English Idioms Around the World
A monthly grammatical guide to help you build your English skills.

English Idioms Around the World

May 26, 2015

This month, we thought it would be fun to look at a few common English idioms and find out what the equivalent would be in other parts of the world. Let’s start with this popular expression in English about wanting something that you don’t have: “The grass is always greener on the other side.” In China, this same idea might be expressed as “This mountain looks at that mountain’s height.” In Hindi, it is expressed as “Distant mountains look beautiful.”

When you say “The early bird gets the worm” in English, you’re suggesting that the one who arrives first has the best chance of success. The Chinese equivalent would be “A fast foot is first to climb.” In Korea, there is a saying that “There is happiness if you get up early.” 

Now let’s see if you can figure out the English idiom based on its meaning in another language. The Chinese expression “Spilled water is hard to retrieve” means that things cannot go back as they were — or what’s done is done. Did you know that there is a similar expression in English that means you shouldn’t worry about something that’s already happened? (Hint: it also involves a spilled liquid.) 

Did you get it? The equivalent English idiom would be “There is no use crying over spilled milk.”

We hope you had fun learning more about English idioms! You might also enjoy these favorite idioms from around the world from the translators at TED