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U.S. Weather: How to Describe Weather in English

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Talking about the weather is just about universal. It’s a topic used to make small talk, divert from more serious topics or situations, and even express joy or annoyance. Weather is physical and natural, can evoke emotion and memories, and is one of the most convenient topics to be able to talk about in a pinch. Not only that, but the weather is often used in more creative contexts, such as metaphors and expressions.

By knowing how to describe the weather in English, you really are opening doors to many conversations. Consider this your U.S. weather radar on weather phrases in English and much more! By the time you’re through with this article, you’ll be able to talk about all types of weather in English!

EnglishClass101.com hopes to make expanding your weather vocabulary both fun and insightful for you!

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Table of Contents

  1. Phrases and Words about Weather in English
  2. Temperature and Seasons in the United States
  3. How to Form Sentences about Weather in English
  4. Common Ways to Comment on the Weather
  5. Idioms Related to Weather in English
  6. Creative and Literary Use of Weather & Seasons
  7. Conclusion


1. Phrases and Words about Weather in English

Weather

Here are some weather words in English you should know to talk about U.S. weather. These words are the most common types of weather in English you’re likely to experience. We’ve also included explanations below these words to give you a better idea of what they mean.

1- Basic

There are many different types of weather in English that you can talk about and experience. Here are the basics:

  • Sun (Sunny)
    • It’s considered “sunny” when the sun is out, and there are no (or few) clouds.
  • Cloud (Cloudy; Cloudless)
    • It’s considered “cloudy” when there are many clouds in the sky.
    • It’s considered “cloudless” when there are no clouds in the sky.
  • Rain (Rainy)
    • Any time that it’s raining, the weather can be described as “rainy”.
  • Drizzle
    • A “drizzle” means that it’s raining, but only lightly.
  • Sprinkle
    • When it’s “sprinkling,” it’s similar to when it’s drizzling.
  • Hail
    • “Hail” is when icy balls fall from the sky in cold weather, usually when it’s humid but not cold enough to snow.
  • Sleet
    • “Sleet” is similar to hail but is formed differently and usually occurs in the winter.
  • Snow (Snowy)
    • It’s considered “snowy” either when it’s snowing or when there’s a lot of snow on the ground.
  • Breeze (Breezy)
    • A “breeze” is a light wind.
    • It’s considered “breezy” when a light wind is ongoing.
  • Wind (Windy)
    • “Wind” occurs when air is blown forcefully.
    • It’s considered “windy” when the wind is ongoing or is considerably strong.
  • Fog (Foggy)
    • “Fog” is a layer of clouds that come down very near (or even touching) the ground.
    • It’s considered “foggy” whenever this fog is noticeable or particularly thick. Oftentimes, foggy weather makes it difficult to see very far in front of you and is a bad weather condition to travel in.
  • Frost (Frosty)
    • “Frost” is a very thin layer of ice.
    • Something is considered “frosty” if it’s covered in a thin layer of ice.
  • Ice (Icy)
    • “Ice” is frozen water. In terms of weather, ice usually refers to a body of water that has frozen over or rain/snow that has frozen over something (like a road).
    • Something is considered “icy” if it’s covered in ice.
  • Gloomy
    • “Gloomy,” while not a technical weather term, refers to weather that’s not generally pleasant. This usually means cloudy, rainy, overcast, or cold.
  • Overcast
    • When the weather is described as “overcast,” it means that clouds (usually dark rain clouds) are covering the sky. This is the type of weather you’re most likely to experience if you visit a state like Washington or Oregon!

Once you have these words down, you’re ready to bring up the weather in English conversations — the perfect ice-breaker.

2- Storms and Natural Disasters

When talking about weather in English, it’s important to know terms for harsher weather too. Here’s some practical vocabulary for extreme weather events in English.

  • Thunder
    • “Thunder” is the loud sound that happens during thunderstorms and is the result of a lightning strike forcing the air around it to expand.
  • Lightning
    • “Lightning,” which occurs most often during a thunderstorm or other nasty weather, is a streak or flash of electricity in the air.
  • Thunderstorm
    • A “thunderstorm” is a type of weather condition characterized by dark, thick clouds, rain, lightning, and thunder. Thunderstorms range in severity, with some being very mild and short-lived and others being heavier and more dangerous.
  • Snowstorm
    • A “snowstorm” is characterized by a heavy snow and is usually accompanied by strong winds.
  • Blizzard
    • A “blizzard” is a severe snowstorm and is often considered dangerous.
  • Tornado
    • A “tornado” is defined as air that’s rotating in a violent motion and touches both the ground and the base of a cloud.
  • Microburst
    • A “microburst” is similar to a tornado, though it moves differently. Microbursts typically occur during serious thunderstorms.
  • Dust/sandstorm
    • “Dust storms” and “sandstorms” are common in drier areas of the United States. These events occur when the wind picks up dust or sand from the ground and blows it into the air in a large gust.
  • Hurricane
    • A “hurricane” is a large storm that occurs over water, especially in more tropical regions.

Arizona Duststorm

3- Words to Describe Temperature

Here’s a final list on weather and climate in English. This should give you a better idea of how to describe the weather in English based on temperature and humidity.

  • Warm
    • The temperature is considered “warm” when the temperature is high but not too high.
  • Hot
    • The temperature is considered “hot” when the temperature is very high.
  • Cool
    • The temperature is considered “cool” when the temperature is low but not too low.
  • Cold
    • The temperature is considered “cold” when the temperature is very low.
  • Chilly
    • If the weather is “chilly,” it means that it’s pretty cold.
  • Humid
    • “Humid,” in and of itself, is not a temperature; however, it does affect how the temperature is perceived. If it’s “humid,” it means that there’s a lot of moisture in the air.
  • Dry
    • “Dry” is another word that doesn’t represent an actual temperature, but it affects how the temperature is perceived. If it’s dry, there’s no (or very little) moisture in the air.
  • Scorching
    • “Scorching” means that it’s excessively hot and usually very dry. You may hear this word used often when talking about a desert.
  • Roasting
    • “Roasting” means that it’s very hot. This word can be used to describe both dry and humid heat. It’s often said in exaggeration when someone is uncomfortable because of the heat.
  • Freezing
    • When it’s “freezing,” this can mean one of two things: 1.) It’s actually freezing, meaning that the temperature is below thirty-two degrees Fahrenheit (zero degrees Celsius), or 2.) It’s just very cold.
  • Crisp
    • “Crisp” is used to describe temperature that’s both cool and refreshing. This word is most often used to describe the temperature during autumn.


2. Temperature and Seasons in the United States

The weather and temperature in the United States varies by region, and people experience the changing of seasons differently depending on where they live. In this section, we’ll go over what to expect in U.S. weather forecasts by season and region.

If you want a more accurate and in-depth look at this, you can also view a U.S. weather map online or check in to the U.S. Weather Service. You can also use a U.S. weather radar map before your trip to have a better idea of what to expect, or you can keep tabs on a U.S. weather forecast channel.

Keep in mind that there are four general “regions” of the United States. Before we delve into seasonal information, here’s a quick rundown of which states belong to which region:

Midwest:

  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Missouri
  • Nebraska
  • North & South Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Wisconsin

Northeast:

  • Connecticut
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • Vermont

South:

  • Alabama
  • Arkansas
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Maryland
  • Mississippi
  • North & South Carolina
  • Oklahoma
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Virginia
  • West Virginia

West:

  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Hawaii
  • Idaho
  • Montana
  • Nevada
  • New Mexico
  • Oregon
  • Utah
  • Washington
  • Wyoming

With that out of the way, let’s take a look at the seasons in the United States as well as more weather and climate information in English. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for some of the weather words in English we went over in the previous section!

1- Spring

Spring

1. When is Spring?

In the United States, spring officially begins on March 20 or 21, whichever day the Vernal Equinox takes place on and ends on the summer solstice, which is usually June 21 (but can also take place on June 20 or June 22).

2. Basic Attributes of Spring

Spring in the United States is known as the time of year when winter comes to an end. It’s when (most) people rejoice over the warmer days to come and all of nature returns to life. Flowers bloom, trees begin budding and sprouting leaves, and hibernating animals return from hibernation. The snow and ice begin to melt, and it snows less frequently in most places.

Spring is also a trying season for those with allergies, as they’ll once again have to suffer through the first few weeks of new pollen in the air. Overall, Americans seem to love and appreciate springtime for all of its good qualities.

3. Spring Around the U.S

Midwest: Here, you can expect to see some rain during the spring.

Northeast: This is another region of the U.S. where you can expect to see some rain during spring.

South: Spring in the south is generally a time for nice weather, though it will rain in most southern states as the weather warms up.

West: When it comes to the west, the weather tends to vary in the northwest and southwest. For instance, spring is generally rainy in states like Washington and Oregon, while states like Arizona and New Mexico are much drier.

2- Summer

Meat and Veggies on the Grill

1. When is Summer?

In the United States, summer typically begins on June 21, though it can begin on June 20 or June 22. It ends on the autumnal equinox, which takes place in late September (anywhere from September 21 to September 24).

2. Basic Attributes of Summer

Across the U.S., summer is known as being the warmest season. The days are longer, the temperatures rise, and most states get to see the sun more often! Summer is also generally considered a season of fun and freedom —schools across the country observe their summer break, and the longer days and added sunshine significantly improve people’s moods (especially in states that don’t usually see a lot of sunshine!).

This is usually the season when families and individuals like to travel, take vacation time from work, and spend lots of time outdoors. For the best summer experience, though, make sure to check a U.S. weather radar or a U.S. weather map to ensure the weather will be nice during your visit.

3. Summer Around the U.S.

Midwest: Summer in the midwest can be described as warm, but do keep in mind that summer may bring thunderstorms and rain.

Northeast: While the northeast tends to be cold most of the year, it does warm up quite a bit in the summer.

South: The south is generally known for having nice summer weather, despite some rainstorms.

West: Again, northwest and southwest weather conditions vary. In the northwest, it rarely gets very hot in the summer; it’s what most Americans consider “perfect weather.” The southwest tends to get hotter during summer and is also drier.

3- Fall/Autumn

Autumn

1. When is Autumn?

Autumn begins on the day of the autumnal equinox, which is anywhere from September 21 to September 24. It ends on the day of the winter solstice, which is on December 21 or December 22.

2. Basic Attributes of Autumn

In general, autumn tends to be a mild season in terms of weather and temperature. It’s best known as the time of year when the leaves change color and eventually fall to the ground. The weather begins to cool down after the heat of summer, and days gradually get shorter again.

Many people perceive autumn as a season of coziness, a time to enjoy the cool weather and lovely scenery, before snuggling up inside with family, friends, or a book. In the United States, there’s another common element of autumn: the Pumpkin Spice Latte at Starbucks arriving once again!

3. Autumn Around the U.S.

Midwest: The dryness of the midwest continues into autumn, with generally mild weather.

Northeast: This is a good region of the U.S. to go looking at autumn leaves on the trees, especially in areas that are more tree-dense. The overall weather is mild.

South: Many states in the south are known for having nice autumn weather and a lengthy autumn season.

West: Autumn in the west is generally nice—most years, it isn’t too hot or too cold. There are also many places here that are great for looking at autumn leaves; having lived in both Colorado and Washington, I can vouch for these being two states with lovely autumn scenery.

4- Winter

Child in Coat Holding Snow in Mittens

1. When is Winter?

Winter begins on the winter solstice, which takes place on either December 21 or December 22. It ends on March 20 or March 21, the beginning of spring.

2. Basic Attributes of Winter

Across the United States, winter is known as the coldest season and is often associated with snow, ice, and frost. Even for those states that rarely get snow, temperatures drop and the weather tends to become glum. This is also the season when the days are shortest and the least amount of sunlight is available. But to offset this gloominess and coldness, winter is also when Christmas and New Year’s take place!

Again, using a U.S. weather radar map to ensure that your winter visit will be pleasant and safe is advised! Further, the U.S. Weather Service may alert you to any hazardous weather, so do take heed of its advice.

3. Winter Around the U.S.

Midwest: The midwest is pretty notorious for very cold winters with lots of snow.

Northeast: This region of the U.S. also gets a lot of snow during the winter and may have some of the worst winters in the country. If you don’t like the cold, this is probably not the region for you.

South: The majority of the south doesn’t have very bad winters. They tend to be short and sweet.

West: When it comes to the west, the northwest tends to be a little bit colder than the southwest, though neither region usually has bad winters. The west typically experiences mild winters with a few snowstorms (depending on the year).


3. How to Form Sentences about Weather in English

Here, we’ll go a little bit more into how to describe the weather in English using common sentence patterns and weather phrases you’re likely to hear. These are phrases you can use in just about any conversation about weather in English!

Small Talk: Commenting on the Weather

  • “It’s [adjective] today.”
    • “It’s [warm] today.”

Man Riding Bicycle with Dog in Field

  • “It’s [number] degrees.”
    • “It’s [59] degrees.”
    • Note that in the United States, we use Fahrenheit instead of Celsius to measure temperature!
  • “This [season] has been [adjective].”
    • “This [winter] has been [long].”
  • “It’s such a(n) [adjective] day!”
    • “It’s such a [gloomy] day!”
  • “Isn’t the weather [adjective] today?”
    • “Isn’t the weather [chilly] today?”
  • “I [like/love/don’t like/hate] this weather.”
    • “I [don’t like] this weather.”
  • “This weather makes me feel [emotion].”
    • “This weather makes me feel [blue].”
    • Note: Feeling “blue”? Later in this article, we’ll go over an expression called “the winter blues” to help you better understand what this means.
  • “It’s so [adjective - usually temperature-related]!”
    • “It’s so [hot]!”
  • “[Type of weather] is predicted for the next week.”
    • “[Rain] is predicted for the next week.”
    • People in the United States definitely like to be ahead of the weather by using U.S. weather forecast apps and U.S. weather maps!

Asking about the Weather in English

There are a few basic ways to ask about the weather in English.

  • How’s the weather?
  • What’s the weather like?
  • What’s the weather forecast for [day or time frame].
    • “What’s the weather forecast for [tomorrow]?”
    • “What’s the weather forecast for [next week]?”


4. Common Ways to Comment on the Weather

In this section, we’ll go over sentences about weather in English based on the season. By the end of this section, you should have a few good phrases to describe the weather in English under your belt!

1- Spring

Lovely Spring Setting with Bench

Spring weather conversations often have to do with joy over winter ending and an appreciation for the warmer weather and all the things that come with it (flowers, animals, people being in a better mood, etc.). Here are some examples of weather phrases in English you may hear in a conversation about spring or things you can say.

  • “I’m so glad winter is over!”
  • “I’m so glad that spring is finally here.”
  • “It’s nice out today.” or “Isn’t it nice out today?”
  • “It’s so beautiful outside.”
  • “I enjoy this weather.”
  • “I look forward to summer.”
  • “That breeze feels nice.”
  • “It looks like rain is coming.”

Do note that everyone’s perception of springtime is different, and not everyone will be glad that winter is over or enjoy the qualities of spring. In these cases, you may hear the opposite of some of these phrases (”I’m upset that winter is over,” “I look forward to winter,” etc.).

2- Summer

Summer is the warmest season all across the U.S., and many comments and conversations have to do with the heat. Here are some good phrases to describe the weather in English during the summer.

  • “It’s so hot today!”
  • “It’s so humid/dry.”
    • As mentioned earlier, each region of the United States experiences the seasons differently. Some states have a very humid summer (like Texas) and some have a very dry summer (like Arizona).
  • “Drink plenty of water/fluids!”
  • “Let’s do something today!”
  • “Let’s turn up the AC (air conditioning).”
  • “I’m roasting!” or “It’s roasting!”
    • Here, the first statement means that the person speaking is feeling very hot, while the second statement indicates that the temperature itself is hot.
  • “I can’t believe how hot it is.”
  • “I like having longer days again.”
  • “Bugs are the only thing I don’t like about summer.”
    • With warm weather comes more creepy-crawlies, both outside in their homes and inside of our homes.
  • “I’ll never complain about winter again.”
    • People are quite funny sometimes. When we become desperate to escape the heat of summer, we finally see the good in winter. We say things like this even though we know we will complain about the winter when its turn comes.

3- Fall/Autumn

During autumn, comments about the weather overall tend to be more mild/neutral than during any other season, probably because the weather tends to be the most mild for many U.S. states. Most comments have to do with the leaves changing, as well as the gradual weather/temperature fluctuations that happen during this season. (Autumn also marks the beginning of what I call “the holiday season,” when several big holidays take place throughout autumn and winter up until the new year. Many comments during this season have to do with the holidays.)

  • “The weather is nice today.”
  • “The leaves are so pretty.”
  • “That’s a pretty cold breeze.”
  • “I hope it’s not too cold on Halloween.”
  • “I hate needing to rake leaves.”
  • “I enjoy crunching the leaves under my feet.”
  • “This time of year is [adjective].”
    • Here, the adjective used to describe autumn will vary depending on who you’re talking with. If it were me, I might say, “This time of year is [peaceful].” Other adjectives may describe the temperature or something else unique to the season.

4- Winter

Winter is the coldest season, and thus weather-related comments usually have to do with the cold temperature and related weather conditions.

  • “It’s so cold today!”
  • “I can’t believe how cold it is.”
  • “I’m freezing!”
  • “It’s chilly out today.”
  • “Let’s go inside and warm up.”

Couple Warming Up in Front of Fire

  • “I should have brought a jacket/coat.”
  • “The snow is so pretty.”
  • “The roads are too icy to drive on.”
    • Checking in with a U.S. weather radar map and paying attention to any U.S. Weather Service alerts can be helpful in avoiding (or preparing for) a situation like this.
  • “They canceled school because the roads are too dangerous.”
  • “Let’s play in the snow,” or “Let’s [snow-related activity].”
    • Depending on where you are in the United States, winter may be a good time to enjoy participating in (or watching) various snow- or ice-related activities. Some of these include sledding, skiing, snowboarding, ice skating, and making snowmen.
  • “I hope it warms up soon.”
  • “I can’t wait until spring/summer.”
  • “I’ll never complain about summer again.”


5. Idioms Related to Weather in English

Now that you know the basics of talking about weather in English, it’s time to look at some idioms.

Oftentimes, people use sentences about weather in English that have another meaning. Here are a few of the most common weather English idioms for you to review and practice while you expand your weather vocabulary!

1- “It was a breeze.”

Meaning:
When someone says that doing something “was a breeze,” it means that it was very easy or simple to do.

Example:
A: Congratulations on passing your exam!
B: Thanks! It was a breeze!

2- “A sunny disposition/attitude.”

