Karina Strateichuk

Kamianets-Podilskyi Ivan Ohiienko National University

Scientific Supervisor: Matkovska M. V.


The usage of pragmatic idioms that play an important role in modern communication are considered in the article. We also identified features of pragmatic idioms such as semantic cohesion, communicative nature, sentence-based education, and emotionally expressive coloring.

Keywords: pragmatic idioms, semantic feature, lexical-semantic groups, unit, term

      Learning a foreign language is impossible without knowing a variety of established entities. Human verbal behavior is characterized not only by situational but also repetitive character, which is reflected, in particular, in the presence in the language of various standardized expressions, “ready” phrases, sentences of formulaic character. Modern English is rich in such formations. Present in the language consciousness of native English speakers, such expressions are used by them in appropriate speech situations automatically.
It is very important to understand the main difference between different types of vocabulary; first of all, two poles are separated: these  are terms and idioms [3].
The term “idiom” comes from the ancient Greek word “ídiōma” which means “peculiarity, originality”. There are two basic views on idiomatic units – the so-called “broad approach” and “narrow approach” to idioms. According to the latter, idioms are considered only such “stable phrases, the semantics of which are not derived from the meanings of its constituents, but formally integrated; occurs as a result of loss of motivational relationships” [4].
There are many interpretative and bilingual phraseological dictionaries in modern English. Most of them are fixed mainly units that serve the nominative-classification activity of the person and have not phrasological equivalents [2].
until the kingdom comes – for a very long time;

to play with fire – to take risks;

to pull a fast one – to deceive;

to have got out of bed on the wrong side – to be in a bad mood;

to give way (to sb/sth) – to yield (to sb/sth);

down and out – without a job, homeless;

give it to – to scold, punish.
There are also various types of established formations that directly or indirectly correlate with verbal behavior, human verbal activity.
For example:
How do you do?, How’s tricks?, How come?, What about…?, How about…?, Could you…?, Now you’re talking, Look who’s talking, You can say that again, You could have fooled me, between you and me, so to speak, strictly speaking, to cut a long story short, in a nutshell, all  right, thank  you,  etc [1].
We can classify pragmatic idioms on different grounds. We will focus on two features: syntactic and semantic. The research materials allowed us to distinguish the following syntactic characteristics: one-word, two-word and many-word pragmatic idioms. Unambiguous pragmatic idioms are mostly from emotional cries.
They can express different emotions:
Alas! (condolences), Aye! (consent, surprise), Anchor !; Action! (commands, commands), Bravo !; Capital! (praise, approval), Please! (request), Phew! (disapproval), ta-ta (farewell). More numerous are ambiguous pragmatic idioms. They make up 34.5%. By their semantic characteristics, they are also expressions of different emotions. For example, No chance; No joy (denial, objection, disagreement), Hard cheese; Poor show (condolences), You know; You see (pauses), By heck !; Drat it! (wonder), God grant; God save (hope and desire), All aboard !; Shoulder arms! (commands, commands), Blast you !; Get lost! (dissatisfaction, irritation), Big thrill !; My gosh! (distrust), Road up; No parking (ads, signs, signals), Watch out !; Be careful! (warning, warning), No kidding, Pardon me! (apology), Fair dinkum (praise) and others [1].
The most numerous are long-standing pragmatic idioms. Our material has allowed us to distinguish the many pragmatic idioms:

Discontent – Get along with you!; Dog my cats!; Stif en the crows!; Go climb a tree!

Categorical – As sure as eggs is eggs; Beyond the shadow of doubt; By bread and salt!; By all odds!; On my honour!; Swop me Bob!

Uncertainty, doubted – By the feel of it; God knows; You never know.

Disagreement, refusal – I’m the last man to do it; How wrong you are!; I’d rather not; Not for the world!; That is out of the question; Over my dead body!

Prompting – All hands on deck!; Jump to it!; Up with you!; Let her rip!

Distrust – Can you beat that?; Tell it to the marines!; Very like a whale.

Compassion  – Hang / keep it easy!; Keep your pecker up!

Consent  – By all means; It’s a bargain; You’ve got a point there; Can a duck swim?

Apology – I beg your pardon!; No of ence meant; No hard feelings!

Hope – Perish the thought!; God save me!; God help us!

Gratitude – Much obliged to you!; That’s awfully kind of you; Cheers!

Praise  – There is that!; That is more like it!; Up with you!

Warning – Hold your horses!; Mind your eye!; Breakers ahead!

Threat – Bully for you!; Mark my words!; Wait and see!; You’ll catch it!

Curse – Bad scran to you!; A plague on you!; Perish the man!

Pledge – Cheerio!; Here’s your health / happiness!; To absent friends!; Bottoms up!

       Thus, pragmatic idioms express more diverse types of relationship between the sender and the recipient of the message than the politeness formulas. In other words, pragmatic idioms and courtesy formulas are related by one-sided implications: any courtesy formula is a pragmatic idiom, but not every or every pragmatic idiom is a courtesy formula [1]. The special status of pragmatic idioms in language is explained not so much by their idiomatic character in a purely grammatical sense, but by their “attachment” to communication situations, their usage in specific situations [5;176].


  1. Мишак О.О. Прагматичні ідіоми в сучасній англійській мові. URL :
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  3. Синтаксичні та семантичні характеристики прагматичних ідіом. URL: file:///C:/Users/%D0%9A%D0%B0%D1%80i%D0%BD%D0%B0/Downloads/VKhIPG_2017_85_21.pdf
  4. Реформатский А.А. Введение в языковедение / А.А. Реформатский. – М.: АспектПресс, 1996. – 536 с.