A very common topic in IELTS speaking is to describe someone you know. These relationship idioms should help you do this better. There are quite a lot here and you certainly don’t need to know them all and I suggest you simply choose the ones that you like and feel confident using. Do look at the examples and exercises I have given you, as it is important that you can use these phrases for yourself.
get on like a house on fire
Have an extremely good relationship/ be very close friends
As soon as we met each other we got on like a house on fire and just took an instant liking to each other.
have a soft spot for
To like someone .We often use this when it’s slightly surprising that we like the person.
I always had a soft spot for Maria despite the fact that she often let me down. [to let someone down is to disappoint them]
get along with
To have a good relationship with. This is a fairly neutral phrase. You can get along with someone even though you may not like them that much.
I suppose I always got along quite well with my sister when we were growing up.
look up to
To admire or respect. We normally use this of someone who is older or more senior than us. Note that its opposite is look down on.
When I was a child I always looked up to my father. He was a real role model for me.
speak the same language
If you speak the same language as someone, you have similar ideas and thoughts as them
I think one reason we get on so well is that we really speak the same language as each other. There’s almost nothing we disagree about.
be on the same wavelength
This is another idiom meaning to have similar thoughts and ideas as someone else.
We’re almost exactly on the same wavelength as each other and agree about almost everything.
Check your knowledge
To have a serious disagreement. Note that you fall out with someone over or about something. Note too that there is a noun phrase have a falling out
We used to get on pretty well but then we fell out with each other when we went to university.
a rocky relationship
To have a relationship that is unsteady and perhaps sometimes fails completely. It is quite similar to a love-hate relationship.
It was quite a rocky relationship as we used to argue with each other all the time and we sometimes went days without speaking to each other.
If you can’t stand someone. you hate them.
I couldn’t stand my brother when we were younger. I guess it was an extreme case of sibling rivalry.
When a relationship turns sour it becomes bad.
I think our relationship turned sour when she refused to help me.
get off on the wrong foot with
This is to start a relationship in the wrong way.
Although we are now good friends, our relationship got off on the wrong foot and initially we couldn’t stand each other.
clear the air
You clear the air after an argument to settle differences with someone.
There are times when we have serious disagreements, but we always manage to clear the air afterwards.
get on someone’s nerves
If someone gets on your nerves, they irritate you greatly.
Despite the fact that she is a nice person and has many good qualities, she still gets on my nerves and I find it hard to like her.
let someone down
If someone lets you down, they disappoint you in some way. They are unreliable. Note that you need to put the person before the preposition down.
I do like her, but there was one occasion when she let me down quite badly.
look down on
To think that you are more important than someone else. This is really the opposite of look up to.
One thing I don’t like about him is that he looks down on people who are less intelligent than him.
Check your knowledge again
Closeness of relations
move in the same circles
If you move in the same circles, you have the same friends. Note that this doesn’t necessarily mean that you are friends.
Although we are not particularly good friends, we see each other quite a lot as we move in the same circles.
be on nodding terms
To know each other only slightly. We use this for acquaintances and not friends.
While we are on nodding terms and say hello to each other every day, I wouldn’t call him a friend.
know someone inside out
This is to know someone very well. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you like them!
I guess you could say I know him inside out by now – all his good points and all his bad points.
keep in touch with
To stay in contact with someone.
Sadly, we didn’t stay in touch with each other after we left school and I don’t know what he’s doing now.
see eye to eye with someone
To agree with someone.
We see eye to eye about most things but we can never agree about what film to watch.
keep yourself to yourself
Not to mix socially with other people. This is normally used in a positive sense.
He wasn’t very outgoing and sociable and preferred to keep himself to himself. For all that, he was perfectly friendly.
wear the trousers
To be the more important person in the relationship
Although David earns more money, it is Sylvia who really wears the trousers in the relationship. David will also do what she says,
a fair-weather friend
This is someone who is only your friend when things are easy. They may let you down when things go wrong.
She was something of a fair-weather friend though and I couldn’t rely on her for help when times were bad.
go out with
Have a romantic relationship with someone.
They’ve been going out with each other for around two years now.
be an item
Have a romantic relationship with someone – normally for a long period of time.
They were an item for quite some time before they got married
Start a relationship
We first got together when we were in high school
tie the knot
Get married to someone
They’d been living together for a few years before they decided to tie the knot.