Meaning:
When someone is said to have a “sunny” disposition or attitude, it means that they’re either cheerful or kind and amiable (and oftentimes both).

Example:
A: I wish I was more like Shay.
B: I know, me too. He has such a sunny disposition.

3- “Winter blues.”

Woman Experiencing Winter Blues

Meaning:
When you or someone you know has the “winter blues,” it means that you’re feeling sad or depressed due to the winter season. It’s similar to feeling “blue” or sad, but it’s specific to winter. The cold weather, lack of sunshine, and shorter days are often associated with depression.

Example:
A: What’s wrong, honey?
B: I don’t know. I think I just have the winter blues.

4- “Spring fever.”

Meaning:
“Spring fever” can have two meanings, both closely associated. The first, and most common, meaning of “spring fever” is a happiness and joy for winter ending. Just like winter tends to cause depression, spring does the opposite! The second meaning of “spring fever” is a heightened sexual desire or a deeper romantic feeling, also associated with the end of winter and the beginning of spring.

Example:
A: You seem happy today. Must be spring fever!
B: That’s probably it.

5- “After/beyond the storm.”

Meaning:
In this phrase, “the storm” typically refers to something negative, whether it be a difficult time in someone’s life or general negative feelings. When someone talks about “after” or “beyond” the storm, it means that the hardship or bad situation is over.

Example:
A: I finally found another job.
B: I’m so glad to hear you’re beyond the storm now.

6- “Calm before the storm.”

Meaning:
Once again, “the storm” refers to something negative. Oftentimes when it comes to the weather, there will be a period of good weather and tranquility right before a storm or other bad weather hits. This phrase indicates that while things are calm now, a bad time or situation can be expected in the near future.

Example:
A: Life was going so great, but I guess it was just the calm before the storm.
B: I’m sorry to hear about that.

7- “Under the weather.”

Meaning:
When someone is “under the weather,” it means that they aren’t feeling well. Usually, this indicates that they’re sick, but it can also refer to being emotionally unwell.

Example:
A: I can’t come in to work today. I’m feeling a bit under the weather.
B: Okay. Get well soon.

8- “Rain on someone’s parade.”

Meaning:
This is an interesting phrase to use, and one of my favorites. Imagine watching a parade go down the street (or being in one yourself) and then needing to call it quits early because it started raining badly. When you “rain on someone’s parade,” it means that you’ve ruined their fun or taken away from an experience that was supposed to be good for them.

Example:
A: This was the worst birthday ever. She totally rained on my parade!
B: I know. I’m sorry about that.

9- “Weather a storm.”

Meaning:
“Weather a storm” sounds confusing at first. Keep in mind that the weather referred to here means “come safely through” and doesn’t refer to weather as in temperature or weather conditions. And once again, the “storm” refers to something negative. So, when you “weather a storm,” it means that you’re going through a hard time and will make it out okay.

Example:
A: I feel like my life is falling apart.
B: I think you just need to weather the storm. It’ll be okay.

10- “Biting cold.”

Meaning:
When someone refers to “biting cold,” it basically means “extremely cold.” While a temperature can’t actually “bite,” it can be cold enough that it hurts exposed skin like a bite would. Some people also use the term “nipping cold,” which means the same thing.

Example:
A: Tamara made it through the biting cold just fine.
B: Good for her. I could never do that.

11- “(S)he’s so cold.”

Meaning:
When used figuratively, saying that someone is “cold” usually means that they’re distant or show little emotion, especially to the point of appearing rude or standoffish.

Example:
A: Me and my mother don’t have much of a relationship. She’s very cold.
B: That’s how my relationship with my brother is.

12- “An icy stare.”

Meaning:
When someone refers to “an icy stare,” icy can usually be replaced with “mean” or “distant.” It’s the kind of stare that might make you feel cold or uncomfortable or give you a “bad vibe” in general.

Example:
A: Did you see that icy stare she was giving him?
B: I did! I wonder what that was about.

13- “Cold-hearted.”

Meaning:
If someone is “cold-hearted,” it means that they appear either emotionless or selfish/mean.

Example:
A: I think her husband is very cold-hearted.
B: Well, maybe give him another chance. I heard he’s shy.

14- “A hot temper.”

Woman Talking Down to Another Woman

Meaning:
When someone has a “hot temper,” it generally means that they either get angry very easily or that they act out when they’re angry. Oftentimes, it means both. If someone warns you that another person has a hot temper, take heed and be careful not to offend or hurt them.

Example:
A: I think I’ll say hello to Tom’s wife.
B: Be careful, I hear she has a hot temper.

15- “Hotheaded.”

Meaning:
“Hotheaded” means about the same thing as “hot tempered,” though it can also refer to a sense of stubbornness and pride along with the anger.

Example:
A: Valerie’s daughter is pretty hotheaded, don’t you think?
B: Not as bad as me at her age!

16- “Blue/clear skies.”

Meaning:
When it comes to weather in the United States, most of us love clear blue skies! When someone refers to blue or clear skies (outside of actually talking about the weather), it refers to something good or positive. One common phrase associated with this is “clear skies ahead,” which means that things will be good from that point on.

Example:
A: This was a tough semester.
B: Yeah, but it should be clear skies ahead from now on.


6. Creative and Literary Use of Weather & Seasons

Talking about the weather isn’t limited to small talk.

Oftentimes, weather and seasons are used in a literary sense as a way of making a metaphor/simile, creating an image in someone’s mind or evoking specific emotions. For example, in literature and poetry, people often compare the changing of seasons with the changes of life itself (and even use phrases like “seasons of life” to describe these changes).

Spring is often associated with birth and life, or even happiness itself. While autumn and winter tend to represent death or misery. Just as winter changes to spring, from death comes life, and from sadness comes happiness; and vice-versa. This is a common theme when it comes to weather in literature.

People can also use words related to seasons and weather to evoke emotions or even nostalgia, such as using positive words associated with summer to remind someone of summers of the past. This is especially true in terms of imagery and appealing to the senses.

Another example of weather terms in literary use is the name of the fictional character “Jack Frost,” whose last name indicates who he is (a representation of winter and the cold) and what he does (freezing things over, etc.).

Weather talk is often used in poetry and other forms of writing for these reasons and can enrich writing and conversation greatly.


7. Conclusion

Now that you know some weather words in English, good phrases to describe the weather in English, and more information on weather in the United States, you should be more equipped for small talk and bigger-picture conversations during your stay here. We hope you enjoyed expanding your weather vocabulary with us, and that you learned enough about U.S. weather to make an informed decision about your stay or visit.

Is weather talk similar in your own country to that in the United States? What sort of weather phrases do you use there, and which of these sentences about weather in English do you feel ready to try out in a conversation? Let us know in the comments!

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Learn the Top 100+ Adjectives in the English Language!

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Adjectives add depth and flair not only to writing, but to the world and our perception of it. You can create layers of meaning and paint a vivid picture using just the right words, making it imperative to learn these top 100+ adjectives in English. By studying the words on our list, and the provided examples of adjectives at work, you’ll be able to describe and define just about anything—that’s a lot of word power!

At EnglishClass101.com, we hope to make learning about every aspect of the English language both fun and informative, starting with this English adjectives lesson!

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Table of Contents

  1. What is an Adjective?
  2. English Adjectives Usage: How Do You Use Adjectives?
  3. Basic English Adjectives List: 100+ Common Adjectives in English
  4. Conclusion: How EnglishClass101 Can Help Your English Skills Flourish!


1. What is an Adjective?

Most Common Adjectives

Before we begin looking at specific English adjectives and adjective examples, what is an adjective?

Adjectives are descriptive words, and allow you to define what something is like. This can be related to any aspect of the noun or pronoun you’re describing: appearance, size, smell, characteristic, and so on.

Using descriptions in speech and writing gives you the power to be specific, to embellish, and to better capture the ideas you’re trying to express. By the time you’re through with the adjective definition and examples below, you’ll be a step closer to more effective (and sometimes flowery!) communication.


2. English Adjectives Usage: How Do You Use Adjectives?

Improve Pronunciation

Here are some English adjective rules to keep in mind before continuing to our list!

An adjective is used to define or describe a noun or pronoun, and can appear either before or after that noun or pronoun. Take for example the following adjective examples.

Example 1:
“He lives in a large city.” (adjective + noun)

Example 2:
“The city is large.” (noun + be verb + adjective)

You can also use more than one adjective to describe a single noun or pronoun. If the adjectives are “coordinate,” meaning that they sound normal with the word “and” between them, or reversed, you can separate the two (or more) adjectives with commas.

Example 3:
“He lives in a large, noisy city.”

You can also separate the adjectives with the word “and,” in the instance that using commas would sound weird, as in the following example.

Example 4:
“The city is large and noisy.”

Finally, there are some adjectives that can line up together in a sentence without commas. These are called hierarchy adjectives, and occur when each adjective defines or describes a different aspect of the noun or pronoun.

Example 5:
“He’s a single twenty-five-year-old entrepreneur.”

In the above example, commas aren’t necessary because each adjective describes a different aspect of the man and his life. He is single (a status), twenty-five years old (an age), and an entrepreneur (an occupational role).


3. Basic English Adjectives List: 100+ Common Adjectives in English

Reading

Now that you’ve studied the adjective definition and examples, you’re ready to delve into our adjective list!

For your convenience, we’ve organized our list of English adjectives by category, each one representing different types of adjectives. This should give you a better idea of when and how to use each adjective.

We’ve also listed some of these adjectives as pairs; these are adjectives that mean the opposite of each other. We’ll give adjective examples for each word in the pair, because when learning English adjectives, opposites can help you retain the information better

Let’s get started!

1- Describing Dimensions, Sizes, & Distance

Some of the most common adjectives are used in describing dimensions, sizes, and distances. These are words that people use all day, every day, without even thinking about it, making these types of adjectives a vital asset to this list of adjectives.

Big/Small

Meaning:
“Big” - Large; taking up or covering a lot of space.
“Small” - Tiny, taking up or covering little space.

Usage:
“Big” - “They have a big yard.”
“Small” - “There was a small problem.”

Wide/Narrow

Meaning:
“Wide” - Having a large breadth measurement (measurement from one side to another side).
“Narrow” - Having a small breadth measurement.

Usage:
“Wide” - “Aunt Mercy’s hips had gotten wide.”
“Narrow” - “The path through the gate was too narrow for her.”

Tall/Short

Meaning:
“Tall” - Having a high height measurement.
“Short” - Having a low height measurement.

Usage:
“Tall” - “Jim grew tall over the summer.”
“Short” - “Kaitlin looked short next to him.”

Tall Boy and Short Girl

Heavy/Light

Meaning:
“Heavy” - Having a high weight measurement.
“Light” - Having a low weight measurement.

Usage:
“Heavy” - “Parker carried the heavy package.”
“Light” - “He let Lily take the light one.”

High/Low

Meaning:
“High” - Having a large height measurement; being a long way above the ground.
“Low” - Having a small height measurement; being only a little way above the ground.

Usage:
“High” - “She didn’t know how high the airplane was going to go.”
“Low” - “Kyle was scared when the pilot flew low.”

Close/Far

Meaning:
“Close” - Nearby; not a long distance away.
“Far” - A long distance away.

Usage:
“Close” - “Nani came close to giving up.”
“Far” - “She continued, though her goal seemed far away.”

Additional Note:
There’s a phrase often used in English, using both of these words: “So close, yet so far.” This phrase indicates that something may be near (usually referring to a goal or intended outcome), but the means of getting there isn’t good enough, and so it’s still out of reach.

2- Describing General Quantity

The adjective words I outlined below are those that describe a general quantities that are not necessarily determined. These are adjectives you’ll hear quite often, as it’s easier to use a placeholder word than to count the number of nouns there are, or to name every noun involved.

Some

Usage:
“Samuel had some mangos in the back of his truck.”

Meaning:
Here, the adjective some describes the noun “mangos.” He doesn’t just have mangos; he has some mangos. This is an undefined number, but indicates more than one or two.

Any

Usage:
1. “She didn’t want to gain any attention at the party.”
2. “He was willing to go along with any of the ideas.”

Meaning:
The adjective any refers to not being exclusive to a single noun or pronoun, and can be used in both a positive and a negative sense.

The first example sentence shows any in a negative sense; she isn’t picky about who does or doesn’t give her attention, because she wants none. The sentence could be rewritten: “She wanted to gain no attention at the party.”

The second example sentence shows any in a positive sense; he isn’t picky about which idea he goes along with, because they all seem equally good.

Every

Usage:
Every person there knew her secret.”

Meaning:
In the above sentence, the adjective every is quantifying the noun “person.” Every indicates that no one (or nothing) is excluded; it’s all-inclusive. In this instance, it means that each person there knows her secret, without exception.

Each

Usage:
“I want to grade each paper myself.”

Meaning:
The adjective each is very similar in meaning to “every.” However, each indicates a one-by-one basis, as opposed to an all-at-once basis. In the above sentence, the speaker wants to check all of the papers, one-by-one. It also indicates that the papers the speaker wants to grade are of limited number or type; if they said every instead of each, it might sound like they want to grade all the papers in the world (depending on the context, of course).

All/None

Usage:
“All” - “Ursula wanted all the glory.”
“None” - “Though his friends were eating ice cream, Lionel had none.”

Meaning:
“All” - In the example sentence, all is an adjective that quantifies the noun “glory.” All indicates “the entirety,” of something, meaning that Ursula wanted to have every last bit of glory.

“None” - None means the opposite of all. In the example sentence, the adjective none quantifies the noun “ice cream.” Lionel didn’t have ice cream.

A couple

Usage:
“I could really go for a couple glasses of wine.”

Meaning:
A couple indicates that there are two of something. In the above sentence, the speaker (in a general sense) is saying that they want two glasses of wine. (But we all know that a couple glasses can soon turn into a few…)

A few

Usage:
“Gordon left for the airport a few minutes ago.”

Meaning:
A few indicates more than one or two, and is usually limited to smaller numbers depending on the context. In the above sentence, a few is an undefined number of minutes, but indicates that it wasn’t very long ago that Gordon left.

Several

Usage:
“Janie had several friends.”

Meaning:
Several indicates more than “a few,” but less than “many.” Technically speaking, several is meant to indicate “seven,” but as with most words, this original meaning doesn’t really hold up today, and this adjective can mean anything more than “a few.”

Many

Usage:
“There were many incidents that day that upset Carla.”

Meaning:
Many indicates “a lot.” We can assume from the above sentence that Carla had a very bad day, because there were a lot of upsetting incidents.

Much

Usage:
“Bonnie would never know how much he loved her.”

Meaning:
Much, once again, indicates “a lot.” (Think of: “He loved Bonnie a lot.” ) However, it’s imperative to note that many and much can’t be used interchangeably.

Many indicates a number, while much indicates an undefined quantity, also called a “mass noun.” Using them in place of each other is incorrect, despite their similar meanings at the surface.

This is a challenge to remember even for native English-speakers, so do be mindful of this rule: Use many when referring to a number, and much when referring to a general quantity.

Little

Usage:
“Joe felt a little sorry for his friend.”

Meaning:
Little is the opposite of “much.” It indicates a small quantity, as opposed to a large quantity. In this case, Joe isn’t overly sorry for his friend, but he does feel slightly bad.

3- Describing Numbers & Order

Actual numbers can also be used to describe something, especially in terms of expressing order. Below I’ve listed the numbers one through ten, each one with its ordinal term below it; this is the term you would use to describe order, which I’ll talk about a little later.

By the way, if you want a much more comprehensive view of English numbers, I’ve written a separate article just about that! Do check it out if you need to brush up on your number vocabulary.

Numbers 1-10

  • 1 (One)
    • First
  • 2 (Two)
    • Second
  • 3 (Three)
    • Third
  • 4 (Four)
    • Fourth
  • 5 (Five)
    • Fifth
  • 6 (Six)
    • Sixth
  • 7 (Seven)
    • Seventh
  • 8 (Eight)
    • Eighth
  • 9 (Nine)
    • Ninth
  • 10 (Ten)
    • Tenth

How to Use: Order

To use numbers to describe order, simply place the ordinal term of the number place something is in.

For Example:

Noland finished the race in ___ place.

Here, you replace the blank space with the ordinal term for what place he came in.

Noland finished the race in third place.

How to Use: Defining How Many

To use numbers to define how many there are of something, put the numeral or written number in front of the noun.

For Example:

Stella ate ___ apples.

Put the number in the blank spot to indicate how many apples Stella ate.

Stella ate 3 apples.

Or

Stella ate three apples.

4- Describing Speed, Difficulty, Importance, etc.

What adjective words can you use to describe speed, the difficulty of something, or how important something is? These are fairly abstract types of adjectives, but are essential in expressing both facts and how you interpret those facts.

Things like difficulty and importance are subjective, meaning that your perception of them may be different than someone else’s perception. You may find something easy that someone else finds difficult; you may not care as much about a topic as a friend does.

Being able to adequately express these opinions and interpretations to people, as well as describe the facts surrounding them, will take your English communication to a higher realm. This list of adjectives is a good place to start, but the sky’s the limit!

Fast/Slow

Meaning:
Fast - At high speed/pace; quick.
Slow - At low speed/pace.

Usage:
Fast - “Brenda moved fast to get out of there.”
Slow - “Time was moving very slow.”

Easy/Difficult

Meaning:
Easy - Not difficult; simple; straightforward; not labor-intensive.
Difficult - Complex; labor-intensive; hard.

Usage:
Easy - “For Dan, passing the test was easy.”
Difficult - “Ned found it more difficult.”

Important/Unimportant

Meaning:
Important - Having much significance; necessary; of much value.
Unimportant - Having little significance; unnecessary; of little value.

Usage:
Important - “It was important that Jamie made it to the finals.”
Unimportant - “To do well, Jamie had to forget about the unimportant things.”

Additional Note:
In this adjective and many others, you can make it mean the opposite by adding the prefix “un” or “in.” Keep an eye out for more words on this adjectives list that include these prefixes!

Significant/Insignificant

Meaning:
Significant - Having much importance; holding much meaning; notable.
Insignificant - Having little importance; holding little meaning; not notable.

Usage:
Significant - “There was a significant drop in crime that year.”
Insignificant - “However, the change in quality of life was insignificant.”

5- Describing Value

In a lot of ways, we really do live in a value-based world. We judge objects, activities, other people, and even ourselves, based on our perceived value (or worth) of them. While there are a myriad of ways to describe or define value, I’ll just go over the most basic English adjectives of quality.

Good/Bad

Meaning:
Good - Adequate; high-quality.
Bad - Inadequate; low-quality.

Usage:
Good - “Scot did good work on the project.”
Bad - “Hopefully it’ll help him overcome his bad rap.”

