AE 303 – Expression: To Judge A Book By Its Cover

Learn Australian English in this Expression episode of Aussie English where I teach you to use the expression TO JUDGE A BOOK BY ITS COVER like a native!

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AE 303 – Expression: To Judge A Book By Its Cover

G’day guys!

Welcome to the Aussie English podcast.

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So, welcome to The Aussie English Podcast. We just passed episode 300, guys.

So, I hope that many of you made it or at least many of you have seen that episode.

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Anyway, guys, we’ve got a great episode today.

So, without any further ado let’s just dive in and get started.

Today’s expression, guys, is “to judge a book by its cover”, “to judge a book by its cover”.

So, as usual, let’s dive in and define the words in the expression “to judge a book by its cover”.

So, “to judge”. To judge someone or something.

It is to form an opinion about something or someone.

So, to form an opinion, to form a judgment on something.

So, you will often hear it used as someone is being judged by someone else.

To judge something.

“A book”.

I’m sure you guys know what a book is. A book is an object with two covers.

It’s full of pages.

It’s written by someone about something fictional or it could be non-fictional.

A book. It’s full of words. It’s full of language. A book.

And “a cover”, or the cover of a book, is the front of a book.

It can also be the front of things that are shaped like a book.

So, for instance the cover of a DVD. The cover of a C.D..

Usually, it’s something that… well, obviously, covers something else.

It goes around something else. It goes on it. It goes over it. And it’s a protective layer.

It’s a protective cover. A cover.

And the cover of a book, obviously, goes around the book, it goes over the book, and it’s on either side of the outside of the book in order to protect it.

So, that’s what the different words in the expression “to judge a book by its cover” mean.

Let’s define the expression, guys.

So, “to judge a book by a cover”, this is often used in the negative form in that it’s something that you should not do.

You should not judge a book by its cover, which means you shouldn’t form an opinion of someone or something based purely on appearance, based purely on how that thing looks.

And often, it’s used in the negative form, “don’t judge a book by its cover”, because when you get deeper, when you get a lot further into that thing, or when you learn more about that thing, you’ll often find that it’s different from when you first saw it from.

From what you expected when you first saw that thing.

And the idea being, obviously, literally that books shouldn’t be judged by their covers, but judged by what’s inside the book, the story, the writing.

So, if you judge a book by its cover it means you decide whether it’s good or not before you’ve read it.

So, that’s the literal sense.

And the figurative sense would be forming an opinion about someone or something before you truly know more about it.

And you’re doing it based solely on appearance, based only on how it appears, on what it looks like.

So, it’s usually said to someone when they’ve made a judgment that’s negative based on appearance when they shouldn’t have made that judgment like that.

So, let’s go through some examples, guys.



Imagine that you bring a boyfriend home for the first time who is covered in tattoos, who’s got a lot of piercings, and that your parents are relatively conservative.

So, they’re not a fan of tattoos. They’re not a fan of piercings.

And they think this guy is a criminal. And they think he’s a bikie.

They think he’s in a gang. They judge him by how he looks.

They form an opinion about him based on his appearance, because he’s covered in tattoos, he’s covered in piercings.

They don’t get to know what he’s really like before they decide on what they think he’s like, before they judge him, before they form an opinion.

You could say, in that case, they’ve judged a book by its cover, but you would probably use it in the negative form of talking to them and say, “Don’t judge a book by its cover. My boyfriend is a good guy. Don’t judge a book by its cover just because he’s covered in tattoos, just because he’s covered in piercings doesn’t mean he’s a bad person. Get to know him first, and then form an opinion. Don’t judge a book by its cover.”


Example number two.

Imagine that, literally, you go to a library to find a book and you judge the book based on the cover that is on the book.

So, you pick up a book and you think, “Oh, I want to read this, but it looks really bad, because the cover is really bad. The cover is of poor quality. The cover looks boring. It doesn’t look very interesting. But I’m going to read the book.”

So, I judged the book by its cover.

But then it turns out once I’ve read the book that it was really good.

It was absolutely amazing. The story was brilliant. It was really riveting.

It was really addictive to read. So, I shouldn’t have judged the book by its cover.

I shouldn’t have judged a book by its cover.

I shouldn’t have formed an opinion prior to reading the book.

I shouldn’t have judged it by its appearance.


Example number three. Imagine that you go to a movie.

You’re going to a movie with your girlfriend, with your boyfriend.

