Hi, I'm Vanessa from SpeakEnglishWithVanessa.com.
Are you ready to learn about useful proverbs?
Let's talk about it.
Part of having an advanced English vocabulary is knowing phrasal verbs, idioms and yes,
But if you search on Google English proverbs, you're going to find lists of 150 proverbs.
That's way too much.
Nobody wants that, and when I looked at those, half of them, I didn't know what they were
and I've never used most of them in my life.
You don't want to waste your time.
If native speakers don't use them, then you don't need to know them unless of course you
know everything about English already and you want to know more of the stuff that I
don't even know, okay, go ahead.
Today I want to help you learn seven common proverbs that native speakers actually use
in real life.
If you use these, native speakers won't look at you like you're strange because these are
Don't use a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.
We never say this.
It sounds pretentious.
Pretentious means snobby or stuck up.
Instead, use these seven proverbs, like normal people.
Sometimes English learners find it difficult to learn proverbs because proverbs can be
long sentences or at least a couple words all together that you need to know in the
exact order, but the good news is that all of these seven proverbs can be shortened to
just a few words.
We'll talk about that in just a moment.
But let's get started with the first four.
Number one, actions speak louder than words.
If you tell your mom that you're going to take out the trash and you don't do it, she
might say to you, "Actions speak louder than words, just do it."
Or you can reduce this proverb and use the expression, "You know what they say about
We're going to be filling in that final word with something different for each proverb.
So if you don't take out the trash and your mom says to you, "Actions speak louder than
Well, she might say, instead, "You know what they say about actions," and she's expecting
that you know this proverb.
She's expecting that in your head, you will fill in actions speak louder than words.
So you will definitely hear this and you can use this.
Oh, you know what they say about actions.
It means that actions speak louder than words.
So what you're doing right now is not matching with your words.
Actions speak louder than words.
Let's see how this kind of phrase, the shortening in this phrase would work with another proverb.
Proverb number two, honesty is the best policy.
Just like all proverbs.
This is a little bit too simple.
Sometimes honesty is not the best option, at least 100%.
Honesty, you don't want to say, "That dress looks terrible on you."
Probably not a good idea to be completely honest in this situation, but in general,
honesty is a great idea.
So we could say honesty is the best policy.
What if we used our shortening expression?
You know what they say about honesty.
So let's imagine that at work, one of your friends saw that someone else was stealing
some supplies from the office and your friend says to you, "Should I tell our boss?
I don't want to tattle."
That means to tell on the other person, "But I don't think it's right.
What should I do?"
You might say, "Well, you know what they say about honesty," and you're expecting that
your friend knows this proverb because all native speakers know this proverb.
Honesty is the best policy.
You're expecting that your friend will think, "Oh yeah, honesty is the best policy.
I should be honest.
I should tell my boss about this situation."
So you can say honesty is the best policy, or you can use our special phrase, you know
what they say about honesty.
Let's go onto the third one.
The third common proverb is no news is good news.
Let me tell you a quick story.
When my husband went to college, which is where I met him, the college was eight hours
away from where his parents lived and when he went to college, he was so into the activities
and into studying, kind of studying that he didn't call his mom for two months.
So in this situation his mom could have said, "Well, no news is good news."
This means that if there was a big problem, she would probably know about it.
Either Dan, my husband, would call her or maybe the school would call her.
So if there's no news, it's probably good news.
We can shorten this expression with our key phrase, "Well, you know what they say about
So maybe if a Dan's parents are having a conversation and they're saying, "Why didn't Dan call us?
Is he okay?
It's been two months."
Dan's dad might say to his mom, "Well, you know what they say about no news," and Dan's
mom might say, "Yeah, yeah, I know.
Okay, well he's probably fine."
So we can shorten it by using that expression.
The fourth common proverb is better late than never.
This is one of my favorite excuses for being late because you don't really have to explain
why you're late.
You can just say, "Hey, better late than never," which means you should be happy that I'm here
It's better to be late than to never come to that place.
So better late than never.
How can we shorten this?
Using the phrase, "Well, you know what they say about," we can't use the previous style,
which is just taking that first word.
Instead, we're going to have to make a little verb phrase here, you know what they say about
You know what they say about being late.
It's better than ever coming.
So here, if you come to a party late and everyone's already there, they're already eating.
You could say, "Better late than never," or maybe if you're the host of a party and someone,
one of your friends comes to the party late, you could say, "Better late than never."
Or you might say, "Well, you know what they say about being late," and it just shows,
"Hey, I'm glad you're here.
Even though you're late.