Amazing/Awful

Meaning:
Amazing - Wonderful; very good.
Awful - Terrible; very bad.

Usage:
Amazing - “Watching the sunset was amazing.”
Awful - “But it was awful when the mosquitos came out.”

Couple Watching Sunset Together

Invaluable/Worthless

Meaning:
Invaluable - Of the utmost value; irreplaceable; priceless.
Worthless - Of no worth; of the lowest quality.

Usage:
Invaluable - “To her, the necklace was invaluable.”
Worthless - “Sadly, when she lost it, her efforts to find it again were worthless.”

Cheap/Exquisite

Meaning:
Cheap - Low in cost; low-quality; not valuable.
Exquisite - High-quality; valuable; beautiful.

Usage:
Cheap - “The perfume she bought was just a cheap knock-off brand.”
Exquisite - “The chandelier in her living room was exquisite.”

6- Describing Situations

Some situations are far more memorable than others, for better or worse. But every second we take a breath, we find ourselves in some kind of situation. In this section, I’ll introduce you to an adjective definition and examples for describing most situations on a basic level.

Safe/Dangerous

Meaning:
Safe - Having little or no risk, leaving little chance of something bad happening.
Dangerous - Involving risk, especially of something that could harm those involved.

Usage:
Safe - “Valerie always wanted to ensure that her children stayed safe.”
Dangerous - “Tony often found himself in dangerous situations while on the police force.”

Fun/Boring

Meaning:
Fun - Involving entertainment and/or enjoyable activities.
Boring - Lacking entertainment and/or enjoyable activities.

Usage:
Fun - “Lou thinks that playing hockey is lots of fun.”
Boring - “On the other hand, he thinks that watching it is boring.”

Familiar/Unfamiliar

Meaning:
Familiar - Experienced or known about before.
Unfamiliar - Not experienced or known about before.

Usage:
Familiar - “Everything about being in her childhood home felt familiar.”
Unfamiliar - “But not having her parents around was an unfamiliar feeling.”

Awkward

Meaning:
Uncomfortable in an embarrassing kind of way.

Usage:
“It was awkward when Alex ran off to use the bathroom.”

7- Describing Colors & Patterns

Colored Crayons Lined Up

When it comes to English adjectives, colors and patterns are some of the loveliest things a person can describe. Here are the English adjectives you can use to do so!

Red

Meaning:
First color in the rainbow; the color of blood.

Usage:
“He drove a red car.”

Orange

Meaning:
Second color in the rainbow.

Usage:
“He only wore orange shoes, so everyone thought he was weird.”

Yellow

Meaning:
Third color in the rainbow; color of the sun.

Usage:
“Marcel’s son always asked him why the sun was yellow.”

Green

Meaning:
Color before blue in the rainbow; the color of grass.

Usage:
“Alondra always enjoyed walking in the green grass.”

Blue

Meaning:
Color in the rainbow after green; the usual color of the sky.

Usage:
“Albert’s favorite color is blue.”

Indigo

Meaning:
The color between blue and purple; named after a dye.

Usage:
“Cora decided to purchase the indigo dress instead of the black one.”

Purple

Meaning:
Last color of the rainbow; commonly found in clothing, blankets, etc.

Usage:
“She enjoyed wearing her purple coat.”

Woman in Snow Wearing Purple Coat

Pink

Meaning:
The color produced when red and white are mixed.

Usage:
“The pink flowers were Eloise’s favorite.”

Gray

Meaning:
A color somewhere between black and white.

Usage:
“Maxwell often became depressed when the sky was gray and overcast.”

White

Meaning:
The lightest color on the spectrum, from which all other colors are capable of being formed.

Usage:
“Vince and his girlfriend watched the white clouds drift by.”

Black

Meaning:
The darkest color on the spectrum, which is capable of consuming all other colors.

Usage:
The black cat held its head up high.

A Black Cat Against a White Background

Light/Dark

Meaning:
Light - Lacking darkness; of a lesser hue, tending toward white.
Dark - Lacking light; of a deeper hue, tending toward black.

Usage:
Light - “Susan much preferred the light color scheme of the first painting she saw.”
Dark - “The oil painting after it used many dark colors.”

Multicolored

Meaning:
Having more than one color, usually several.

Usage:
“Sharla laughed at Dan for wearing his multicolored jacket.”

Argyle

Meaning:
Argyle, despite sounding a lot like “gargoyle,” is simply an adjective that describes a diamond-like pattern. This is often found on cloth materials, especially clothing.

Usage:
“Olive begged Peter not to wear his argyle sweater to the get-together.”

Plaid

Meaning:
Plaid (also called tartan) is a pattern that involves crisscrosses of various shades of color. It’s often found on clothing in the United States.

Usage:
Anita wore plaid shirts just about every day.

Striped

Meaning:
A striped pattern indicates a design of many lines going either vertically or horizontally, typically on an article of clothing or other everyday object.

Usage:
“Liz thought that her striped dress made her look fat.”

Polka Dot

Meaning:
A polka dot pattern is one that usually involves large dots of any color on a background of a different color (or shade).

Usage:
“Liz much preferred her polka dot dress.”

Woman olding Red Polkadot Coffee Mug

8- Describing Shapes

In this section, I’ll cover how to describe the shape of things. This is a topic less likely to come up in a day-to-day conversation (unless your profession involves shapes!), but is definitely useful to know.

Round (Rounded)

Meaning:
Round - The shape of a circle.
Rounded - Having edges or an overall shape that resembles something round.

Usage:
Round - “The ball was round.”
Rounded - “The table had rounded edges.”

Square (Squared)

Meaning:
Square - Having four corners and four sides, each of equal measure.
Squared - In this case, resembling something that is square, or having been made to look square.

Usage:
Square - “The coffee table was in the shape of a square.”
Squared - “The hedges were squared by the landscaper.”

Additional Note:
The word “squared” has another meaning when used mathematically. In math, it means “doubled,” and has nothing to do with actually being square. Be sure to take note of the context when using this word, or reading/hearing it!

Rectangular

Meaning:
Having four corners of equal measure, and four sides of different lengths (with those across from each other being equal in length).

Usage:
“The dining room table was rectangular.”

Triangular

Meaning:
Resembling a triangle, which has three angles and three sides.

Usage:
“Bobby had kind of a triangular face.”

Diamond

Meaning:
A shape with four angles and four sides, similar to a rectangle but with pointed tips; usually vertical; the shape of a baseball field.

Usage:
“Her narrow face had almost a diamond shape.”

Additional Note:
When talking about a “diamond shape,” in the United States, we’re rarely talking about something that’s shaped like an actual diamond. Real diamonds vary in shape and size, whereas the diamond shape we use to describe things is limited to the above description.

Heart

Meaning:
A shape meant to indicate love, as shown in the image below.

Usage:
“Before departing, they used their hands to form a heart shape.”

Hands in Heart Shape Around the Sun

9- Describing Weather

Weather is small-talk’s best friend, and it’s something you experience constantly. Here’s a list of the most basic weather adjectives to help you express what the weather is and how you feel about it! For a more in-depth look at U.S. weather vocabulary and information, check out my article on United States Weather!

Hot/Cold

Meaning:
Hot - Of a high temperature.
Cold - Of a low temperature.

Usage:
Hot - “It was hot sitting in the sunshine outside.”
Cold - “Marko still preferred it to the cold winter.”

Warm/Cool

Meaning:
Warm - Of a moderately high temperature.
Cool - Of a moderately low temperature.

Usage:
Warm - “Hector likes to take walks in the warm weather.”
Cool - “He likes it even better when there’s a cool breeze.”

Dry/Humid

Meaning:
Dry - Lacking moisture.
Humid - Having much moisture.

Usage:
Dry - “After a very dry summer, they expected rain.”
Humid - “With the downpours came more humid weather.”

Downpour of Rain

Windy

Meaning:
A weather condition in which there’s a lot of wind.

Usage:
“Lana had to keep fixing her hair because it was windy outside.”

Snowy

Meaning:
When snow is falling, or there’s a lot of snow on the ground. Can also refer to somewhere that it snows a lot.

Usage:
“The children wanted to play outside during the snowy weekend.”

Rainy

Meaning:
When it rains a lot. Can also refer to somewhere that it rains a lot.

Usage:
“Elsa was tired of being inside because of the rainy weather.”

For more weather words, be sure to check out our Weather Vocabulary List!

10- Describing Taste

I’m tempted to say that food, and therefore taste, is just as universal a topic as the weather. And how often do the two things go together? When I think of the summer heat, I think of watermelon and barbeques; when I think of the winter cold, it’s soup and hot chocolate. Here are some taste-related English adjectives to describe food.

Sweet

Meaning:
Sugary or possessing a sugary flavor.

Usage:
“The chocolate and peanut butter fudge was very sweet.”

Salty

Meaning:
Containing or tasting like salt.

Usage:
“The lasagna was too salty for Elizabeth’s taste.”

Sour

Meaning:
Strong, puckering flavor; can sometimes indicate something has expired.

Usage:
“Lemons are much too sour to eat by themselves.”

Bitter

Meaning:
Often strong or bold flavor, usually in a way that’s unpleasant.

Usage:
“She can’t drink that kind of coffee because it’s too bitter.”

Coffee Mug on Plate with Coffee Beans

Mild/Spicy

Meaning:
Mild - Not having much spice.
Spicy - Hot; can cause watery eyes, swelling in throat, etc.

Usage:
Mild - “Sandra prefers foods that are more mild.”
Spicy - “But her husband loves to eat spicy foods, like habanero peppers, in his meals.”

Savory

Meaning:
Typically refers to having a refined flavor, especially being spicy or salty.

Usage:
“Gary’s favorite meal at the restaurant was the savory steak and potatoes.”

Tangy

Meaning:
Usually refers to an offbeat, sometimes citrusy, flavor; often used to describe fruity or heavily spiced foods.

Usage:
“She thought the mango salsa was a little too tangy.”

11- Describing Feeling & Sense

Below is an adjective list of the most common adjectives used to describe feeling and sense. Learning these adjective words will give you a better idea of how to express what things feel like, both physically and emotionally. Take a look at these adjective definitions to better describe the world around you in terms of feeling.

Soft/Hard

Meaning:
Soft - Easily moldable; not hard.
Hard - Solid and rigid; not easy to break.

Usage:
Soft - “The blankets were soft.”
Hard - “However, the mattress was too hard.”

Smooth/Rough

Meaning:
Smooth - Without calluses or bumps; oftentimes flat.
Rough - With calluses, bumps, or ridges.

Usage:
Smooth - “The marble countertops were smooth.”
Rough - “The tree bark was quite rough.”

Pleasant/Unpleasant

Meaning:
Pleasant - Comfortable; nice; enjoyable.
Unpleasant - Uncomfortable; unenjoyable.

Usage:
Pleasant - “The feeling of the sun on her skin was pleasant.”
Unpleasant - “The sunburn she got afterwards, however, was very unpleasant.”

Comfortable/Uncomfortable

Meaning:
Comfortable - A desirable or pleasant feeling; good for rest and relaxation.
Uncomfortable - Not desirable or pleasant, especially for rest or relaxation.

Usage:
Comfortable - “The living room design was very comfortable.”
Uncomfortable - “Stan felt uncomfortable in his office chair.”

Uncomfortable Businessman

Painless/Painful

Meaning:
Painless - Not involving pain; easy.
Painful - Involving pain; difficult.

Usage:
Painless - “The procedure was fairly painless.”
Painful - “Jen had some painful memories of her hometown.”

12- Describing Traits, Appearance & Condition

All the time, people describe objects and other people using aspects related to these types of traits. The adjective examples below aren’t exhaustive, but these are the most common English adjectives to describe a person!

1. Physical

Young/Old

Meaning:
Young - Having few years.
Old - Having many years.

Usage:
Young - “Po remembered visiting the library when he was young.”
Old - “But now, both he and the library were old.”

Strong/Weak

Meaning:
Strong - Having much strength/energy.
Weak - Having little strength/energy.

Usage:
Strong - “Franny still felt strong after running the marathon.”
Weak - “Joe’s work performance had been weak.”

Healthy/Sick

Meaning:
Healthy - In good condition; strong; not sick.
Sick - In poor condition; weak; unhealthy.

Usage:
Healthy - “After a week in the hospital, Fred was healthy again.”
Sick - “Karla stayed home from school because she was sick.”

Pretty/Ugly

Meaning:
Pretty - Attractive in appearance, especially a female.
Ugly - Unattractive in appearance.

Usage:
Pretty - “Rey never felt pretty, so she wore a lot of makeup.”
Ugly - “Lisa always thought that the cat next door was ugly.”

Slim/Fat

Meaning:
Slim - Small, especially in terms of body mass.
Fat - Large, especially in terms of body mass.

Usage:
Slim - “Sara was very slim.”
Fat - “But her father, Mr. Farrow, was a fat man.”

Fat Man

2. Other

Employed/Unemployed

Meaning:
Employed - Having work/a job.
Unemployed - Not having work/a job.

Usage:
Employed - “Natalie felt lucky that she was still employed after the big layoff.”
Unemployed - “She knew plenty of other newly-unemployed people from her work.”

Educated/Uneducated

Meaning:
Educated - Having education, especially college/university education. Can also refer to simply being intelligent or knowledgeable on something.

Uneducated - Not having much education.

Usage:
Educated - “Rebecca came from a very educated family, but never went to college.”
Uneducated - “That didn’t make her completely uneducated; she knew a lot about programming.”

Single/Married

Meaning:
Single - Not in a relationship with someone; unmarried; alone.
Married - Joined in marriage with someone.

Usage:
Single - Ned was the only single person in the group.
Married - Even Perry was now married.

13- Describing Personality, Behavior & Feelings

Now that we’ve gone over the conditions and outer traits that are common in people, let’s take a deeper look. Here are some common adjectives used to describe who (or how) a person is: English adjectives of personality, emotions and behavior.

Happy, Carefree woman

Personality:
  • Kind
    • Being nice and considerate toward others, usually in a selfless way.
    • “Missy is very kind; she helps those in need.”
  • Open-minded
    • Willing to look at things from multiple sides; ability to put oneself in another’s shoes.
    • “Kelly tries to be open-minded and see things from other perspectives.”
  • Funny
    • Having a good sense of humor, and able to make others laugh.
    • “Why is Kevin so funny?”
  • Friendly
    • Having an open and kind personality; welcoming toward others; encouraging friendship.
    • “Marge always tries to be friendly with the newcomers.”
Feelings:
  • Happy
    • Having positive feelings; joyful; seeing things in a positive way.
    • “Everyone who knew John talked about how happy he was.”
  • Relaxed
    • Feeling rested and calm; not exerting much energy.
    • “Marcia finally felt relaxed after a long day at work.”
  • Excited
    • Having strong (usually positive) feelings about something; greatly looking forward to that thing.
    • “Rita’s children were excited to go to the beach.”
  • Hopeful
    • Having good feelings about what’s to come; expecting good things even in bad circumstances.
    • “Bert was always hopeful about the future.”

2. Negative

Woman Crying

Personality:
  • Mean
    • Not nice; willing to hurt others.
    • “Silvia was mean when she decided to blame her sister for the accident.”
  • Rude
    • Not well-mannered; usually outspoken; careless about others’ feelings.
    • “Kit was rude by spitting out her food at the dinner party.”
  • Selfish
    • Only concerned with oneself; caring only about oneself.
    • “Danny was known all over town for being selfish.”
  • Narrow-minded
    • Fixed in one’s ways; not willing to look at other sides or opinions.
    • “Nick was often narrow-minded about people.”
Feelings:
  • Sad
    • Feeling negatively, often in a depressed our mournful way; associated with crying.
    • “Boyd was sad when his dog died.”
  • Angry
    • Strong negative feelings, usually indicating resentment or frustration.
    • “Allisa didn’t know why she felt angry about the event.”
  • Frightened
    • Scared; afraid; not feeling safe; alarmed.
    • “Her daughter was frightened when she saw the spider.”
  • Lonely
    • Feeling alone; negative feelings of emptiness.
    • “Xavier became lonely after his breakup.”


4. Conclusion: How EnglishClass101 Can Help Your English Skills Flourish!

We hope you enjoyed learning about common adjectives (and adjective definitions) with us! The adjective words we went over on our adjective list barely scratch the surface of description and definition in English, though. To include every adjective would be a bit superfluous

Do you feel more confident answering the question, “What is an adjective?” Which of these adjectives do you see yourself using often? Write us a paragraph or two using some of these adjectives to practice your word skills: A paragraph about yourself, your country or hometown, or even a poem. It’s your choice. ;)
At EnglishClass101.com, we aim to make sure that you enjoy every second of your English-learning journey, while learning valuable information and skills. We provide practical learning tools for every student, from insightful blog posts like this one to free English vocabulary lists, and even an online forum to discuss lessons with other English learners. If a one-on-one and more tailored approach is your style, you can also upgrade to a Premium Plus account to take advantage of our MyTeacher program!

Whatever your reasons for studying English, know that with enough determination and effort, you can master the language and better understand U.S. culture. EnglishClass101 will be here with you for every step of your learning journey!

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Learn English with the Best Netflix Series & Movies!

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Netflix and its competitor streaming services are dominating the television and movie industry (just check the Netflix stock!). It’s no surprise, considering the generally low prices, the variety of content there is to watch, and their flexible nature (like using Netflix downloads to watch on your phone!). And with so many quality Netflix Originals coming out, it’s becoming more and more addictive and binge-worthy. Netflix prices may be rising, but considering the quality stuff it’s bringing to the table nowadays, that’s understandable.

This also makes Netflix an excellent tool for learning a language through television shows and movies. There’s so much to watch, and definitely something for everyone considering that Netflix stocks up on quality shows—not to mention the availability of subtitles. Taking into account Netflix’s increasing cultural selections, you can also know that you’re learning your target language (English) in the context of the United States and English culture.

In this article, I’ll be discussing Netflix for learning English and give you an overview of some of the best shows on Netflix, and great Netflix movies. To get the most out of this article and your show-bingeing experience, visit the Netflix USA website (Netflix.com) and go to Netflix sign up on the Netflix USA website if you don’t yet have an account (or Netflix sign in if you do), as this will give you full access to Netflix content.

At EnglishClass101.com, we hope to make learning English both fun and effective, exciting, and insightful!

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Table of Contents

  1. How Can You Use Netflix for Learning English?
  2. Netflix Watch List: The Best Netflix Series
  3. Netflix USA Movies: List of the Best Movies on Netflix
  4. Conclusion: How EnglishClass101 Can Help You Learn English Effectively


1. How Can You Use Netflix for Learning English?

Improve Pronunciation

It sounds a little outlandish, doesn’t it? That you can actually improve your English skills by enjoying some good, quality Netflix time. It is true, with a catch: To reap the greatest rewards this way, you’ll have to put in some effort.

