by Liz Walter
One of the first idioms that students of English usually learn is a piece of cake – maybe because it is such a strong image. We use it to describe things that are easy to do: Getting into the building was a piece of cake – I simply walked through the open door. This post looks at several other words and phrases for easy things.
The phrases child’s play and a walk in the park are used in a similar way: Installing the software was child’s play for Marcus. She’s been running marathons for years, so a 5k run is a walk in the park for her. We can also say that something is a breeze or (more informally, in UK English) a doddle: Cleaning the floors is a doddle with one of these machines. If someone breezes through an activity, they accomplish it easily: She seemed to breeze through her exams.
We use the adjective undemanding to describe an activity that is easy and involves very little mental or physical effort: The role was fairly undemanding for an actor of his ability. A more informal word, usually applied to jobs, is cushy. This word often implies that the speaker is envious: All he has to do is answer the phone now and then – it’s a pretty cushy job.
There are several similes associated with the idea of being easy, for example as easy as ABC and as easy as pie: This software makes creating your own website as easy as pie. We can also say that something is as easy as falling (UK)/rolling (US) off a log: Making this chocolate cake is as easy as falling off a log.
To emphasize how easy a task is for someone, we sometimes say that they could do it with one hand/arm tied behind their back: He could do that job with one arm tied behind his back. We also use the phrase do something blindfold/with your eyes closed, especially when it is easy because the person has done it many times before: I’ve put this tent up so many times I could do it blindfolded.
If we want to be modest about something we have achieved, or persuade someone to do something they think is difficult, we could say that there’s nothing to it: Why don’t you learn to mend your own bike? There’s nothing to it really. When the first part of a task has been difficult, but we believe that the rest of it will be easier, we can say that it’s all downhill now or it’s downhill all the way now: Now we’ve managed to get the engine in, it should be downhill all the way.
I hope you will find these words and phrases useful, and that learning them will be a piece of cake!