Learn basic English nouns with our flashcards. This is a fun and easy way to memorize them. Watch our video, listen to an American English speaker and repeat words.
Idiomatic Phrases in Everyday English
An idiomatic phrase, multi-word expression, or idiom, is a multi-word or multi-morphemic utterance at least one of whose components is selectionally constrained or restricted by linguistic convention such that it is freely chosen.
In the most extreme cases, there are expressions such as X kicks the bucket ≈ ‘person X dies of natural causes, the speaker being flippant about X’s demise’ where the unit is selected as a whole to express a meaning that bears little or no relation to the meanings of its parts. All of the words in this expression are chosen restrictedly, as part of a chunk.
At the other extreme, there are collocations such as stark naked, hearty laugh, or infinite patience where one of the words is chosen freely (naked, laugh, and patience, respectively) based on the meaning the speaker wishes to express while the choice of the other (intensifying) word (stark, hearty, infinite) is constrained by the conventions of the English language (hence, *hearty naked, *infinite laugh, *stark patience).
Both kinds of expression are phrasemes, and can be contrasted with ’’free phrases’’, expressions where all of the members (barring grammatical elements whose choice is forced by the morphosyntax of the language) are chosen freely, based exclusively on their meaning and the message that the speaker wishes to communicate.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
English Grammar Video
English Vocabulary. Words for Birthdays
Common Phrases with BIRTH & SELL
give birth to smth.
Yet capitalism is itself incapable of… giving birth to this new art. (R. Fox, ‘The Novel and the People’, ch. IV)
in one’s birthday suit
They were sunbathing in their birthday suits.
sell one’s birthright
…I do not wonder that you, the prostrate sons of labour, are incredulous of the existence of such a man. But he who sold his birthright for a mess of pottage existed, and Judas Iscariot existed… and this man exists! (Ch. Dickens, ‘Hard Times’, book II, ch. IV)
The store is selling off their old television sets to make room for the latest models.
sell one’s life dear
Here and there a little group of shattered Indians marked where one of the anthropoids had turned to bay, and sold his life dearly. (A. C. Doyle, ‘The Lost World’, ch. XIV)
If you want to advance in the world of business, you have to know how to sell yourself.
English Phrases for the Supermarket
Essential Job Vocabulary
Phrases for Telephone Conversation
Phrases for Telephone Calls
1. Hi, this is Jane.
2. (formal) May I speak with John Smith?
3. (informal) Is John there?
4. I’m calling about…
5. I’m returning your call.
6. (formal) One moment, please.
7. (informal) Hang on a sec.
8. He’s not here. Would you like to leave a message?
9. Could you ask him to call me back?
10. Thanks for calling.
Phrases for Asking for Information
1. Can you tell me…?
2. Could you tell me…?
3. I’d like to know…
4. Do you know…
5. Do you have any idea…?
6. Could anyone tell me…?
(use this phrase when asking a group of people)
7. Would you happen to know…?
8. I don’t suppose you (would) know…?
9. I was wondering…
10. I’m calling to find out…
(use this phrase on the telephone)
English Grammar Video
Ten Phrasal Verbs You Probably don’t Know
Spoken English Phrases with “Up” and “Down”
be up and about
‘Hunter is completely better,’ he said. ‘He’s up and about again…’ (I. Murdoch, ‘The Flight from the Enchanter’, ch. XXX)
be up and coming
Don’t think so much of these towns. Kind of pretty, cottages with vines and all that, but you Don’t get any feeling that they’re up and coming and forward-looking, like American burgs. (S. Lewis, ‘Elmer Gantry’, ch. XXX)
on the up and up
1. …that person has always been on the up-and-up with us; his information has been reliable. (E. S. Gardner, ‘The Case of the Horrified Heirs’, ch. 6)
2. I don’t want to do anyone an injustice. I want to play it on the up-and-up. (E. S. Gardner, ‘The Case of the Crimson Kiss’)
1. Something must be up, the children are not usually as quiet as that.
2. Haven’t seen you in a month of Sundays. What’s up?
1. The kids have been cutting up all morning.
2. He thought I was only cutting up.
3. He likes to cut up at parties.
I like to get up to soft music, not shouting voices.
He took his note case from his dress coat pocket. Four hundred pounds, in fives and tens – the remainder of the proceeds of his half of Sleeve-links, sold last night, cash down, to George Forsyte… (J. Galsworthy, ‘In Chancery’, part I, ch. II)
down and out
‘What is he doing out there?’ Sally queried. ‘He’s broke, from all accounts,’ Dinny replied. ‘Lost his case against Paddy Cavan – and is down and out…’ (K. S. Prichard, ‘Golden Miles’, ch. 53)
Down with colonialism!
get a down on smb.
