ENGLISH EXPRESSIONS: The Importance of Learning Expressions

“I thought my English was really good because I’ve been studying for many years, but when I went to visit my friend in London, I didn’t have any idea what people were saying.”

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Many people I talk to, and a lot of my students here in Brazil, have a high level of English knowledge, but don’t have much English speaking experience. A very important factor for any English learner is to be able to use typical expressions, this makes your English sound more natural and less like a robot.

I’m sure you’re thinking that “English expressions” sounds like a very broad topic so, in this article I’m going to teach you three different types of English expressions.

1. Idioms
2. Phrasal verbs
3. Slang

WHAT IS AN IDIOM?

An idiom is figurative expression or phrase used to express an idea vaguely, so it doesn’t relate directly to the person you’re speaking to.

A good example of this would be, “you can’t have your cake and eat it too.”

This idiom is saying that in some situations in life, you can’t have 2 good things if they contradict with each other.

If someone I know had a girlfriend and a mistress, I could use this expression to suggest to him, in a non-confronting or judgmental way, that he should choose one or the other.

Some idioms are funny or silly while others can be quite profound. I love to use and teach idioms because they make the language a lot more enjoyable. A great way to learn these expression is by joining us at the Real Life English facebook community, where we post a new idiomatic expression every day.

For a list of idioms click here 

WHAT IS A PHRASAL VERB?

Phrasal verbs are used A LOT in everyday English, formal and informal. Most phrasal verbs have a figurative meaning just like idioms, ­­­and a literal meaning. A phrasal verb is always constructed with a verb and typically either an adverb or preposition.

Common phrasal verbs:

Look for = to search, “I’m looking for my wallet.”
Give up = To stop doing a hobby or a habit, “I gave up smoking.”
Run out = Something has finished or been consumed, “My car ran out of gas on the way to work.”

All three of these examples above have a figurative meaning, and one of them also has a literal meaning. The phrasal verb “run out,” can be used literally to say that someone left a room or a place in a running motion e.g. “The man ran out of his office screaming.”

To learn more about phrasal verbs with rap music click here
For more phrasal verbs click here

WHAT IS SLANG?

This last type of expressions are probably the most difficult as it changes from place to place. Slang expressions are the words you won’t find in a dictionary because most of the time they are created through different cultural groups. People make up new slangs every day.

In the US you will find different slangs depending on who you hang out with. If you hang out with a surfer the slang you hear will be totally different form the slang you would hear if you were to hang out with a rap fan. Age groups can also determine the slang that someone uses. My dad uses many slangs which I’d never say because for me they are old fashioned.

Here is an example of some different slangs you should know from different cultural groups.

 RAP SLANG

Aight – short for alright
Beef – serious trouble
Crib – your home
Fresh – brand new or great
Hood – your neighborhood
Rollout – to leave

SURFER SLANG

Gnarly- Very, good excellent
Bro- General name for friend
Sick- Alternative for cool
Epic- A memorable situation
Buzzkill- When someone ruins the moment

To learn more about slangs, download Real Life English’s free E-book 101 words you won’t learn in school.
Also read some of our previous articles based on slang expressions.
Speak Australian slang
18 Slang Uses for the Term “Word” 

CALL TO ACTION

 Don’t get stuck just learning formal grammatical English. Start focusing on expressions today.

Make the learning process more interesting and fun by learning these cool words and you’ll see how much more natural and fluent you’ll sound. All these expression are really important for your English, not just to sound more fluent amongst friends, but the use of informal English is also very important in any proficiency test you may have to take in the future.

 

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