That said, there are multiple ways that you can study English by watching shows on Netflix, and many things that make Netflix so convenient for this purpose!

1.) The Listening Factor: Actively and consistently listening to a new language helps expose you to various aspects of that spoken language in a fluid manner. This includes average talking speed, pronunciation, slang, and accents.

2.) Subtitles: Watching Netflix (USA) movies or shows with subtitles on allows you to read while listening, allowing you to practice two aspects of the language at once. It’s a good idea to try watching Netflix series or movies with subtitles in your own language, as well as subtitles in your target language (English).

3.) Writing Things Down: Watching Netflix series or movies to learn English also has the advantage of allowing you to write down unfamiliar words or phrases to look up later. While you can technically do this in any context, you can’t pause a real-time conversation to do this!

4.) Pause and Rewind: Speaking of pausing, using Netflix movies and series to learn English allows you the freedom to pause whenever you want. After you’ve written down your unfamiliar words, you can also rewind the show to have the characters say those words or phrases again. This way, you can practice your speaking skills by repeating after them until you think you have it down.

5.) Context: Another valuable asset of Netflix to learn English is that you can hear words and phrases in context. Sometimes, watching context on a screen to begin with makes facing real situations easier; this goes for language, too! While watching some of the best Netflix shows, be mindful of the context: How are the characters feeling? Where are they? What time period is the show set in? What are the characters’ backgrounds or current situations? Sometimes being able to grasp what words mean in context is better than having a textbook or dictionary definition!

6.) Entertainment: You’re more likely to study (or do anything, really) if you enjoy doing it. If you can make studying English something you look forward to and less of a chore, you’re more likely to continue. Further, having a positive outlook and good feelings about something, like studying, can improve the end result. Watching the best Netflix shows and movies provides great entertainment, and using Netflix as a study tool sure beats a textbook-only learning experience!

And trust me, with the shows outlined below in our Netflix list, you won’t be short on entertainment! Enjoy your comedy, drama, crime, sci-fi, and suspense, all while making progress toward your end goal! Go to Netflix, sign up, click to watch the best shows on Netflix, stock up on your favorite snacks, and there you are!


2. Netflix Watch List: The Best Netflix Series

Best

Are you ready to begin watching a Netflix series in English? Longing to find a Netflix show that will keep you wanting more? I thought so. There’s just something about a quality series that’s magnetic.

Whether you’re looking for Netflix dramas, Netflix shows for teens, or Netflix comedies, you’ll find it here.

Here’s our list of the best shows on Netflix. Enjoy, and keep in mind that you can learn more about each one on the website. (This will be even easier with a Netflix download on your phone!)

1- The Office (U.S.) — 2005-2013

When you start watching U.S. Netflix, The Office may be the best place to start (and it’s leaving soon!).

The Office is a mockumentary-style sitcom, following the business lives and personal lives of multiple workers at the Dunder Mifflin Paper Company. Over the course of the show, you’ll delve deep into the hearts and minds of the characters (from the “world’s best boss” Michael Scott to the power struggle of quirky and often annoying Dwight Schrute). Expect office romances, subtle pranks, and awkward situations, all wrought by the motivations of unique but still highly relatable characters.

Famous Actors:
Steve Carell; Rainn Wilson; Jenna Fischer; John Krasinski; B.J. Novak; Mindy Kaling; Ed Helms; Paul Lieberstein; Angela Kinsey

Interesting/Useful:
The Office is considered one of the most successful TV series of all time, and for good reason. Not only is it absolutely hilarious and heartwarming, but it offers an honest and relatable look into the daily reality of many American office workers.

This show will also be helpful in learning slang, subtle jokes in English, and varying sentence structures and vocabulary depending on who’s speaking (the show does a great job of characterization in this way).

Common Expressions:

  • “That’s what she said.”
  • “Assistant to the regional manager.”
  • “Bears. Beets. Battlestar Galactica.”

Be sure to watch the trailer for The Office to get a feel for the comedy that transcends other comedies, and use your Netflix login to start watching. This one alone is worth signing up to Netflix.

2- The Crown — 2016-Present

The Crown is about the life of Queen Elizabeth II, as well as the most significant events seen by the 20th century.

Famous Actors:
Claire Foy, Matt Smith, Vanessa Kirby, Eileen Atkins, Jeremy Northam, Victoria Hamilton

Interesting/Useful:
This Netflix show is so good that it has been nominated for twenty-six Primetime Emmy Awards for its first two seasons. The cast of this show also use a British dialect, which will expose you to a common English dialect.

Quotes from the Character Winston Churchill:

  • “Where there is heroism, there will always be hope.”
  • “People have to be angry at someone. But as leader, one cannot simply react to everything.”

You can watch the trailer for The Crown and find out more information on its Netflix page, if you want to get a glimpse of what to expect from this historical Netflix series.

3- Stranger Things — 2016-Present

This sci-fi television show, set in the 80s, follows the journey of a town as it discovers secret experiments. The show also touches on supernatural events and creatures, including an alternate realm they call “The Upside Down.” On Netflix, Stranger Things has become a sensation (with the exception of its most recent season)!

Famous Actors:
Winona Ryder; David Harbour; Matty Cardarople

Interesting/Useful:
This show is interesting as it’s set in the 1980s—this means that you’ll get a glimpse into U.S. life in the ‘80s, and will hear lots of ‘80s slang. While you won’t necessarily use ‘80s slang in day-to-day life now, it will give you some insight into what living in the past was like, and how it shaped today’s U.S. culture.

Quotes:

  • “Mornings are for coffee and contemplation.”
  • “Science is neat, but I’m afraid it’s not very forgiving.”

Not sure you’ll like this one? Watch the Season One trailer above to see what you’re in for!

4- A Series of Unfortunate Events — 2017-2019

This whimsical Netflix Original (based on the book series A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket) is one that both children and adults will enjoy. It follows the intelligent Baudelaire children in their attempt to find their missing parents, all while trying to get untangled from Count Olaf’s evil plots to gain their fortune. You’re sure to enjoy the somewhat foreseeable twists and turns (and frustrations!) that the Baudelaires go through, meeting their interesting family members, and discovering all about who their parents are. And, seriously, you’ll laugh and cry throughout this series as Netflix hones in on the fears we all experience. On Netflix, A Series of Unfortunate Events is as binge-worthy as it gets.

Famous Actors:
Neil Patrick Harris; Matty Cardarople; Patrick Warburton; Nathan Fillion; Usman Ally

Interesting/Useful:
This is a great show to watch if you want to improve your vocabulary, as “big” words are often incorporated into the show as a joke ( as the children “know what it means.” ) If you have kids and plan on using Netflix as part of your language-learning, A Series of Unfortunate Events is a great Netflix kids’ show that you’ll love just as much as they do!

Common Expressions:

  • “We know what [that word] means.”
  • “Life is a conundrum of esoterica.”
  • “There’s no word to describe the feeling of waking up and knowing instantly that something is terribly wrong.”

5- Criminal Minds — 2005-2019

Now on Netflix, Criminal Minds, a long-running crime drama, follows a close-knit group of crime investigators, who must dig into the minds of serial killers in order to bring them down. In the process, it’s not uncommon for the team (or the viewer) to see a little bit of “serial killer” in themselves. As with any great drama, there are romances, hardships, character transformations, a lot on the line, and plenty of twists and turns.

Famous Actors:
Matthew Gray Gubler, A.J. Cook, Thomas Gibson, Kirsten Vangsness, Paget Brewster

Interesting/Useful:
Each episode of this Netflix crime drama begins with a poignant quote, which lays the foundation of the episode, and ends with another which helps to conclude it. This will not only be great for your vocabulary practice, but will give you additional insight into literature and art that Americans place much value on. You’ll also hear a lot of crime-related words and phrases.

Common Words:

  • “Unsub”
    • This is one of the most commonly used words in the shows across characters. It’s short for “Unknown Subject,” referring to someone the team is collecting information on or looking for in relation to a crime/killing.

6- The Good Place — 2016-2020

This is one of the funniest Netflix TV shows on this list, and it’s growing in popularity!

The Good Place begins when Eleanor Shellstrop (played by Kristen Bell) finds herself in “The Good Place” after she dies. She wonders how, considering the bad life she lived, until realizing it’s a mistake. As she meets other citizens of The Good Place and gets to know its keeper Michael (played by Ted Danson), secrets start to unravel that set the course of the show—all while Eleanor tries to become a better person. Be ready for some hearty laughs and heartfelt tears while watching.

Famous Actors:
Jameela Jamil; Kristen Bell; Ted Danson

Interesting/Useful:
One of the most fascinating aspects of this Netflix show is its use of filler curse words. In The Good Place, cursing is prohibited so any time someone (Eleanor) tries to do so, they can only say a filler word. This is outlined below.

Quotes & Common Expressions:

  • “Shirt”
  • “Fork”
  • “Shrampies”
    • Eleanor’s term for shrimp, which she absolutely loves.
  • “I came up with hundreds of plans in my life, and only one of them got me killed.”
  • “What a condescending bench.”

7- Hell on Wheels — 2011-2016

Now on Netflix, Hell on Wheels follows the construction of the First Transcontinental Railroad in the late 1800s. The main character, Cullen Bohannon, ends up at the construction site “Hell on Wheels” in his search to bring justice to his wife and child who were killed by Union soldiers. The show also follows an array of other characters—from the railroad’s investor Thomas Durant, to the mysterious “Swede,” prostitutes, and other railroad workers present.

If you’re looking for a great mix of drama, romance, adventure, suspense, and comedy wrapped up in a Netflix action series—all in a historical setting—this is the show for you.

Famous Actors:
Anson Mount; Colm Meaney; Robin McLeavy; Phil Burke; Christopher Heyerdahl; Common

Interesting/Useful:
This show takes place in a historical setting, making it a great way to familiarize yourself with U.S. history and the shaping of the country’s current culture (without being bored to tears). Throughout the show, phrases and concepts from this time period are used and brought up as well.

Fun Fact: Common, who plays Elam Ferguson in the show, is also a famous American rapper. On top of his work in acting and rapping, Common writes, models, and is a known philanthropist. His full name is Lonnie Corant Jaman Shuka Rashid Lynn.

Quotes:

  • “No one tortures his enemy, if he must torture himself in the process.”
  • “What’s good for the railroad is good for America.”

8- Frasier — 1993-2004

Frasier Crane moves to Seattle, Washington to become a radio psychiatrist and to get over his recent divorce, which allows him to spend more time with his brother, Niles (also a psychiatrist), and father, Martin Crane (a retired cop who soon moves in with Frasier). This sitcom follows the Cranes’ journey in reconnecting with each other, making new friends, and getting into all kinds of trouble and awkward situations, usually due to the Crane brothers’ competitive nature and pretentious personalities.

Over the course of the show, you’ll find that sometimes the Crane brothers plot with each other to accomplish their lofty goals, but most of the time they plot against each other in an attempt to outdo the other. For all of their similarities, the differences in their psychiatry practices and beliefs often cause a rift between them, as the show aims to highlight the differences between the Freudian (Frasier’s) and Jungian (Niles’s) psychiatries.

Famous Actors:
Kelsey Grammer; Jane Leeves; Peri Gilpen; David Hyde Pierce; John Mahoney

Interesting/Useful:
Because the show largely follows the lives of two fairly high-class men, it offers a unique perspective on life in the United States. Further, much of this show takes place in the 90s and early 2000s, and oftentimes you can see the shifts and changes in everyday life as the years pass. Lots of references are also made to literature, the arts, and psychology, and the Crane brothers often use French phrases to describe things.

Commonly Used Quotes:

  • “I’m listening.”
  • “Aw geez.”
  • “I’m a bit psychic.”

9- Losers — 2019

Interested in Netflix documentaries? Losers is a short documentary series, with each episode covering the story of a different real-life athlete who failed, and failed again, but continued to persevere even if it didn’t mean getting the win or victory. In this mini documentary series, Netflix zeros in on the concept that winning isn’t the most important thing, and losing isn’t the worst thing that can happen. It also delves into the question of what success or failure really look like, and what they really mean. If you’re feeling down or need a little inspiration, you’ve found the goldmine.

Famous Athletes:
Jean van de Velde; Surya Bonaly; Michael Bentt; Pat Ryan; Mauro Prosperi; Aliy Zirkle; Jack Ryan

Interesting/Useful:
Some episodes are multilingual (e.g. some French dialogue with English subtitles, etc.), while still being largely an English-language show. It also features athletes and their stories from around the world.

Often-Used Words:

  • “Loser”
  • “Defeat”
  • “Burden”
  • “Boring”

10- Maniac — 2018

Maniac is a dark miniseries with psychological themes. Essentially, the story follows the lives of Annie Landsberg (Emma Stone) and Owen Milgram (Jonah Hill), both of whom are mentally unwell and for their own reasons sign up for a psychological trial. They meet, and find their lives intertwined in the weird and sometimes frightening hallucination/dream trials (induced by taking the pills “A” “B” and “C”). They discover themselves and each other over the course of the trial, all while the scientist taking over the experiment, Dr. Mantleray, deals with his own issues.

Famous Actors:
Emma Stone; Jonah Hill; Justin Theroux; Sonoya Mizuno; Gabriel Byrne; Sally Field

Interesting/Useful:
The storyline in this Netflix limited series is full of twists and turns, and is pure entertainment. The dialogue is humorous, with lots of play-on-words, sarcasm, and slang—great for hearing these things in the context of how people speak today. But between every line is raw emotion, which is a hard thing to come by in entertainment these days. Explore yourself as your explore their world.

Common Expressions:

  • “When an addict dies, do you think it’s suicide?”
  • “What’s wrong isn’t that I’m sick. It’s that I don’t matter.”
  • “Life is simple as hell until you bring on a partner.”

Wanna watch a trailer that’ll give you goosebumps? Head over to Maniac’s Netflix page, watch the trailer, and get ready for your next binge-watch.


3. Netflix USA Movies: List of the Best Movies on Netflix

Movie Genres

Are you more interested in good movies on Netflix? Now that we’ve gone over some spiffy Netflix series, we’ll move onto our Netflix movie list. We know that not everyone has time to dedicate to a Netflix series, and that some people prefer to watch one good movie instead.

Once you’ve found one that interests you, go to your Netflix sign in and watch away! Because when it comes to Netflix USA movies, they’re almost always worth it.

1- Bird Box — 2018

On Netflix, dark movies abound, and Bird Box is one of them.

One of the most popular Netflix Original movies, Bird Box tells the story of a post-apocalyptic world which begins with seemingly random mass violence and suicides in Russia that move to the United States. A pregnant woman named Malorie (Bullock), and a group of survivors she joins, quickly discover that looking at a supernatural force causes a person to immediately go insane and kill themself. Eventually, the woman is alone with two children, who must all traverse the river blindfolded until they reach safety, encountering numerous dangers on the way.

Famous Actors:
Sandra Bullock; Trevante Rhodes; John Malkovich; Danielle Macdonald; Sarah Paulson

Interesting/Useful:
One of the most interesting aspects of how language is used in this Netflix show is the use of “Boy and “Girl” as children’s names. Not only is it a reflection of Malorie’s state of mind and emotions regarding motherhood, but it shows a unique depth of the English language that’s not often explored: names as placeholders.

Quotes:

  • “If you look, you will die. Do you understand?”
  • “She stepped out of the car and ran into the street, and she’s not suicidal.”
  • “Life is more than just what is. It’s what it could be. What you could make it.”

Watch the Bird Box (Netflix) trailer on its Netflix page, and see what you’re in for! When it comes to good movies on Netflix, this is one of the most popular, after all.

2- Monty Python and the Holy Grail — 1975

This is a British movie which focuses on the Arthurian legends. In the film, King Arthur and “Patsy” his squire search for men to join the Knights of the Round Table, and later go on to search for the Holy Grail which leads them through a series of trials, temptations, and humorous situations. The film makes great use of play-on-words, and infuses humor both under the surface and more overtly. That said, the type of humor in this show isn’t for everyone.

Famous Actors:
Graham Chapman; John Cleese; Terry Gilliam; Eric Idle; Terry Jones; Michael Palin

Interesting/Useful:
Monty Python and the Holy Grail is one of the many productions by Monty Python, a group dedicated to comedy sketches. Another one of its popular movies is Life of Brian (also on Netflix).

Quotes:

  • “Ask me the questions, bridgekeeper. I am not afraid.”
  • “We want…a shrubbery!”
  • “It’s just a flesh wound!”

Watch the Monty Python and the Holy Grail trailer, and then head over to Netflix to watch one of the best comedy movies of its time.

3- Black Mirror: Bandersnatch — 2018

Netflix’s Black Mirror: Bandersnatch is a sci-fi “interactive” movie, where you control the actions of the main character Stefan Butler, an aspiring “choose-your-own-adventure” video game programmer. The film takes place in England during the ‘80s, and features multiple possible endings (and variations of those endings) based on which choices you make—from choosing which breakfast cereal to eat (does it really make a difference? I have no idea.) to deciding whether or not to pour tea on Stefan’s laptop when he gets frustrated. Here, Netflix presents a very unique (and sometimes dark) part of its contributors’ personalities in the best way possible.

Famous Actors:
Fionn Whitehead, Will Poulter, Asim Chaudhry, Craig Parkinson, Alice Lowe

Interesting/Useful:
Making decisions for the main character throughout the show that affect the outcome(s) is good for practicing both listening and reading skills, as well as decision-making in English. It’s also fascinating to reflect on Netflix’s price for making this interactive movie: a lawsuit from the Choose Your Own Adventure publishing company, Choosesco.

Common Expressions:

  • “You’re just a puppet. You are not in control.”
  • “There’s messages in every game. Like Pac-Man. Do you know what PAC stands for? P-A-C: ‘program and control.’”

Watch the Black Mirror: Bandersnatch trailer on its Netflix page before leaping in for yourself!

4- The Boy in Striped Pajamas — 2008

A list of good movies on Netflix wouldn’t be complete without mentioning The Boy in Striped Pajamas.

The Boy in Striped Pajamas, based on the book by John Boyne, follows the story of a nine-year-old boy named Bruno who grows up in Germany during WWII. After his father’s promotion to Commandant, they move to a home beside a Jewish concentration camp in Poland.

When out exploring one day, Bruno discovers and befriends a young boy on the other side of a fence who wears what he thinks are striped pajamas (which are really prison clothes). During the course of their friendship, Bruno learns more and more about the poor treatment of Jews (some of his house servants are Jews) without realizing who his new friend is.

