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Idioms: The Language of Advertising

Television commercials may be intended to promote products, services and organizations, but, quite interestingly, they also provide us with an excellent opportunity to learn about different languages and cultures. Commercials tell stories, contain pictures, are short, and, most of the time, in their effort to be funny, use idioms.

Here is a collection of 10 idioms - and 10 television commercials that contain them!

1.
to be green
If you are green, you support the environment by making wise choices in what you do and how you live. You will see the expression to be green in a sentence like this one:

Being green means not supporting companies that harm the environment.

In the following Ford
Hybrid commercial, Kermit the Frog talks about being green. Of course, you can see why Kermit was chosen for this commercial, can’t you?



2.
ignorance is bliss
The English idiom ignorance is bliss means that not knowing something makes us more happy than knowing it. Another way of saying the same thing would be what you do not know cannot hurt you. Here is a sample sentence using this expression:

Thankfully, Eduardo did not know about his father’s secret. Ignorance is bliss.

The following video is a Discovery Channel commercial that points out that
discovery is a wonderful thing and, therefore, not knowing everything about the world gives us happiness - in other words, ignorance is bliss. Watch the commercial:



3.
to be in the doghouse
You are in the doghouse when someone is angry with you for something that you have done. Typically, this phrase is used when men are in trouble with their wives. Look at the following example:

Ever since he forgot his wife’s birthday, Fred has been in the doghouse.

In the following Kraft Macaroni & Cheese commercial, you will see a man who is
in the doghouse because he brings a guest home to dinner - without telling his wife first.



4.
monkey business
Monkey business
can be defined as silly or dishonest behavior. Here is a good example of how this English idiom can be used:

Okay, class. I have had enough of your monkey business. Let’s open up our grammar books and get down to business.

Do you ever feel like you work with monkeys - or that you work in an office where there is a lot of
monkey business going on? Then, you will sympathize with the leading man in the following somewhat controversial Career Builder commercial:



5.
to stick together
To stick together means to be loyal to one another, especially in difficult times. Here is an example of how this idiom can be used:

Through all of our school years, we always stuck together.

This funny T-mobile commercial shows us how family has
to stick together:











6.
to be/get left behind
If you are left behind, others have progressed faster than you - in other words, you have failed to acquire the knowledge or the skills that the others have gained.

In our school system, no child should be left behind.

Here is a Best Buy commercial that shows how the
older generation can be left behind in today’s modern world:



7.
to get down to business
When someone says that he wants to get down to business, he means that he wants to start talking about or doing the important things that need to be done. It is common to use this English idiom in a business situation. It is typically used after introductions or small talk - when the conversation should turn to the important business-related topics. Here is an example of how this English expression can be used:

Thank you very much for attending today’s meeting. Let’s get down to business.

In the following Omega commercial, you will see the actor Pearce Brosnan,
a.k.a. James Bond, getting down to business - with the right watch, of course.



8.
to rule
The English expression to rule is often used to say that something is superior. Typically, you will see it in vernacular sentences like the following one:

Westmount Public School rules.

This sentence means that this particular school is
superior or the best. In North American culture, children often try to sell lemonade in their neighborhoods to earn some money. In the following Verizon commercial, you will see a young girl set up a lemonade stand and turn it into a real business. The message of the commercial is that the small business with the best technology rules.



9.
one-of-a-kind
If someone of something is one-of-a-kind, he, she or it is unique or special in his, her or its very own way. Here is an example using this English idiom:

Every child in this world is one-of-a-kind.

In this Hershey Kisses commercial, we are told that each Hershey Kiss chocolate is one-of-a-kind:



10.
holy cow
Holy cow is an expression or exclamation of surprise and is mostly used in American and Canadian English. Here is an example to demonstrate how this English idiom is used:

Holy cow! Look how many people are here!

In the above sentence holy cow is equivalent to
what a surprise!.
The following Swiss Tourism commercial is an interesting one to include here - because it is in Swiss German and in English. However, it has excellent subtitles and includes the idiom
holy cow:



Do you know of any other commercials that are worth watching to learn English idioms?



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