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Explain the Meaning of Proverbs

In this worksheet, students explore the meaning of common proverbs and understand the words in context.

'Explain the Meaning of Proverbs' worksheet

Key stage:  KS 2

Curriculum topic:   English

Curriculum subtopic:   Standard Comprehension

Difficulty level:  

Worksheet Overview

QUESTION 1 of 10

Proverbs are short sentences or phrases that describe life or offer advice. They're pieces of wisdom that have been handed down through the ages.

 

For example:

A stitch in time saves nine.

cotton reel with a needle

 

This proverb isn't really about sewing. It tells us that if we deal with small problems straight away they won't turn into much bigger problems. 

 

Often proverbs use everyday images that we all understand to explain much bigger concepts.  They are popular in folk literature but also in spoken English.  A proverb is a literary device and writers love to include these in their work for effect.

 

Why not listen out to see what ones the people around you use?

Match the beginnings of the proverbs with the correct endings.

Column A

Column B

A fool and his money
gathers no moss.
A rolling stone
are soon parted.
A friend in need
is a friend indeed.

Match the beginnings of the proverbs with the correct endings.

Column A

Column B

A problem shared
is a problem halved.
Where there's a will
soonest mended.
Least said,
there's a way.

Match the beginnings of the proverbs with the correct endings.

Column A

Column B

A leopard cannot
has a silver lining.
Too many cooks
spoil the broth.
Every cloud
change his spots.

Match the beginnings of the proverbs with the correct endings.

Column A

Column B

All that glitters
flock together.
A watched pot
never boils.
Birds of a feather
is not gold.

What does the following proverb mean?

 

Actions speak louder than words.

Noisy people are listened to more than quiet ones.

What you do is more important than what you say.

Be as loud as you can when you are dealing with other people.

What does the following proverb mean?

 

It's no use crying over spilt milk.

When you spill something you need to clear it up quickly.

You should laugh when something bad happens.

There is no point in being upset about something that has happened and can't be changed.

What does the following proverb mean?

 

People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones.

Don't be wasteful with your possessions.

Don't criticise others if you have weaknesses yourself.

Don't hurt other people.

What does the following proverb mean?

 

Let sleeping dogs lie.

Don't tease animals.

Let people have a rest when they want to.

Don't talk about things that are likely to cause trouble.

Which of the proverbs in the list has the following meaning?

 

If someone has been hurt they will be more careful in future.

Once bitten, twice shy

Practice makes perfect

All's well that ends well

Which of the proverbs in the list has the following meaning?

 

Don't make a big fuss about something that isn't really important.

Don't make a mountain out of a molehill.

Don't count your chickens before they have hatched.

Rome wasn't built in a day.

  • Question 1

Match the beginnings of the proverbs with the correct endings.

CORRECT ANSWER

Column A

Column B

A fool and his money
are soon parted.
A rolling stone
gathers no moss.
A friend in need
is a friend indeed.
EDDIE SAYS
These ones are quite famous proverbs. A fool and his money are soon parted means that if you are not sensible, it is easy to lose your money. A rolling stone cannot gather moss as it is on the move. This proverb draws the link between a person who does not settle in one place will therefore not accumulate wealth or status, or responsibilities or commitments. A friend in need is a friend indeed suggests that a person who helps at a difficult time is a person who you can really rely on.
  • Question 2

Match the beginnings of the proverbs with the correct endings.

CORRECT ANSWER

Column A

Column B

A problem shared
is a problem halved.
Where there's a will
there's a way.
Least said,
soonest mended.
EDDIE SAYS
Have you heard of these proverbs? Why not have a guess as to what they mean? A problem shared is a problem halved is a very common one. This means that when in difficulties it is useful to talk to someone about them, as they may have a solution you have not thought of. Where there's a will there's a way is a proverb that means if someone is determined to do something, he will find a way to accomplish it regardless of obstacles. Least said, soonest mended means that a difficult situation will be resolved more quickly if there is no more discussion of it.
  • Question 3

Match the beginnings of the proverbs with the correct endings.

CORRECT ANSWER

Column A

Column B

A leopard cannot
change his spots.
Too many cooks
spoil the broth.
Every cloud
has a silver lining.
EDDIE SAYS
I'm sure you've heard of at least one of these, maybe even in the last few weeks? A leopard never changes its spots, seems like a funny one? Well, it means that it's impossible for one to change their character, even if they will try very hard. Too many cooks spoil the broth, isn't really about the creation of food in a kitchen, it means if too many people are involved in a task or activity, it will not be done well. Have you ever experienced that? Every cloud has a silver lining, is a personal favourite! It means that no matter how bad a situation might seem, there is always has something good to come out of it.
  • Question 4

Match the beginnings of the proverbs with the correct endings.

CORRECT ANSWER

Column A

Column B

All that glitters
is not gold.
A watched pot
never boils.
Birds of a feather
flock together.
EDDIE SAYS
You must be getting good at these proverbs by now! How many did you already know, and how many are you working out through process of elimination? All that glitters is not gold - the attractive external appearance of something is not a reliable indication of its true nature. A watched pot never boils - time seems to move more slowly when one is anticipating something or waiting for something to occur. Birds of a feather flock together - people of the same sort or with the same tastes and interests will be found together. When you think about them. They're quite clever really, aren't they?
  • Question 5

What does the following proverb mean?

 

Actions speak louder than words.

CORRECT ANSWER
What you do is more important than what you say.
EDDIE SAYS
I bet you've heard this one at some point! This means that it is easy to say the right thing, but to do the right thing is not always as easy. Your actions have more impact and influence on how others see you than what you say. It's similar to the phrase... talk is cheap?
  • Question 6

What does the following proverb mean?

 

It's no use crying over spilt milk.

CORRECT ANSWER
There is no point in being upset about something that has happened and can't be changed.
EDDIE SAYS
This sounds like a funny phrase doesn't it? Who cries when they spill milk? But what this really means is, there is no point crying about things that have happened in the past as you cannot change them.
  • Question 7

What does the following proverb mean?

 

People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones.

CORRECT ANSWER
Don't criticise others if you have weaknesses yourself.
EDDIE SAYS
This one's rather clever don't you think? In simple terms, it means we should not be hypocritical of others. It's not sensible to point out a flaw in someone's character that we too have. When it mentions throwing stones this is imagery for the idea of throwing out a negative comment about someone else. It's not sensible to do this if your house is made of glass!
  • Question 8

What does the following proverb mean?

 

Let sleeping dogs lie.

CORRECT ANSWER
Don't talk about things that are likely to cause trouble.
EDDIE SAYS
I don't know if you've ever woken a sleeping dog, but sometimes they are not that happy about it! This proverb means avoid interfering in a situation that is currently causing no problems but may well do so as a result of such interference.
  • Question 9

Which of the proverbs in the list has the following meaning?

 

If someone has been hurt they will be more careful in future.

CORRECT ANSWER
Once bitten, twice shy
EDDIE SAYS
Have you heard this? Some artists have used this proverb in their songs. If you've been bitten by an animal, it may hurt! You will, therefore, be less likely to go up to that animal again and repeat the action.
  • Question 10

Which of the proverbs in the list has the following meaning?

 

Don't make a big fuss about something that isn't really important.

CORRECT ANSWER
Don't make a mountain out of a molehill.
EDDIE SAYS
Another favourite! We've all seen a molehill, they are tiny mounds in fields or sometimes in our gardens of dirt from a mole digging his way out from underground! We know that the size of a molehill is not comparable to a mountain, so we should keep our issues in perspective! Well done that's another activity completed! See if you can use some of these proverbs in the next few days at an appropriate time. You could sound very wise!
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