s piled up in the garden to the rubbish dump’, and the expression one good turn deserves another is used for saying that you should be kind to someone who has been kind to you.

A turn of phrase is a way of saying something, as in ‘That’s a rather unfortunate turn of phrase, if I may say so’. It can also mean a particular way of expressing yourself, particularly in writing, as in ‘As a letter writer she has a neat turn of phrase’. The expression turn of speed, meaning the ability to go very fast, can be applied both to people and to vehicles, as in ‘In the last 400 metres, he produced a sudden turn of speed, which left his rivals standing’ or ‘The latest model has an amazing turn of speed, going from 0 to 60 miles per hour in seven seconds’.

In cooking, if something is done to a turn, it is cooked for exactly the right amount of time.

Usually used when referring to the weather, ’turned out nice’ means the weather is good, as in, ’Look at the weather, it’s turned out nice again today.’

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