As far as Netflix USA movies go, this is one of my favorites!

Famous Actors:
Asa Butterfield; Jack Scanlon; Vera Farmiga; David Thewlis; Rupert Friend; David Hayman

Interesting/Useful:
This movie offers a unique perspective and story about WWII, and shows glimpses of what life was like back then. You’ll also hear a range of accents and dialects from the different characters, making it a realistic option for learning to understand nuances in the English language.

Common Expressions:

  • “I don’t understand. One man caused all this trouble?”
  • “We’re not supposed to be friends, you and me. We’re meant to be enemies. Did you know that?”

After watching the trailer, you’ll definitely want to know how things unfold (or fall apart…). So check it out on Netflix today! It truly is one of the best movies on Netflix, especially for the history lover or culture aficionado.


4. Conclusion: How EnglishClass101 Can Help You Learn English Effectively

We hope you enjoyed our list of the best Netflix shows and movies, and that we helped you find the perfect binge fix for your English-learning journey! Netflix prices are more and more beginning to reflect what you get, don’t you think?

Which of our picks most interested you, and why? Did we leave out any good ones? Let us know in the comments!

On EnglishClass101.com, we have an array of blog posts like this one to boost your English skills and immerse you in U.S. culture. You can also check out our free vocabulary lists to expand your word bank, chat with fellow English learners on our community forum, and learn English one-on-one with your own personal teacher using our MyTeacher program (available to Premium Plus members). At EnglishClass101.com, there’s something for every learner and every learner is able to flourish! Get started today!

In the meantime, get your Netflix login ready and watch the best movies on Netflix, or find a new favorite Netflix series! None of these catch your interest? Check out Netflix.com or an app for Netflix downloaded on your phone to find more options.

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Celebrating Valentine’s Day in the United States

Valentine’s Day is a popular and widely celebrated holiday in the United States and focuses on both romantic love and general affection for those around you. In this article, you’ll learn a little bit about Valentine’s Day history, about modern traditions, and more fun facts about Valentine’s Day in the United States.

Are you ready? Let’s get started!

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1. What is Valentine’s Day in the United States?

Traditionally, this holiday is thought to have been celebrated in honor of Saint Valentine from the third century. This particular saint was known for marrying couples during a ban imposed by the Roman emperor Claudius II. It comes as no surprise, then, that Valentine’s Day has grown into the holiday we know it as today.

In addition to Saint Valentine, another one of the most popular Valentine’s Day symbols is Cupid. You’ll often hear this name associated with Valentine’s Day, and with romantic love in general. Cupid is often depicted as a chubby boy with wings who shoots heart-shaped arrows at people to make them fall in love.

In the United States, Valentine’s Day is a popular holiday centered on romance and affection. In addition, because Valentine’s Day is highly commercialized, it’s also one of the best holidays for businesses.

On Valentine’s Day, couples are encouraged to show each other love and affection, often going out of their way to make the other person feel special.

While Valentine’s Day is generally considered a happy and joyous holiday, it can be difficult for some people. This is especially true for people who are still single and don’t want to be or those who have recently gone through a breakup or divorce. On Valentine’s Day, it’s important to be considerate of the feelings of those around you.

2. Valentine’s Day Date

Someone Drawing Heart on Calendar for Valentine’s Day

In the United States, couples celebrate Valentine’s Day on February 14 each year.

3. Most Popular Valentine’s Day Traditions

Valentine’s Day is, among other things, a day when one partner is encouraged to essentially court their partner as they would before they were dating or married. Presenting a wife, lover, or girlfriend/boyfriend with flowers, candy, and other romantic gifts is a huge part of Valentine’s Day traditions in the United States.

During this particular holiday, the most romantic restaurants in any city will generally be booked solid. Sometimes, churches, businesses, restaurants, or other public places will host special Valentine’s Day events or offer discounts to couples. It’s not uncommon to see advertisements or signs for dances, inexpensive meals, parties, or great deals on common gifts.

This is particularly true of the floral industry, as giving one’s sweetheart red Valentine’s Day roses on this day is more or less expected. Clothing, jewelry, food, and other items are also popularly given to sweethearts and spouses on this day. There’s even a special kind of Valentine’s Day candy, called candy hearts, which are heart-shaped and often have cute sayings printed on them. For some couples, Valentine’s Day is when one member of the couple goes overboard to spoil the other and is delighted to do so.

Valentine’s Day celebrations can be very innocent, in addition to being romantic. In schools in the United States, children are quite frequently encouraged to make and exchange valentines (small gifts, candies, or cards), more as gestures of friendship than anything else. This allows everybody to get in on the fun. In some cases, people in the United States who are currently single will do something special for a friend who means a great deal to them and to whom they want to express affection, even though it’s not romantic affection.

Valentine’s Day cards are among the most impressive pieces of artwork associated with this holiday. Antique Valentine’s Day cards can fetch handsome prices from collectors due to their intricacy and their sometimes very imaginative artwork.

    → Do you want to tell your sweetheart how you feel, but don’t know what to say? EnglishClass101.com has you covered with these Valentine’s Day expressions that are perfect for writing in a Valentine’s Day card!

4. Courtly Love

Couple Wrapped in Blanket Looking at Ocean Together

Do you know what type of love is associated with Valentine’s Day from the High Middle Ages?

Valentine’s Day has strong associations with what was called courtly love in the High Middle Ages. This was a highly ritualized form of romantic love where each partner was expected to do particular things to express their appreciation for one another.

When two people are dating each other, sometimes people refer to this as courting for the same reason.

5. Must-Know Valentine’s Day Vocabulary

A Teddy Bear

Are you ready to review some of the vocabulary words from this article? Here’s a list of the most important English words and phrases for Valentine’s Day!

  • Sweet
  • Candy
  • Present
  • Girlfriend
  • Boyfriend
  • Rose
  • Valentine’s Day
  • Love
  • Red
  • Pink
  • Chocolate
  • Romance
  • Kiss
  • Hug
  • Teddy bear
  • Date
  • Candy heart
  • Valentine’s card
  • Heart
  • Bouquet
  • Cupid

To hear each of these words pronounced, and to read them alongside relevant images, be sure to check out our English Valentine’s Day vocabulary list!

Final Thoughts

Now that you know what to expect on Valentine’s Day in the United States, are you ready to impress the love of your life and shower them with affection? EnglishClass101.com has you covered:

Or do you think this is the year you’ll ask that special someone to spend their life with you?

Now that EnglishClass101 has helped your love life, why not let us help your English learning? With tons of lessons for beginners, intermediate learners, and more advanced students, there’s something for everyone!

What are you waiting for? Create your free lifetime account today and learn English like never before!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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What is a Conjunction in English Grammar?

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Conjunctions: Expanding ideas, stringing together sentences, and allowing comparisons since the beginning of the English language.

Studying English conjunctions and linking words is an important aspect of learning the English language. Without them, your speech and writing would be flat. Boring. Pretty much incohesive.

In this English conjunctions for beginners article, we’ll teach you everything you need to know about conjunctions in English grammar:

  • The different kinds of conjunctions in English
  • English grammar conjunctions rules
  • The most helpful English conjunctions words
  • English conjunctions usage
  • English conjunctions examples for reference

Trust us, taking the time to learn English conjunctions will make your speech and writing more eloquent.

Are you ready to learn English connecting words? Let’s get started!

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Table of Contents

  1. English Conjunctions Explained: Definition and Types
  2. Conjunction Examples
  3. Conclusion


1. English Conjunctions Explained: Definition and Types

Sentence Patterns

Before we move onto our English conjunctions list, here are the basics of English conjunctions grammar rules and English conjunctions classification.

A conjunction is a word that essentially connects two or more thoughts together in some way. They allow for comparisons, complex sentences, and even clarification.

Here are the three main types of English conjunctions and their meanings:

  • English Correlative Conjunctions: When you correlate, you compare two things or show how they’re related. Thus, a correlative conjunction is actually two conjunctive words (”either/or”; “neither/nor”; etc.) that help to make this comparison.
  • English Coordinating Conjunctions: Think of a coordinator for a large project at work; this person will make sure that all the pieces fall together like they should, in a way that makes sense. They’ll also make sure that everyone is doing their job properly. That’s what coordinating conjunctions (”and”; “but”; etc.) do; they help to piece a longer sentence together in a way that makes sense.

    In particular, coordinating conjunctions link two sentence particles together that are the same grammatically (think of a mirror reflection in terms of grammar, with a conjunction in between them). A lot of people use the term FANBOYS to remember the seven most common ones (”for”; “and”; “nor”; “but”; “or”; “yet”; “so”).

Fans Cheering

  • English Subordinating Conjunctions: In English grammar, subordinating conjunctions (”because”; “while”; etc.), which link dependent and independent clauses, typically help to make a relationship between cause-and-effect or a similar relationship in a sentence.

The majority of English conjunctions fall into one of these three categories, though for the purpose of this article, we’ve included five, broader categories. This is to give you a better idea of which English conjunction words are used for which purposes.

Unfortunately, learning conjunctions isn’t a cookie-cutter experience. Conjunctions aren’t cookie-cutter. As you read through this article, you’ll find that many conjunctions in English can be used for various purposes while connecting thoughts. They don’t always fall neatly into categories, and you may find one conjunction in more than one category, serving a different purpose in each. In this article, we’ve marked those with an asterisk (*).

Truly, conjunctions are one of the most difficult concepts in English grammar to grasp (even for native speakers!). Slip-ups will happen when putting these conjunction words to use, but even just a basic understanding of them will improve your English fluency tremendously. The more you use them, the more natural it becomes.

With that part of our English conjunctions lesson out of the way, let’s get started with our English conjunctions list! By now, it should be clear that when it comes to expanding your English vocabulary, conjunctions are not to be missed!


2. Conjunction Examples

Trying to Understand Categories

As mentioned above, the English conjunctions in this article are divided into five broad conjunction categories, instead of the English types of conjunctions we mentioned above. These categories are:

  • Conjunctions to correlate similar thoughts
  • Conjunctions to express condition
  • Conjunctions to express cause
  • Conjunctions to express opposition
  • Conjunctions to express purpose

On our conjunctions list, you’ll also find a few conjunctive adverbs. Their purpose is very similar to that of some English conjunctions, but they’re not technically considered conjunctions. They work a bit differently than English conjunctions phrases.

1- Conjunctions to Correlate Similar Thoughts

Improve Listening

To start our English list of conjunctions, here are some English conjunctions and examples that are used to correlate similar thoughts.

1. And

Example Sentence:
Tom likes to play softball and Brandon likes to listen to music.

Explanation:
The conjunction “and” in this sentence allows the writer to link two clauses. Without this conjunction, the writer would have to express this with two sentences (or one sentence with a semicolon):

Tom likes to play softball. Brandon likes to listen to music.
Tom likes to play softball; Brandon likes to listen to music.

While there’s technically nothing wrong with expressing the idea this way, it’s generally not as pleasant to read as the single sentence using the conjunction.

2. Also

Example Sentence:
“I write music, and I’m also working on a novel,” said Dave.

Explanation:
In this sentence, the word “also” correlates the two things that Dave is doing: writing music and working on a novel. This way, Dave doesn’t have to use two sentences:

“I write music. I’m writing a book too.”

Again, while there’s nothing technically wrong with this way of expressing the idea, it sounds a lot more cohesive when written as one sentence with a conjunction (especially when speaking).

3. Or

Example Sentence:
“Oranges or tangerines?” asked the shopkeeper.

Explanation:
Here, the conjunction “or” is used to correlate between two similar but different items: tangerines and oranges. The word “or” is most often used in question form, though it can also be used in a declaratory or other sentence. Also keep in mind that it can be used to link together longer sentences as well, where a short sentence won’t do the trick:

“Do you want oranges or tangerines?” asked the shopkeeper.
“Do you want oranges, or do you want tangerines?” asked the shopkeeper.

4. Nor

Example Sentence:
She wouldn’t give up on her dream, nor would she let others get in her way.

Explanation:
“Nor” is one of the trickiest conjunctions, and it’s easy to slip up when learning how to use it. It sounds a lot like the conjunction “or,” and it serves a similar function. But it’s only used in a negative sense.

The above sentence talks about what the subject won’t allow to happen, and so the word “nor” is used.

A tip to remember this is to think of how similar “nor” is to the word “no,” which is a negative word.

5. For

Example Sentence:
“A tooth for a tooth, and an eye for an eye.”

Explanation:
In the above quote, the conjunction “for” is used to correlate similar objects. On the surface, it shows that a tooth is worth another tooth, and an eye is worth another eye; thus, the one eye can be exchanged for another, etc. (Though it’s really a quote about getting even!)

6. As well as

Example Sentence:
Her granddaughter loves kittens, as well as puppies.

Explanation:
This is another tricky conjunction. Many people (native English speakers included!) incorrectly use this conjunction interchangeably with the words “and” and “also.” But this phrase is special in that it helps to rank the importance of the compared ideas.

In the above sentence, kittens are mentioned before puppies; the phrase “as well as” separating kittens from puppies shows that the granddaughter loves kittens just a little more than she loves puppies.

Note that the next few conjunctions to correlate similar thoughts are actual correlative conjunctions, as we talked about earlier in this article. They are two conjunctive words, placed apart from each other in a sentence, used to link similar ideas.

7. Both ___ and ___

Example Sentence:
Both diet and exercise contribute to a person’s health.

Explanation:
In this conjunction (and the next few), a pair of conjunctions is used, as opposed to only one. This conjunctive phrase is helpful when correlating two ideas that are directly related to each other. The word “both” indicates that each idea is equally emphasized, while the word “and” is used exactly as the single conjunctive word “and” is.

In the above sentence, the writer is conveying the idea that diet and exercise are equal contributors to a person’s health.

Man and Woman Biking in Field

8. Neither ___ nor ___

Example Sentence:
Samantha likes neither math nor science in school.

Explanation:
This conjunctive phrase is used exactly the same way as the above phrase, except it’s used for negative correlative sentences. In the sentence above, this phrase is used because it’s talking about two things that Samantha doesn’t like—not two things she does like.

9. Whether ___ or ___

Example Sentence:
Whether Jordan or Randy asked her to prom, she would be happy.

Explanation:
This correlative phrase is used to show that two ideas are similar, and expresses the sense that neither idea is more significant than the other in context. In the above sentence, the girl doesn’t really care which of the two guys asks her to prom; she’ll be happy either way.

10. Either ___ or ___

Example Sentence:
“We can find those shoes at either Ross or Target,” Sam said.

Explanation:
This correlative phrase is very similar to the previous one, though it’s used differently in terms of grammar. This is because “whether” is usually used when considering an idea or concept, and “either” is usually used when considering two concrete nouns (like the two stores in our example sentence).

“Whether” has more to do with circumstance, while “either” has more to do with actual, palpable things or events.

11. Not only ___ but also ___

Example Sentence:
Carlile wanted not only money, but also power.

Explanation:
You may be wondering why we can’t just say: “Carlile wanted money and power.”

Well, we can. But using the conjunctive phrase “not only money, but also power,” is a more emotionally striking way to write this sentence. It shows that money isn’t enough for Carlile; he needs to have power, too.

Simply using the word “and” simply indicates that he wants both things. Not a big deal, since lots of people would like to have money and power. But knowing that money isn’t enough for him, and that he needs power as well, adds a layer to Carlile’s personality.

Essentially, “not only ___ but also ___” is a great conjunction to use if you want to put emphasis on the second thing that’s mentioned.

12. Not ___ but ___

Example Sentence:
Not the children, but the parents, were acting foolishly.

Explanation:
This one is a little bit tricky, but essentially it establishes the concept of one thing instead of another thing. In the example sentence, this correlative conjunction establishes that the parents were acting foolishly, instead of the children.

You can also rearrange the sentence this way, if it gives you a better idea of how the “not ___ but ___” phrase works:

The children were not acting foolishly, but the parents were.

2- Conjunctions to Express Condition

Improve Listening Part 2

This list of conjunctions with examples express condition. Keep in mind that these conjunctions are pretty flexible when it comes to their placement in a sentence; you can find them both at the beginning of a sentence, and in the middle. You’ll see this more clearly in the English conjunctions sentences throughout the section.

1. If

Example Sentence:
Tony would only go to the party if Jaquelin was going too.

Explanation:
“If” may be the most common and frequently used conditional conjunction. Essentially, “if” stands for whatever the condition is. In this case, “if” represents Jaquelin going to the party.

In the above sentence, it’s made clear that Tony going to the party depends entirely on whether Jaquelin is going. If she goes, he will too.

2. When

Example Sentence:
When Cindy left the office, she felt a wave of relief.

Explanation:
The word “when” in this sentence indicates that Cindy didn’t feel relief until the moment she left the office.

3. While

Example Sentence:
“Quick! Run while they’re distracted!”

Explanation:
The word “while” in this sentence indicates that the only time this person should run is during the time that the others are distracted.

4. Once

Example Sentence:
Once Kyle clocks out of work, he’s going to go home and take a nap.

Explanation:
The word “once” in this sentence is used as a precursor to the condition. This shows us that Kyle will (try to) wait until he’s off work to succumb to sleep.

Man Falling Asleep at Computer

5. After

Example Sentence:
He felt such admiration for her after she saved his life.

Explanation:
The word “after” in this sentence is a conditional conjunction because it shows that the man didn’t feel admiration for the woman until she saved his life. Again, the word “after” links the end-result with the condition that led to it.

6. Before

Example Sentence:
They decided to buy snacks before the hockey game.

Explanation:
The word “before” in the above sentence links what they did with when they did it (the condition under which they bought the snacks).

7. During

Example Sentence:
It was during the game that trouble arose.

Explanation:
In this sentence, “during” indicates the condition under which the trouble started. (There trouble did not start before or after the game, but during it.)

8. As soon as

Example Sentence:
Violence broke out as soon as the puck hit the ice.

Explanation:
“As soon as” indicates either immediacy or urgency, depending on the context. In the above sentence, this phrase indicates that violence happened at the very moment the puck was dropped, showing a sense of immediacy.

9. Until

Example Sentence:
The crowd was excited until the fighting stopped.

Explanation:
“Until” is a conditional conjunction that means something went on, and then stopped once a condition was met. In this case, the crowd was excited up until the point when the fighting stopped. The word “until” links an event to the condition under which it ended.

10. As long as

Example Sentence:
He figured that as long as Lucia kept her promise, everything would be okay.

