Idioms on the ACT English Test

An idiom is an expression, which consists of at least two words that naturally seem to go together. It is something that native speakers of a language can usually quickly recognize, but is often challenging for those learning English as a secondary language, or for those who grew up speaking an English dialect that frequently breaks conventional idiom rules.

Common Two-Part Idioms on the ACT

If you see one of these in a sentence, make sure the other half is present.

Not only … but also

Incorrect: Not only did we see the Eiffel Tower, but we saw the Louvre.

Correct: Not only did we see the Eiffel Tower, but also we saw the Louvre.

Between … and

Incorrect: Between cookies or crackers, I like cookies best.

Correct: Between cookies and crackers, I like cookies best.

As … as

Incorrect: Her hair was as pretty than my sister’s.

Correct: Her hair was as pretty as my sister’s.

Either … or / Neither … nor

Incorrect: Neither my best friend or I wanted to go shopping.

Correct: Neither my best friend nor I wanted to go shopping.

Idioms with Prepositions

The second way that the ACT will test idioms is when they involve prepositions. A preposition is a word that typically describes location. Many phrases in English are only constructed correctly when used with certain prepositions.

  • Accused of
  • Acquainted with
  • Afraid of
  • Apologize for
  • Aware of
  • Believe in
  • Capable of
  • Committed to
  • Conscious of
  • Difference between
  • Encouraged by
  • Fond of
  • Guilty of
  • Hint at
  • In connection with
  • Interested in
  • Limited to
  • Opposed to
  • Participate in
  • Proud of
  • Similar to
  • Substitute for
  • Thank for
  • Tired of
  • Worry about

Limited to

Incorrect: Her experience was limited with secretarial work.

Correct: Her experience was limited to secretarial work.

Proud of

Incorrect: I am so proud for my brother!

Correct: I am so proud of my brother!

Afraid of

Incorrect: When I was little, I was afraid from monsters.

Correct: When I was little, I was afraid of monsters.