Idiomatic Vocabulary (2 of 25): Let’s think about the IELTS Speaking Test!

Bird in the hand.jpg

Every language has phrases and sentences that cannot be understood by just knowing the individual words. In the previous post, I looked at the word ‘claptrap’.

claptrap = stupid and obvious lies, usually spoken.

I also looked at (A) ‘Tom, Dick, and Harry’, (B) ‘a bird in the hand’ [see the above picture], (C) ‘to bear out’, and (D) ‘in your face’. I made the point that these phrases cannot be understood by just knowing the individual words.

Where do you put AD in the following sentences?

Take the money now. Remember, …………… .

Give it to every …………… on the street.

She’s just really crazy and ………… .

The claim does not ………… when you examine the evidence.

This sort of language is collectively known as ‘idiomatic’, and obviously is only language which higher speakers of any language (including English) can use appropriately and well. This language is also informal.

But think about the IELTS Speaking Test. In this test, you are …

  • not talking to the president or your boss,
  • not making a speech, giving a lecture, or performing a role-play,
  • not trying to beat others, prove points, or win prizes,
  • nor doing anything special or noteworthy.

You are …

  • having an ‘across-the-table’ chat,
  • about ordinary everyday topics,
  • with someone who, in Western culture, is your equal.

This means the speaking is informal. But wait, idiomatic language is also informal, thus higher speakers of English would certainly use it in the situation of the IELTS Speaking Test. Hmmm, we need to think about this.

By the way, the answers to the exercise are B, A, D, C, and you can find out more about me at .