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ELC - English Language Center Santa Barbara
10 English Proverbs For the Every Day Student October 23rd, 2015

Proverbs are sayings that are passed down from generation to generation to transmit wisdom and general knowledge. Below is a list of 10 proverbs that will help expand your vocabulary. You can also use these sayings to encourage yourself and other students to achieve your goals.

1. The early bird catches the worm – this means that hard work, preparation, and dedication leads to success.

Example: Grace: “Hey Mercy! What are your plans for tomorrow?”

Mercy: “I am waking up at 6am to study. The early bird catches the worm, you know!”

2. Better late than never – sometimes unexpected situations arise that cause us to be late for something important. In such situations it is better to be late than not to be there at all.

Example: You forgot to set your alarm clock at night so you wake up later than usual the next morning. You get ready and rush over to school. Once you get to class the teacher tells you, “Come in and find a seat Ted, it’s better late than never.”

3. Don’t cry over spilled milk – this saying means that you should not brood over your past mistakes. You can not change the past but you can change the future. Learn from your mistakes and be hopeful.

Example: James was upset because he lost his favorite pen.  Jill told him not to cry over spilled milk because he could easily buy a new pen!

4. Practice makes perfect – the more time and effort you put into learning a skill, a new language, or a particular subject, the better you will get over time.

Example: Jackie practices playing the piano everyday because practice makes perfect.

5. No pain, no gain– this means that you may have to go through a difficult process before achieving desired results.

Example: Frank wants to have huge muscles so he works out at the gym every morning and evening. No pain, no gain!

6. Two heads are better than one – this proverb means that solving problems or completing a task is usually easier when done with someone else.

Example: Karl: “Hey Matt, would you like to study with me for the test coming up on Friday? You can ask me questions and I will do my best to answer them.”

Matt: “Yes, I would love to study with you! Two heads are always better than one!”

7. Rome wasn’t built in a day – this saying means that it takes patience and perseverance to achieve great things.

Example: Jane: “Oh my gosh! I will never finish this painting. It’s just too much work!”

Mary: “Calm down, Jane! Rome wasn’t built in a day, just keep working at it everyday until you finish. You can do it!”

8. Don’t judge a book by its cover – Appearances may be deceiving. It is better to get to know a person, a place, or even try a new food item before jumping to conclusions.

Example: Sam: “That food looks disgusting.”

Peter: “Hey man, it actually tastes really good. Give it a try! Don’t judge a book by its cover.”

9. Better safe than sorry – this means that being cautious can help you avoid a disaster.  Somewhat similar to ‘better late than never’, these two proverbs show that putting in the effort is usually worth it in the end.

Example: I’m going to carry an extra bottle of water for the hike, just in case.  It’s better to be safe than sorry.

10. Actions speak louder than words – this means that what you do is more important than what you say.

Example: Student: “I promise to be on time for each class and to do all my homework as soon as it is assigned.”

Teacher: “Well that sounds great, but actions speak louder than words.”

Studying proverbs