Idiomatic Vocabulary 11: A grain of salt

The Phrase

To take [sth.] with a grain of salt

Its Definition

A verb phrase meaning you don’t really believe the previous fact.


This is useful for IELTS because there are so many lies and so much deceit in the world. An intelligent person doesn’t necessarily believe it all, and we often have to indicate this to other speakers.

Following Rule 2 (See Introduction), this phrase is too long for formal writing, and so should not be used there.

 Example Sentences

In IELTS Speaking

  • “He claims he really helped me – but I took it all with a grain of salt.”
  • “All the advertising is just basically garbage. You have to take it all with a grain of salt.”
  • “I’ve checked other IELTS websites, from other school and freelance teachers, and almost every one of them is just sheer and utter lies. I don’t take it with a grain of salt; I just reject it outright with absolute disgust! The sad fact is that students usually believe it.”
  • “I know a guy, and absolutely everything he said had to be taken with a grain of salt.”