Every language has a collection of sayings used in different situations. To understand English as it is spoken in real life you have to familiarize yourself with the different phrases and idioms. They are commonly used in everyday English and you need to know what they mean and how they are used. Here are some of the most common English phrases which will help to enrich your English vocabulary and have you sounding like a native speaker in no time! J
Bored to death: A strong expression used when things become dull and repetitive.
Example: “I have nothing to do at work. I’m bored to death.”
You’ve got to be kidding: Used to reply to a silly statement or action.
“You bought that pen for 10 ringgit. You’ve got to be kidding me!”
Sick and Tired: Used when you don’t enjoy something anymore because you have done it so many times.
Example: “I’m sick and tired of eating the same thing for lunch every day.”
Call it a day: Used to express that the work day is over.
Example: “Let’s call it a day. I’m too tired to continue working.”
Get on one’s nerves: Used when someone or something is bothering you.
Example: “You’re beginning to get on my nerves.
Couch potato: Used when someone is lazy and watches too much television.
Example: “I should be more active and less of a couch potato.”
Read one’s mind: When someone says something you were also thinking about.
Example: “I was going to recommend that as well! You must have read my mind.”
Feel blue: To feel sad.
Example: “What a depressing day. It makes me feel blue.”
Fender bender: A small car accident which isn’t very serious.
Example: “I got into a fender bender in the parking lot yesterday.”
Get foot in the door: Taking or passing the first step of a longer process; usually used to talk about an event which would eventually lead to better opportunities.
Example: “It’s not the best position in the office, but at least my foot is in the door.”
Give somebody a hard time: Make someone feel bad for making a mistake.
Example: “My dad gave me a hard time after I got one bad grade on my report card.”
Make up one’s mind: To make a decision.
Example: “We don’t have all day; please make up your mind.”
Throw in the towel: To Give up or quit something.
Example: “He’s not a quitter, so he’s not going to throw in the towel.”
Goose bumps: Tiny bumps you get all over your body when you feel intense emotions.
Example: “I was so touched by the movie that I started getting goose bumps all over my arms.”
Stay in touch: To stay connected with someone.
Example: “Please call me more often, we should stay in touch.”
Have the guts: To be brave.
Example: “I don’t have the guts to go bungee jumping.”
Rain or Shine: Not letting the weather stop you from doing something.
Example: “Sam’s going camping this weekend rain or shine.”
I’m beat: Very tired / exhausted.
Example: “I’m going to sleep early today. I’m beat!”
Easier said than done: Used when something is easy to say but difficult to do.
Example: “Mark thinks this exercise is easy. He doesn’t realize it’s easier said than done.”
It’s about time: Used to express that you have waited a long time.
Example: “It’s about time you arrived. I waited three hours for you!”
Jump to conclusions: Coming to a conclusion when you don’t have all the details
Example: “It’s a good book. You shouldn’t jump to conclusions before reading it.”
Keep an eye on: To watch or supervise someone or something.
Example: “Can you keep an eye on my dog while I go to the shop for a minute?”
Out of the blue: Something that happens spontaneously.
Example: “I don’t know why Beth started crying. It was out of the blue.”
Know something inside out: Have knowledge of every detail of something.
Example: “Ask John to help you with your homework. He knows maths inside out.”
Give someone a hand: To help someone.
Example: “These bags look heavy, do you need a hand?”
Now and then: Something that happens once in a while.
Example: “I go to the beach near my town every now and then.”
Keeping my fingers crossed: Hoping for something good to happen.
Example: “I hope it works. Let’s keep our fingers crossed.”
28. Out of this world: Something that is amazing and wonderful.
Example: “The concert was out of this world. It was a great experience.”
29. Over one’s head: To say that something is too difficult to understand.
Example: “Don’t bother explaining it to Martin. It’s way over his head.”
30. Piece of cake: Describes something that is easy to do.
Example: “Learning to write is a piece of cake. It just takes practice.”
31. Sooner or later: Eventually; something that will happen in a future time.
Example: “You’ll have to tell him sooner or later”
32. Pull someone’s leg: To make someone believe something that is not true.
Example: “I’m kidding. I was just pulling your leg.”
33. Put oneself in one’s place: To look at something from someone else’s point of view.
Example: “If you put yourself in my place, you would understand why I did that.”
