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Learn English Expressions Related to the Human Body

Learning the parts of the human body in English is one of the first things students learn. The next step is to learn some of the many ways that people use the names of body parts to create new expressions. If you have "a good head on your shoulder", which means "if you are intelligent", you will learn the expressions in this article and start using them in your everyday conversations!

The head may be related to how smart you are but we say that "the eyes are the window to the soul". This means we can learn about someone's true nature by looking into their eyes. The eyes don't lie! (Well, not most of the time!) If someone is telling the truth, we believe they will "look you straight in the eye". A person with "shifty eyes", in other words, a person whose eyes often move from side to side, is considered to be untrustworthy. That is why we prefer to meet people "face to face", instead of talking on the telephone, when we have important business to discuss.

Another expression related to the face is "to have a big mouth" which describes someone who talks too much or talks at the wrong time. If your friend just told one of your secrets to somebody else, you can say, "why don't you shut your big mouth?!". The expression "to have a nose for something" describes a person who can easily find something or can understand something well. This means he or she is usually able to find out the truth. If you really want to learn something well, you have to "keep your eyes and ears open". Although it is possible to close your eyes, there is no way to close your ears! This expression just means that you must always look and listen if you want to learn.

Hands and feet are often used to make colorful expressions in English. To "give someone a hand" can mean two things. First, it could mean "to help someone". Second, it could mean "to cheer or clap for someone". If you often help someone, as an assistant helps his or her boss, then you can be that person's "right-hand man". And in today's world, we should also have "right-hand women"! Being a right-hand man may mean that you have to do a lot of walking from one office to another or from one building to another. In that case, you could say you are "doing the leg work", which means you are doing all the preparations for your boss. If you really enjoy something, then we can say that you "get a kick out of it". On the other hand, if you have to pay too much for something, then we would say you "paid an arm and a leg" for it - quite a high price!

There are several other expressions using the hand. If you "have a green thumb" it means you are good at growing plants, either in a garden or in your home. If you know a situation well, especially a situation involving a group of people, you can say that you "have your finger on the pulse" of the situation. ("Pulse" is basically the same as "heartbeat", though you can feel a pulse in other parts of your body, such as your wrist or neck.) Sometimes you have to work hard for something you want, so that it is almost like fighting. If you work very hard to get it, you could say that you are "fighting tooth and nail" to get it.

Some expressions use words from the middle part of your body. If you have "guts" that means you have courage. Remember, "No guts, no glory!". You can also "feel something in your gut" rather than understand it with your brain. That means you understand something basically, even though you don't know all of the facts. We can call this understanding "a gut feeling" and some people think you should "trust your gut", especially in a situation where you have a lot of experience. At the same time, you should never give up. In other words, you should "have heart"! This is different from "have a heart" which means you should be generous and giving.

Okay, I've now covered many useful English expressions. I expect you to "fight tooth and nail" to improve your English and when you're not sure which expression to use, just go with "your gut feeling". If you "keep your eyes and ears open", you will learn these well, but if you don't, you can expect to "get a tongue-lashing" from your teacher, which means I will have to scold you. So, get to work!

"Professor" Joe

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