Use Proverbs to Expand Your Vocabulary

By: Jake Solochek

There are two useful ways of improving English and make English class interesting.

1. include travel and geography in the lesson (by visiting the culture and tourism pages of cities in the USA)
2. look at proverbs and other sayings.

Then the students try to connect the sayings to different places around the world.

For example, there is an expression Do as I say, not as I do.

This can be Las Vegas or Los Angeles both places have negative behavior and both cities encourage people to do one thing while the local people do other things.

To find interesting web sites, you can start by going to and see the web site that inspired other cultural tourism offices.

Ive heard that the City of Charlotte chose to create their after seeing the guide to Philadelphia. Wow.

It's about about Neuro Language Learning. Connect your brain to language that in novel or interesting.

Here is a way to find some good web sites
Search for CVB list
I found

This site includes

and other places, too.

The second task is to find a list of proverbs or statements

Heres the list that my friend Andres in Rio created from a text book.

Do as I say, not as I do. (good, this is a typical expression in English)
Better alone than in bad company. (good)
A narrow mind has a broad tongue (This is not usually said. We like reading some of these proverbs.)
The things most people want to know are usually none of their business. (This is true but this is not a proverb. A proverb goes quickly to the point and often has memorable form or repetition. Haste makes waste is an example with the similar sound).
No one gets too old to learn a new way of getting stupid. (Another funny way of talking. Ive never heard it said this way. I heard You cant teach an old dog new tricks. Ive heard Nobody is too old to be stupid. This sounds funny because we assume that older people will be smarter with their experience.)
Good girls go to heaven, bad girls go everywhere. (This is on T shirts in Fort Lauderdale).
It would be a swell world if everybody was as pleasant as the fellow who's trying to skin you. (Funny, but it is not usually said by people. We hear a comic guide say it.)
To suspect a friend is worse than to be deceived by him. (Good theory but we dont say it like that.) (It is worse to be deceived by a friend than by a stranger. That is the feeling.)

A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. (Other cultures say, is better than 1000 birds flying.)
Logic is the art of going wrong with confidence. (Nobody says this, but we laugh when we read it.)
All cats are gray in the night. (Ha ha. All women look the same under the covers.)
Out of sight, out of mind. (Very popular and true)
Don't count your chickens before they hatch. (Very useful)
Every man for himself and the devil takes the hindmost. (This is older English. We now say, Lets go ahead and forget the devil. We mean to say, Lets go ahead and our positive attitude will keep bad things away.)

Everyone to his taste. (Each to his own. Thats a shorter way of saying the same thing. Each person has his own taste, so each person should select his own solution.)
Barking dogs seldom bite. (It is more usual to say His bark is work than his bite. It means that the dog makes a lot of noise but doesnt hurt you it is scared. I think this works for SOME dogs, but not ALL dogs).
Never look a gift horse in the mouth. (good)
Lock the stable after the horse is stolen. (Its like closing the barn door after the horses have run away. Your action is too late to prevent the problem)
Today is the first day of the rest of your life. (My favorite idea)
There's more to life than increasing it's speed. (its speed === it is = its) (I understand this, but we say, Take time to smell the roses.)
The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. (I agree, good )
Too much of the world is run on the theory you don't need road manners if you are a five-ton truck. (This sounds like a comic or a commentary. We dont make this a proverb == haste makes waste is better.)

He who is known as an early riser can stay in bed till noon. (The early bird gets the worm, Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.)
When you see a situation you cannot understand, look for the financial interest. (When you see a situation that you DONT understand, follow the money. Look for the person who will benefit financially.)
Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves. (We usually say, People who dont want others to be free dont deserve it for themselves.)
One of these days is none of these days. (Strange? One of these days will be your last day I never heard of this expression).
The only sure thing about luck is that it will change. (good)
The most welcome person is the one who knows when to go. (good)
No use crying over spilt milk. (good, but in USA we say Theres no use crying over spilled milk.)
Better late than never. (good)
Better late than dead on time. (If you are driving, its better to be late than dead right, which is for people who wont bad drivers a chance to go ahead. Its my right to go ahead. He should not be turning. Oops, Im right, but Im also dead.)

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You can find a good definition of a proverb at: You can find more proverbs at these web sites
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