30 Best-Known Proverbs in English for Students & Learners (2022)

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30 Most Popular Proverbs in English for Students & Learners 1. Many hands make light work 2. Strike while the iron is hot 3. Honesty is the best policy 4. The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence 5. Don’t judge a book by its cover 6. An apple a day keeps the doctor away 7. Better late than never 8. Don’t bite the hand that feeds you 9. Rome wasn’t built in a day 10. Actions speak louder than words 11. It’s no use crying over spilled milk 12. Still waters run deep 13. Curiosity killed the cat 14. My hands are tied 15. Out of sight, out of mind 16. Easy come, easy go 17. You can’t make an omelette without breaking a few eggs 18. The forbidden fruit is always the sweetest 19. If you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours 20. It’s the tip of the iceberg 21. Learn to walk before you run 22. First things first 23. Don’t bite off more than you can chew 24. It’s better to be safe than sorry 25. The early bird catches the worm 26. Don’t make a mountain out of an anthill (or molehill) 27. Where there’s a will, there’s a way 28. Always put your best foot forward 29. The squeaky wheel gets the grease 30. A rolling stone gathers no moss Honorable Mention: 6 of Our Favorite Lesser-Known Proverbs 1. When in Rome, do as the Romans do 2. Birds of a feather flock together 3. A stitch in time saves nine 4. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder 5. Those in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones 6. Absence makes the heart grow fonder The Difference between Idioms and Proverbs in English

Proverbs are traditional sayings that are particular to a certain country. They are short, wise sayings that usually offer some kind of advice, or capture an idea found in life.

Native English speakers frequently use proverbs in their conversations, and they often do this without even realizing it. Proverbs sometimes reveal more about the culture of a country than any textbook can. The values of the population are reflected in its proverbs.

Proverbs are also a critical part of engaging fluently with people of a particular culture. Ask any English tutor from the UK what some common English proverbs are, and they are sure to be different from those of an English tutor from the USA.

That’s why we put together this guide of the 30 most popular proverbs in English, so you can know them when you see them (and maybe dish a few of your own).

30 Most Popular Proverbs in English for Students & Learners

There are probably a thousand proverbs out there, so we curated this list of the most popular need-to-know proverbs in English.

1. Many hands make light work

When many people work together to accomplish a difficult task, it doesn’t seem so difficult. That is the general meaning of this proverb. In other words, if people work together, the work is easier and is completed more quickly.

2. Strike while the iron is hot

This proverb means that you should take advantage of a favorable situation before it changes.

3. Honesty is the best policy

It is best to always be honest and tell the truth. By doing so, you will win the trust and respect of others.

4. The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence

Other people’s lives always seem better, happier, and more successful than yours, even if your life is going well.

5. Don’t judge a book by its cover

Don’t form an opinion or make a judgment about someone or something based on its outward appearance.

6. An apple a day keeps the doctor away

Since apples are rich in vitamin C – which is vital to our health – this proverb means that proper nutrition contributes to good health and fewer visits to the doctor. In this proverb, apples are a symbol of healthy foods and proper nutrition.

7. Better late than never

It is better to do something late than not do it at all.

8. Don’t bite the hand that feeds you

Don’t treat badly the person or people on whom you depend on, or who take care of you in some way.

9. Rome wasn’t built in a day

Time is needed to do great or important things.

10. Actions speak louder than words

A person’s true character can be seen by what he does, not by what he says. A person can talk as much as he wants, but he may not actually do anything to back up his words.

11. It’s no use crying over spilled milk

Don’t waste time crying or complaining about something bad that has happened that cannot be changed

12. Still waters run deep

This is said about a person who tends to be quiet and does not say much. Such a person often has a “deep,” interesting personality.

13. Curiosity killed the cat

You could be harmed by being too curious about or too interested in something that doesn’t concern you.

14. My hands are tied

This saying is not to be taken literally. It has a different meaning. It means that a person is unable to change things or render help in a given situation.

15. Out of sight, out of mind

When you don’t see or hear about something, you tend to forget about it.

16. Easy come, easy go

This means that money is easily earned and just as easily spent or lost (on gambling, for example).

17. You can’t make an omelette without breaking a few eggs

It is impossible to do something good or accomplish an important task without encountering some problems or making some sacrifices.

18. The forbidden fruit is always the sweetest

Things that are prohibited seem very attractive or desirable.

19. If you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours

If you do something to help me, I will do something to help you.

20. It’s the tip of the iceberg

As everyone knows, only a small part of an iceberg is visible above the water. The rest is underwater.

This proverb is used to describe a situation when we are in the process of trying to do something, and we encounter a difficulty or problem in connection with it. The saying means that the present problem is not the most difficult part of the entire process; many more – and probably more difficult – problems lie ahead.

21. Learn to walk before you run

Learn basic skills before you attempt to do something more difficult. For example, don’t start to learn English with difficult subjects such as articles or gerunds. Start with easier material, slowly increase your knowledge, and gradually work toward studying more difficult topics.

22. First things first

The most important things should be done before everything else.

23. Don’t bite off more than you can chew

Don’t take on more work or responsibility than you can handle at one time.

24. It’s better to be safe than sorry

Be careful and exercise caution – even if it seems unnecessary and it takes longer to complete something – and you will avoid potential problems that could arise later.

25. The early bird catches the worm

If you arrive early or do something before other people do it, you have a greater chance of succeeding.

26. Don’t make a mountain out of an anthill (or molehill)

Don’t make a minor problem or difficulty into a major one; don’t exaggerate the significance of a small problem.

27. Where there’s a will, there’s a way

If your desire to accomplish something is strong enough, you will find a way to do it.

28. Always put your best foot forward

The meaning of this proverb is that you should always try your best to make a good impression on others; show your best traits and qualities.

29. The squeaky wheel gets the grease

The person who complains the most or is most vocal about something that he needs is usually the one that receives help or attention

30. A rolling stone gathers no moss

The last proverb on our list has two meanings: 1) a person who is always moving – never living in one place very long – cannot be successful or make a lot of money, and 2) a busy person will not become stagnant but will remain creative and productive.

Honorable Mention: 6 of Our Favorite Lesser-Known Proverbs

Here are a few slightly lesser popular but equally awesome proverbs:

1. When in Rome, do as the Romans do

This proverb means that you should follow the local customs of whichever place you happen to be (even if it seems odd or unsavory).

2. Birds of a feather flock together

This proverb refers to people who have similar, overlapping interests, and how they often tend to be friendly or may be found together.

3. A stitch in time saves nine

This proverb is referring to procrastination: it means that getting your work done ahead of time, or completing some simple task earlier rather than later, will save you effort down the road.

4. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder

This proverb refers to the fact that everyone sees beauty differently, and what is ugly to one person may be beautiful to another.

5. Those in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones

This proverb refers to hypocrisy: it means that you should not accuse someone of a charge that you yourself are guilty of.

6. Absence makes the heart grow fonder

This proverb means that you tend to have a fonder memory and feeling about someone or something after they have been gone for a period.

The Difference between Idioms and Proverbs in English

Idioms are expressions that have a different meaning from the words used. You must have heard or learned an idiom before to understand it. Proverbs, however, are brief, well-known sayings that share life advice or beliefs that are common knowledge.

So that you don’t confuse proverbs with idiomatic expressions, take a look at the following video.

Try to memorize as many English proverbs as possible, and use them when you speak and write English.

By doing this, you will increase your vocabulary significantly and, as a result, improve your English. If you want to improve your English further, try a trial lesson with our tutors and learn English the human way – through conversation!

Remember, if you want to improve your English, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.”

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