Young M: “…You know what the Law is, once they get a down on you.” (J. Galsworthy, ‘Windows’, act III)
1. She doesn’t like down movies.
2. She downed her sandwich in record time.
3. He downed a guy with one blow.
down at heel
Some three or four years later I began to use for cleaning purposes a sometimes drunken and always impoverished and down at heels yet rather intelligent and interesting village character – Johnny Morton by name… (Th. Dreiser, ‘A Gallery of Women’, ‘Bridge Millanphy’)
English Grammar Video
Words that Look Similar but Sound Different
The Greatest English Idioms with ON and OFF
on and on
They rambled on and on about their grandchildren.
“On-duty time” now defined to include driver’s time to load, eat, fuel, etc.
1. What is on at the Bolshoi Theatre today?
2. Two firemen must be on from midnight to 6 o’clock.
3. Is she still talking? What’s she on about this time?
1. We began work at 12 and went on till half-past one.
2. Do go on, I am listening.
3. He goes on to quote two passages from Seneca.
4. For the first two days he went on very well.
5. How is your work going on?
be going on with
The king is now determined to go on without parliament at all.
1. He’s not as rich as he lets on.
2. You mean you knew all the time and never let on?
It’s a good feeling to pay off the house after all these years.
In this poem you have the whole toiling life of a ploughman and his horse, done off in two or three touches.
A gun goes off every day to mark exactly one o’clock.
The light went off as the policemen entered the room.
His sister threatened to tell the police, so he had to buy her off.
Jim had arranged to play in the game, but he cried off at the last minute, so we had to find another player.
The army was cut off from its supplies.
The deer in the forest are all dying off from disease.
After a swim we dried off in the sun.
English Grammar Video
Ten English Phrases for Extreme Emotion
The Best Idiomatic Phrases with GET and AFTER
Stories have been getting about concerning the government’s secret intentions.
1. I’ve been working on my book for the past two years, and last night I got home.
2. In the quarter-mile Jones led from the start and got home by at least ten yards.
Jane used to be slow in class, but now she is getting ahead.
Does he get along with his mother-in-law?
get along with you
Oh, get along with you! Do you think I’d believe a story like that?
1. When are you going to get round to our house?
2. Do get your new boyfriend round to see us.
She’s been after me for a year to buy her a new coat.
be after someone or something
He had liked her well enough at the beginning, no doubt, though it was her money he was after all the time.
She’ll have to spend every morning going after a job.
Don’t expect me to run after you all your life.
We can’t let him live to tell stories about us to the police. Leave him to me, I’ll look after him.
dance after smb.’s pipe
I thought I had the prettiest girl in the Castle dancing after my whistle. (W. Scott, ‘Peveril of the Peak’, ch. VII)
The soldier was caught sneaking into the barracks after hours.
Ten Phrasal Verbs About Socializing
TOP-10 Phrases about Relationships & TV
Phrases for Describing Relationships
1. I’m single.
2. I have a boyfriend/girlfriend.
3. We’re engaged.
(= going to get married)
4. We’re getting married in June.
5. I’m married.
6. I’ve been married for… [10 years].
7. I’m divorced.
8. I’m widowed.
(= my husband/wife has died)
9. I’m not looking for anything serious.
10. I’m not quite over my ex.
(= I still have feelings for my ex-boyfriend/girlfriend or ex-husband/wife)
Phrases for Talking About TV
1. Where’s the remote?
(remote = remote control)
2. Is there anything good on?
3. Can I change the channel?
4. I’ve already seen this episode.
5. This is a rerun.
(rerun = an old episode that was already shown on TV previously)
6. I love this show!
7. There are too many commercials.
8. Stop channel-surfing.
(channel-surfing = changing the channel quickly)
9. Check the TV guide.
(the TV guide has the information about the TV programming and schedule)
10. It’s the season finale!
(= the final episode of the season)
15 Spoken Phrases with “NO”
Common English Expressions with NO
Billy wanted to let Bob join the team but… it was no deal because Bob was too young.
It’s no dice, buddy, she doesn’t like you. (E. S. Gardner, ‘The Case of the Dubious Bridegroom’, ch. I)
Bit of luck Landy’s ship putting in here unexpectedly. Cheered her up no end. (D. Cusack, ‘Southern Steel’, ch. LIII)
You can’t smoke in here. That’s a no-no.
in no case
In no case would such measures be justified.
have no bottom
Resources of popular wisdom have no bottom.
no can do
Want a guarantee? No can do!
Ten English Phrases with the Word “Give”
Give & Take Phrases
give a cast
So you can’t give a cast to this lassie? Well, I must take her on myself.
give a crack
‘Care for a dance?’ ‘I am not much good, but I don’t mind having a crack if you don’t mind.’
give a false colour to smth.
The yellow press often gives a false colour to the news it reports.
give a good account of oneself
…even if he set on me with two or three others, I should be able to give a reasonable account of myself.
give a hint of smth.
A small black cloud gave a hint of a coming storm.
take a back seat
I always thought I was joking folks… but I take a back seat for you. (W. Faulkner, ‘Collected Short Stories’, ‘A Bear Hunt’)
take a bath
I don’t mind losing a little money now and then, but I really took a bath this time.
take a dig at someone
She’s always taking digs at him.
take a dim view of smth.
