The Most Common Idioms to Boost Your IELTS Score – Topic : Happiness and sadness

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Happiness and sadness

break someone’s heart

  1. If you break someone’s heart you make them very unhappy by ending a relationship with them or making it clear that you do not love them.

She left him later that year and broke his heart.

NOTE: You can also say that someone has a broken heart when they feel very sad because a relationship has ended.

If you’re a poet, you get some good poetry out of a broken heart.

NOTE: You can also say that someone is heartbroken or is broken-hearted.

Mary was broken-hearted when he left her.

  1. If a fact or a situation breaks your heart it makes you very sad.

It broke my heart to see this woman suffer the way she did.

NOTE: You can also say that someone is heartbroken or is broken-hearted if they are very upset about something.

down in the dumps or in the dumps

If you are down in the dumps or in the dumps you feel depressed.

Try to support each other when one of you is feeling down in the dumps.

I was in the dumps when I met Jayne. I was clearly not living the kind of life I should live.

full of beans

If you are full of beans you are very happy and energetic.

NOTE: This originally referred to a horse that was well-fed and therefore full of energy.

Jem was among them, full of beans after his long sleep.

get a kick out of something

If you get a kick out of something you enjoy it very much. [INFORMAL]

These doctors take on huge workloads and get a kick out of being busy, helping people, curing patients and saving lives.

get on top of you

If something gets on top of you it makes you feel sad or upset, and you are not able to deal with it.

I was so fed up. Everything was just getting on top of me.

have a whale of a time

If you have a whale of a time, you enjoy yourself a lot. [INFORMAL]

Kids of all ages will have a whale of a time at the amusement park.

a long face

If someone has a long face they look very serious or unhappy.

He came to me with a very long face and admitted there had been an error.

look on the bright side

If you look on the bright side you try to be cheerful about a bad situation by concentrating on the few good things in it or by thinking about how it could have been even worse.

I tried to look on the bright side, to be grateful that I was at least healthy.

NOTE: You can also just talk about a bright side of a bad situation.

There is a bright side to this depressing situation, at least for one group of people: American tourists. They’re getting more for their dollar right now.

make someone’s day

If someone or something makes your day they make you feel very happy.

There was such a sincere expression of friendliness on both their faces that it was a joy to see. It really made my day.

not a happy bunny

If you say that someone is not a happy bunny you mean that they are annoyed or unhappy about something. [BRITISH, INFORMAL]

NOTE: ‘Bunny’ is a childish word for a rabbit and the expression is meant to sound like part of a children’s story. It is used humorously.

I’m receiving around 100 junk emails a day. I’m not a happy bunny.

on top of the world

If you feel on top of the world you feel extremely happy.

The combination of cold, crisp snow and warm sunshine makes you feel on top of the world.

over the moon

If you are over the moon about something that has happened you are very happy about it. [mainly BRITISH, INFORMAL]

‘Caroline must be pleased about her new job?’ ‘Yes, she’s over the moon.’

a shoulder to cry on

A shoulder to cry on is someone who is sympathetic to you when you are upset and listens when you talk about your problems.

For a lot of new mums the health visitor is the perfect shoulder to cry on when it all gets too much.

NOTE: You can also say that one person cries on another’s shoulder.

He had let her cry on his shoulder when her mother died, taking her calls in the middle of the night. 


Exercise 1

Choose the best answer to complete the sentences.

1          Look on the ____________ side. You still have a job.

a          good                b          bright               c          top

2          I’m over the ____________ about Rosie’s news.

a          moon              b          world               c          side

3          Why have you got such a ____________ face?

a          long                 b          bad                  c          low

4          He always gets a ____________ out of being recognized in the street.

a          hit                    b          kick                 c          whale

5          Don’t let that dreary job get on  ____________ of you

a          down               b          side                  c          top

6          He’s been looking very down in the  ____________ lately.

a          face                 b          world               c          dumps

7          She’s become her old self again – laughing and full of __________ .

a          kicks                b          beans               c          dumps

8          She was on top of the __________, showing everyone her engagement ring.

a          world               b          moon               c          time

Exercise 2

Match sentence halves 1-6 with A-F to make complete sentences.

