Each month, Let’s Talk will focus on sayings that might sound funny or confusing to a new language learner. So if you have ever thought “What did they mean by that?” or “What are they trying to say?” this column is for you.

January is a time when many Americans are reflecting on 2019 and planning for 2020. They may make New Year’s resolutions. These are promises to themselves to improve, change, or overcome something in their lives in the upcoming year. Do you make New Year’s resolutions? What are some things that you would like to do in 2020?

Here are four idioms – expressions in which the meanings of the words are not the same as the meaning of the saying – which one might hear used in connection with resolutions.

To tighten your belt — To spend less money
“Fernando would like to buy a new car in 2020. He is going to have to tighten his belt to save up for a down payment.”

Kick the habit — To overcome an addiction to something
“Alise hopes that getting manicures once a week will help her kick the habit of biting her nails.”

A clean slate — A new beginning
“Starting a new job in January is a good way to begin the New Year with a clean slate.”

Get the ball rolling — Make a start
“Leopold hopes to join a gym in 2020 and get the ball rolling on losing weight.”

If you have questions about sayings you have heard Americans use that you don’t understand, or if you questions about American culture, please email your questions to Claudia at [email protected] and “Let’s Talk” will be happy to help.

Claudia Jakubowski has her Masters Degree in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages).