Improve Your English Vocabulary with Movie Quotes and Sound More Like a Native Speaker

cover moviesAre you a movie buff [person who loves movies]? Don’t you just love going to the cinema, being amongst that overwhelming aroma of popcorn.  Seeing your favorite actors and actresses on the big screen [the cinema screen]?

Over the past decades movies have entertained us with their fascinating story-lines, awesome special effects, and even their thought provoking quotes and cool catchphrases.

Quote – Something profound a famous person says that gets repeated by others
Catchphrase – A popular line from a movie or TV show that gets repeated a lot

But did you know that movies have actually added a lot to the English vocabulary?

Over the years, many cult classic [movies that have dedicated fans] movies have affected people so much that many famous movie lines and catchphrases have become popular expressions in our everyday language.

People all over the world are repeating popular quotes from a large range of actors and characters. From Arnold Schwarzenegger’s famous “I’ll be back” line, to Lord of the Rings character Gollum’s line, “my precious,” these famous quotes from movies are used all the time in colloquial speech.

Let’s take a look at how some of the most famous catchphrases and movie quotes that have become so popular all around the world are going to make your English sound much more entertaining, fun, natural, and culturally informed. This is a great way to connect to English speakers in a friendlier and more casual way.

1. Apollo 13 (1995)

“Houston, we have a problem.”
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Throughout the movie the crew are in constant contact with the NASA base in Houston. Tom Hanks says this quote when the space shuttle is suddenly in extreme danger when they have a malfunction on board.

This famous quote is often used when you come across some kind of difficulty or logistical problem.

2. Scarface (1983)

“Say, ‘hello’ to my little friend!”
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Tony Montana says this at the end of the movie when he is being ambushed [secretly invaded by enemies]. This line is used commonly in speech when you are revealing something you are proud of.

3. Jerry McGuire (1996)

“Show me the money”
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You’ll see this quote from a scene in the movie when Jerry is begging his client to stay with him. Whenever someone owes you money or needs to pay you, this quote can be a nice touch. Even though it’s straight to the point [direct] it can make the uncomfortable situation of asking for your money more humorous.

4. Ace Ventura: Pet Detective (1994)

“Alllll-righty then!”
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Ace Ventura uses this expression all the time to show confirmation. You can use this in any situation when you want to confirm or agree to something.

5. Dirty Harry (1971)

“You’ve gotta ask yourself one question: do I feel lucky? …well, do ya, punk?!?”
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This famous scene is when Harry tests a criminal’s luck by shooting at him without knowing if he had any bullets left. This is a very commonly used in a jokingly manner to ask someone if they are feeling lucky.

6. The Wizard of Oz (1939)

“There’s no place like home.”
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All Dorothy had to do was tap her shoes together and repeat this phrase 3 times and she was magically transported back in Kansas. This phrase has been engrained into our culture for talking about homesickness thanks to Dorothy and her little dog, Toto.

7. Die Hard (1988)

“Yippie-Ki-Yay Mother Fucker!”
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This catchphrase was used by Bruce Willis In all of the Die Hard films. It only has context in the first movie when he’s imitating a cowboy, but he says it in all of them. This is always at the part of the movie when he’s about the kill the bad guy, or does something bad-ass or heroic. We say this in situation where we are about to do something crazy or daring.

8. Zombieland (2009)

“It’s time to nut up or shut up.”
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Tallahassee says this to Columbus when preparing to encounter zombies. Nut up in this case is referring to becoming more courageous. Like in many other languages, nuts can be a reference to testicles, which represent courage in English if you have big ones.

This expression could be said, for example, to people who keep complaining about being scared of something, or just when you need to find some extra courage for a scary situation.

9. Forrest Gump (1994)

“Run, Forrest, run!
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This unforgettable line is from when Jenny is telling Forrest to run faster as he is being chased by bullies. We tend to use this a lot to either make fun of the way someone is running, or to tell someone to do something quickly.

10. STAR WARS (1977)

“May the force be with you.”
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This line is repeated throughout the whole Star Wars series as a positive motivator before a Jedi goes on a mission. People often use this to wish people luck before some kind of difficult situation, or sometimes it’s used as a nerdy way to say goodbye.