1 You made my day when

2 He felt full of beans after

3 She was on top of the world because

4 Everyone needs a shoulder to cry on when

5 She broke her mother’s heart when

6 The bright side is that you can

A she’d been invited for an interview.

B you told me how beautiful I was.

C they’ve had depressing news.

D he’d had a steam bath and massage.

E visit them for your holidays.

F she decided to give up dancing.

Exercise 3

Complete the advertisements with the words in the box.

have | over | down | make | full | top
  1. _____________ someone’s day – give them a book token!
  2. Don’t let illness get on _____________ of you – stay fit and healthy
  3. Give your wife flowers on valentine’s day – she’ll be _____________ the moon
  4. Start the day with Wheaties cereal – be _____________ of beans all day!
  5. Spring time allergies? No need to be _____________ in the dumps with our new treatment
  6. Try our new swimming pool and_____________ a whale of a time!

Exercise 4

Complete the sentences. Choose the correct answers.

  1. Something must be wrong. Sally looks over the moon / down in the dumps / full of beans.
  2. The meeting didn’t go well – it was awful. I’m not a happy bunny / getting a kick out of it / full of beans.
  3. I love doing Sudoku puzzles! They really get on top of me / I really get a kick out of them / They break my heart.
  4. I’m sorry about your news. I’m here, if you need a shoulder to cry on / a long face / to get a kick out of something.
  5. I know you’ve got a lot of work but you’ll manage. Just don’t let it make your day / look on the bright side / get on top of you.
  6. Thanks for telling me that great news. It really broke my heart / made my day / got on top of me.

Exercise 5

Match idioms A-F with situations 1-3.

1          enjoying something

2          being unhappy

3          being very happy

A She was over the moon when she heard the news.

B Carl’s walking around with a very long face today.

C I really get a kick out of being on stage.

D Tina’s been very down in the dumps lately.

E They’re having a whale of a time.

F He’s on top of the world at the moment.

Exercise 6

Correct the idioms in these sentences.

1          If you need an arm to cry on, you know where I am.

2          When she came back from that holiday she was on the top of the world.

3          Business hasn’t been good and things have been getting on top of my head lately.

4          When you have a customer who turns round and thanks you, it builds your day.

5          Khaled has been up in the dumps since failing his exam.

6          It was easy to see that Kari was not a funny bunny.

7          He left rather hurriedly but when he came back he was made of beans.

8          She was over the side when she heard their news.

Exercise 7

Complete the sentences with idioms from this unit, changing the pronouns and verb forms if necessary.

  1. Give me a ring any time if you feel you need ________________ .
  2. I took one look at his ________________ and knew something was wrong.
  3. She ________________ by offering to make the dinner.
  4. Things could be so much worse; you have to ________________
  5. He’s one of those nasty individuals who ________________ bad things happening to other people.
  6. My father didn’t want me to leave home and it ________________ when I did go, at seventeen.
  7. We all ________________ at Fahida’s birthday party.
  8. You look a bit ________________. What wrong?

Your turn!

Think about what makes you happy or sad. Use the idioms in this unit to describe any of your experiences. For example:

I sometimes feel a bit down in the dumps when i don’t get enough exercise.

I get a big kick out of doing well in English tests.


 Exercise 1

1 b       5 c

2 a       6 c

3 a       7 b

4 b       8 a

Exercise 2

1 B      4 C

2 D      5 F

3 A      6 E

Exercise 3

1          MAKE

2          TOP

3          OVER

4          FULL

5          DOWN

6          HAVE

Exercise 4

1          down in the dumps

2          not a happy bunny

3          I really get a kick out of them

4          a shoulder to cry on

5          get on top of you

6          made my day

Exercise 5

1 C, E              2 B, D             3 A, F

Exercise 6

1          a shoulder to cry on

2          on top of the world

3          getting on top of me

4          makes your day

5          down in the dumps

6          not a happy bunny

7          full of beans

8          over the moon

Exercise 7

1          a shoulder to cry on

2          long face

3          made my day

4          look on the bright side

5          get a kick out of

6          broke his heart

7          had a whale of a time

8          down in the dumps

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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