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You'll love these quotes for teaching English!


Quotes can be a great way to bring depth to English learning and expose students to some wonderful uses of the English language.

Some of the quotes in this collection work well in English lessons because they are literal, and universal. Or on the flip side, the offer a unique look into the English mind, or a play on words.

Some English teachers have used quotes and proverbs at the beginning of each lesson as a sort of warmup. But it could also be an entire unit of study as well. Have a look at our collection, and please share any of your favorites we might have missed!


First, the classics, these beauties would be a perfect way to start a lesson.

The future is always beginning now

- Mark Strand

The secret of getting ahead is getting started.

- Mark Twain

You must be the change you wish to see in the world.

- Gandhi

Women who seek to be equal with men lack ambition.

- Marilyn Monroe

Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.

- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Challenges is what makes life interesting and overcoming them is what makes life meaningful.

- Joshua J. Marine

Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift, which is why we call it the present.

- Bil Keane


Next, you may like to use these quotes to teach your students something besides English.

The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.

- Socrates

In seeking happiness for others, you will find it in yourself.

- Unknown

Most people do not listen to understand; they only listen to reply.

- Stephen Covey

A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old size.

- Oliver Wendell Holmes

Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.

- Albert Einstein

My father said there were two kinds of people in the world: givers and takers. The takers might eat better, but the givers sleep better.

- Marlo Thomas


Here's some to lighten the mood. No joke is funny when it must be explained, but hopefully your students will at least crack a smile.

Dogs have owners, but cats have servants.

- Unknown

An escalator can never break: it can only become stairs.

- Mitch Hedberg

Do not take life too seriously. You will never get out of it alive.

- Elbert Hubbard

Money can't buy happiness, but it makes sadness easier.

- Unknown

Some cause happiness where ever they go; others, cause happiness when ever they go.

- Oscar Wilde

The depressing thing about tennis is that no matter how good I get, I'll never be as good as a wall.

- Mitch Hedberg

Before you diagnose yourself with depression or low self-esteem, first make sure that you are not, in fact, just surrounded by assholes.

- Sigmund Freud

When I die, I want to go peacefully like my grandfather did-in his sleep. Not yelling and screaming like the passengers in his car.

- Bob Monkhouse


Finally, you might like to meet your students half-way. Asking them to translate a proverb from Japanese into English might be a nice change of pace. These are nice because they should make sense in either language without too much explanation.

猿も木から落ちる - Even monkeys fall from trees.

二兎を追う者は一兎をも得ず - He who runs after two hares will catch neither.

出る杭は打たれる - the nail that sticks out gets hammered in.

我思う故に我在り - I think therefore I am.

一利あれば一害あり - Everything has it's pro's and con's.

一石二鳥 - Kill two birds with one stone.

下手の道具しらべ - A poor workman blames his tools.

不老不死の薬は無い - Only death has no remedy.

世間は広いようで狭い - It's a small world.

便りの無いのは良い便り - No news is good news.

働かざるものは食うべからず - If you don't work, you won't eat.

右の耳から左の耳 - In one ear and out the other.

失敗は成功の基 - Failure teaches success.

寝た子を起こすな - Let sleeping babes lie.

時は金なり - Time is money.

梅干と友達は古いほど良い - Old friends and old wines are the best.

死人に口なし - Dead men tell no tales.

火の無い所に煙は立たぬ - No smoke no fire

目には目を、歯には歯を - Eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth.

過ぎた事は水に流せ - Like water under a bridge.

So here is our collection of quotes for teaching English. We hope you enjoyed them, or would be able to use them in your lessons.

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