English Lessons


Some Common English Idioms, Part II

An idiom is basically a phrase that is figurative and used to describe literal situations with words that may not be clear to a non-native speaker. Last month we went through a selection of common idioms, and in this lesson we can go through some more that you may hear when you are speaking English with somebody.


So I think to kitesurf all year around,

um, as a job and to do it 24/7,

you need a break, and I mean, it may not seem like time off!

Captions 19-21, Sam Light - In a Nutshell

 Play Caption



The slang expression "24/7" is best explained in this video: 


It's basically 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Caption 22, World's Toughest Job - Official Video

 Play Caption


What do you want to get off your chest?

Caption 16, Comic-Con 2015 - Jennifer Lawrence

 Play Caption


To "get something off your chest" is to admit something that has been bothering you.


Alaska's wide and very isolated mountains ranges are a paradise for these animals,

but a nightmare for us,

because it's like trying to find a needle in a haystack.

Captions 35-37, Nature & Wildlife - Search for the Ghost Bear

 Play Caption


A needle is a small, very fine object, and to find it in a haystack, which consists of countless fine pieces of hay, is very difficult indeed—and this phrase thus means that something is very difficult or nearly impossible. 


If I was, for instance, being put into a courtroom with lawyers,

I am not a lawyer,

so therefore, I would feel like a fish out of water.

Captions 14-16, English - Common Phrases

 Play Caption


To feel "like a fish out of water" thus means to feel out of place or uncomfortable.


Hang in there, guys!

Caption 56, Movie Trailers - Disney's Frozen

 Play Caption


To "hang in there" means to be patient and to wait for something.


But they don't know where they're going

in the fast lane.

Captions 16-17, Echosmith - Cool Kids

 Play Caption


This is often used in the expression "to live life in the fast lane," which means figuratively to live an exciting or stressful lifestyle, which may, depending upon the context, be a good or bad thing. The phrase is often about somebody who is on the verge of losing control of their life. A song by the 1970s pop group the Eagles called "Life in the Fast Lane" states that it will "surely make you lose your mind."  


Further Learning
Go to Yabla English and watch the "Common English" videos Part I and Part II to learn more about some English idioms. 

Colloquial Contractions in American English, Part III

This lesson is Part III of a series. Let's continue discussing some of the ways that words are shortened in casual speech in American English that are not used in formal writing. "Colloquial" means "casual" as opposed to "formal," and a "contraction" is just the shortening of words.



Hey, my little old friend, whatcha gonna do?

Caption 12, Royalchord - Good Times

 Play Caption


We discussed in a previous lesson that "gonna" is a contraction of "going to," thus "whatcha gonna do" is the colloquial equivalent of "what are you going to do."


'Cause you feel like home

Caption 5, Adele - When We Were Young

 Play Caption


'Cause I've been by myself all night long

Caption 9, Adele - When We Were Young

 Play Caption


'Cause nobody told me that you'd be here

Caption 19, Adele - When We Were Young

 Play Caption


Normally the word "cause" is either a verb or noun, meaning the reason that something happens ("What is causing the problem? What is the cause of the problem?"). But in this case with the apostrophe in front of it, it is just a contraction of the preposition "because."


If you had a life we'd ask you to sorta give that life up.

Caption 38, World's Toughest Job - #worldstoughestjob - Official Video

 Play Caption


Like many contractions, you can probably easily guess from the sound that "sorta" is a contraction of "sort of."


Lotsa, bands playing there, like, pretty much every night of the week.

Caption 25, Turn Here Productions - Belltown, WA

 Play Caption


The contraction "lotsa" is short for the informal "lots of" or "a lot of," meaning the same as the more proper "many," but without even saving any syllables!


C'mon man. -Fallen off over and over and over again.

Caption 30, Chris Sharma - World's best rock climber

 Play Caption


You may not even notice when somebody says "come on" quickly in speech, but it's good to know how the contraction is written as well!


Further Learning
Watch this video on Yabla English to learn about more contractions, and search the videos on Yabla English for more examples of these colloquial contractions used in a real world context.

You May Also Like