Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Everyday Spoken English

Everyday Conversational English: Impress the Natives with these 40 Terms

Already speak some English and want to impress the native speakers with your knowledge? We've gone to the trouble of creating this list of everyday words and expressions that will finally help you achieve native-level fluency in your conversational English. So say "see you later" to "hello" and "yes", and say "'sup?" to "hey" and "yeah". Alright, time to "knock it off" and stop "faffing around".

a rip-off / to get ripped off

A rip-off is something that is very overpriced, for example a fake Rolex watch being sold at the price of a real one despite being of inferior quality. If someone bought the fake Rolex, only later to realise that it was fake, they could say, “Oh no, I got ripped off!”.

I better...

This is another way to say “I should…”
E.g. “I better go buy food before the shop closes”.

can't make it

This phrase simply means “can’t attend”.
E.g. “ I can’t make it to the football match. I’ve already made other plans”.

cheesy / corny

This is used to describe things that are overused, unoriginal and obviously sentimental, especially certain films, music and chat-up lines.

chill / chill out

While “chill” can be used similarly to “hang out”, but not necessarily requiring company, “chill”, “chill out” and “calm down” can also mean to relax after feeling upset, angry or excited. They are often used in the imperative, when someone thinks someone is overreacting.

coulda / shoulda / woulda

Short for “could have” / “should have” / “would have”.

couldn't care less

You can probably work out the meaning of this one. If you really don’t care about a topic and someone asks your opinion, this is the right phrase for you.

doesn't matter / don't mind / don't care

These phrases can be used when you have been asked for your preference between different options, but you really have no preference. They are short for, “I don’t mind”, “I don’t care” and “It doesn’t matter”.
E.g. “Do you want to watch an action movie or a romantic movie?” Response: “Don’t mind”.

Don't worry about it /No worries / No problem

These are informal ways to say “You’re welcome”.

Down to earth

This is a phrase used to describe people who are practical, realistic and not arrogant or overly dramatic.

dude / man

These are informal ways to refer to your friend, especially if male

Dunno

Short for "don't know".

easy-going / laid back

Two phrases used to describe people who are relaxed and tolerant.

fair enough

This is an informal phrase used to express that something you have been told is acceptable or understandable.
E.g. “I’m sorry I can’t come to your party, I have a really important exam the next day.” Response: “Oh that’s such a shame! But fair enough.”

to be free

While being free means being able to do what you want or that an item costs nothing, it is also often used to mean having time to do something.
E.g. “Hi dude, are you free tomorrow? Want to play football?”

I get it

This simply means “I understand”.

Go ahead / Go for it

This is an informal phrase used when giving someone permission to do something.

gonna / wanna / gotta

Short for “going to” / “want to” / “got to”.

Gotcha

This is short for "I've got you" and is an informal way to say “I understand".

to grab...

Although “grab” often means “hold”, people often use it informally to mean “get”.
E.g. “Hey man, want to grab a coffee?”.  This person is asking their friend if they want to go out to get a coffee together.

 

Hey / Hi / Hiya / Yo / What's up? / 'Sup / How's it going? / How you doing?

English speakers rarely say “hello”, and it’s far more common to hear them use one of these greetings in informal situations. The question greetings normally function more as greetings than questions, but it is just as acceptable to answer the question as to simply greet the person in response: 
E.g. 1: “How’s it going?”. Response: “Hey. What’s up?”
E.g. 2: “How’s it going?”. Response: “Good thanks. You?”

Hang on

This phrase simply means “wait”.

to hang out

This means to spend time enjoying yourself with other people in your spare time. E.g. “Mum, I’m going to hang out with my friends today”.

How come?

This question often confuses non-native speakers when they are first asked it, but it is simply another way of asking “why?“. Keep it in mind though, as English speakers use it very often.

I'm afraid...

Although afraid normally means the same as “scared”, it is often also used to mean “I’m sorry but…”.
E.g. “I’m afraid the tickets are already sold out for the show today. You will have to try again tomorrow”.

It's up to you

When you are with someone else and you or they have a decision to make, and you want to express that they can make the decision, just say “It’s up to you”. 
E.g. “Shall we order Chinese or Indian food tonight?” Response: “It’s up to you”.

Long time, no see

This is what you say to someone when you see them for the first time after having not seen them for a long time (i.e. at least a few weeks)

Make yourself at home

A phrase used when welcoming people into your home and trying to make them feel comfortable.

may as well / might as well

These phrases are used to agree to do something reluctantly when no better option seems available or when the something is seen as an inevitability.
E.g. 1: “I know he’s not our best friend, but there’s nothing else going on tonight. Shall we just go to his party?” Response: “Yeah, might as well”. 
E.g. 2: “As it’s raining, shall we just clean the house now so we don’t have to do it when the weather is nice?” Response: “Yeah, might as well”.

My bad

This means “my mistake”.

not my thing

Used to express that something is not what you like or are interested in.

No way!

This is also an exclamation of surprise, but is common among all English speakers.

Speak of the devil!