34. I can eat a horse: Said when someone is very hungry.
Example: “I’m so hungry that I can eat a horse.”
35. Read between the lines: To understand the hidden meaning of something that is unclear.
Example: “Jack isn’t very good at reading between the lines. You have to tell him exactly what you want.”
36. Rings a bell: When something sounds familiar.
Example: “Her name rings a bell, but I don’t remember for sure.”
37. Sleep on it: To delay a decision so you have time to think about it.
Example: “I don’t think I can decide now. Let me sleep on it and I’ll give you my answer tomorrow.”
38. Play it by ear: To decide to deal with a situation as more events unfold.
Example: “We don’t have to plan something for Friday. We can just play it by ear.“
39. Grab a bite: To get something to eat.
Example: “If you haven’t had lunch yet, let’s grab a bite to eat.”
40. Take it easy: To calm down and relax.
Example: “You’re pushing yourself too hard. Take it easy.”
41. Go with the flow: To do things the same way as other people because it is easier to do.
Example: “If you don’t want to stand out, go with the flow.”
42. Twenty-four seven: Something that is always available; every minute of the day and night.
Example:”7-11 is a good store because they are open twenty-four seven.”
43. Under the weather: Feeling sick; not well.
Example: “I’m going to stay home because I’m feeling under the weather today.”
44. Don’t sweat it: To tell someone not to worry.
Example: “You tried your best, so don’t sweat it.”
45. Beats me: Used when you don’t know or understand what’s happening.
Example:”Beats me how she found out about the surprise party.”
46. I don’t buy it: To disagree about something when it isn’t convincing.
Example: “Anna said she was sorry but I don’t buy it.”
47. Keep your cool: To act normal.
Example: “I know you’re angry with him but you have to keep your cool.”
48. Sort of: A little; kind of.
Example: “I sort of know how to speak Spanish.”
49. Good for you: To express that you are happy for a person.
Example: “Good for you, you finally passed your driving test.”
50. Good luck: To wish someone well.
Example: “Good luck on your interview tomorrow”
Big deal: Something important. This phrase is usually used with “no” to express that something is not as important as it seems.
Example: “It’s no big deal if we don’t go out tonight.”
What a small world: said to show your surprise that people or events in different places are connected.
Example: “I didn’t know that you knew my cousin. What a small world.”
What’s going on?: To ask what is happening at or around the time of speaking.
Example: “I don’t know why she is upset, do you know what’s going on?”
Now you’re talking: Used to agree with what someone else said.
Example: “A trip to the beach sounds great, now you’re talking!”
Never mind: Something you say when you no longer want people to pay attention to whatever you previously said or asked.
Example: “Never mind cooking lunch for me, I’m going out.”
If you insist: To agree after the other person demands it.
Example: “We will stay longer if you insist.”
It’s nothing: To tell someone that the task you did was not a big deal.
Example: “No need to thank me for helping you with your homework. It’s nothing.”
What gives?: Used to ask what is wrong or what the matter is.
Example: “Your mom said you stopped taking violin lessons. What gives?”
Fair enough: Used when two people agree on something.
Example: A.”If you do not finish your homework you will not be able to go outside to play.”
Cat got your tongue: Used when someone has nothing to say
Example: “You’re very quiet tonight, cat got your tongue?”
It totally slipped my mind: Used when you forget something that you had to do.
Example: “I had meant to call you but it totally slipped my mind.”
It’s written all over your face: Used to tell someone that what they feel is clearly shown in their facial expression.
Example: “I know that you’re angry, it’s written all over your face.”
Go for it: To encourage someone to do something that they have in mind.
Example: “If you really want that job. Go for it!”
It’s a deal: Agreeing with someone’s proposal.
Example: “So if I make dinner, you will clean the house? It’s a deal!”
I can’t thank you enough: To be very thankful to someone.
Example: “Thanks for everything. I can’t thank you enough.”
My two cents: To give or share an opinion with someone.
Example: “Just to add my two cents, but I believe changing the design will be a better idea.”
Just name it: Used to express that you are offering to do or give anything the other person asks.
Example: “I will help you with whatever you need, just name it.”
No worries: Used to tell the person not to worry about it and also used to say you’re welcome.
