Idiomatic Expressions With 'Learn'

The verb "learn" frequently appears in numerous idiomatic expressions in the English language. Here is a compiled list of such expressions.

The verb "learn" frequently appears in numerous idiomatic expressions in the English language. Here is a compiled list of such expressions.

Learn on the Job

"Learning on the job" refers to gaining knowledge or skills during the course of work, as opposed to through formal training or education. This expression highlights the value of hands-on, practical experience acquired directly through performing tasks or responsibilities.

Many software developers often learn on the job, picking up new programming languages as project requirements evolve.

Learn the Ropes

"Learn the ropes" is an idiomatic expression meaning to learn the basic skills and knowledge needed to perform a particular job or activity.

In her first year at the law firm, Alice spent a lot of time shadowing more experienced colleagues to learn the ropes of legal practice.

You Live and Learn

"You live and learn" expresses the idea that life is a continuous learning process. It is often used in situations where someone has gained new knowledge or wisdom, especially as a result of an unexpected experience or mistake.

The phrase suggests that learning is an integral part of life and that experiences, both good and bad, contribute to one's understanding and growth. It's typically used to acknowledge a lesson learned or to comfort oneself or others after a surprising or challenging event.

Olivia booked a flight at the last minute and paid double the usual price. You live and learn. It’s better to plan ahead.

Learn on the Go

"Learn on the go" refers to acquiring knowledge or skills while being actively engaged in other activities, especially when moving around or not in a traditional learning environment.

The term is often used in contexts where people are busy or have limited time to dedicate to formal learning.

My daughter is constantly learning on the go, using her travel time to listen to language-learning podcasts.

Learn on the Fly

"Learn on the fly" means to quickly learn something while doing it, often in a situation where one is required to adapt rapidly to new information or tasks. This phrase is typically used in dynamic, fast-paced environments where there's little time for formal training or preparation.

During his travels, he learned on the fly how to navigate different public transportation systems in various cities.

Learn by Heart

"Learn by heart" means to memorize something so thoroughly that it can be recalled easily without any external aid. This phrase is often used in educational contexts where students are required to remember information, like poems, speeches, formulas, or passages verbatim.

John learned by heart all the capitals of the world for his geography test.

Learn the Hard Way

"Learn the hard way" refers to gaining knowledge or understanding through direct, often unpleasant or challenging experiences, rather than being taught or warned by others. This phrase implies that the learning process involved difficulties, mistakes, or failures that led to a deeper comprehension.

My brother learned the hard way that not backing up his computer data could lead to disastrous results.

Learn One's Lesson

"Learn one's lesson" means to understand and remember a mistake or a bad experience so that you do not repeat it. It's often used after someone has faced negative consequences due to their actions or decisions.

This phrase implies that the person has gained wisdom or insight from their experience and will be more cautious or behave differently in the future.

After failing the test due to a lack of study, he learned his lesson and started preparing well in advance for the next one.

Learn from Scratch

"Learn from scratch" means to start learning something from the very beginning, with no prior knowledge or experience in that subject or activity. This phrase is often used when someone is beginning to learn a new skill, language, or topic.

My son decided to learn programming from scratch, having no previous experience in computer science.

Learn the lay of the land

"Learn the lay of the land" is an idiom that means to become familiar with the specifics or characteristics of a new place or situation.

It originally refers to understanding the physical terrain of a land, but metaphorically, it's used to describe gaining a comprehensive understanding of the different aspects of a new environment, be it a workplace, a social setting, or an unfamiliar culture.

As a new member of the board, he wanted to learn the lay of the land before providing any strategic suggestions.

Learn One's Lines

"Learn one's lines" refers to the process of memorizing the dialogue for a play, movie, or other performance. This phrase is commonly used in the context of acting and theater.

Before the big audition, Sarah was nervous about whether she had sufficiently learned her lines.

There’s No Learning Without Trying

"There’s no learning without trying" is an idiomatic expression emphasizing the importance of effort and experience in the learning process. It suggests that genuine understanding or skill acquisition cannot occur without actively attempting, experimenting, or engaging in the activity or subject at hand.

She realized that mastering a new language requires practice, embodying the principle that there’s no learning without trying.

Learn to Walk Before You Run

"Learn to walk before you run" is an idiom that advises someone to start with the basics or simple tasks before attempting more complex or difficult ones. It emphasizes the importance of gaining foundational skills or knowledge before progressing to more advanced levels.

The phrase is often used as a caution against rushing into something without adequately preparing or understanding the simpler, underlying principles first.

As a beginner in yoga, she was advised to learn to walk before she runs, focusing first on fundamental poses before attempting more advanced ones.

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