Introduction    General Proverbs    Idioms at School    Idioms at Work    Idioms at Play    American Culture

Gossip at a Pajama Party    Chat at a Gym   Chat before a Trip    Chat among Old Friends    Dialogue on Business


Lesson Five -- American Culture 

Definition    Example sentences    Test 


 Americanization proverbs
These are the sayings that Americans, born and newly immigrated, hear said.
Time is money
Time is as important as money, which is very important, so don’t waste it!
God helps those who help themselves
This comes from Benjamin Franklin’s Poor Richard’s Almanac.  It means the harder you work, the more likely you will be to get God’s blessings.  This is very reflective of America’s Puritan heritage.
A penny saved is a penny earned
An old English saying that came to America and flourished, it means be thrifty. Not wasting money is as good as earning money.
Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.
Another of Franklin’s sayings, it’s quite obvious in meaning.
Scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours
You do me a favor, and I’ll do a favor for you.  Much of American business and politics works along this principal
There’s more than one way to skin a cat
There’s more than one approach to a problem
The proof of the pudding is in the eating
You know if your efforts are successful when you finally see the end results.
Pull yourself up by your bootstraps
This reflects the belief that people should better themselves using their own inner resources and not rely on others.
Where there’s a will, there’s a way
If you want something badly enough, you will figure out how to get it.
Opportunity doesn’t knock twice
You don’t get a second chance, so grab chances when they come up.
Practice makes perfect
Keep working at your skills until they are honed.
Make hay while the sun shines
Take advantage of good circumstances while you can, as they may not last.  Another saying that means don’t waste opportunity. This reflects America’s agricultural heritage, too.
Penny wise, dollar foolish
Don’t watch the pennies and end up wasting dollars.
Practice what you preach
Don’t be a hypocrite.  If you say something, live by it, too.
If a job is worth doing, it’s worth doing well.
This one is pretty obvious, but it’s meant to inspire pride in one’s work.
You don’t get something for nothing
Be wary of people who make extravagant promises of high rewards for little work.  It won’t happen.
There’s no such thing as a free lunch
Another way of saying that if someone offers you something for nothing, there will be strings attached.
Fight fire with fire
To fight using the same kind of weapon as the enemy, usually in a negative context.
Fish or cut bait
Do something or get out of the way.
There’s a vulgar version of this, too, that is ”sh*t or get off the pot.
Don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater.
If you have an idea that doesn’t work, don’t be heedless and get rid of all of it. Some might be valuable.
If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen
If you can’t take the pressure of a given situation, get out of the way of those who can.



Example sentences  

*When we were in school, our teachers would stand in the hallways yelling ”time is money, people!  Get to class!” 
*When I asked my big brother to help me with my studies so I would pass my exam, he said ”God helps those who help themselves.”  But then he took pity on me! 
*I really wanted the Levis, but I heard my dad’s voice saying, ”a penny saved is a penny earned,” and I have to pay for college next year. 
*My parents believed in the maxim ”early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise,” so I learned this habit very early
*When Sen. Clinton wanted help with her Medicaid bill, Sen. Schumacher told her, ”you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours.  That’s how he got her help on the casino bill. 
*I know there’s more than one way to skin a cat, so there has to be a way to advertise the dance even if we can’t afford ad space in the newspaper! 
*I studied as hard as I could for the math test, but the proof of the pudding is in the eating.  I got top grades.  Sweet! 
*Some people believe we should do it ourselves, but it’s hard to pull yourself up by the bootstraps when you don’t have any boots! 
*I know that where there’s a will, there’s a way, so I am determined to get into Harvard.  It will just mean lots of hard work and sacrifice. 
*I really didn’t want to give up my summer vacation for a job, but opportunity doesn’t knock twice, so I took the intern position at Merrill-Lynch.  
*I don’t like having to play the piano every day, but practice makes perfect, and the concert is in two weeks!  
*I bought the cheap dishwashing liquid, but I was penny wise and dollar foolish.  It was so bad, I had to use twice as much so it lasted half as long as the more expensive brand.  
*I don’t want my kids to smoke, so I quite myself.  It’s only fair to practice what you preach. 
*I always take care with even the most menial jobs, because if a job is worth doing, it’s worth doing well
*The ad promised me a ”free gift” if I bought $100 worth of useless junk!
*I met my uncle for lunch, his treat, but of course, there’s no such thing as a free lunch.  He wants me to get my cousin a date for the school dance! 
*When my opponent started a smear campaign, I decided it was time to fight fire with fire and start the same.  
*I couldn’t decide whether to stay in my job or go to grad school when my mother finally yelled “fish or cut bait”  
*I’m not a strict Freudian, but he’s got some good points, so let’s not throw out the baby with the bathwater.  
*Being a Wall Street broker isn’t for everyone, so if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.