Sandra: “Kala-Kala’s stronger than any faith. That’s why the missionaries took such a dim view of it.” (N. Coward, ‘South Sea Bubble’, act III, sc. I)
take a fall
The guy wouldn’t take a fall. He doesn’t have it in him.
Verbs: State and Action
Common Phrases with Verbs “Believe” & “Cook”
Stative Verb “Believe”
Betsy-Jane and Amelia-Ann were buzzing in one corner of the place, and making believe to read out of a picture-book, which one of them held topsy-turvy. (W. Thackeray, ‘Pendennis’, vol. II, ch. X)
you’d better believe
My old gentleman means to be Mayor… before he goes off the handle, you’d better believe. (O. W. Holmes, ‘The Poet at the Breakfast-Table’, ch. X)
believe in one’s star
It is natural for them to believe in their star. (J. Bryce, ‘The American Commonwealth’, ch. LXXX)
Action Verb “Cook”
Let me see if I can cook up a way to get you some money.
She cooked up an interesting party at the last minute.
cook one’s goose
Among the reporters and lawyers at Fort Penn it was not difficult to find several men who were willing to be that Baum’s goose was cooked, and that the best he could hope for was life imprisonment. (J. O’Hara, ‘A Rage to Live’, book I, ch. III)
cook with electricity (gas or radar)
Many a student… figured that… Thurman Arnold was cooking with gas. (Suppl)
‘You’re cooking on the front burner, Mac,’ I replied… (Suppl)
Difference between TO and FOR
The Best Phrases with TO and FOR
“Go to, son”, rejoined the friar; “what is this thou sayest?”
You are not to leave school without my permission.
John needs to improve his technique if he is to win gold at the next Olympics.
The Terpsichore continued to lay to under bare poles.
to and fro
The dining-room was full and the waiters were hurrying to and fro. (W. S. Maugham, ‘Complete Short Stories’, ‘Virtue’)
for a change
No, you’ve got Anne all day and all night. Come with me for a change. (J. Galsworthy, ‘Swan Song’, part II, ch. 3)
‘I told, Margie’s coming for dinner.’ ‘I know, but why all the festive hurly-burly?’ ‘We haven’t had a dinner guest in ages.’ (J. Steinbeck, ‘The Winter of Our Discontent’, part I, ch. V)
For all his faults he is a nice fellow.
For all you say he will stick to his opinion.
SHOULD, COULD, WOULD
Modal Verbs in Spoken English
I should say so
“Did you enjoy your stay in New York?” “I should say so!”
I should say not
“You’re not going to accept that offer, are you?” “I should say not”
You should worry!
I should worry!
people who live in glass houses should not throw stones
Trench (dazed): “Do you mean to say that I am just as bad as you are?.. Well, people who live in glass houses have no right to throw stones. But on my honour, I never knew that my house was a glass one until you pointed it out. I beg your pardon.” (B. Shaw, ‘Widowers’ Houses’, act II)
if each would sweep before his own door, we should have a clean city
No one of us but what ought to engage in the important work of self-reformation… If each would sweep before his own door, we should have a clean street. (DEP)
could do with something
You look as if you could do with a good night’s sleep.
could kick oneself
I could have kicked myself for having refused that invitation.
one could hear a pin drop
I stood and listened till my ears ached, but the night was hollow about me like an empty church; not even a ripple stirred upon the shore; it seemed you might have heard a pin drop in the country. (R. L. Stevenson, ‘The Master of Ballantrae’, ch. V)
you could have mocked me down with a feather
Crickey, Claire, are you really going to be married?.. Jeepers! was that one or her ladyship! You could have knocked her down with a feather when you told her that. (D. Cusack and F. James, ‘Come in Spinner’, ‘Thursday I’)
couldn’t agree more
“After all, what happens when a boxer gets knocked out in the ring? He’s lost the fight” “I couldn’t agree more”
I would not have it as a gift
…next time you hear some sob from Yahooville-on-the-Hudson chewing the rag and bulling and trying to get your goat, you tell him that no two-fisted enterprising Westerner would have New York for a gift! (S. Lewis, ‘Main Street’, ch. XXXV)
one would give one’s ears to…
Stanley: “…there isn’t a manager on Broadway, that wouldn’t give his eye-teeth to have Joe Rasmussen work for him.” (J. O’Hara, ‘The Champagne Pool’, act 1, sc. 7)
he who would climb the ladder must begin at the bottom
I was the lowest of the four in rank – but what then? – he that climbs a ladder must begin at the first round. (W. Scott, ‘Kenilworth’, ch. VII)
whom God would ruin, he first deprives of reason
She lifted up her face and looked into his eyes admiringly… ‘Well, whom the gods would destroy they first make mad.’ He kissed her. (Th. Dreiser, ‘The Genius’, book III, ch. XXII)