English expressions and idioms with ‘hard’

Some people find English expressions and idioms hard to learn. I always teach students to remember idioms as one single piece of vocabulary rather than individual words. If you find idioms hard, try using this method – it really works. The theme of our English expressions and idioms this week is ‘hard’:

caught between a rock and a hard place
Meaning: in a difficult position with no easy way to get out
Example: We’re really stuck between a rock and a hard place with this deal. If we give them the terms they want, we won’t make any profit but we risk losing their business if we don’t agree to the deal.

a hard nut
Meaning: someone who is very tough
Example: Don’t start a fight with that guy, he’s a real hard nut.

hard lines
Meaning: a way of expressing sympathy for someone
Example: ‘I broke up with my boyfriend.’ ‘Hard lines.’

hit hard
Meaning: to be affected severely
Example: My savings were really hit hard by this recession.

the bigger they are, the harder they fall
Meaning: when someone or something bigger or more powerful fails, the results are more dramatic
Example: That large company had a hard time when they lost their client to us. The bigger they are, the harder they fall.

old habits die hard
Meaning: it’s difficult to give up habits you have had for a long time
Example: I tried to stop eating fried eggs for breakfast but old habits die hard.