11. The Truman Show (1988)

“In case I don’t see ya…good afternoon, good evening, and goodnight.”
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Truman says this to many people at the start of the movie, but the most memorable moment was when he proudly says this line at the end of the movie right before he decides to leave the set. This is a funny way to say good morning to someone and wish them a good day.

12. Taxi Driver (1976)

“You talkin’ to me?”
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Travis Bickle repeats this phrase several times when he is psychotically looking into the mirror and practicing this intimidating line. You have to say this with an American/Italian accent and with a very straight face.

You can use this with colleagues when they say something to make fun of you in order to jokingly sound intimidating.

13. Gone with the Wind (1939)

“Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.”
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This is an oldie but a goody. Rhett Butler says this to Scarlett O’Hara as his last words before he leaves her. At the time the word damn was quite controversial as it had recently been banned from cinema. The expression,  don’t give a damn, is another way to say, I don’t care. If you want to use this line, make sure you say it strongly in a rather posh manner.

14. The Godfather (1972)

“I’m going to make him an offer he can’t refuse.”
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This line was first said by mafia boss Don Vito Corleone in the first Godfather movie and gets repeated in all the sequels. This famous quote is still very common when joking around about negotiating and making deals with people.

15. Anchorman (2004)

“I’m kind of a big deal.”
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Ron Burgundy says this famous line to pick up chicks [get women]. Ron has a big ego and wants to make sure everyone knows how important he is. You can use this in a jokingly way to suggest that you are being arrogant and egocentric.

16. The Matrix (1999)

“I know Kung Fu.”
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Neo utters this awesome line when they are programming his brain with new skills and knowledge, suddenly he knows Kung Fu. You can say this line when someone teaches you something or if you miraculously learn or understand something that you had been finding difficult.

17. The Titanic (1997)

“Im the king of the world.”
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Everybody remembers this scene when Jack is standing at the front of the boat. People say this all the time when they are feeling extreme freedom in a particular situation.

18. A Few Good Men (1992)

“You can’t handle the truth.”
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The line originated from a scene in the film where in court, lawyer Daniel Kaffee exposes that Colonel Nathan R. Jessup is giving a false testimony. We often use this to deny people information because they are too sensitive. Again, in a joking way.

19. James Bond (1962)

“the name’s Bond, James Bond.”
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The world famous spy for some reason loves telling everyone his REAL name. Mr Bond always introduces himself in this very classy and elegant manner which people love to repeat to make themselves sound more sophisticated.

People will often introduce themselves in this same manner. For example, I could say – the name’s Fishwick… Chad Fishwick.

What’s the benefit of using these expressions?

Many people are often skeptical about using colloquial expressions and slang because they think it makes their English too informal or unprofessional. In my opinion this is very far from the truth.

Using this type of language is going to make your English sound more natural and playful. People will open up to your more when you’re speaking in a more casual way. Speaking like this will give you an advantage of separating cultural boundaries more quickly than when you’re speaking in a formal, professional way. terminator

Watching movies is a very popular pass time for so many people and is a great way to understand more about western culture, even if it’s a Hollywood exaggeration. Using these movie quotes, whether you manage to use them correctly or not, is a great way to initiate this kind of conversation.

If you know any other cool quotes which you believe should have been on this list, please write them in the comments below with the name of the movie they are from.

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  • Great tip Chad! I'm doing that and since I've been doing that my English have improved so much…

  • Movie really helps to improve your English and sound more natural

  • Anonymous says:

    Awesome article guys. But you forgot the most quote of all time "This is so fetch" – Mean Girls. hahaha!

  • D??ng Lê says:

    Wow, i didn't notice about this before, it's so funny and intersting. Thank you for your writting, it bring me back to the past when i saw all of this movie. 😀

  • I'm going to use and practice some. Thanks, Chad

  • Natan Monteiro says:

    As a movie buff, I can say that I loved this text.

  • Glsun Bozkurt says:

    "I m a man, well nobody's perfect" Some like it hot

  • Tonatiuh S. Reyes says:

    This is great for my students!
    Many thanks!