Are you ready to learn more idioms? The preposition by can be found in a number of idioms and phrases, so for today’s English lesson, let’s have a look at ten of them! Remember, using idioms is a great way to make your language sound more natural.
When you do something by accident or by mistake, it means it was not your intention to do it:
- I left my hat on the subway by accident.
- I left my hat on the subway by mistake.
- I found a new pizza shop by accident when I took a different route home from the office.
- I found a new pizza shop by mistake when I took a different route home from the office.
When you do something or make something by hand, you do that without using machines:
- I like to make pizza dough by hand.
- Yuki is a designer and she makes jewelry by hand.
When you learn something by heart, it means that you learn it and you know it from memory:
- Idioms can be tricky, so you need to learn them by heart.
- The actors learned her lines by heart and passed her audition.
When you do something by yourself, you do it alone.
- Jack couldn’t go to the party with me, so I went by myself.
- I don’t know how, but finally I was able to fix the computer by myself.
We use the phrase by the way, to introduce a new topic into the conversation.
- We had a great time at the baseball game. By the way, what time is the meeting tomorrow?
- How was your trip to Boston? I want to hear all about it. By the way, your sister is coming to visit us next weekend.
The phrase by the time means when.
- I worked late last night, so by the time I got to the party, most of the food was gone.
- By the time I noticed my bag was open, I had already lost my wallet.
When something does something by itself, it does that thing automatically.
- This coffee maker turns off by itself after 30 minutes.
- This new self-driving car can basically drive you somewhere by itself.
When something happens by the skin of your teeth, it barely happens and almost didn’t happen.
- Jack was a lazy student, and graduated high school by the skin of his teeth.
- I passed the exam by the skin of my teeth.
When you do something by the book, you follow the rules carefully.
- The new manager runs the office by the book. She’s not flexible.
- Jane is a good cook, but she just does it by the book. She can’t make any original dishes.