The most important English proverbs

What are proverbs?

Every culture has a collection of wise sayings that offer advice about how to live your life. These sayings are called „proverbs“.


How can you use proverbs to learn English?

It’s good to know the really common English proverbs because you hear them come up in conversation all the time. Learning proverbs can also help you to understand the way that people in English-speaking cultures think about the world.

Proverbs can also give you good example sentences which you can memorize and use as models for building your own sentences.

The most important English Proverbs

This is a list of some of the most important and well-known English proverbs. Below each one, there’s a simple explanation.

The meanings of some 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. „No man is an island.“ You can’t live completely independently. Everyone needs help from other people.

  5. „People who live in glass houses should not throw stones.“ Don’t criticize other people if you’re not perfect yourself.

  6. „Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.“ Bad things might happen, so be prepared.

  7. „Better late than never.“ It’s best to do something on time. But if you can’t do it on time, do it late.

  8. „Better late than never.“ It’s best to do something on time. But if you can’t do it on time, do it late.

  9. „Never look a gift horse in the mouth.“ If someone offers you a gift, don’t question it.

  10. „If it ain’t broken, don’t fix it.“ Don’t try to improve something that already works fairly well. You’ll probably end up causing new problems.

  11. „Easy come, easy go.“ When you get money quickly, like by winning it, it’s easy to spend it or lose it quickly as well.

  12. „Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.“ Different people have different ideas about what’s beautiful.

  13. „You can’t judge a book by its cover.“ Things sometimes look different than they really are. A restaurant that looks old and small might have amazing food, for example.

  14. „Honesty is the best policy.“ Don’t lie.

  15. „Don’t count your chickens before they hatch.“ Your plans might not work out, so don’t start thinking about what you’ll do after you succeed. Wait until you’ve already succeeded, and then you can think about what to do next.

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