Examples of Idiom with Sentences
What does ‘When Pigs Fly’ mean?
What is an idiom?
An idiom is a group of words that mean something different from what the actual words say. This means that what is said in an idiom is not exactly what is happening, but often describes another feeling or action. Idioms are like codes – we need to solve the puzzle to figure out what they really mean!
When discussing this idiom, act it out for students. Don’t be afraid to ham it up!
Literal Meaning – (what the words ACTUALLY mean)
1. To students say, ‘When I was about your age I asked Mum for a rise in my pocket money. She said, “When pigs fly”. I remember thinking what an absurd thing to say. Like I was ever going to walk out of my house in the morning and see a flock of pigs with wings on their backs flying through the sky.’
2. Dramatize – (Look up like you’re watching pigs fly by. Put your hand over your eyes like you’re blocking the sun. Invite students to do the same. ‘Look up at those pigs! Wait, what’s that? Cover your heads!’ (Put your arms over your head and duck down, having students do the same. Pretend to throw pig poop off your hands or wipe it out of your eyes). ‘Ew! Even pigs have to poop so it’s a good thing pigs don’t really fly!’ Let the chorus of “ewwwwww” come from your students as they realize what you’re acting out!
Figurative Meaning – (What the INTENDED meaning is)
- Say to students, ‘When do you think the time will be when we walk outside and see a flock of pigs flying off into the sunset?’’ Have students tell a partner their answer. Discuss.
- Reveal the figurative meaning of this idiom to students. ‘The idiom ‘when pigs fly’ is a way some people try to be funny and describe something that is NEVER going to happen. Just like how we’re unlikely to ever see pigs in the sky.
Idioms with Sentences
– Display the dialogue models and have students act them out:
Sarah: Are you going to quit playing guitar now you’re on the football team?
Amelia: I’ll quit guitar when pigs fly!
Sarah: What do you mean by that?
Amelia: Pigs are never going to fly so it is a way of saying I will never give up guitar.
Eoin: Hey Jessica, when do you think they’ll build a giant roller coaster in our school playground?
Jessica: (Posh voice) Oh Eoin… I do believe that will be when pigs fly.
Eoin: And just when do you think that will happen?
Jessica: Never Eoin. Pigs will NEVER fly.
‘When pigs fly’ is a pretty common phrase. In different parts of the worlds they use different phases to describe in a humorous way something is never going to happen e.g. ‘Don’t hold your breath’, ‘Once in a blue moon’, ‘When Hell freezes over’ or ‘a snowflakes chance in Hell’.
Students Experiment with the Idiom –
In pairs students create a very short play that ends with the line, ‘When pigs fly’. You can have them do a ‘Think, Pair, Share’, ‘Think, Pair, Square’, and when they are feeling confident ask for victims… do a double take… I mean… volunteers to perform their skit for the class.