7 English idioms to talk about change

7 English Idioms to Talk About Change

  • Language level: upper intermediate & advanced /  B2, C1,
  • Skills: advanced English vocabulary: idioms 
  • Time: 7 – 10 mins
  • Updated 8/1/2021

Idioms to talk about change!

Have you ever been excited about making a change in your life? Or have you ever faced a difficult change? What changes are you facing right now

Can you talk about this subject confidently in English?

To help you, here are 7 idioms to talk about change that native speakers commonly use.

PS. This lesson is inspired by our on-demand advanced English programme Road to Proficiency, designed for people who want to bring their English as close as possible to that of a native speaker.

7 English idioms to talk about change

In this video we will learn: 7 common and useful idioms that we use to talk about change

Let’s start with two idioms that you likely know, or at least have heard before:

  • To change your mind
  • To change your tune

They may seem the same, but in fact there is a little difference in meaning and use:

Change your mind means that you change your opinion about something:

  • When I first started reading 1984 I wasn’t sure I was going to like it. I thought it was a bit slow and too depressing. But I soon changed my mind once I got into it and now I think it’s a fantastic book.

Change your tune similarly means to change your opinion, or your behaviour changes. We use it slightly differently to change your mind. We usually use change your tune when the opinion or behaviour goes from a negative to a positive

Imagine you have a friend who has been moaning about her boyfriend for weeks. Really negative about him … they are arguing and they are not in a good place. Then suddenly, your friend starts saying how amazing her boyfriend is, she’s really in love with him, he can’t do anything wrong ….

In this context you wouldn’t say to your friend: You’ve changed your mind! 

You would say: Well, you’ve changed your tune!

Because they’ve changed their opinion and the way they behave. It’s gone from feeling negatively towards something to feeling positively.

Idiom to talk about change no.3:
to have a change of heart

The next one, is to have a change of heart and again there is a difference in meaning to change your mind: 

To have a change of heart really means that you’ve had a change in the way you are feeling about something or a change in attitude towards something or someone:

So my friend Lucy was seriously considering moving back to the UK and she had even gone so far as to give notice on her flat here in Italy. However, after thinking about it loads, she had a change of heart and decided that she’d miss her lifestyle here too much and she decided to stay.

Be careful HOW you use these idioms:

You CAN say:

  • I changed my mind / or he changed his mind

But you wouldn’t be so likely to say: I changed my tune. We tend to use this one when we address other peoplenot talk about ourself. 

So you CAN say: she changed her tune or you’ve changed your tune!

You CAN’T say: I changed my heart. Or He changed his heart.

This idiom contains the verb TO HAVEI’ve HAD a change of heart / He had a change of heart

Pronunciation TIP!

changed /tʃeɪndʒd/

See: Pronounce the past tense (-ed) like a native speaker

Idiom to talk about change no.4:
to change tack

The next idiom we are going to look at is: to change tack

If you change tack or try a different tack, you try a different method for dealing with a situation:

So when I first moved to Florence in 2013, I originally tried to set up business English courses. But I soon realised that the Florentines that I knew, they weren’t interested at all in business English! So I changed tack completely and started a conversation class and wine night! (Which by the way worked much better, it was a hoot!)

Idiom to talk about change no.5:
to change out of (all) recognition

Idiom number 5 is to change out of all recognition: we can use this one when someone something has changed so much or so dramatically that now they are completely unfamiliar or unrecognisable.

For example, Pete has lost so much weight he’s changed out of all recognition. 

Or: I wouldn’t have recognised Laura is she hadn’t said her last name. I know it’s been over 20 years since we last saw each other, but she’s totally changed out of recognition since we were kids!

Now the last two idioms that we are going to learn don’t have the word change in them, but they are about change. 

Idiom no.6: to turn over a new leaf

Number 6 is to turn over a new leafOn Monday, I’m going to turn over a new leaf and only drink one coffee a day! 

This idiom means that you want to change a habit, and start to act or behave in a better or more responsible way: Mark has really turned over a new leaf – he is really committed to the project now and giving it 100%.

Idiom to talk about change no.7:
to take shape

And lastly, idiom number 7 to take shape. This means to change and develop into something definite or tangible. For example:

I have been working on English Digital Academy for a while now, but it really started to take shape about 6 months ago. So it really started to change into something clearer and tangible a few months ago.

So there you have it!  7 useful idioms to talk about change, some with similar meanings but used in different ways.


English Digital Academy

The best way to learn and understand the difference between these idioms is to practise using them. You can write a few sentences in the comments using these idioms and I’ll let you know if you’ve used them correctly.

I hope you have enjoyed the lesson and please share if you think it could be useful for your friends. 

Love learning!


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2 thoughts on “7 English Idioms to Talk About Change”

  1. Thank you, it’s all clear! I’ll try!
    – I decided to turn over a new leaf and dedicate one hour a day to learning more English.
    – my friend did not want to come to dinner but he changed his tune when I said I would pay!
    – our sales are declining and we need to change tack in order to increase.

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