When people are talking about someone else, and the person who is being talked about arrives, one of those talking can say “speak of the devil” to express that the person who just arrived was just the subject of their conversation.

Take care / Take it easy

These are both friendly and informal ways to say “good bye”. 

To be up for...

Very common phrase when organising plans in your spare time. Being up for something simply means wanting to do something. E.g. “Hi James, are you up for playing football today”. Response: “Yeah, I’m up for that”.

What are you up to?

This phrase simply means “What are you doing?”, and is mainly used in informal situations.
E.g. “What are you up to later? Do you want to go to the cinema?”

What do you do?

This is short for “What do you do for a living?”, which simply means “What is your job?”. This is a very important one to remember, as native English speakers often ask this question the first time they meet somebody.

Whatever

Whatever has a few different meanings:
- It can be used in the same way as “any” or “no matter what”. E.g. “I’m going to go to the park whatever the weather”
- You’re probably more likely to hear it used as a response to express that you don’t fully believe what someone has just told you. E.g. “I promise, it wasn’t me who broke your CD”. Response: “Whatever”.

Whatshisface / Whatsherface

These are very useful terms for when you want to mention someone but you can’t remember their name. If it’s a male, simply use “whatshisface” in place of his name, and if it’s a female use “whatsherface”.

"Yeah" instead of "Yes"

This one is very important. Although yes is the word most people are taught in their English lessons, outside a few formal situations it is almost always more appropriate to say “yeah” as “yes” makes you sound more irritable. Therefore, “yes” is mostly used when someone feels impatient, sad, angry, argumentative or generally in a bad mood.

Here are some everyday expressions that are used so abundantly in the USA, it's hard to believe they haven't caught on across the pond:

 

to dillydally

The American meaning to spend time doing unimportant things instead of what you should be doing, or to take excessive time getting ready to go somewhere.
E.g. “Stop dillydallying, we need to be at the airport in half an hour”. 

Don't mention it

An informal American phrase meaning “You’re welcome”.

to be down

While being down can mean to be sad, in America it is often also used in the same way as “to be up for something”. E.g. “You down to go to the party tonight?” Response: “Yeah I’m down”.

Knick-knack

An American term for “stuff”. Note: the “K”s are silent.

Knock it off / Quit it

Informal American phrases meaning “Stop it”, used when telling someone to stop doing something, especially if it is something that annoys you. Note: the “K” is silent.

sketchy

American word used to describe:
- people who are dishonest/unreliable;
- things, especially places, that are potentially dangerous;
- things that are of low quality.

spent

American term meaning “very tired”.

And some frequently used British words that you definitely won't hear in the States:

 

A cuppa

This is short for “a cup of tea”.

Alright?

This British greeting is another way to say “Hello”. It comes from the question, “Are you alright?”, but is not normally intended as a question unless part of the longer versions, “You alright?”, or, “Are you alright?”

And Bob's your uncle!

This phrase might sound strange, but it is used often in the UK. The meaning is very similar to the French “et voilà!”, meaning “and there you have it!”. It is mostly used after giving explanations or instructions that are relatively simple. E.g. “To get to Big Ben, just keep walking along the river, turn right, cross the bridge and Bob’s your uncle – you’re there!”

I can't be bothered

A British phrase to express that you do not have the motivation to do something.

Cheers

This is the most common thing to say when clinking glasses of alcohol in the entire English-speaking world. However, “Cheers” is also a very common way of saying “Thanks” in the UK.

Crikey / Blimey !

These are both very British words that you definitely won’t hear in the USA. They are different exclamations of surprise, shock or amazement, like “Oh my God!” and ”Wow!”.

dodgy

A British word used to describe:
- people who are dishonest/unreliable;
- things, especially places, that are potentially dangerous;
- things that are of low quality.

to faff (around / about)

A British phrase meaning to spend time doing unimportant things instead of what you should be doing, or to take excessive time getting ready to go somewhere.
E.g. “Stop faffing around, we need to be at the airport in half an hour”.

gutted

Another British word for “disappointed”, but “gutted” can also be used as a response when someone tells of something unlucky or disappointing that happened to them or someone else.

knackered

British term meaning “very tired”. Be careful, the “k” is silent.

mate

A British word with the same meaning as “dude” and “man”.

Nice one

A more informal way to say “thanks” in the UK.

Not bad

Although the meaning seems obvious, “not bad” is often used in the UK to mean “good”, and is seen as quite a positive opinion of something. However, in the USA, “not bad” is considered slightly negative, as its translation in many other countries would be.

not bothered / not fussed

Two British phrases that mean the same as “Don’t mind”, “Don’t care” and “Doesn’t matter”.

not my cup of tea

Used in the UK to express that something is not what you like or are interested in.

nuts

A common British slang term meaning “crazy”. It is used to refer to people’s mental states but, like crazy, can also be used to describe things that are extremely impressive, incredible, risky, or tragic. Therefore, it can be used in both positive and negative contexts.
Positive example: “Did you see that amazing goal Messi scored the other day?” Response: “Yeah! That was nuts!”

under the weather

A British expression meaning “sick” or “ill”.

 

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