The English idiom “(to) bite off more than (someone) can chew” is to try to do something that is too difficult, or it involves too much work.

Here’s an example of the idiom in use:

Andy:           I can't believe James is still at work! It's 10pm! What is he doing there so late? 

Mary:           He told his boss that he would finish the report today. I think he has bitten off more than he can chew.

(James told his boss that he would finish the report but it is too much work.)

Note: the verb ‘bite' is irregular. The example is in the present perfect tense and uses the past participle ‘bitten'.


Can you think of a time when you bit off more than you could chew?  Write your answers in the comments box below!


Why learn idioms?

Native English speakers use a lot of idioms in everyday speech but English learners find them difficult to understand! This is because the meaning doesn’t relate to the literal translation of the words. Learning idioms will help you understand English conversation and using idioms will make you sound like a native speaker!