50 common English Phrases
Are you planning to take a trip to an English speaking country? Do you want to impress people around you with a mastery of the queen’s language? Discover the top 50 most common English phrases. These will make your communication easier, richer and more enjoyable.
1. How is it going? – You can ask this question to a person that you have not seen for a long while. It is sort of asking how the person has been and what he or she has been doing. This phrase can also be used to check on the progress of someone’s project, undertaking or feat.
2. Long time no see! – When you have missed a friend or a close family member, you can ask them this question. It sets the stage for more discussion and updates on what has been going on in the person’s life. You should only say this to friends, family members and close colleagues.
3. What have you been up to? – Do you suspect that a friend or a close colleague has not updated you on his or her undertakings? Pose this phrase and seek more clarification on their life, business work or school. It is a genuine need to know how a friend has been fairing on.
4. Can’t complain – This is a typical answer to the question ‘how have you been?’ you can say this when your life has been good, but no major breakthrough or success. It is like saying that things could be worse, but you’re glad they are not.
5. How do you know? – When someone has told you something that you didn’t expect to hear from them. For example, you want to break some news only to realize that the person is already aware, you can exclaim with this question.
6. That’s a good one = that’s a good joke! – When someone tells you something really funny or something that you did not expect to hear, you can say this. In addition, when someone gives a sarcastic comment, answer or exclamation, you can say ‘that’s a good one’.
7. Its very kind of you! – Has someone opened the door for you or done something seemingly small but very thoughtful? You can thank them by saying this. This phrase is common where friends and colleagues do something out of the ordinary for one another. Feel free to use it when someone surprises you at the office, at home, school and other places.
8. Thank you anyway – Assume someone has volunteered to do something only to find that the task has been completed. You can thank them for their selflessness and thoughtfulness by saying this phrase. It shows that you recognize their effort even if it did not yield the desired results.
9. Thank you in advance! – Do you want to ask for a favor from a friend and are afraid that they may decline? Use this phrase to motivate them to oblige to your request. When you thank someone in advance, it is an expression of your eagerness to have the task done, and they will put efforts to complete it.
10. No worries – When someone reports to you that the tea is not as hot as they expected, you can tell them ‘no worries’. This statement shows that you are okay with whatever proposition, result or situation there is.
11. What’s going on? - Do you want to check on a teammate, colleague or friend? Use this phrase to indicate that you hope for the best. It is commonly used where you know the person has been struggling with a task and that you genuinely wan to solve the problem.
12. Did I get you right? –Sometimes, people say or do things that we do not expect, are shocking or are bizarre. This is perhaps the best statement to say in reaction to that shocking deed or statement. It shows that you cannot believe what the person has said and are looking for clarification.
13. Don’t take it to heart – When you tell a person this, it is a warning that you are about to blast them! It is a cool way to ask a person not to take offense at what you are about to say. Once warned, you expect them not to take the following statement personal.
14. I didn’t catch the last word – Has somebody talked to you and you did not understand the last bit of the sentence? Here is a common phrase to politely ask them to repeat what they have said. It shows your earnest request for clarification. A business partner who has not understood the stipulations of a formal contract can pose this question and expect a clarification.
15. Sorry, I wasn’t listening –If you are listening, reading and thinking about other things as someone tries to draw your attention, here is a polite way to let them know that you were distracted. Ask this question when you are with close friends as opposed to your university lecturer or boss at work.
16. It doesn’t matter – Sometimes we all lose or cool, especially when we are frustrated, angry or irritated with people and situations. This is a not so prudent phrase to exclaim that things must work out as planned regardless of underlying challenges, difficulties or drawbacks.
17. Fingers crossed! –So you have attended a job interview and you are hoping and praying for the best. When your friends ask how it went, you can say ‘fingers crossed’ to express your optimism of a positive outcome. We traditionally cross fingers when we are cheering our favorite team to win the match.
18. Oh, that. That explains it. – Picture this- Judy comes to the office excited about something, but you cannot tell what it is. Later in the day, Alex breaks news that Judy has been promoted to a managerial position. You can say ‘that explains it’ to state that you now understand why she was so happy in the morning.
19. Things happen – Life is full of unexpected things, surprises and unforeseen occurrences. When you are trying to explain the event to someone who cannot understand it, saying this phrase is a good show of vocabulary. It is sort of to say, ‘do not be so surprised’.
20. Sorry to bother you – Do you want to talk to a friend who looks busy with a task or undertaking? Say these words to express your desire and to let them know that you do not intend to be rude. It is an alternative to saying. ‘Excuse me’ or ‘do you have a minute?’ say this when you need a favor from someone.
21. I’ll be with you in a minute – You are late for a meeting but you need to reply to an urgent email. You can say these words to the people already in the meeting room and let them know that you will back in a short while. This comes in handy when you need to respond to a more urgent matter.
22. Where were we? – So you have returned to the meeting from a short distraction, and want to know how far you had gone with the meeting. Ask this question to try and revert to the mood and agenda of the meeting.
23. I’m sorry, I didn’t catch you – Somebody has been speaking fast for many minutes and you did not really understand what they said. Here is a polite way to ask them to repeat what they said. It shows that you were genuinely trying to hear, but something obstructed you.
24. Lucky you! – Your friend comes to you bragging about an achievement that you don’t have. For example, it has been raining and your colleague has a car to go home, while yours is broken. It states that the other person is lucky to have what you lack.
25. I freaked out = to become very angry, scared or excited- This common phrase follows a situation of shock, fear, terror and anxiety. Say this when you were genuinely afraid of something that has passed or elapsed in the not so distant past.
