Hi all

I am trying to learn idioms and I would like to know if useing idioms such as 'I've been buring the midnight oil again' in coversations would make me sound cliched? While I was reading a film analysis, I learnt that speaking in cliches can demonstrat a lack of depth and inability to think for oneself. How true is this?

I don't know if I should use them in my interactions with people. Right now my goal is to learn them so that I will understand them if I come across them in my reading.

Thank you

You should stick to your current goal. Don't 'try to' use such cliches-- they must appear reasonably naturally. Idioms and slang both suffer at the early use of non-native speakers, who are not familiar enough with the language or speak it constantly enough that such casual phrases can be dropped in appropriately and without premeditation; more often than not, they are misplaced. In speaking, just use good, 'standard', neutral English.

On the other hand, you may be a brave, ambitious fellow who is not afraid of making mistakes or being corrected-- in that case, go right ahead and try them out. Your interlocutors will usually let you know if you have used them appropriately.

I can certainly assure you that the regular use of such cliches and phrases is a normal part of any native speaker's speech. There are very few who use them to such excess that their speech becomes shallow. And they do not damage the thinking process in any way, shape or form.
Everyone uses them sometimes; it's only a problem if a person can't say anything original but just keeps repeating set phrases and comments (and I have known people like that).

My advice is to ensure that you have the form of the idiom correct and haven't inadvertantly changed any of the words. That is always far more jarring to me than someone using a correct idiom in the wrong context.

I know a lady who like 'out of the blue' (meaning suddenly and unexpectedly) but unfortunately she always says 'from the blues' and it just makes me want to laugh, it sounds so odd. But I don't react as strongly when she just says something correctly, but out of context.
Site Hint: Check out our list of pronunciation videos.
Thanks for replying MM. It seems that the remnants of the spell checker still haunt me.Emotion: big smile

I think I'll take the path of that brave, ambitious fellow. I'll add prudence by checking them out first if I have doubts.

Yea. The author was most likely referring to that one character in the film.

 nona the brit's reply was promoted to an answer.
Teachers: We supply a list of EFL job vacancies
Thanks for your insight Nona.

I was just wondering, would altering an idiom be considered as having orginality or perhaps even humourous?

Thanks again