Example: “No worries, we can do it tomorrow.”
Hang in there: Used to tell someone not to give up or lose hope.
Example: “I know things are difficult right now, just hang in there.”
I owe you one: Said to thank someone for helping you and as a way of saying that you will do something in return.
Example: “A: I put the extra copy of the book on your desk.
B: Thanks, I owe you one.”
It’s a piece of cake: Describes something that is easy to do.
Example: “That test we took was a piece of cake.”
I’m on my way: A way of telling someone that you are going to see the person.
Example: “I’m on my way; I’ll be there in 10 minutes.”
It’s a long story: Used when you don’t want to talk about something because it’s difficult to explain.
Example: “it’s a long story so I’ll tell you what happened when I see you.”
Hold on a second: Used when asking someone to wait.
Example: “A: Hi, is Sara there? I’d like to talk to her.”
“B: Sure, please hold on a second I’ll go find her.”
Way to go: used to express approval, or excitement as well as a form of encouragement.
Example: “That was a great lecture Maria way to go!”
Get to the point: To talk directly about a subject rather than in a long-winded way.
Example: “He has been talking a long time. I wish he would get to the point already.”
Since when: It is usually used when you are surprised by someone’s action or words. When you know a person does not usually do something, you can start with “since when.”
Example: “Since when did you become so good at chess?”
You wish: Used to tell someone that they will not get what they want.
Example: “You think your project will be better than mine? Huh! You wish!”
That figures: Another way of say, “that makes sense” or to refer to something that’s not surprising.
Example: “She won’t talk to you after your argument? Well, that figures.”
Do tell: A way of asking someone to tell you what they know.
Example: A.”I heard a rumor the other day about what happened between Michael and Sam”
B. “Oh do tell! I really want to know!”
No sweat: Telling someone it is “no problem”
Example: “”No sweat. We can go out another time.”
I beg to differ: A polite way of disagreeing.
Example: “I beg to differ. I don’t think that’s the appropriate way to approach the situation.”
Rise and shine: A phrase used when you want to wake someone up nicely.
Example: “Time for school sweetheart, rise and shine.”
You bet: To tell someone yes in a definite way.
Example: “You bet I’ll be at your wedding. I would not miss it for the world.”
Sleep tight: Wishing someone a good night’s sleep.
Example: “Sleep tight, you have to get up early for work tomorrow.”
It can’t hurt: Hoping nothing will go wrong.
Example: “I’m going to try a new diet, it can’t hurt, right?”
I couldn’t agree with you more: To completely agree with someone
Example: “I couldn’t agree with you more, the movie was amazing.”
Thank goodness: An expression used to indicate relief.
Example: “Thank goodness you reminded me we have a test or I would have forgotten.”
Get out of here: A common way to express disbelief.
Example: “We really finished in first place, Get out of here!”
In your dreams:
You never know: Used to express that the unlikely could happen.
Example: “I don’t think I’ll get the job but you never know.”
Serves you right: This is usually said when something bad happens to someone who continually did something bad.
Example: “It serves him right. He can’t expect to pass when he cheats during the exam.”
I can’t wait: used to express excitement about something.
Example: “I can’t wait for summer to get here, I don’t like the cold weather.”
Lighten up: Telling someone to not be sad and upset.
Example: “Lighten up. There will be another chance to go to the concert.”
Good point: Used after someone gives a good comment, thought, or suggestion.
Example: A.”I really think you should have called him first before stopping by his house.”
B.”Good point. I will remember that next time.”
Just my luck: Expression used when something bad happens to you
Example: “That’s just my luck, I never win at anything.”
You know better than that: Used when someone makes a mistake that they shouldn’t have made.
Example: “Mary said you were rude to her, you know better than that.”
It’s up to you: Used to tell a person that they are the one to make a decision.
Example: “I don’t mind what we do tonight, it’s up to you.”
Down to earth: Realistic; reasonable; sensible
Example: “I really like Andy. He is friendly and down to earth.”
And for number 100! I’ll leave you with a famous quote by John C. Maxwell J
Team work makes the dream work: Without co-operation success is unfeasible. We can only do so much by ourselves. By channeling our efforts, talents and resources of other people, we succeed faster and easier.