Explanation:
This conditional conjunction indicates continuance or assurance. In the above sentence, the man knows that everything will be okay only under the condition that Lucia keeps the promise she made, and continues to keep it. “As long as” indicates that once that condition is no longer true, neither is the thing that came about because of the condition (if Lucia doesn’t keep her promise, things won’t be okay).

11. As much as

Example Sentence:
Marnie felt bad about cheating, as much as she loved her new trophy.

Explanation:
“As much as” can have various uses, but in the sentence above, it’s a conjunction that’s showing that Marnie’s guilt about cheating equals (or outweighs) her love for the trophy she received by cheating. In this sentence, “as much as” also indicates a condition concerning her love for the trophy.

12. By the time

Example Sentence:
By the time she gets here, they’ll have locked the gates already!” thought Penelope.

Explanation:
In this sentence, “by the time” is a conjunction that precedes the condition (”she gets here”). It indicates that the gates will be locked either before, or right at, the moment Penelope’s friend arrives.

13. Even if

Example Sentence:
Reynold decided he would stay with her, even if she wasn’t who she said she was.

Explanation:
“Even if” is an interesting conditional conjunction. It doesn’t really indicate one specific condition, but rather states that even if a prior condition (the woman being who she said she was) doesn’t happen, Reynold will still perform the action he would have if that prior condition was met.

(With EnglishClass101, you’ll surely master the English language, even if it’s difficult sometimes!)

14. Now that

Example Sentence:
Natalie could relax, now that the uncomfortable conversation was over.

Explanation:
“Now that” is a conditional conjunction that indicates something is past (or something has happened), which allows for the end-result to occur. In the above sentence, the condition is that the conversation is over; the end-result is that Natalie can relax; the conjunction “now that” links those two happenings in a cohesive way.

Man and Woman Having Uncomfortable Conversation

15. Provided that

Example Sentence:
Isabel decided she didn’t have a reason to worry, provided that Ella had come prepared.

Explanation:
“Provided that” indicates a condition similar to the way “as long as” does. As long as something happens, or is true, the end-result can be achieved. In this case, Isabel not worrying depends on whether or not Ella has come prepared. Technically, you could also say, “Isabel decided she didn’t have a reason to worry, as long as Ella had come prepared,” but this gives off a slightly different meaning.

When you use “provided that,” it almost indicates that the condition is a given, or is thought to be a given. In the example sentence, it almost sounds like Isabel believes that Ella has come prepared, and for that reason has no reason to worry. It takes away most of the chance element that “as long as” gives off.

16. Supposing

Example Sentence:
Supposing the stadium is an hour away, I should leave in a few minutes,” thought Bo.

Explanation:
“Supposing” is very similar to “provided that.” However, “supposing” is a lot more like asking a question, or giving oneself a reference for what could possibly be true. In the above sentence, Bo uses the conjunction “supposing” to give himself a reference for when he should probably leave. However, he could think immediately after:

“But then again, supposing the traffic’s bad, I should leave right away.”

Bo is preparing himself for different scenarios, and trying to figure out which one is most likely, using the word “supposing.”

17. Unless

Example Sentence:
“There’s no way she’ll win the race, unless a miracle happens!” Jack said.

Explanation:
The condition conjunction “unless” is a more basic conjunction. It directly relates the condition to the outcome. In the above sentence, “unless” is a conjunction that links the condition (a miracle happening) and the outcome (the woman winning the race). She won’t win the race without a miracle.

18. Lest

Example Sentence:
He had to hurry, lest the evil henchmen recapture him.

Explanation:
“Lest” may be one of the more difficult conjunctions to remember and to grasp. It sounds a little bit like the word “unless,” but it actually has a different meaning and is used differently.

Essentially, “lest” means “so it won’t happen” or “or else it will happen.”

This may sound odd. But consider that the sentence could be written either of the following ways, and still be true/make sense in context of the original sentence:

He had to hurry, so that the evil henchmen wouldn’t recapture him.
He had to hurry, or else the evil henchmen would recapture him.

In the first version, the condition is that he hurries, and the outcome is that he’s not recaptured.

In the second version, the condition would be his not hurrying, and the outcome would be that he was captured.

Either way, the sentence as a whole indicates that he has to hurry in order to escape. (But keep in mind that the first interpretation “so that it won’t happen” is more common/proper overall.)

* 19. If ___ then ___

Example Sentence:
If Scott really had time-traveled, then Pip had lied to her.

Explanation:
This is an interesting conjunction, because it’s used to express condition, as well as to express cause (which is why it’s also included in the following section). This conjunction expresses that if one thing happens or is true, it will cause or mean another thing. Here, “if” precedes the condition (Scott time-traveling) and “then” precedes the effect (whether or not Pip lied to her). The latter depends entirely on whether the first condition is met.

Man Running Away from Someone or Something

3- Conjunctions to Express Cause

Here’s a list of the most common conjunctions to express cause, with example sentences and explanations.

1. So

Example Sentence:
The road was blocked, so Alicia took a detour and was late to work.

Explanation:
In this sentence, “so” links the cause of Alicia’s taking a detour—and consequently being late to work—with its cause (the road being blocked).

2. Because

Example Sentence:
Because of her fright that morning, Yuliza didn’t feel like eating.

Explanation:
In this sentence, “because” is a precursor to the cause of why Yuliza didn’t feel like eating. Her fright made her lose her appetite.

3. Therefore

Example Sentence:
“I didn’t stop to rest on my long journey, therefore I am tired,” the strange man said.

Explanation:
In this sentence, “therefore” connects the consequence (the strange man being tired) with the reason—or cause—behind it (he didn’t rest on his long journey).

* 4. If ___ then ___

Example Sentence:
If one more thing went wrong, then Russel would just go back to bed.

Explanation:
“If ___ then ___” statements are something you’ll encounter often in the English language. This conjunctive phrase essentially describes a cause and effect. In the example sentence, the cause (one more thing going wrong) is directly linked to the effect (Russel going back to bed). It also implies that if the cause doesn’t happen, neither will the effect.

* 5. Since

Example Sentence:
Since traffic was slow, Kira was late to work.

Explanation:
In this sentence, the conjunction “since” serves as a precursor to the cause. It implies that the reason Kira is late to work is directly related to the slow traffic.

6. Seeing as

Example Sentence:
Seeing as most of the stores in town were closed, they ventured out for supplies.

Explanation:
Here, “seeing as” serves as a precursor to the cause (like the conjunction in the example above). It implies that the reason they ventured out for supplies is because the stores in town were closed.

This conjunction may sound grammatically strange (many conjunctions do!). However, this one may be easier to remember if you imagine replacing the “as” with “that,” making the sentence sound more grammatically normal:

Seeing that most of the stores in town were closed, they ventured out for supplies.

The biggest difference between these two sentences is in the narration. The original sentence has a more distant narration (as though someone else were telling you about this group). The second sentence has a more up-close narration (it sounds more like you’re reading it from the group’s perspective).

7. Hence

Example Sentence:
Olive was always busy with work, and hence had little time for family.

Explanation:
“Hence” is another odd-sounding conjunction. It’s very similar to the word “so.” The above sentence has roughly the same meaning as:

Olive was always busy with work, and so she had little time for family.

8. Why

Example Sentence:
Her laundry didn’t have time to finish, and that’s why her shirt is still wet.

Explanation:
“Why” is one of the most common conjunctions for expressing cause. Essentially, “why” in this context means “the reason.” For example, the above sentence could also be written:

Her laundry didn’t have time to finish, and that’s the reason her shirt is still wet.

4- Conjunctions to Express Opposition

Here’s a list of common conjunctions to express opposition, with example sentences and explanations:

1. But

Example Sentence:
Tilly wanted to stay longer, but she had to be up early the next morning.

Explanation:
In this sentence, “but” links what Tilly wants with the reason she can’t have it.

2. But still

Example Sentence:
Wendy had meant well, but still felt bad about what happened.

Explanation:
In this sentence, “but still” indicates that despite Wendy’s intentions, she feels bad about where her intentions led.

3. Yet

Example Sentence:
He had so much potential, yet rarely showed it.

Explanation:
“Yet” can be tricky, as it seems to act a lot like the word “but.” However, it’s used much differently and has a slightly different meaning.

“But” usually has to do with wanting something, whereas “yet” has more to do with how something should be (or is expected to be).

In the above sentence, “yet” is used to indicate that this man’s potential should be shown (and it’s not, for whatever reason).

4. And yet

Example Sentence:
Lane had done so much for her, and yet she still didn’t love him.

Explanation:
The conjunctive phrase “and yet” is very similar to the above conjunction. Putting the word “and” in front of “yet” seems to indicate an element of patience or temperament.

For example, take this sentence, omitting the word “and”: Lane had done so much for her, yet she still didn’t love him.

This sentence seems to imply only that she doesn’t love him even though she should. But if you add the word “and” like in our example sentence, it adds a feeling of length and even of frustration.

5. However

Example Sentence:
“I do like ice cream,” she said, “however, I can’t eat it because I’m lactose-intolerant.”

Explanation:
In this sentence, “however” indicates a variable that results in the aforementioned thing being irrelevant. In this case, it doesn’t matter that the speaker likes ice cream; she can’t eat it, because she’s lactose-intolerant. The word “however” also indicates that the speaker is in opposition to eating ice cream; further, her ability to eat ice cream is opposed by her lactose-intolerance.

Chocolate Ice Cream Cones

6. Though

Example Sentence:
The town was lovely, though Heather didn’t like how cold it was.

Explanation:
“Though” is a fairly mild conjunction. It indicates that even though one thing is true, another factor or idea keeps the first thing from being completely true or relevant. In this case, Heather likes the scenery in her new town, but because of the weather, her enjoyment is hindered.

7. Except (that)

Example Sentence:
Anne thought it was a good deal, except that she didn’t quite trust him.

Explanation:
“Except (that)” is a phrase that links to an exception. In the above sentence, Anne thinks that it’s a good deal—but one thing keeps her from completely believing it (she doesn’t trust the person making the deal with her). That’s where this English linking phrase comes in.

5- Conjunctions to Express Purpose

Here are some of the most common conjunctions to express purpose, with example sentences and explanations.

1. So that

Example Sentence:
He cleared the way, so that she could get through.

Explanation:
In this sentence, “so that” explains 1.) That the man had a reason for clearing the way, and 2.) What that reason was. This conjunctions connects those two pieces of information.

2. In order to

Example Sentence:
In order to learn English while having fun, he studied with EnglishClass101.

Explanation:
“In order to” is a conjunction that links the following explanations: 1.) What the intention or purpose behind the action (to learn English while having fun), and 2.) What that action was (studying with EnglishClass101).

3. To the effect (that)

Example Sentence:
He painted the room to the effect that it looked larger.

Explanation:
This one is a little bit tricky. Essentially, “to the effect (that)” in the above sentence indicates that he painted the room with the intention of making it look larger. It explains both his intention, and what effect his action (painting) had on the object of his action (the room).

* 4. Because

Example Sentence:
Johann skipped school because he had a concert to go to.

Explanation:
“Because” is also used as a conjunction to establish purpose (in addition to cause). In the above sentence, the word “because” links Johann’s action (skipping school) with his purpose for it (he wanted to see a concert).

This is different in use than “because” as a conjunction to establish cause. For example, in the following sentence, “because” would be a causal conjunction instead:

Because he was sick, Johann went to the hospital.

In this sentence, Johann’s sickness is the cause of his going to the hospital (not his purpose). Whereas in the original sentence, Johann’s purpose for skipping school is to see a concert.

These two types of conjunctions are very similar, so it’s okay if you’re a little confused right here. You’ll get the hang of it eventually!

* 5. Why

Example Sentence:
He didn’t know why he acted out like he did.

Explanation:
Here’s another very similar conjunction to those used for expressing cause. The difference in use is very slight, but still important.

In the example sentence, the subject is trying to understand the purpose behind their actions, not necessarily the cause.

* 6. Since

Example Sentence:
Randy left the store, since there was no one inside.

Explanation:
Yet another conjunction that’s similar to its counterpart that expresses cause. The difference here is slight as well.

In the example sentence, the word “since” expresses purpose, because it’s showing Randy’s purpose for leaving, and not necessarily the cause behind it.

Note on conjunctions to express purpose:
One of the easiest ways to determine whether a conjunction is expressing cause or purpose is to look at the context of the sentence. A lot of times, a conjunction for expressing purpose will be used in the context of a decision someone makes; a conjunction for expressing cause will be used in the context of something someone does because they need to.

For example, in the sentence about Randy, the conjunction “since” expresses purpose because he doesn’t really need to leave; he chooses to, because he thinks it’s a good idea. However, in the sentence about Kira being late to work earlier in this article “since” is used to express cause; Kira really didn’t have a choice but to be late to work because of slow traffic.

However, both conjunctions expressing cause and conjunctions for expressing purpose fall mainly under the subordinating conjunction category. This is because they link relationships such as cause-and-effect.


3. Conclusion

Woman Taking Notes

We hope you enjoyed learning about conjunctions with us! Do you feel more confident in your knowledge of English conjunctions rules? Are there any useful English conjunctions we didn’t cover? Let us know in the comments!

We know that conjunctions can be difficult (and frustrating!) to understand completely, but take comfort in the fact that no one is perfect when it comes to conjunctions. However, with enough studying and English conjunctions practice, you’ll find your speech and writing greatly enriched and much more fluent through using conjunctions.

EnglishClass101.com is here to help as you continue improving your English-language skills. We offer an array of insightful blog posts, free vocabulary lists, and an online community to discuss lessons with fellow English learners. You can also upgrade to Premium Plus to take advantage of our MyTeacher program and learn English with your own personal teacher. Plus, we offer a ton of support!

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Proper American Etiquette in the United States

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Studying etiquette and manners is important, especially if you plan on visiting another country (and even more so if want to live there).

Above all else, it shows that you respect the country and its people enough to learn about how they live life and that you’re willing to adjust your own lifestyle as necessary. Further, knowing cultural etiquette and manners will allow you to more effectively communicate with people from that country, whether or not you’re actually visiting there. You’ll also find that when in a different country, knowing the proper etiquette will help you feel more comfortable and adapted (or at least like you’re not sticking out like a sore thumb).

And I’m sure we can all agree that finding yourself caught in a cultural taboo is like the worst thing that could happen to you. Especially if it all came about because you just didn’t know.

That said, EnglishClass101.com hopes to guide you through some of the most common and important aspects of etiquette in the United States. While I can’t cover everything (you probably wouldn’t stick around for an article that long anyway!), you’re sure to find some useful nuggets of United States etiquette information here.

Let’s get started with our guide to American culture and etiquette!

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Table of Contents

  1. What is Etiquette?
  2. Speech Patterns to Discuss United States Customs and Etiquette
  3. Etiquette Rules in the United States
  4. Conclusion


1. What is Etiquette?

People Having Same Big Idea

Etiquette is essentially a set of rules that a society follows because they’re seen as proper, right, and polite. It’s one of the many ways that a country or culture showcases and puts into practice its values and ideals. The same is true of United States etiquette culture.

Proper etiquette rules are definitely not the same around the world, and moving to a new country without knowing these etiquette rules and manners can make it a lot more stressful. Learning the proper etiquette of the country you’re visiting will not only make your visit so much smoother, but it shows that you respect that culture enough to make life more seamless for its people, too.


2. Speech Patterns to Discuss United States Customs and Etiquette

Bad Phrases

Before we get into all the do’s and don’ts of United States etiquette, let’s take a look at the basic sentence structures we’ll use to describe them in this article:

  • You should ___
    • Used to indicate something that you must do, or something that’s good to do.
  • You should not ___
    • Used to indicate something that you must NOT do, or something that’s rude to do.
  • Do ___
    • Used to indicate something that you must do, or something that’s good to do.
  • Do not ___
    • Used to indicate something that you must NOT do, or something that’s rude to do.

For instance, you may read in this article: “You should keep your mouth closed when chewing,” which means this is a good thing to do. Or you may read: “You should not talk on the phone at the table,” which means it would be rude to do this.

These are phrases you may hear in daily life as well (along with variations of them). For a country so open-minded, people sure do love to tell others what to do or not to do.

This out of the way, let’s move on to the actual etiquette rules and practices you’ll need to know before coming to the United States.


3. Etiquette Rules in the United States

Overall, the United States is pretty laid-back about minor etiquette rules. Further, the etiquette that’s expected of you has a lot to do with where in the United States you happen to be. It would be virtually impossible to come up with a master list of every single etiquette rule you may encounter, so we’ll only be covering United States social etiquette for situations you’re likely to find yourself in and which are pretty standard across the country. Let’s get started.

Lovely Dining Room

1- United States Dining Etiquette: Do’s and Don’ts for Dining

Are you really on vacation if you’re not eating out (or enjoying fabulous meals at a friend’s house)? Here, we’ll go over some basic dining and table etiquette that’s applicable whether in a restaurant, at a fast-food joint, or at someone’s house.

1. Ordering (at a Restaurant)

Do: You should be polite to your server. This includes offering them a simple greeting, such as “hi” or “hello.” Also keep in mind that your server may try to make light conversation by asking how your day is, or if you’re doing anything fun that day. You can simply reply with “good” or a short answer to the latter question.

Don’t: Depending on who you’re with, you shouldn’t order the most expensive thing on the menu. This can either indicate carelessness (if the other person or even a company is paying) or can be seen as snobbish (like you’re flaunting your money, especially around friends who may not make as much as you).

2. Eating (Anywhere)

Hygiene

Do: You should chew with your mouth closed, and attempt to chew quietly. This is considered polite and the best practice no matter where you’re eating. Keep in mind that sometimes you may find yourself dining with people who don’t follow this rule—in this case, how you chew is up to you.

Don’t: You shouldn’t talk on (or otherwise use) your cell phone at the table. This applies to both dining out, and dining in. It’s considered rude, as it makes you appear uninterested in the people you’re dining with. Further, it can be a distraction from the dining experience and can be very annoying. Unless it’s an emergency, do your best to keep your phone put away and out of sight.

3. Paying (at a Restaurant) & United States Tipping Etiquette

Do: You should leave your server a tip. In the United States, it’s considered very good practice to tip your waiter, especially considering that tips make up a good part of their earnings. This may even be considered a social etiquette, as opposed to only a dining etiquette. Tipping etiquette varies based on the type of restaurant you’re dining in, and on your own ability to tip. There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to tipping, so just leave your waiter or waitress an amount you feel comfortable with based on their service.

Don’t: You shouldn’t assume the person you’re with is paying for your meal. To be fair, dining out with someone can be ambiguous when it comes to the check. But unless the person (or company) you’re dining with has explicitly told you that they’re paying, be prepared to pay for your own meal.

