Common Idioms to Boost Your IELTS Score – Topic: Disagreement



agree to differ or agree to disagree

If two people who are arguing about something agree to differ or agree to disagree, they decide to stop arguing because neither of them Is going to change their opinion.

I find some of his views very odd and we’ve agreed to differ on some things.

You and I are going to have to agree to disagree on this issue.

at each other’s throats or at one another’s throats

If two people or groups are at each other’s throats or at one another’s throats, they are arguing In a very angry way.

The politicians are at one another’s throats all the time, and are not functioning as a very effective government.

a battle of wills

If an argument or conflict Is a battle of wills, the person with the strongest beliefs or personality will win.

NOTE: Someone’s will is their determination to do something.

It was a battle of wills, and Grace’s was the stronger.

a bone of contention

A bone of contention is an Issue that people are arguing about.

NOTE: The image here is of two dogs fighting over a bone.

Pay, of course, is not the only bone of contention.

clear the air

If something such as an argument or a discussion clears the air, It makes bad feelings between people go away.

I get angry with Hannah, but I’m a great believer in expressing my feelings to clear the air.

cross swords

If you cross swords with someone, you disagree and argue with them or oppose them.

He repeatedly crossed swords with the Prime Minister in the early 1970s.

fight like cat and dog

If two people fight like cat and dog, they frequently have violent arguments or fights with each other.

My brother and I are very close in age and we used to fight like cat and dog.

give someone a piece of your mind

If you give someone a piece of your mind, you speak angrily to them because they have done something to annoy you. [INFORMAL]

You can’t let people get away with behaviour like that. You should have given her a piece of your mind!

have a bone to pick with someone

If you say that you have a bone to pick with someone, you mean that you are annoyed with them about something, and you want to talk to them about it. [INFORMAL]

NOTE: This expression may refer to the fact that dogs often fight over bones.

I have a bone to pick with you’. She wanted to bring up a matter that she had been afraid to discuss before.

have a go at someone

If you have a go at someone, you criticize them strongly, often without good reason, [mainly BRITISH, INFORMAL]

I was angry because I figured she was just having a go at me for the sake of it.

in someone’s bad books

If you are in someone’s bad books, you have done something that has annoyed them. [BRITISH, INFORMAL]

Thomas knew that having burnt the cakes, he would be in Mrs Simpson’s bad books.

jump down someone’s throat

If someone jumps down your throat, they react in a very angry way to something you have said or done. [INFORMAL]

If I even asked her about her day, she’d jump down my throat, as If I were interrogating her.

kiss and make up

If two people or groups kiss and make up, they become friends again after an argument or fight.

I sent her a big bottle of champagne with a note saying, ‘Sorry, hope we can kiss and make up’.

not see eye to eye

If you do not see eye to eye with someone, you do not agree with them about something.

The Prime Minister didn’t see eye to eye with him on this issue.

NOTE: You can also say that you see eye to eye with someone, meaning that you agree with them about something.

Yes, we argue about stuff but see eye to eye on the important issues.

a shouting match

A shouting match is an angry and uncontrolled argument or discussion about something, usually involving shouting.

For a moment I thought the meeting was going to become a shouting match.


 Exercise 1

Complete the sentences with the words in the box.

bone | shouting | throats | differ | pick | fight | air |  kiss
  1. The argument began to develop into a noisy _____________  match.
  2. The date of the wedding became a _____________ of contention between the two families.
  3. They each felt strongly about the issue and finally agreed to _____________
  4. It’s common for brothers and sisters to _____________ like cat and dog in their teens.
  5. They argue constantly but always manage to _____________ and make up.
  6. I’ve got a bone to _____________ with you! Why have you been avoiding me?
  7. The children were constantly at each other’s _____________ during the school holidays.
  8. I finally managed to explain what really happened and that cleared the _____________

Exercise 2

Match sentence halves 1-8 with A-H to make complete sentences.

1          If I’d been the parent,

2          I’ve had a long day, I’m exhausted and fed up

3          She liked him a lot but

4          There’s no need to jump down my throat

5          I have crossed swords a number of times

6          The battle of wills may go on for some time

7          A major bone of contention between them

8          Let’s just stop arguing about it

A they rarely saw eye to eye on things.

B with my boss.

C and agree to differ, shall we?

D and you have a go at me as soon as I walk in the door.

E I’d have given the teacher a piece of my mind.