26. Good for you! – Has someone wronged you only to have his bad deeds punished? This statement is said when you are happy about the punishment or repercussions of a wrong deed or insult.
27. You’ve got to be kidding me! – This is perhaps the best reaction to something utterly unbelievable. If someone says or does something strange, bizarre and out of the ordinary, say this to express your surprise and shock.
28. Cheer up! – When someone close to you has suffered something terrible such as a disease or loss, encourage them by saying these words. The phrase is a simple yet effective way of telling the person that the situation will pass and pave the way for happier moments.
29. Come on, you can do it! – This is a common phrase among coaches, mentors, bosses and managers. Use this to motivate, encourage and inspire someone who does not believe in himself. It seeks to drive motivation into them so they will not give up on the undertaking or endeavor.
30. Keep up the good work! – This is a common English phrase said by teachers and university professors to congratulate and recognize the exceptional performance of students. Parents can also use it to congratulate their loved ones on an achievement.
31. It's not the end of the world – When someone has failed to attain a desired result, achievement or milestone, you can use this statement to let them know that they can try again in future. It motivates them to understand that there could be better opportunities.
32. That’s lit! = That’s amazing! – Here is another common English phrase that seeks to recognize of applaud the positive results and achievements of someone close to you. Use it in place for ‘congratulations’.
33. There you go! – Have you hacked something that as troublesome, tricky and difficult. Use this phrase to ululate, cheer or be glad about the feat. It is also a great phrase to applaud a loved one or close friend for some exceptional result.
34. 44. Not a bit! – This phrase is a connotation that you are not interested in what a person is offering or propositioning. It is also used to express disinterest in an activity, undertaking or project. It can mean that you have not touched a task at all.
35. There is no room for doubt – When someone has done something so well that there is no uncertainty, you can say that there is no room for doubt. Tis phrase is common in court rooms when lawyers and magistrates are litigating cases. When used in normal speech, it expresses your certainty that everything is clear.
36. I’ll text you! – This phrase can be used when you do not really have a ready answer at the moment. So you inform the person that you will contact soon with an answer. This is an informal way to buy time to think, explore and consider the options. It does not exactly mean that you will write an SMS message, but will get in touch in any way.
37. it’s not worth it! – When you face a situation where you cannot foresee a positive outcome or result, you can use this phrase. If a project or undertaking will cause you to spend more resources that you are gaining, the venture is not worth it. Managers often use this phrase to discourage their team members from spending time and money on something that will not bear results.
38. You rock! – When someone has done something extraordinary or highly fruitions, you can say that they rock. It is a slang that has found its way in English parlance to mean that you are great, amazing, incredible and awesome. Tell this to your team member who has scored big results in school or at work.
39. You should go the extra mile… - This common English statement means that you should work a little harder than you have before. It is often used to inspire, encourage and push someone to put in more efforts, especially if past endeavors have failed. Interchange it for the phrase ‘do not give up’.
40. Step up your game = Start performing better – Have you come a situation where you feel a teammate has not given his or her all? You can ask the person to put in their best foot forward so that they could attain better results. This common phrase is used by experienced people when addressing their junior counterparts.
41. Pull yourself together = Calm down and behave normally – When people are faced with difficult circumstances and challenges in life, they can be easily demotivated and lose focus. This English phrase is employed when talking to a person who needs encouragement. When one is crying over the death of a loved one, you can use this phrase to ask him or her to wipe away their tears and manage the situation better.
42. You sold me! = You convinced me on something – When you sell something to someone, it means that you have won their confidence so well that they agree with you 100%. It is a statement meaning that someone has been convinced, enticed and induced to try whatever is being proposed.
43. Couldn’t care less = used to express total lack of interest in something – This expression is used to state a person’s lack of confidence in a proposal, item or idea. If you care less, it means that you do not think the idea will bear any fruitful result. Ladies who are angry with their boyfriends often use this phrase in informal settings.
44. This is a no-brainer = Easy decision – A no-brainer is a situation where you can make a decision with ease. There is no quagmire, dilemma or indecision as far as taking a certain action is concerned. Use this phrase when you want to convince people to take a certain decision or undertaking.
45. You screwed up – When you have screwed up, it means you have done an awful or dreadful mistake that will cost the team, company or association. If your boss tells you that you have screwed up, you know you are in deep trouble for the errors that you have committed. Brace yourself for the imminent punishment or penalty.
46. You are driving me nuts! – This phrase is used to mean that a person is angry, frustrated and unhappy with you. This is especially when you have repeatedly made mistakes or failed to attain other people’s expectations.
47. Can you cover me? = Can you work in my place? – Use this phrase when you need to ask someone to do you a favor and make up for your inadequacy. Use it when you need a colleague at work to replace you or do something on your behalf.
48. I’d better be going – This phrase is used when you need to hit the road or when you are running late to an appointment or meeting. When it is late in the evening and you need to rush from the office to get home in time to wash the kids, you could use this phrase.
49. Thank heavens it’s Friday – This is a common English phrase in most offices these days, where people are tired from the week’s activities. You can say this when you look forward to having a restful weekend.
50. Take care! – Are you bidding goodbye to a close friend, colleague or a family member? Use this phrase to let them know that you wish them well while you will be apart. It is a phrase that expresses your hope for seeing them again in the near future.
The above are just a few examples of the most common phrases in the English language today. You will be delighted to note that hundreds of others exist, making the language one of the richest in the world. Feel free to use these to enrich your vocabulary.Print this List