Do you ever wonder why you can understand your English teacher perfectly 99% of the time, but then you go into the real world and you’re like, “Is this English? I’ve studied for years and I don’t understand what people are saying.” Well, today we are going to help you transform basic English from a textbook into native speaker English!
This is how I felt with Spanish. I studied Spanish in college, then I actually went to Argentina. I know that people say the Argentinian accent is difficult, but I couldn’t understand a word that anyone was saying. I realized that this wasn’t because of their accent, but it’s because of the way I learned Spanish in the classroom.
It’s the same for you! If you learned English in a classroom with a textbook, you learned basic, standard English. But the way native English speakers actually speak in everyday conversation is much different.
10 Native English Phrases You Can Use
Today I want to share 10 native English phrases that have come up in my own recent comversations. Sometimes I feel, and maybe you do too, that English is really overwhelming. There’s so much to learn, so much slang, so many vocabulary words – there’s just so much to learn that it’s hard to teach you everything about English conversation and advanced fluency in a short lesson video. But at least today we can quickly learn these 10 phrases and you can use them right away.
So let’s jump right into it! In other words, let’s begin! Let’s “kick things off.” That’s a great phrase, it just means to start something.
It’s Not My Thing
This is a phrase you can say if someone wants to talk about something you don’t really want to talk about. For example, politics. Personally, I do not like talking about politics. It’s not my thing. It’s not my cup of tea. It’s not my jam. I don’t like it, I wouldn’t touch that topic with a 10-foot pole. All these just mean that you don’t want to discuss that topic. These are really common phrases, so it’s helpful to know them.
Sometimes when people want to talk about politics, I just say, “I’m not really into politics.” I’m not really into that. To “not be into” something just means that you are not interested.
Recently, a friend of mine wanted to get a new car. But as you probably know, there is a microchip shortage, causing the cost of cars (even used cars) to go up. So when costs go up and cars get more expensive, we can say that buying a new car (or even a used car) is a rip-off. A rip-off means something is way too expensive and not worth the price. It “costs an arm and a leg.”
Conversely, if you find something that is a good deal, or a good price, you can say “That’s a steal.”
That’s Highway Robbery
My best friend recently bought a house at a very good price. I was talking with her about it, and I said, “That was highway robbery, what you paid for your house.” That was a steal, that was a bargain, that was the best deal of your life, congratulations!
Go on a Walk
Speaking of this friend, we were talking together as we took a walk this morning. We love taking walks together, but when we make plans to take a walk, we don’t use basic English phrases like, “I want to invite you to walk with me.” We use phrases like, “I’m going to go on a walk, do you want to come?” I’m going to go on a walk. Do you want to (do you wanna) meet me? Do you wanna come along? Do you wanna come with? Do you wanna get together?
“Get together” is interesting, because it’s both a phrasal verb and a noun. The phrasal verb means to meet with your friends, and the noun means the meeting you are at with your friends, the get together. A “get together” can be like a party. “Hey, I’m having a get together, do you wanna come?” When you’re inviting people to do something, it’s a great chance to use the “gonna’s” and the “wanna’s,” because this is what we do when we’re speaking. I’m gonna go for a walk, do you wanna come? I also don’t say “do you,” I say “d’ya.” D’ya wanna come?
I Don’t Want to Bug You
Recently, I was trying to park my car, and someone took my parking spot. This was a little awkward, and I didn’t want to bother them, but I had to say something. Instead of saying, “I don’t want to bother you, but…” I said, “I don’t want to bug you, but…” To “bug” someone is a little more casual and friendly than “bother.” “Bother” is a little more formal, more polite. You could start what you are going to say with, “I don’t want to bug you, but…”
I was also on a flight recently and I heard someone say this to another person who was sitting in the wrong seat. Do you ever notice that people mix up airplane seats? So if this happens to you, you can just say, “I’m sorry to bug you, but…” or “I don’t want to bug you, but I think you might be in my seat.”
To respond to this or some other situation where you want to say, “Oh, I understand,” or “I see,” you can say, “Fair enough.” “Fair enough” means “I understand” or “You’re right” or “I see your side, or your point of view.” “Fair enough, I see what you’re saying.”
Here’s another phrase related to money and expenses. Let’s say I want to invite you to travel with me, but you don’t have a lot of money. You don’t have the budget to do this right now. Instead of saying “I don’t have any money,” you might say, “I’m broke,” meaning that you really don’t have the money to do that right now. Another way to say this is, “I’ve hit a dry spell.” A dry spell, as you can imagine, is when there’s no rain, nothing is flourishing or growing in your financial life. You’ve hit a “dry spell,” you’re broke. I’d say, “Okay, no problem, fair enough.”
Better Late Than Never
On this topic, one of my best friends and I were talking about traveling together. We’ve known each other for many years, almost 20 years, and last year we were finally able to travel together. It was so much fun, even though it was a bit late in our friendship. When something comes late, or if you show up late to a party, instead of saying, “Sorry to be late,” you can say, “Better late than never.” I love this phrase because I think it’s so true. Sometimes we judge ourselves too much for not making something happen quickly, but what matters is that you make it happen.
Let’s Call It a Day
Recently, I was on a Zoom meeting, as many of us probably have been recently. It was geting to the end of the call, and we went over time a few minutes. To finally end the call, instead of saying, “Let’s finish,” one person said, “Okay, let’s call it a day.” You can say this at the end of anything. “To wrap up” also means to finish a meeting, or a job, or anything.
At the End of the Day
Another phrase with “day” that I’ve heard recently is “at the end of the day.” My friends and I have been using this a lot. I think it’s just a great way to summarize what you want to say. “At the end of the day.” It also puts emphasis on your opinion, “at the end of it all, in summary, in conclusion.” What really matters at the end of the day is this thing. So “at the end of the day” when you’re learning to speak English, what really matters is that you enjoy it. Smile when you’re speaking even if you make mistakes. It’s okay! At the end of the day, just keep going, keep watching, keep learning, keep practicing.
Try using some of these phrases on your own! Also, check out this video that gives you 7 essential phrases to use if you want to sound like a native speaker. Make sure to subscribe to the email list for free English tips weekly in your inbox! Thanks for watching and have a wonderful day, bye for now!