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10 English House Idioms to Get Your Essay Message Across – YP


This week, we’re looking at 10 English idioms related to the topic of houses and homes, as well as two Cantonese sayings about stepping onto the property ladder.

1. Put your house in order

Meaning: doing your own thing, before or instead of criticizing someone else

Example: Before criticizing his peer’s academic performance, Matthew should focus on improving his grades to get his house in order.

2. Home on

Meaning: find and head straight for someone or something; find and pay a lot of attention to someone or something

Example: My sister focused on these periods to prepare for her history exam.

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3. Take something home

Meaning: make something clear by using repeated or direct arguments with force

Example: The author’s conclusion highlighted the importance of talking openly about our feelings.

4. Bring someone home

Meaning: to make someone fully aware of the seriousness or importance of a problem, danger or situation

Example: Watching the documentary really made me realize how serious the climate crisis is.

5. A house of cards

Meaning: a complicated organization that can easily be destroyed, or a complex plan that can easily go wrong

Example: Although the student union was able to quickly hammer out a new proposal, the plan is just a house of cards filled with vague and unrealistic goals.

A house built out of cards is not very stable. Photo: Shutterstock

6. The Truth at Home

Meaning: an uncomfortable truth that someone may not want to hear

Example: We spent months avoiding the topic, but in the end we had to tell our friend a few truths.

7. A house divided against itself cannot stand

Meaning: if members of a group fight against each other, the group will fall apart

Example: Not only does our debate team face fierce opposition from our rival school, but our members also bicker constantly – a house divided against itself cannot stand.

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8. Be home and dry

Meaning: to have achieved something

Example: For this course, we only need to complete our final assessment, and then we’ll be home and dry.

9. It takes a whole village to raise a child

Meaning: a proverb about how an entire community is responsible for teaching a child and providing a safe and healthy environment in which to grow up

Example: The government needs to support parents more because it takes a whole village to raise a child.

10. A house is not a house

Meaning: a house is just a physical structure, while a home is where one feels safe and happy

Example: Selena has spent all of her time working to earn enough money for a fancy apartment, only to find that a house isn’t a home.

When you live away from your loved ones, you learn that a house isn’t always a home. Photo: Shutterstock

Here are some Cantonese slang phrases…

1. 上車 soeng5 ce1 (serng che): “get in the car”

Meaning: to buy a first home, house or apartment as an investment. Similar to how people get on and off public transport, Hong Kongers use this term to describe how people buy their first home and invest in other properties in the future.

In English: stepping on the property ladder

Example: Many young people in Hong Kong are pressured to buy overpriced apartments just to be able to serng che.

2. 縮水樓 suk1 seoi2 lau4 (soak-sui-lau): “shrinking building”

Meaning: refers not only to tiny houses, but also to the deceptive tactics of real estate developers to trick buyers into believing that the usable space of an apartment is larger than it actually is

In English: shrink flat; small flat

Example: First-time home buyers in Hong Kong can only afford the famous soak-sui-lau.

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