Dear Gaila - Speaking English with Slang, Idioms and an Awareness of Nuances

What is the difference between slang and idioms?


Dear Yael,

It is true that in many ways slang and idioms are similar. Both are expressions that reveal an awareness of the nuances in a language. They make you understood better, conveying a feeling to the listener that you truly do have a grasp on the language, enabling you to understand the deeper and underlying meanings of what people are saying. However, slang is more up to date. A speaker using slang is more with it and less a foreign speaker. On the other hand, idioms make a language richer and are timeless.

A good project I often do is having the kids create a book of many idioms. When they next see them in print or hear them in speech it is not startling but rather enriches their understanding of the conversation around them.


Gaila has over 40 year of experience teaching and runs A.H.A.V.A., a non-profit to promote English literacy. Would you like to ask Gaila a question? Email us at or send us a message. Look out for more Dear Gaila columns

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