Every language and culture has proverbs, including English. These popular and timeless sayings usually provide a piece of advice or express truth using figurative language. They are fun to say and easy to remember, so using them will up your English by few notches.
Here are some of the most common and fun English proverbs you should know to sound more like a native speaker.
15 Common English Proverbs You Must Know
Try to memorize these proverbs and their meaning so that you can use them more often.
1. ”A Bird in Hand Is Worth Two in the Bush”
Obviously, the proverb here doesn’t speak about someone holding an actual bird in their hand, but about cherishing the things you already have in your life more than those you haven’t. In other words, to be more grateful for the things you have now than to regret those you lack but wish to have.
Ex. You shouldn’t have quit your job before finding another one. A bird in hand is worth two in the bush.
2. ”Actions Speak Louder than Words”
Use this phrase when you want to say that what someone does is more important than what they say. It’s the perfect proverb for a person that only talks about doing something and making no move.
Ex. John: I promise I will study harder for the next exam.
His mother: Actions speak louder than words.
3. ”All Good Things Must Come to an End”
Unfortunately, everything ends, including the good stuff. So, you use this phrase to emphasize that nothing lasts forever.
Ex. I had the best time this summer, but I know that all good things must come to an end.
4. ”Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder”
Have you ever had someone you love away from you? When a loved one is far away from you, you tend to love them even more. That’s the meaning behind this proverb.
Ex. I wasn’t very close to Sara, but after moving to Florida she started calling me every day. I think absence made her heart grow fonder.
5. ”The Early Bird Catches the Worm”
What this proverb says is that if you arrive somewhere early, you’ll have more choices available and more chances to succeed.
Ex. You should leave now if you want to get good seats at the cinema. You know that the early bird catches the worm, right?
6. ”A Journey of a Thousand Miles Beings with a Single Step”
We use this proverb to say that in order to finish something, you must begin first. You need a beginning to have an end.
Ex. If you want to have better grades at school, you need to stop playing games and start studying. Now. Not later. A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
7. ”A Cat Has Nine Lives”
We all know cats can survive in almost impossible situations. But, this proverb refers to people that always manage to get out of dangerous or difficult situations without being harmed or hurt.
Ex. I haven’t heard from Jessy for a whole month, but I think she’s well. We all know a cat has nine lives.
8. ”A Little Knowledge Is a Dangerous Thing”
The idea behind this proverb is that a small amount of knowledge can be misleading instead of useful. In other words, thinking that you’re an expert on something just because you know very little of it can make you sound ridiculous. Sometimes it may lead to serious consequences.
Ex. Just because you’ve been to Germany once, doesn’t mean you know everything about the country. Remember, a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.
9. ”A Bad Workman Always Blames His Tools”
This applies to anyone who blames the quality of external factors such as equipment for their poor performance. It’s easier for them to blame other things than themselves when they fail in something.
Ex. Sam: I would’ve gotten a better grade in Math, but my calculator was giving me wrong answers.
Taylor: It sounds like a bad workman blaming his tools.
10. ”Beauty Is in the Eye of the Beholder”
It’s a way to say that what’s beautiful for one person may not be for another. There’s no standard for beauty. Everyone has their own perception of what’s beautiful and what not.
Ex. Everyone thought her dress was ugly, except for her. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
11. ”Don’t Bite the Hand That Feeds You”
This proverb advises you to avoid hurting or making angry the person who’s helping or supporting you in some way.
Ex. Treat your parents with respect. Don’t bite the hand that feeds you.
12. ”Better Late Than Never”
Use this proverb when you want to say that doing something late is a better option than not doing it at all. You better do something late than not do it at all.
Ex. Here’s the money I owe you since last year. Better late than never, right?
13. ”Don’t Judge a Book by Its Covers”
This is a beautiful proverb that teaches you to never judge anyone or anything only by its appearance.
Ex. The school didn’t look attractive from the outside, but the classrooms were beautiful and well-equipped. You can’t judge a book by its cover.
14. ”Always Put Your Best Foot Forward”
This proverb has nothing to do with your feet or one of them being better than the other. It’s a way to say that someone should give their best or try as hard as they can when doing something.
Ex. I should put my best foot forward in the exam if I want to get a good grade.
15. ”A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words”
The last of our proverbs means that it’s easier to understand something when you see it on a picture or graphics than when you hear it.
Ex. If you can just show me a picture of the place, I would find it easier. You know what they say, a picture is worth a thousand words.
To Sum Up
Native speakers use proverbs in their everyday language, so knowing some of the most common proverbs can help improve your English.