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An idiom is a combination of words that has a meaning that is different from the meanings of the individual words themselves. It can have a literal meaning in one situation and a different idiomatic meaning in another situation. It is a phrase which does not always follow the normal rules of meaning and grammar. Many idioms are similar to expressions in other languages and can be easy for a learner to understand. Other idioms come from older phrases which have changed over time. Other idioms come from such things as sports that are common in the United Kingdom or the United States and may require some special cultural knowledge to easily understand them.
Structure of Idioms
Most idioms are unique and fixed in their grammatical structure. However, there are many changes that can be made to an idiom. Some of these changes result in a change in the grammatical structure that would generally be considered to be wrong. There can also be changes in nouns, pronouns or in the verb tenses. Adjectives and adverbs can also be added to an idiomatic phrase. It is for these reasons that it is sometimes difficult to isolate the actual idiomatic expression and then find it in a dictionary of idioms.
What is a phrasal verb?
A phrasal verb is a verb which is a combination of a verb and an adverb, a verb and a preposition, and a verb with an adverb and a preposition. It can have a literal meaning that is easy to understand because the meaning is clear from the words that are used in the phrasal verb itself. It can also have an idiomatic meaning which cannot easily be understood by looking at the words themselves. Some idiomatic expressions are made with a phrasal verb plus some other words. These words are used in a fixed order to give an idiomatic meaning.
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