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Idiomatic Vocabulary 15: a different story / kettle of fish

The Phrases

  1. To be a different story
  2. To be a different kettle of fish

Their Definitions

These are two related sayings, describing a situation which is completely different to another.


These are useful for IELTS because, in a complicated world, we face a variety of situations, each different to the other, and we often compare then. In addition, to test your speaking and explore a situation more deeply, in Part Three of the Speaking Test, IELTS examiners tend to throw out questions which change the situation: “What about women?”, “Is it the same for adults?”, and “Would teachers agree with that?”

This saying is too long and personal to be used in IELTS writing.

Example Sentences

In IELTS Speaking

  • “I think shopping is a form a torture, but obviously, for women, it’s a different story.”
  • “Rock music is fairly popular among young people.” [“Is it the same in Asia?”] “Well, that’s a different story.”
  • “The humidity in this country is sometimes almost unbearable.” [“What about in your country?”] “Well, that’s a different kettle of fish.”
  • “I managed a school for five years, and had to deal with incompetence all around me. Now I run my own small classroom, and [smiling] it’s a different kettle of fish altogether”.