2- Do’s and Don’ts for Sightseeing

The United States has so many beautiful places to visit, see, and explore. Whether you have plans for sightseeing or are invited to join someone on their own trip, there are a few etiquette rules you should be familiar with.

Thanks

1. Sightseeing

Do: You should pay when it’s expected of you. Many sightseeing areas in the United States require that you pay a certain amount to enter. This is especially true of national parks, museums, and even smaller-scale parks and trails. If there’s no one actively working to receive your payment, you may be tempted to just not pay. But this is poor practice; not only is it rude, but you may also have your car towed and be expected to pay a fine if you’re caught (which will cost way more than the entrance fee!). Paying the fee is definitely the best way to go.

Don’t: You shouldn’t wander off anyplace that’s labeled as off-limits or disobey posted signs/warnings. Often, places you’re not allowed to wander to will be indicated with a sign saying “Prohibited.” You will get in trouble (possibly with the law) if you don’t heed these signs; this is called “trespassing,” and is something Americans despise. Other common signs you should watch out for are: “No walking on grass,” “Keep off ___,” “Don’t touch ___,” and “Don’t feed ___.”

2. Walking on Sidewalks/Streets

Do: You should always walk on the right-hand side of a sidewalk whenever possible. This allows for proper flow of foot traffic (people walking), and keeps people from running into each other when walking opposite directions.

You should also use crosswalks. We’ll get into this below in the “don’t” section.

Don’t: You shouldn’t “jaywalk.” Jaywalking is when you cross any road/street without using a crosswalk, where there’s one designated. Not only is this dangerous, but it’s illegal in many places. Be sure to watch for a crosswalk and use it anytime you need to cross a street.

3. Visiting a Church or Another Holy Place

Do: You should typically do whatever the rest of the congregation is doing if you’re invited to a church service (or an event at another holy place). The most important thing is to be respectful and courteous to those around you, which often (though not always) includes remaining quiet while a sermon or lesson is being given.

Don’t: Interrupt during a lesson or sermon. While people around you in the congregation may give short interjections in correspondence to what’s being said, it’s usually best to remain quiet and attentive during a sermon or lesson.

3- United States Meeting Etiquette: Do’s and Don’ts for Greetings

Men on Golf Course Shaking Hands

Don’t: You shouldn’t hug or kiss someone the first time you meet them. While this is commonplace in many countries, people in the United States tend to shrug away from physical contact on first meeting. It’s usually best to offer a handshake instead, if it seems appropriate. Also be sure not to crowd in too close when meeting someone—most Americans really want their space. In short, keep hugging, kissing, and closeness for good friends or family members.

Do: That said, you should smile and give your name. Many Americans are drawn to people with a cheery disposition, and of course they would like to know your name. This is considered a pretty standard form of greeting, with or without a handshake, depending on the situation.

Don’t: If you end up chatting with someone you’ve just met, you shouldn’t bring up personal details unless the other person brings up the topic. Many Americans get uncomfortable when people start giving them details about their lives. Further, it’s sometimes considered rude or unbecoming to ask details about their life, especially if it’s your first time meeting. Keep the conversations simple and light until the other person is ready to “break the ice,” and begin talking about personal details.

Do: In many cases, you should ask for their phone number or social media. If you’ve decided that the person you’ve met is a “keeper,” and someone you want to keep talking with in the future, go ahead and ask for this information. More likely than not, they’ll be glad to give you their number or social media. This is especially true for business environments, where it’s a good idea to have your colleagues’ contact info anyway.

4- Do’s and Don’ts for Visiting a House

Don’t: You shouldn’t stop by someone’s house uninvited. Most Americans (especially younger Americans) aren’t very keen on the idea of entertaining guests in their home, let alone someone who stops by unexpectedly. Americans also find it somewhat disrespectful to stop by without an invitation and much prefer to be notified in advance if you plan on visiting.

Do: When you’ve been invited to someone’s house, it’s usually good practice to stay with that person while you’re on their property. While there are exceptions (for instance, if you’re in a large group of people, you’re probably not expected to stay right with the person who invited you), Americans don’t really like their guests wandering around their home or property.

However, note that the rules here may change as your relationship with this person changes. The longer you know each other and the stronger your friendship/relationship grows, the more trust that person will have toward you. Once you’ve known each other a long time, they’ll probably be a lot more comfortable having you leave their side for a few minutes.

Don’t: You definitely shouldn’t “snoop” around someone’s home. As tempting as it is to read through their diary, go through all their photo albums, and check out that room they told you to never go in while they’re off to the bathroom for a few minutes, don’t do it. As a rule of thumb, if you’re not sure how they would feel about you touching or looking at something, just don’t do it.

Do: That said, you should always be mindful of that person’s belongings. Don’t touch what doesn’t belong to you, unless you have their explicit permission. If you accidentally break something or otherwise damage their property, be honest with them about it and offer to make up for the damage. Follow all of their house rules, and respect their wishes while you’re in their home.

5- Do’s and Don’ts for Public Transportation

1. When Riding a Bus

When riding a bus in the United States, there are quite a few etiquette rules you should be aware of and follow to the best of your ability. Here, we’ll start with the do’s and end with the don’ts.

Do: You should always pay as required by the bus. This may seem obvious, but it’s important to mention. Some buses will have you pay as you enter, and some also offer “passes” which you pay for once and get a certain number of rides from it. Paying for your seat on the bus is the number-one most important rule here.

Do: Once you’ve paid, you should find an available seat as quickly as possible. The faster you find a seat, the faster the people behind you can find their seat, and the less intrusive you’ll be to the people already seated. No dilly-dallying!

Do: You should be most courteous to elderly or disabled people and pregnant women. This means giving up your seat for them if there’s no room for them to sit, and also allowing them to exit the bus ahead of you.

Don’t: You shouldn’t ask someone to give up their seat for you. If all the seats are taken already, just stand and hold onto the poles to keep your footing. Note that there are exceptions to this rule; for instance, if you’re traveling with somebody and need to sit together, you can ask someone if they would mind moving over a seat so you can sit together. But as a general rule of thumb, you should let sitting people sit.

Don’t: You shouldn’t be too noisy while riding the bus. While “too noisy” will vary based on where you are in the United States, what bus line you’re riding with, and even the time of day, there are some general “rules” to keep in mind:

  • Try to blend in with the amount of noise already on the bus.
  • Don’t talk on the phone (unless other people are already talking).
  • Don’t listen to loud music.

2. When Riding a Taxi

Most of the rules for riding a taxi are the same as those for riding the bus. However, there are a couple of unique English etiquette rules to keep in mind.

Do: You should greet your driver. A simple smile and “hello” before telling your taxi driver where you’re going will go a long way.

Don’t: As a general rule of thumb, you shouldn’t sit in the front seat with your taxi (or Uber or Lyft) driver. There’s no actual rule against doing this, and you won’t get in trouble, but it will make most drivers feel a little uncomfortable or awkward. It’s typically best to sit in the back seat.

3. When Riding on an Airplane

Seats on Airplane

Do: You should board the plane when you’re supposed to (and only when you’re supposed to!).This refers both to the boarding time, and the group you’re supposed to board with. Be courteous to others—and keep from missing your flight—by being ready to board before boarding time. Also check your plane ticket to see which group you’re supposed to board with, and wait for that group to be announced before boarding.

Do: As mentioned before, Americans like to have their space. And most airplanes don’t have a lot of that. So, you should try and keep mostly to yourself while flying. There’s nothing wrong with a smile and a “hello,” with the person next to you, but be mindful not to invade their privacy. If they seem interested in having a chat, that’s awesome! Just be sure to keep your voice relatively quiet and follow their lead in the conversation.

Don’t: You shouldn’t sit anywhere on the plane except your assigned seat (which is usually printed on your ticket). Even if the plane is mostly empty, stay in your assigned seat. This is considered good practice, and makes life easier for the airplane staff and other passengers.

Don’t: You shouldn’t get up from your seat often. This is especially true if you happen to be sitting in the “window seat,” requiring the person in the “aisle” seat to get up so you can. Unless you really need to use the bathroom or have another important reason for getting up, stay in your seat and make everyone’s life easier!

6- United States Etiquette: Business Do’s and Don’ts

Business

Visiting the United States on business? Here’s some basic United States business meeting etiquette, and etiquette rules for the office. Maintaining United States professional etiquette is always a plus.

Do: You should greet your colleagues with a handshake. A handshake is considered one of the most professional greetings, and accompanied by a polite “hello” or “Nice to meet you,” it will help you make a good first impression.

Don’t: You shouldn’t hug or otherwise touch your colleagues beyond a handshake. There are exceptions to this rule, but very few. Keeping it professional with a handshake is the safest route when it comes to greeting colleagues, especially for the first time.

Do: You should take notes during a business meeting, if it’s expected of you or you feel the need to. In most cases, this shows that you’re paying attention and are truly invested in the happenings of the meeting. (However, if you’re not supposed to be taking notes for whatever reason, don’t.)

Don’t: You shouldn’t do anything that would make you appear distracted. This includes “zoning out” and fidgeting. Do your best to stay focused on the discussion at hand and stay alert.

Do: You should negotiate and give your opinions, if you’re in a position to do so. This shows your involvement in a discussion, and can also be a great way to showcase your knowledge or expertise.

Don’t: While it’s good to give your opinions, you shouldn’t interrupt or over-exert yourself. Obviously, as with most etiquette rules, there are exceptions (in the United States, a common notion is that sometimes you just have to interrupt to be heard, and that’s okay). That said, too much interruption, or interrupting at the wrong time, can get you into trouble or keep people from taking you seriously. Further, you should keep it polite; don’t use profanity or talk down to people.

7- Do’s and Don’ts for Celebrations

Americans love celebrating, and there are a few events you’re likely to be invited to while in the United States. Here are some basic etiquette rules to keep in mind.

1. Wedding Etiquette

Bride and Groom in Field

Do: You should dress nicely when attending someone’s wedding. For a female, this usually means a nice dress and shoes (at the minimum). For a male, this usually means a nice tux, shoes, and tie. Both males and females should do their best to appear well-groomed as well. However, don’t dress more nicely than the bride or groom.

Do: What else should you do at a wedding? Enjoy yourself! Most weddings are designed with guests’ enjoyment in mind, so showing that you’re having a good time will make a wonderful day even better for the bride and groom.

Don’t: While you should enjoy yourself, you definitely shouldn’t be disruptive in any way. Avoid drinking too much, getting into any kind of fight or argument, talking on the phone, or otherwise making the hosts or guests miserable.

2. Funeral Etiquette

Do: You should wear black (or gray) to funerals, unless told otherwise. Black is considered a color of mourning. By wearing black to a funeral, you’re both showing your own sorrow for the loss and expressing empathy for the people closest to the one who passed.

Do: You should remain somber during a funeral. While you don’t necessarily need to appear “sad” the whole time, especially if you didn’t know the person very well, it’s still important to show respect for the one who passed and those close to them by remaining somber.

Do: You should offer the family and friends of the deceased condolences if you have the opportunity to do so. You can say something along the lines of, “I’m sorry for your loss,” and your words will be much appreciated and taken to heart.

Don’t: You shouldn’t smile, laugh, or crack jokes when at a funeral. The last two in particular are considered very offensive and disrespectful (while smiling can be acceptable, for instance, if reflecting upon good memories of this person).

Don’t: This may seem very obvious, but we’ll say it anyway. When you’re at a funeral, you shouldn’t say anything bad or negative about the deceased person (or their family/friends). A funeral is a time of mourning loss and focusing on the good of the deceased person (as well as their legacy).

3. Housewarming Parties (or Other House Invitations)

Do: If you’re invited to a housewarming party (or baby shower/bachelor[ette] party/etc.), you should RSVP. This simply means to respond to the initial invitation by telling the person who invited you whether or not you’ll be coming. This is important as it allows for them to prepare for the appropriate number of people.

Do: Depending on the event and what the person who invited you is like, you should bring some sort of gift. If you’re not sure if a gift is required of you, you can ask the person who invited you, read through your invitation for more information, or ask someone else who’s attending. Usually, the gift doesn’t need to be something lavish or expensive; for a housewarming party, you may offer the person who invited you something to help them settle in better. For a baby shower, diapers, baby clothes, and other products the parents will need to care for their child are much appreciated. And, if in doubt, a gift card is the way to go.

Don’t: You shouldn’t linger too long at events like these. Usually, they can go on for a few hours and you won’t be rushed to leave. But there are a few signals to watch for that indicate it’s time to go:

  • The host begins cleaning up.
  • Other people begin to leave and the crowd dwindles.
  • The host says that the event is over, or thanks everyone for attending.

Enjoy yourself and celebrate the host’s next step in life, but don’t overstay your welcome.

8- Do’s and Don’ts for Email and the Internet

Email etiquette in the United States is a vital topic to cover, considering how deeply ingrained email communication has become in the U.S. workplace and in Americans’ personal lives. Here are some do’s and don’ts for email etiquette.

Person Writing Email

1. Email Etiquette

Do: When emailing, especially for business purposes, you should keep it formal and polite. Address the person or people you’re emailing by name, get straight to the point, and end the email with a good wish and your name. And keep the content respectful.

Don’t: You should never spread gossip, use diminutive language, or say anything in an email that you don’t want other people to see. This is bad email etiquette, and is sure to backfire at some point. Keep your emails polite, courteous, and professional.

2. Internet Comment Etiquette

Social media, social media. It can be used for good and for evil, and unfortunately most internet comments reflect the latter. To avoid bad internet comment etiquette, here are some do’s and don’ts to keep in mind.

Do: You should share your opinion on topics in a courteous manner. Always keep in mind that there’s more than one side to any story, and that no two people in the world think or feel completely the same way. And that’s fine.

Don’t: You shouldn’t (Read: Please don’t!) start fights or say anything hateful online. As a certain rabbit in a certain Disney film once said, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothin’ at all.”

9- Actual Laws and Other Taboos

Now we get to the fun stuff. The stuff, in this case, that you really shouldn’t do. In other words, our list of “definitely don’ts.”

1. Smoking

In general, smoking in the United States isn’t too heavily regulated. However, here are some things to keep in mind:

  • In most states in the U.S., you must be at least eighteen years old to smoke or purchase smoking products. You can get in a lot of trouble for smoking if you’re not at this legal age, and even more trouble for selling to someone under eighteen.
  • Many places in the United States have “smoke-free” or “no-smoking” areas. These are usually indicated by a sign of a cigarette in a red, crossed-out circle. Don’t smoke when you see a sign like this.
  • What you smoke is very important. While cigarettes, tobacco, vapes, and (in only a few states) marijuana are usually acceptable, there are some things that are illegal to smoke in the United States.

It’s a good idea to brush up on more specific smoking laws before coming to the United States, as this will make your stay a lot easier.

2. Drinking

Drinking is a common past-time of many people in the United States. But keep in mind that the legal drinking age in the United States is twenty-one. It’s illegal to drink alcohol if you’re under this age, and illegal to sell it to someone under this age. You can also get in trouble for buying alcohol for someone under twenty-one.

Making a Toast with Champagne Glasses

3. Parking

Parking your vehicle in the United States is a pretty big deal, especially when it’s done illegally. Some of the most important things to remember are:

  • Don’t park in a handicap space, unless you are considered handicapped and have a sign or license plate to prove it. (Handicap spots are marked by a handicap sign and a painting on the pavement of a person in a wheelchair.)
  • Don’t park in front of fire hydrants, red curbs, or loading zones.
  • Don’t park in a space for longer than the allotted amount of time, if there’s a sign telling you how long you can park there.
  • Follow assigned parking rules, if there are any.
  • Pay to park when needed. This can be at a parking meter (those pesky things!), or an actual person (usually at national parks or other significant landmarks).
  • Don’t park too close to another vehicle—be sure to give them plenty of room to open their car doors, back out, etc.

There are other parking etiquette rules to consider, but knowing these should be enough to keep you out of parking trouble. Failure to follow some of these rules can result in a fine (or, worst-case scenario, your vehicle being towed!).

4. Marriage and Other Romantic Relationships

Laws about marriage and other romantic relationships in the United States are very strict, especially when it comes to the age factor. Specific laws vary by state.

When it comes to any kind of sexual relationship or behavior, each state has a set age of consent. In most states, this is age sixteen, seventeen, or eighteen. Engaging in sexual behavior with someone under the age of consent is illegal.


4. Conclusion

Do you feel like you have a better idea of proper etiquette in the United States now and can avoid bad manners? We know that etiquette rules can be some of the hardest to grasp, as they’re deeply rooted in culture and can vary widely from one place to another. But that also makes them so important.

Does your own country have similar etiquette and manners? Or is proper etiquette there totally different? Let us know!

If you want to learn more about United States culture and the English language, visit us at EnglishClass101.com. We offer an array of insightful blog posts like this one, free vocabulary lists, and an online community to discuss lessons with fellow English learners. You can also upgrade to Premium Plus in order to use our MyTeacher program and learn with your own personal English teacher.

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Reading the U.S. Calendar: Dates in English

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Are you wondering, “How can I say dates in English?” or “How can I write dates in English?”

It’s important to know how to read dates in U.S. English and how to use the U.S. calendar, particularly if you plan on relocating to the U.S. Knowing this will allow you to know what day it is, plan things more effectively, and even allow you to better understand how people in the U.S. views dates and time.

Furthermore, knowing how to read dates in U.S. English is important if you’re working with people from the U.S., whether or not you actually live there, because if you don’t know it can lead to misunderstandings and frustration.

Learn how to read the U.S. calendar and more with EnglishClass101.com! In this article, you’ll learn about writing dates in English correctly, see dates in English examples, and read examples of dates in English sentences for context! Let’s get started.

Table of Contents

  1. Dates in American English Format
  2. Dates in English: Years
  3. Dates in English: Months
  4. Dates in English: Days
  5. How to Say the Days of the Week in English
  6. Making Appointments
  7. Phrases for Talking about Dates
  8. Conclusion

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1. Dates in American English Format

The first thing you should know when it comes to U.S. calendar dates is how to read and write them. When it comes to dates in English, America expresses them differently than other English-speaking countries.

There are a few different ways to express dates in American English grammar, especially when speaking, but memorizing the most common way is a good starting point.

1- Typical

Most people in most situations will use the [month] [day], [year] format for both speaking and writing dates. Note that this is different from the way most countries give the date (which is [day] [month], [year]).

For example, if you’re in school and want to know the date of an important exam, you may see on the whiteboard “January [month] 28 [day], 2019 [year].”

Or maybe you ask your grandfather about an important date in his life. He may say that on March 5, 1975, he bought his current home.

