40 English Proverbs That Would Make You Understand Life Better

A window to knowledge.

Nashrah Ansari

Dec 23, 2020|7 min read


Proverbs are short, brilliant little sentences that generally is a combination of ancient wisdom and common sense. Proverbs are nuggets of wisdom, implemented in daily life often contains wisdom or warning expressions that often offer arguably good life advice. 

They help understand how the people in a particular culture think and how they view the world and their values. By understanding proverbs, we can better understand what native speakers of specific cultures respect and treasure. In short, they open up new horizons and windows of knowledge.

English proverbs are extensively used because of their universality, where everyone can relate to it very well. It also helps spice up the vocabulary and grammar and teaches words of wisdom which are being passed down from generations to generations and understand the native speaker better. 

1) The grass is always greener on the other side.

This is a very famous English proverb that says we should appreciate what we have and continuously water the grass on our side instead of peaking at the grass in the other half of the fence.

2) Misery loves company.

When you help someone, make sure that you pull them up when you grab their hand, not so they can yank you down simply because they want a company.

3) People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones at others.

This English Proverb clearly indicates that one should look into one's own character before pointing a finger towards others.

4) Where there is no wood, the fire goes out.

An English proverb as a metaphor helps us understand that when two people or sides argue, the quarrel dies out if one of them were to stop fighting.

5) Do to others as you would have them do to you.

This English proverb is considered the golden rule. It states that Rather than doing to others what they have done to us, we treat them how we want them to treat us. One way to treat others better is to imagine ourselves in their shoes.

6) Don't let the cat out of the bag.

If you let the cat out of the bag, you expose the trick.

7) A bad penny always turns up.

A person or thing which is unwanted tends to appear in a situation where you do not want them.

8) Absence makes the heart grow fonder.

This English proverb states that you love them more and desire their presence when a person lives far away from you.

9) Better the Devil you know than the Devil you don't.

It is better to deal with a difficult person or situation that you know, rather than with a new person or situation that you don't know.

10) Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.

We came from nothing; we then become nothing.

11) You are what you eat.

This proverbial saying is a notion that to be fit and healthy; you need to eat good food.

12) When the oak is before the ash, then you will only get a splash; when the ash is before the oak, then you may expect a soak.

This proverb refers to the traditional way of predicting whether the English summer will be wet or dry.

13) Opportunity seldom knocks twice.

When an opportunity knocks on your door, welcome it, take full advantage of it. It does not necessarily mean that it will strike a second time, for you may never get another chance.

14) Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Often considered as a love proverb states that the perception of beauty is subjective.

15) A cat may look at a king.

This is an English proverb that implies a person, even if of inferior status, has certain minimum rights by being alive, which later becomes the foundation of human rights. 

16) Many hands make light work – Too many cooks spoil the broth.

It is believed that if many people come together, they can divide the work and reduce the burden on each individual. However, it rarely happens. Too many persons involved in managing an activity offen ruin it.

17) Least said is soonest mended.

It is best not to say too much about something terrible that has happened. Mentioning it, again and again, might ruin the situation and make things go out of control.

18) There's no place like home.

This English proverb comes from the famous song Home, Sweet Home, by John Howard Payne. Home is the place where one feels happiest.

19) The wages of sin is death.

One who treads on the path of wrong has to pay for it by death. This proverb in English tells us to be afraid of the day of death. It is after death, we will be asked for the accounts. 

20) A watched pot never boils.

This well-known English proverb contains a warning against giving in to impatience. When one is anticipating something or waiting for something to occur, time seems to move slowly.

21) Let bygones be bygones.

What's done is done. Don't reason with your past. 

22) Blood is thicker than water.

This English Proverb tells us that family above everyone else. When you will be in need, your blood relations are the ones who will stand up to help you and to give you the strength you need.

23) Rome wasn't built in a day.

Everything that has value and that appeals to the world takes time to build. Whether it is your family or your enterprise, it will take its due time to construct and come it as something very very precious.

24) An ounce of protection is worth a pound of cure.

This proverb stresses the fact that it is easier to prevent something wrong from happening than it is to deal with it after it has.

25) A house divided amongst itself cannot stand.

Ohana means family. Family means nobody gets left behind—or forgotten.

26) Appearances can be deceptive.

Don't ever go by the looks or mere talks of a person. You can never judge what is inside that person by these. And if you trust a person based on the looks or talks, you might be disheartened in the future.

27) Life begins at forty.

Life begins to be better with all the skills and experiences learned in the past.

28) A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.

This is one of the oldest and best-known English proverbs which warns against taking unnecessary risks.

29) Where one door shuts, another opens.

This proverb in English requests you to never lose hope. There can be many more ways to achieve or to do things. You just need to find it.

30) Rome wasn't built in a day.

Great things take time. Don't lose hope. Whether it is your life, your character, your business, your career, your relationships, or your family, it will take time to come out as something valuable.

31) Time and tide wait for no man.

The eternal truth of life is here. This proverb in English tells us that the cycle of time will neither stop, nor get slow, nor stop for anyone at any cost.

32) Ignorance is bliss.

It truly is so much better to ignore sometimes than to indulge in the problem.

33) You can't win them all.

English proverbs develop a great understanding of life. This one tells us that we cannot make everyone happy at any given point of time. Someone or the other will be against us. But, we should focus on making most of them happy and ensure those who love us are included in that.

34) When the going gets tough, the tough get going.

Journey to the destination teaches you everything. When challenges come along your way, they make you tough and strengthen you for more challenges. One who gains that strength keeps going and others stay back.

35) The enemy of my enemy is my friend.

We often hear this proverb in movies and tv shows. This ancient English Proverbs is a prime example of proverbs popularity and their way into mainstream media. 

36) Beggars can't be choosers.

This proverb in English brings out the difference between the rich and the poor. Those who are poor, don't have the right to make choices. They feel lucky with whatever they get and they have. On the contrary, the rich make choices and get the best of the best for themselves.

37) A cat may look at a king.

This is an English proverb that implies a person, even if of inferior status, has certain minimum rights by being alive, which later becomes the foundation of human rights.

38) Every cloud has a silver lining.

Even a very bad situation has a positive or hopeful side. It is all in our perspective and we need to find that hope to lead a good life.

39) Laugh and the world laugh with you, weep, and you weep alone.

This proverb in English tells us that everyone will be around you too share your joy. However, when you will be sad and would need the people the most, nobody will come to share your grief. That's life.

40) Some men go through a forest and see no firewood.

This English proverb refers to 'awareness' of the opportunities available in the environment. Success depends on our perspective. If we remain open to possibilities, we can grab the chance. In the case of this phrase, it refers to those who miss the options in the environment.

Some of these English Proverbs are the gems of wisdom. Often proverbs act as a philosopher and a guide and explain something life lessons which have a significant impact on our minds. These sayings are passed down from generations, and there is an excellent possibility that it will survive for many years to come. 

They keep on shedding light against the wrongs and often offer nuggets of wisdom along the way. Knowing these English proverbs is essential, and possibly using them will make you feel more confident in speaking the English language.

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Nashrah Ansari

I am passionate about writing and love reading poems and novels. Apart from that, I also love getting lost in fictional worlds, for a while since I don't have to deal with my dilemmas. I firmly believe that every upcoming writer should be allowed to represent themselves. I’m so thankful to feedin... read more



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