Football/Soccer: whistle, ball, penalty, play, goal


Idiom Explanation Example
blow the whistle on sb/sth to report a wrongdoing Edward blew the whistle on government spying.
clean as a whistle absolutely clean I want to see your bedroom clean as a whistle when I come home.


Idiom Explanation Example
start/set/get/keep the ball rolling get something started/keep something going OK, let's get the ball rolling. Who'd like to go first?
be on the ball be a competent person The new girl is really on the ball. She finished a week's worth of work in two days!
take the ball and run with it taking over and further developing something that another person has started It's up to our competition to take the ball and run with it.
play ball agree to do something Asher tried to get an extension for her homework, but the teacher wouldn't play ball.


Idiom Explanation Example
pay the penalty/price suffer the consequences Colin cheated on his English exam. Now he has to pay the penalty – three weeks detention!
play it safe avoid taking a risk Play it safe and take an umbrella with you. You never know, it might rain later.
move the goalposts change the rules (in a bad way) I had almost finished my assignment when the teacher moved the goalposts. We had do write fifteen pages instead of ten.
score an own goal something that someone did to get an advantage which then becomes a disadvantage for that person He scored an own goal when he asked for a pay rise. The company decided he was too expensive and hired someone else.
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Exercise C1

Complete the sentences with the words below.

ball – goalposts – whistle

  1. Chris is very tidy. He keeps his room clean as a  .
  2. I'll never get that promotion if my boss continues to move the  .
  3. I asked for an upgrade to business class at the check-in counter but the airline wouldn't play  .

Choose the correct idiom.

  1. Mario drank too much last night. He feels terrible today.
  2. —Will $15 be enough to buy dinner?
    —I think so, but …
  3. Tracy keeps making mistakes because she didn't sleep well last night.
  4. When Mia asked Johnny to do her homework for her, she thought it was a great idea, Johnny is the best student in the class. However, Johnny made a lot of mistakes and Mia only got a C-.
  5. Michael started a great project about recycling rubbish at school, but he didn't have time to finish it. He hopes someone else will finish the project for him.

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