You’re going to a movie with some friends, with your family, whoever it is.

You’re go into a movie and you decide on which movie to go to based on the most impressive looking poster that’s out the front of the cinema.

So, you go to the cinema, and they’ll often have posters, so those flat sheets of paper with ads for the different films on them, and you guys say, “OK we’re just going to look for the craziest most awesome looking poster, and then we’ll go to that film. We’ll go to that film.”

So, you do that. Maybe it’s Alien. Maybe it’s Predator.

Maybe it’s some other crazy film that looks insane.

You go in, you watch the film, and it turns out to be absolutely atrocious.

The film turns out to be horrible. It’s awful.

You had a really bad time, although you thought it was going to be amazing, because of the poster that was at the front and how it looked.

You judged the book by its cover, in this sense, because you saw the poster and you made a judgment about the film thinking the film was going to be great, and it turned out to be horrible.

You were wrong. It was the complete opposite of great.

So, in that sense you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover.

You shouldn’t have just decided to go to this film based on the appearance of the poster, because it actually turned out to be horrible.

To judge a book by its cover.

So, hopefully you guys get that expression by now.

As usual, we’ll go through a listen and repeat exercise, guys, where you can practice your pronunciation of English.

Let’s go.

Listen & Repeat:

Don’t judge.
Don’t judge.
Don’t judge.
Don’t judge a book.
Don’t judge a book.
Don’t judge a book.
Don’t judge a book by its cover.
Don’t judge a book by its cover.
Don’t judge a book by its cover.
Don’t judge a book by its cover.

Good job, guys.

So, as usual, let’s have a little chat about a pronunciation and connected speech aspect of “don’t judge a book by its cover”.

In this one, you’re going to notice the muted-T, the muted-T.

So, this is on the word “don’t” when there is a T that follows an N quite often in English we mute the T.

So, instead of saying “don’T judge…” I will say “don’- judge”.

Don’-. Don’-.

So, I mute that T. I don’t say that T. I say, “Don’- judge”, and it flows a little better.

It’s easier for me to say. So, I’ve done a video on this, guys.

You can go over to YouTube and do a search for muted-T.

So, look for One Simple Tip To Sound Australian: The muted-T, and you’ll see a video that goes through when and how to use the muted T, and how to pronounce it like a native.

So, I’ll go through some examples here guys with auxiliary verbs, auxiliary verbs, so don’t, can’t, won’t, shouldn’t, wouldn’t, and couldn’t, and I’ll also use the expression “judge a book by its cover”, and we’ll practice the pronunciation of the muted T.

Let’s go.

Listen & repeat:

I don’t judge a book by its cover.
I can’t judge a book by its cover.
I won’t judge a book by its cover.
I shouldn’t judge a book by its cover.
I wouldn’t judge a book by its cover.
I couldn’t judge a book by its cover.

Good stuff guys. Good stuff.

One side note here, as usual guys, if you want to get access to all the bonus content to learn English even faster, specifically to sound like a native English speaker, I really recommend you become a member on the Aussie English website.

So, you can sign up and try it for a dollar.

Go to and click Learn English Faster, and you can sign up and get access to all the bonus content for these Expression Episodes.

So, you’ll get things like substitution exercises practicing phrases verbs, practicing the pronunciation and connected speech aspect of each episode.

You get slang exercises.

You get the vocabulary for all these episodes as well as the PDF obviously, and the MP3s for each of these files, and we also go over grammar.

On top of that, there are many courses, which include the muted tea and turning -ING into -IN’.

So instead of saying, “going” = “goin'”.

There’s many courses that I have up there for you guys who are members as well to learn to pronounce those things just like natives.

Aside from that guys, if you want to support Aussie English please consider becoming a patron on the Aussie English Patreon on page.

The Patreon page is where you guys can sign up to support Aussie English directly.

You can donate anything as little as one dollar each month in order to support Aussie English.

It allows me to keep doing what I’m doing, creating content for you guys, and helping you to learn English, and obviously, specifically, Australian English.

So, if you want to become a patron, if you want to become someone who is directly involved in the community and supporting Aussie English allowing me to do what I do, then please consider becoming a patron on the Patreon page.

And that’ll be linked below. As usual guys, I wish you all the best.

I hope you have an amazing week. Keep practicing your English.

Keep listening, listening, listening.

Keep repeating, repeating, repeating, and I’ll see you soon.

All the best guys.

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