I'm glad you're here."
Before we go onto the next three proverbs, let's do a quick review.
You could say, "You know what they say about actions.
You know what they say about honesty.
You know what they say about no news.
You know what they say about being late."
All right, let's go onto the next three proverbs, which we can shorten in a different way.
The fifth proverb that we commonly use is slow and steady wins the race.
Slow and steady wins the race.
This comes from the fable of the tortoise or a turtle and the hare, another word for
They're in a race.
The hare goes quickly and then gets often distracted, but the tortoise, the turtle goes
slow and steady.
He is consistent and because he doesn't stop, he wins the race.
Maybe you don't want to learn all seven of these proverbs and memorize them today, but
you're going to memorize one every day for a week.
You are going to study slow and steady, great.
But how can we shorten this expression?
We often just say slow and steady.
It just means the same thing.
Slow and steady wins the race.
Let's imagine a quick situation.
If you're cleaning your house and it just seems like a total disaster.
There's so much mess everywhere and your friend comes over and says, "What in the world are
This looks like a disaster."
You could say, "Slow and steady, slow and steady," and this means that you're cleaning
slowly but steadily.
It might look like a disaster, but don't worry, slowly and steadily you will clean your house.
You can just say, "Slow and steady, slow and steady," and they can understand that by being
slow and by being steady, you will win the race.
You will win the cleaning mess.
Let's go onto the sixth proverb, which we can also shorten by saying just the first
The sixth proverb is the grass is always greener on the other side.
Grass is the little plants, the little green leaves that come up in a soccer field, that's
Have you ever been out to eat at a restaurant and you see your friends' food and you think,
"I wish I'd ordered that."
You're kind of jealous of their food.
Well, in the situation the grass is their food.
Someone else's thing seems better than yours.
The grass is greener on the other side.
The origin of this proverb is a lawn or a yard.
There is a fence and there's your lawn and there's your neighbor's lawn.
Their lawn always looks better than your lawn, at least that's what you think.
You're a little bit jealous because their thing looks better than your thing.
But here we have a subtle meaning with this idiom.
It means that you think their food is better.
You think their grass is greener.
But in reality it's probably not.
It's just in your head.
What someone else has always seems better than what we have.
So here it's kind of a false perception.
Other food isn't actually better than what I ordered, but I just think it is.
So in this situation, when you're eating out with your friend and you say, "Oh, your food
looks so good, I wish I'd ordered that."
Your friend might say, "The grass is always greener."
The grass is always greener.
Your friend didn't finish the expression on the other side.
Your friend just said the first couple words.
The grass is always greener.
You can use this in so many situations in English and really in daily life.
So I hope that it will help to add and enrich your vocabulary.
I want to know, is there a proverb leg this in your language?
I know that there are a lot of similar proverbs to this in other languages, but I'm curious
Let me know in the comments, is there one like this in your language and what does the
Is it about grass?
Is it about something else?
The seventh and final proverb that we're going to talk about is a classic one, do unto others
what you would have them do unto you.
This comes from a saying of Jesus in the Bible and really it means do to other people what
you want them to do to you.
It uses some kind of fancy old fashioned language.
We often use this for children.
Maybe if one child takes a toy from another child, the parent might say, "Oh, do to your
friends what you want them to do to you."
Maybe in little simpler terms like this instead of do unto others, we might use it in simpler
terms for children.
I thought about this proverb actually a couple weeks ago because a local store got robbed
by a man at gunpoint and it was the third time that this store got robbed within a couple
of months, and I thought, "What?
How did this happen again?
Come on, do unto others.
How hard is it?"
I used this, and in my head as I was thinking about it, do on to others, to mean why did
the man do this?
He's not thinking about how his actions will have an effect on other people.
He doesn't want someone to rob him, so come on, do on to others what you want them to
do unto you.
But instead we can shorten this and just say, "Do unto others.
Do unto others."
We might say this to other people in our lives or maybe just think about it in our hands,
"Do unto others.
Okay, I can do it.
Do unto others."
Now I have a question for you.
Do you have any of these proverbs in your language?
The grass is always greener on the other side.
Just remember the next time you're late to you can just say, "Better late than never."
Or if your friend is upset because you told her the truth about something, you can say,
"Well, you know what they say about honesty," and if you're worried about your progress
in English, you can just think, "Slow and steady, slow and steady.
I can do it."
Thanks so much for learning English with me and I'll see you again next Friday for a new
lesson here on my YouTube channel.
The next step is to download my free eBook, Five Steps to Becoming a Confident English
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Thank you so much.