ESL Online Magazine

helping English language learners expand their skills and their lives

ESL Online Magazine: Bird Proverbs

This issue of ESL Online Magazine is dedicated to birds. Although birds don’t speak English. they certainly show up in the language we use. They feature in several well-known proverbs and expressions in English. Here are just some of them:

Bird Phrases and Proverbs

  •  If we say “a little bird” told me something, we mean that we’ve been given information from a secret source. For example, “A little bird told me you had a new boyfriend.”
  • “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush” is advice that suggests we should value what we have now rather than wait for something better in the future. For example, imagine your friend has been offered $10,000 for her used car but wonders if she should wait for a buyer who might give her more money. To this friend, you could say, “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.” In other words, she should take the $10,000 that she knows she can have now rather than hope for more.
  • “Birds of a feather flock together” refers to the fact that people with similar interests, opinions and backgrounds commonly stick together.
  • “For the birds” is a slang term to describe something that should not be taken seriously. If the movie was for the birds, it was worthless and of no value.
  • If someone eats like a bird, he or she does not each much.
  • If you kill two birds with one stone, you get two things done at the same time.
  • If your parents discuss the birds and the bees with you, they discuss the basic facts about sex and reproduction.

Speaking “Bird”

ESL Online Magazine challenges you to explore this bird language. Make it your own by not only memorizing it but also by using it. Here are some questions to get you going: Why do you think birds of a feather flock together? What is something that you could describe as for the birds? Do you think it’s a good idea to always kill two birds with one stone when you can? Do you think that a bird in hand is worth more than two in the bush? Why or why not?

After you’ve had a chance to answer a few of these questions, why not post an answer in the comment box of this post of ESL Online Magazine or on the Facebook page for ESL Online Magazine.



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