Browse Tag: idioms

Idiomatic expressions – Ground

Written by Nigina Dustova

The ground is one of the most basic things we know. It is not surprising then if ground rules are basic rules. In a similar way, if you have a good grounding in a subject, you know the basics.
Hundreds of years ago, everyone had to hunt animals to stay alive. If you wanted to know if there were any large animals around, you put your ear to the ground and listened. Today if you keep your ear to the ground you are trying to be aware of any ideas or rumors which are around.
Flying is a more modern idea. A plane literally gets off the ground. This can be applied to a new project in business.


1. Paul’s good with people; he’s patient; he’s organized. Personally, I think social
work will suit him down to the ground.
2. Another boring meeting! They’re a waste of time. We always cover the same old ground.
3. I knew I hadn’t stolen anything in the shop, so I just stood my ground and eventually they believed me. They had mixed me up with someone else!
4. The best advice my grandmother ever gave me was to keep my feet on the ground even if my head was in the clouds!

Exercises: Use these idiomatic expressions in the sentences below:
a. ground rules
b. on dangerous ground
c. a bit thin on the ground
d. keep your ear to the ground
e. a good grounding
1. – Excuse me, I’m thinking of changing my PC for an Apple Mac. Have you got any
second-hand ones?
Sorry, we haven’t. Second-hand Macs are __________ at the moment.

2. – We’ve got to do something to reduce our costs.
– Well, if you start talking about cutting staff, you’re ___________.

3. – Thanks for letting me stay with you. You’re doing me a big favor.
– That’s OK, but there are one or two ___________ : no smoking, shoes off at the front door and everyone does their own washing up.

4. – You’re doing a computer course, aren’t you?
– Yes, it’s nothing special but it gives you __________ in the basics.

5. You want to move to the Personnel Department, don’t you? I’ve heard there might
be a job there soon so ____________.

c; 2. b; 3. a; 4. e; 5. d;