• Daniel Bullock

A Beginner’s Guide to Idioms About Hard Work: 15 Must-Know phrases

Updated: May 15


Idioms on hard work and success, candle, burn, work
Have you been burning the candle at both ends?

Must-know tips for a beginner to speak English like a native


Have you ever been told that you are burning the candle at both ends? That means you have been working too hard. Has anyone ever told you to pull your socks up? This means you should behave better or work harder. Have you ever been snowed under? This means you have got too much work to complete. These are work-related idioms that will help you sound like a native English speaker. Read on to find even more.


  1. List of 15 Must-know idioms about working hard in English for ESL learners

  2. Table of common hard work idioms for beginners with meanings

  3. 15 Examples of common hard work idioms with meanings and sentences

  4. Hard work idioms and phrases on YouTube for ESL students

  5. Hard work idioms quiz: Find these must-know idioms to sound more like a native English speaker

  6. A final word on using Idioms about work in English for beginners


List of 15 Must-know idioms about working hard in English for ESL learners


What is the idiom of to work very hard?
Going the extra mile means doing additional work, which is not expected of you.

  1. Go the extra mile

  2. Go into overdrive

  3. Burn the candle at both ends.

  4. Pull your socks up

  5. Sink your teeth into

  6. Be snowed under

  7. Get back to the grindstone

  8. Give it your all

  9. Give it 110%

  10. Jump to it

  11. Move mountains

  12. Up your game

  13. Stay ahead of the game

  14. Buckle down

  15. Keep up the good work

Table of common hard work idioms with meanings


English Idiom

Meaning of the idiom

Go the extra mile

To work more than expected, to work super-hard!

Go into overdrive

To work hard and fast. Like turbo mode!

Burn the candle at both ends

To work too hard and become exhausted.

Pull your socks up

This means you should work harder. It is usually an instruction.

​Sink your teeth into

​Enthusiastically work at a job or task.

​Be snowed under

To be overwhelmed with work or things to do.

Get back to the grindstone

To return to your work, usually humorous.

Give it your all

Work to your fullest potential or work hard

Give it 110% (said: one hundred and ten percent)

Work even harder, work like crazy!

Jump to it!

An instruction. It means to start work right now!

Move mountains

This idiom means to make every possible effort

Up your game

This means you try to work harder and improve your standards.

Stay ahead of the game

Innovate in order to be the best

Buckle down

This means to concentrate and stop being lazy

Keep up the good work

This English idiom means to continue working hard


15 Hard work idioms for learning English as a beginner - with examples


socks, books, coffee, relaxation, not pulling her socks up
Sandra has been relaxing with books and coffee. She should pull her socks up and get back to work today!

1. Go the extra mile sentence example


Charlotte really went the extra mile with her presentation. It was fantastic.

2. How do you use overdrive in a sentence?

We will have to go into overdrive if we want want to finish this project by Friday.

3. Burn the candle at both ends idiom sentence

Jack had been burning the candle at both ends in preparation for his TOEIC exam.

4. Pull your socks up in a sentence

Unless he pulls his socks up, he will fail the next English grammar test. He has to work harder.

5. What does it mean to sink your teeth into something?

It means to attack a problem enthusiastically. Here is an example of this idiom:


Paul and Mary really sank their teeth into their gardening project. It looks fabulous.

6. How do you use "snowed under" in a sentence?


How do you say you have a lot of work? Snowed under, house, weather
We are literally snowed under

I have been snowed under at work recently. I need a vacation!

7. Get back to the grindstone in a sentence

Right, lunch break is over. We’d better get back to the grindstone.

8. Give it your all quotes

In order to get a good TOEFL result, you will need to give it your all
I gave it my all in the IELTS test. I’m hoping for a good result now.

9. Give it 110% quotes

My advice to kids is to give it your all! Give it 110 percent and don't give up! - Author: Vanessa Hudgens

Always give everything 110 percent. It's the extra 10 percent that everyone remembers. - Author: Frank Sonnenberg

10. "Jump to it" example

Come on guys, jump to it! We need to finish this job before 5 o’clock!

11. Move mountains meaning

When people say “move mountains”, what they mean is they are going to work extremely hard in order to achieve a difficult goal. Here is an example of “move mountains” in a sentence:

Dominic moved mountains in order to find a job working in the UK.

12. Up your game quote

“When You Step Your Game Up, Your Life Will LEVEL UP!”

Jeanette Coron


13. Stay ahead of the game example

Apple stays ahead of the game by continually developing new devices.

14. Buckle down in a sentence

If you really want to improve your English fluency, vocabulary, listening, and grammar you will need to buckle down and study.

15. Keep up the good work meaning

This idiomatic expression simply means to continue doing what you are doing: good work! Here is an example of this English phrase in a sentence:


Great work Takahiro. You passed Eiken level 2! Keep up the good work!


Hard work idioms and phrases on YouTube for ESL students



Check out Daniel’s English Club YouTube channel for more examples of English idioms and expressions that will help EFL students and English learners in general. Plus, lots more English language-related content.


Hard work idioms quiz for ESL beginners


Feel like testing your idiomatic knowledge? Also, hopefully, you have learned and remembered the idioms used in this post. So, to test your understanding, find these must-know idioms to sound more like a native English speaker:


  1. You passed the TOEIC, did you? Great. Keep…………..

  2. Tony gave………on his IELTS test. Hopefully, it is good enough!

  3. I have been completely………..with English grammar drills, there are just so many!

  4. You haven’t gotten ready for English class yet? ……………..it!

  5. I still have lots of revision to do for my Eiken test. I should get……….



A final word on using Idioms about work in English for beginners


Idioms on hard work and success, grinding, man in workshop
He has just gotten back to the grindstone!

If you are only a beginner in English and you are worried that idioms are too difficult, do not fret! You can use the idioms mentioned in this article freely. Imagine you need to do lots of work soon. You can just say: “ I have to get back to the grindstone!” Or, imagine you tried really hard on your ESL speech contest. You can say: “I gave it 110%.” Just imagine the situation and decide if one of the phrases you know fits the situation, then try it. Don’t worry about mistakes, learn and have fun! If you would like to discover more idioms on your journey as an English learner, do not hesitate to read this and other articles aimed at improving your English level. Cheers and have a great day!