It’s that time of year again! Fall is here, and for most Americans that means warmer clothes, pumpkin spice lattes, and a feeling that the U.S.A has turned on the air conditioner. Fall, (also known as Autumn in British English) is one season that seems to increase in popularity with every passing year, and with good reason! Maybe it’s the increase in cinnamon-based sweets, or the fact that Halloween is just around the corner. Whatever the reason, this obsession with the changing seasons isn’t limited to food and clothes!
When it comes to conversation, idioms present a challenge to almost all language learners. Weather, and in particular, seasons, are 2 subjects that any English language learner is likely to encounter at some point.
So let’s put on a scarf, heat up some “hot cocoa”, and settle in for 5 common weather idioms to get you ready for fall!
1.The calm before the storm
Have you ever sat outside before a storm arrived and noticed how quiet everything was? This idiom refers to that feeling not only with weather, but with personal experiences as well. This idiom can be used to emphasize that feeling of “cautious-calm” right before you know something is going to happen. Be careful! It’s usually used to talk about something negative…”In a few minutes the restaurant will open…Ahh yes, the calm before the storm.”
2. In a fog
Depending on where you’re spending your fall and winter months, you might have to deal with fog. Fog slows you down when you’re driving, and can make it hard to see. Sometimes I feel tired after a night out with friends, or I feel exhausted when I know I’m starting to get a cold or the flu. My mind feels very “cloudy”, and I might even feel dizzy or sick. I can’t concentrate! When this happens, I might say... “Sorry, my mind is in a fog.”
3. Take a rain check
Imagine this: you have plans with a friend to go to the movies. You walk to your car and try to start it, but you can’t! The engine is dead. You probably have to take your car to the mechanic, and the movie starts in 20 minutes. You decide to call your friend to reschedule. What can you say to let them know you can’t make it today, but you want to see the movie with them in the future? “Sorry, but I’m having car troubles…Can I get a rain check?”
4. Raining cats and dogs
This might be one of the most common idioms for talking about the rain. It’s not certain exactly where this idiom originated, but for many years it has been a popular way to say that it is heavily raining. It's important to note that while this idiom is still in use, some people also use it sarcastically, as a way to make a joke out of the amount of rain that is occurring… "Wow! Look at this weather we’re having! It’s raining cats and dogs out there!”
5. Bundle up
Used as a recommendation or simply to state a fact, this idiom is used more in the winter months than in other seasons. Bundle, meaning, “to wrap tightly” can refer to presents or people. In this case, it’s used to talk about the action of tightly wrapping oneself in warm clothes like scarves, gloves, and hats…”You’d better bundle up, it’s cold out there!”
So, the next time you need to face the cool air or chilly rain of an autumn day, you’ll be ready!
Best of luck on your language learning journey, and don’t forget to bundle up!
About the author:
Roberta has been working in education since 2008. She earned her Masters degree in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages in 2010 before working in an American university. As a Verbling instructor, she likes to challenge students to use what they’ve learned through customized lessons. She is currently living, working, and traveling in Europe while learning Italian.