The 50 most important English proverbs
Every culture has a collection of wise sayings that offer advice about how to live your life. These sayings are called “proverbs”.
It’s good to know the really common English proverbs because you hear them come up in conversation all the time. Sometimes people say the entire proverb to give advice to a friend.
More often, someone will say just part of a proverb like this: You know what they say: when the going gets tough…
(Read #5 below to learn the rest of this proverb and what it means.)
Learning proverbs can also help you to understand the way that people in English-speaking cultures think about the world.
This is a list of some of the most important and well-known English proverbs.
Below each one, there’s a simple explanation. Note that some of the
meanings of these phrases have shifted over the years, so a proverb might have originally had a different meaning than the one I explain.
1. “Two wrongs don’t make a right.”
When someone has done something bad to you, trying to get revenge will only make things worse.
2. “The pen is mightier than the sword.”
Trying to convince people with ideas and words is more effective than trying to force people to do what you want.
3. “When in Rome, do as the Romans.”
Act the way that the people around you are acting.
This phrase might come in handy when you’re traveling abroad notice that people do things differently than you’re used to.
4. “The squeaky wheel gets the
You can get better service if you complain about something. If you wait patiently, no one’s going to help you.
5. “When the going gets tough, the
tough get going.”
Strong people don’t give up when they come across challenges. They just work harder.
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