F was whether they should buy a car.

G as neither child wants to lose the argument.

H when I try to make a helpful suggestion.

Exercise 3

Match situations 1-6 with explanations A-F.

1          They see eye to eye on most matters.

2          They went to a dinner party that turned into a shouting match.

3          They usually end up agreeing to disagree.

4          They take every opportunity to have a go at each other.

5          They fight like cat and dog when they are alone.

6          They avoid crossing swords if possible.

A They frequently criticize one another.

B They try not to argue with one another.

C They generally agree about things.

D They finish their arguments in a friendly way.

E They have violent arguments at home.

F They were among guests who argued.

Exercise 4

Complete the sentences. Choose the best answers.

  1. We’ve discussed the issue but still have different views. We’ll have to kiss and make up / agree to differ / cross swords.
  2. When we were younger, my sister and I used to fight like cat and dog / have a bone of contention / have a bone to pick.
  3. I only asked you how your test was! There was no need for you to have a battle of wills / jump down my throat / have a shouting match!
  4. I was really annoyed, so when I phoned customer services I had a bone of contention with them I saw eye to eye with them / gave them a piece of my mind.
  5. He has a very bad temper. I wouldn’t like to cross swords / fight like cat and dog / kiss and make up with him.
  6. I’ve got a bone of contention / bone to pick with you / battle of wills with you – why did you borrow my phone without asking me?
  7. I decided to have a long calm talk with her to have a go at her / cross swords with her / clear the air.
  8. The moment I saw him I knew I was in his bad books / seeing eye to eye with him / a bone of contention.

Exercise 5

Re-order the phrases to make sentences. Add punctuation where necessary.

1          about / my work / had a go at me / my boss

2          don’t / about politics / we / see eye to eye

3          many families / often / a bone of contention in / housework is

4          can be / getting children / their homework / a battle of wills / to do

5          kiss and make up / argue a lot / they / but always

6          to turn into / don’t want / I / a shouting match / this discussion

7          the right moment / until she found / to clear the air / she waited

8          in my teacher’s bad books / I was / doing my homework / for not

Exercise 6

Correct the idioms in these sentences.

1          She and the Director General could hear eye to eye on this matter.

2          How can we discuss this properly when you are always at one another’s eyes?

3          You could at least listen before you shout down my throat.

4          The score was five all and the football match became a battle of bones.

5          She felt that she wanted to give those decision makers a go at her mind.

6          It’s important for the economy that the two leaders should give and make up.

7          I guess almost everyone has a match to pick with the government.

8          The young man’s ambition to become an actor was a battle of contention between him and his father.

Your turn!

Use the idioms in this unit to describe any disagreements you have had with your friends, your classmates, colleagues, or family. For example:

I don’t like crossing swords with anyone if I can avoid it.

I don’t see eye to eye with my parents about my future


Exercise 1

1 shouting       5  kiss

2 bone             6 pick

3 differ            7 throats

4 fight             8 air

Exercise 2                  

1 E       5 B

2 D      6 G

3 A      7 F

4 H      8 C

Exercise 3                  

1 C      4 A

2 F       5 E

3 D      6 B

Exercise 4                  

1          agree to differ

2          fight like cat and dog

3          jump down my throat

4          gave them a piece of my mind

5          cross swords

6          bone to pick with you

7          clear the air

8          in his bad books

Exercise 5

1          My boss had a go at me about my work.

2          We don’t see eye to eye about politics.

3          Housework is often a bone of contention in many families.

4          Getting children to do their homework can be a battle of wills.

5          They argue a lot but always kiss and make up.

6          I don’t want this discussion to turn into a shouting match.

7          She waited until she found the right moment to clear the air.

8          I was in my teacher’s bad books for not doing my homework.

Exercise 6

1          see eye to eye

2          at one another’s throats

3          jump down my throat

4          a battle of wills

5          give those decision makers a piece of her mind

6          kiss and make up

7          has a bone to pick

8          a bone of contention

Written By

Syed Monif is a professional content marketer and IELTS Trainer by day, and a bookworm by night, and sometimes during the day too! He currently works on creating extremely user-friendly and engaging content for the online portal His work involves creating and editing content while making sure they're super interesting and easy to read! And also as a master procrastinator, right now he's probably googling something so arbitrary like 'How rich is Scrooge McDuck?' without realizing that his lunch break is almost over.

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