2- Variations

While the above date format is pretty standard across the United States, you will, of course, encounter variations of it. The variations you encounter will largely depend on where in the U.S. you happen to be, who you spend time with, and the general environments you find yourself in most often. Here are a few of the formats for dates in English writing and speech you’re likely to come across.

Date of January 18

  • [day] of [month], [year]

    This format is most commonly used when speaking. For instance, if a friend asks you when your birthday is you could reply with, “I was born on the 28th [day] of April [month], 1998 [year].”

  • [day of the week] the [day] of [month]” or “[day of the week], [month] [day]

    Again, this is most commonly used when speaking and can seem a bit long-winded. I suppose this one is best used when you want to make absolutely certain that the date you’re talking about is clear.

    For example, let’s say you need someone to babysit your kids about a month from today because you have an important event coming up that you can’t miss. You can ask your babysitter (and then confirm afterward) if they’re available to babysit on Thursday [day of the week] the 14th [day] of March [month]. (Good news: They are!)

    Very similar to the format in the above example, another way of saying this could be Thursday [day of the week], March [month] 14th [day]. It means the exact same thing.

  • [day of the week] the [day] of [month], [year]” or “[day of the week] [month] [day], [year]

    These two formats are exactly the same as the ones above, except they include the year at the end.

    You would use this, for instance, if you’ve had four babysitters all bail on you within a couple of weeks. The next babysitter you call on, you’re desperate enough to include the year. You can’t miss this event. You have to make sure the babysitter is clear on when they need to babysit and that they really can do it.

    So you ask if they’re available to babysit on Thursday [day of the week] the 14th [day] of March [month], 2019 [year]. And then you ask three more times to make sure. ;)

    Basically, this is a very long-winded way of giving a date, but it does make sense to use if you need to be very clear about a date.

  • [month] [day]” or “[day] of [month]

    These formats, on the other hand, are more laid-back and simple. Furthermore, they’re commonly used when referring to holiday dates or similar events.

    For example, you ask your friend when their birthday is. They reply, “February [month] 14th [day].”

    Then you say, “Wow, isn’t Valentine’s Day also on the 14th [day] of February [month]?!”

3- Writing Dates in English

When writing dates in English, you almost always use the first format we showed you. However, there are a couple of different ways you can choose to write it:

  • [month name] [day], [full year]
  • [month number]/[day]/[full year]
  • [month number]/[day]/[last two digits of year]

I’ll use today’s date as an example for each of these options:

  • February 8, 2019
  • 2/08/2019
  • 2/08/19

All of these are equally acceptable to use. (Note that for the day [8], I put a 0 in front. This is optional, and is just a way to indicate that it’s simply “8″ and not “18″ or “28.” )


2. Dates in English: Years

Years Approaching

Now that you better understand the basic formats you’ll likely see and hear while in the United States, we can go more into detail about how these dates are pronounced.

1- Rules

Years Before 2000:
Say the first pair of numbers separately, usually a “teen” number, followed by the number formed by the second pair of numbers.
(1428 = fourteen twenty-eight, 1957 = nineteen fifty-seven, 1066 = Ten Sixty-six.)

Note: There are some people who include the word “and” between the teen number and second pair of numbers. In the above examples, this would look like: 1428 = fourteen and twenty-eight; 1957 = nineteen and fifty-seven. However, this format isn’t common and is considered an inaccurate way of phrasing the year.

Years After 2000:
Up to 2009: Say it as “Two-thousand number” or “Two-thousand and number.”
(2004 = two-thousand four or two-thousand and four.)

2010 and above: Say it as “Two-thousand number” or “Two-thousand and number” or “Twenty-number.” While you may hear it in any of these formats, keep in mind that the most commonly used format is the second one: Two-thousand and ___.
(2015 = two-thousand fifteen or two-thousand and fifteen or twenty-fifteen.)

2- Saying the Years Aloud

For your convenience, here are some more examples of how this works:

  • 1990 (nineteen-ninety)
  • 2008 (two-thousand-eight or two-thousand and eight)
  • 2019 (two-thousand-nineteen or two-thousand and nineteen or twenty-nineteen)

Now keep in mind that I haven’t shown you all of these different formats to confuse you. It’s just important that you’re aware of them, mainly to avoid confusion in case you hear a less-used date format or one you’re not too familiar with. However, memorizing all (or most) of them can certainly help you communicate more like a native speaker.

That said, work on memorizing the “typical” format we went over before you try memorizing the others.

3- Additional Information

In the United States, there are a few terms we use to describe the passing of time relating to years. These include: year, decade, century, millennium.

A “year” is twelve months, a “decade” is ten years, a “century” is 100 years, and a “millennium” is 1000 years.


3. Dates in English: Months

Months

Now that the years are out of the way, with all their seemingly endless format options, we can move on to the simpler topics, like how to say the months in English. Some of these can be tricky to learn how to spell and pronounce, but once you have them down they’re actually pretty simple. That said, here are the month names in English as well as abbreviations for the months in English and additional info.

  • “January”
    • This is the first month of the year.
    • Pronunciation: Jan-u-ary
    • Popular holiday: New Year’s
    • Abbreviation: Jan.
  • “February”
    • This is the second month of the year, and is known as being the shortest (with only 28 days, or 29 if it’s a leap year, which is every four years).
    • Pronunciation: Feb-u-ary (This one can be tricky because it’s spelled differently than it’s actually pronounced.)
    • Popular holiday: Valentine’s Day
    • Abbreviation: Feb.
  • “March”
    • This is the third month of the year.
    • Pronunciation: Pronounced exactly as the word “march.”
    • Popular holiday: St. Patrick’s Day
    • Abbreviation: Mar.
  • “April”
    • This is the fourth month of the year.
    • Pronunciation: Ape-rel
    • Popular holiday: Easter
    • Abbreviation: Apr.
  • “May”
    • This is the fifth month of the year.
    • Pronunciation: Pronounced exactly as the word “may.”
    • Popular holiday: Mother’s Day
    • Abbreviation: None (just “May” )
  • “June”
    • This is the sixth month of the year.
    • Pronunciation: J-oon (Imagine saying the word “soon” but with a J at the beginning.)
    • Popular holiday: Father’s Day
    • Abbreviation: Jun.
  • “July”
    • This is the seventh month of the year.
    • Pronunciation: Ju-lie (Simply make the J sound, and then say the word “lie” immediately after.)
    • Popular holiday: Independence Day
    • Abbreviation: Jul.
  • “August”
    • This is the eighth month of the year.
    • Pronunciation: O-gest (Make the short “o” sound, followed by the pronunciation of “gest” with a short G sound.)
    • Popular holiday: Umm… school starting? : )
    • Abbreviation: Aug.
  • “September”
    • This is the ninth month of the year.
    • Pronunciation: Sept-tem-bur (In this word, the “t” is pronounced as though there were two of them, though there’s only one in the spelling.)
    • Popular holiday: Labor Day
    • Abbreviation: Sept.
  • “October”
    • This is the tenth month of the year.
    • Pronunciation: Okt-o-bur
    • Popular holiday: Halloween
    • Abbreviation: Oct.
  • “November”
    • This is the eleventh month of the year.
    • Pronunciation: No-vem-bur
    • Popular holiday: Thanksgiving
    • Abbreviation: Nov.
  • “December”
    • This is the twelfth, and final, month of the year.
    • Pronunciation: Dee-sem-bur
    • Popular holiday: Christmas
    • Abbreviation: Dec.


4. Dates in English: Days

Numbers

In the U.S. calendar, each month can have anywhere from 28 to 31 days, but never more or less. Here’s a rundown of the ordinal numbers in the U.S. calendar, along with the spoken pronunciation. (Keep in mind that we also have a separate article on English numbers, in case you need to brush up on this, as well as a Numbers vocabulary list.)

  • 1st (first)
  • 2nd (second)
  • 3rd (third)
  • 4th (fourth)
  • 5th (fifth)
  • 6th (sixth)
  • 7th (seventh)
  • 8th (eighth)
  • 9th (ninth)
  • 10th (tenth)
  • 11th (eleventh)
  • 12th (twelfth)
  • 13th (thirteenth)
  • 14th (fourteenth)
  • 15th (fifteenth)
  • 16th (sixteenth)
  • 17th (seventeenth)
  • 18th (eighteenth)
  • 19th (nineteenth)
  • 20th (twentieth)
  • 21st (twenty-first)
  • 22nd (twenty-second)
  • 23rd (twenty-third)
  • 24th (twenty-fourth)
  • 25th (twenty-fifth)
  • 26th (twenty-sixth)
  • 27th (twenty-seventh)
  • 28th (twenty-eighth)
  • 29th (twenty-ninth)
  • 30th (thirtieth)
  • 31st (thirty-first)

Keep in mind that oftentimes, people omit the st, nd, and th when actually writing these numbers down, but the sounds remain. (For example: “1st” is simply written “1″ but still pronounced first and “29th” is simply written “29″ but still pronounced twenty-ninth.) In short, the dropped letters at the end have no effect on how the number is pronounced out loud.


5. How to Say the Days of the Week in English

Weekdays

There are seven days in the week, and each one has its own name. Further, the week is divided into “weekdays” which are the days that people normally have work or school, and “weekend days” which are days that people normally take off to relax.

Let’s go over how to say the days of the week in English:

Weekdays:

  • Monday (Mun-day)
  • Tuesday (Tooz-day)
  • Wednesday (Whens-day)
  • Thursday (Therz-day)
  • Friday (Fry-day)

Weekend Days:

  • Saturday (Sat-er-day)
  • Sunday (Sun-day)


6. Making Appointments

Making Appointments on U.S. Calendar

Now you have a basic working knowledge of how to read and say U.S. calendar dates. With this information, you can begin to effectively set up appointments. Here are a few phrases you can use (or that you may hear) when setting up appointments or other dates:

  • “How does ___ [date or day of week] sound?”

    In the blank above is the date you’re talking about. Use this phrase to ask someone if a certain date works for them.

    For example:

    You: Would you like to go get sushi together sometime?
    Friend: Sure! When?
    You: How does next Saturday sound?
    Friend: Sorry, I’m busy that day.

  • “Are you available on ___ [date]?”

    This is very similar to the above phrase, though it’s a more specific question requiring a yes or no answer. A conversation using the second phrase could look like:

    Friend: Do you want to see a movie tonight?
    You: I’m sorry, I already have plans…
    Friend: How about another time?
    You: Well, are you available on February 17?
    Friend: Yes! What movie do you want to see?

  • “What day works best for you?” or “When are you available?”

    These two phrases are both more open-ended questions, allowing the person you’re talking with to suggest a date themselves. This can be considered polite on your end, and suggests that you have a fairly flexible schedule.

    A conversation using one of these phrases could look like:

    Friend (over the phone): Hey, I’ll be in town next weekend. Do you want to hang out?
    You: That’s great! Sure. What day works best for you?
    Friend: How about Sunday?

  • “Let’s set the appointment for ___ [date].”

    This phrase is more commonly used when making important appointments, such as a check-up with your doctor or a dentist appointment.

    A conversation using this phrase could look like:

    Dentist: Shall we set up an appointment in six months?
    You: Yes.
    Dentist: Okay, let’s set the appointment for August 12.

  • “So, ___ [date or day of the week]? “

    This is a fairly informal phrase, but it can be used in a variety of situations. Essentially, this phrase is used in order to confirm a set appointment or date.

    Here’s an example conversation using this phrase:

    Friend: Let’s get ice cream sometime!
    You: Okay… next Saturday?
    Friend: Hmm… I have plans that day. How about Sunday?
    You: That should work.
    Friend: So Sunday it is then?


7. Phrases for Talking about Dates

We’ve gone over setting up dates and appointments, so now let’s move on to other phrases for talking about dates. Most of these involve holidays or other special occasions. Let’s take a look:

  • “When is ___ (birthday, holiday, special occasion)?”

    This is a fairly simple question, used to ask when a specific occasion is. For example, you may ask your friend, “When is your birthday?” and they’ll answer with their birthdate. Or, you could ask your coworker, “When is Labor Day?” and if they know, they’ll give you the date of Labor Day for that year.

Two Old Ladies Celebrating Birthday

  • “What day is it?” or “What’s today’s date?”

    These are a couple more simple questions. Both are asking what the current day is. The first question is more open-ended and not very specific; if you ask someone “What day is it?” they could answer with just about anything from a day of the week, to the actual date including the year.

    The second question, however, is more specific and is asking for the actual date. If you ask someone, “What’s today’s date?” they could answer, “December 12, 2019,” or whatever the date is.

  • “When does your school start?”

    This is a specific question, asking when someone’s school starts back up. In the United States, this is usually around the month of August, give or take. So, if you ask someone, “When does your school start?” they may answer, “It starts back up on August 5.”

  • “Is there anything going on ___?”

    This question is asking if there are any happenings on a specific date (or day of the week, depending on the situation).

    Thus, there are two basic variations of this phrase you could use:

    1. “Is there anything going on February 15?”
    2. “Is there anything going on Thursday?”
  • “Is there work/school/etc. on ___?”

    This is a slightly more specific question than the one above. It’s asking whether a certain event is taking place on a date or day of the week.

    Here are a couple of examples:

    1. “Is there work on Monday?”
    2. “Is there school on August 1?”
  • “What’s the date for the meeting?”

    This phrase may come in handy for you if you plan on working in the United States. It’s asking about the date of an upcoming meeting.

    An example conversation could be as follows:

    You: What’s the date for the meeting?
    Coworker: I think it’s on March 1.


8. Conclusion

In this article, we went over days and months in English, days of the month in English, dates using English grammar, writing dates in English, and even days of the week in English. Phew!

Now you know how to say dates on the U.S. calendar, as well as how to use this information in real life. This was a lot of information to go over and I know that some of it can be tricky to grasp at first. But your hard work, study, and practice will pay off in the long run!

Continue studying with EnglishClass101.com to gain useful information and learn English while staying entertained. We offer an array of insightful blog posts, free vocabulary lists, and an online community to discuss lessons with fellow English learners. Further, if you prefer a one-on-one learning experience, check out our MyTeacher program and get your very own personal English teacher!

Until next time, we hope you’ll take some time to practice saying dates from the U.S. calendar. This is a skill you’ll be oh-so glad to have once you master it! Good luck! :)
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Celebrating New Year’s Eve in the United States

New Year’s Eve in the United States is a day of great celebration in anticipation of the coming year. Spirits are high, and there’s a sense of warmth and excitement just about everywhere!

In this article, you’ll learn all about New Year’s Eve celebrations in the United States—what happens during the countdown to midnight, New Year’s Eve traditional meals, the Times Square Ball Drop, and much more!

At EnglishClass101.com, we aim to make every aspect of your language-learning journey both fun and informative, starting with this article!

Are you ready? Let’s get started.

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1. What is New Year’s Eve?

New Year’s Eve, as you guessed already, is the evening before New Year’s Day. Arguably, people actually celebrate far more on New Year’s Eve than they do on New Year’s Day!

The beginning of a new year is significant for many people. The New Year is often associated with new opportunities, better chances to succeed, and a perfect time to start bettering oneself.

2. When is New Year’s Eve?

Countdown to the New Year

The United States celebrates the new year on the Gregorian calendar. New Year’s Eve is on December 31 each year, and celebrations begin that evening as people wait for January 1.

3. New Year’s Eve Traditions in America

Making a Toast

As New Year’s Eve isn’t an official holiday, many people do have to work on this day. But rest assured, once they get off work, the celebrations begin!

New Year’s Eve customs and traditions do vary slightly by region, but here’s a breakdown of what you can expect across the country.

1- New Year’s Eve Parties

This often takes the form of New Year’s Eve parties, where family, friends, or even coworkers, get together and prepare for the New Year. There’s music, talking, and lots of drinking until midnight or later. Sometimes, a toast (or several) is made during the final few minutes before midnight—and once midnight strikes, there’s more drinking and people throwing confetti to celebrate!

2- Holiday Foods

For those who prefer a quieter night by themselves or with family, New Year’s Eve traditions at home often include preparing a nice, comforting dinner at home. Some people enjoy traditional winter holiday foods on New Year’s Eve: Turkey or ham, mashed potatoes, yams, and almost always some kind of sweet dessert. Growing up, I remember sometimes having a simple beef stew or chili for New Year’s Eve dinner.

Preferred holiday foods do vary by region, though. Depending on where you are in the U.S., you may be surprised at the foods you find on the table!

3- Fireworks & Parades

Many people enjoy watching fireworks at midnight. Firework displays vary in complexity and length based on the state, city, or town you’re in. Those who live in rural areas sometimes choose to drive an hour or more to bigger cities with more spectacular firework displays.

Obviously, the combination of long drives and many people drinking is hazardous, and much caution should be taken. Ad campaigns warn about the dangers of drunk driving, and some organizations offer free cab rides home to fight against drunk driving.

Parades are another popular New Year’s Eve celebration, with a variety of them taking place all around the U.S.

4- Dropping of the Ball

Perhaps the most well-known American New Year’s Eve tradition is the dropping of the ball. This takes place at midnight in New York City’s Times Square. Because this is a televised event, it allows people from different time zones all across the country to celebrate the New Year with a greater sense of unity—and from the comfort of their homes! A popular celebrity is always in attendance for the ball drop to get more people to show up or view from home.

Around the country, some states and cities have their own version of the ball drop. These reflect the various cultures throughout the United States and allow people to ring in the New Year close to home. For example, in Prescott, Arizona, instead of a ball dropping, it’s a cowboy boot!

4. New Year’s Resolutions

As mentioned earlier, many people associate the New Year with new chances to succeed and to better themselves. Thus, they often make a vow to themselves (or others) about changes they’re going to make in their lives or goals they’re going to achieve.

These are called “New Year’s Resolutions,” and some of the most common ones are:

  • Losing weight
  • Finding a better job or getting a raise
  • Stopping a bad habit like smoking
  • Becoming a better ___ (worker, spouse, friend)

Unfortunately, most people fail to live up to their New Year’s Resolutions—in fact, many people fail their Resolutions in only a few days!

For this reason, New Year’s Resolutions aren’t taken very seriously anymore, and are more of a sad cliche than anything.

5. Must-Know Vocabulary for New Year’s

Here’s some essential English vocabulary for New Year’s Eve celebrations!

  • Year
  • Midnight
  • New Year’s Day
  • Party
  • Champagne
  • Confetti
  • Firework
  • Dancing
  • Celebration
  • Toast
  • New Year’s Eve
  • Countdown
  • Resolution
  • New Year’s holiday
  • Parade

To hear each vocabulary word pronounced, and to read them alongside relevant images and in example sentences, be sure to check out our New Year’s vocabulary list!

Final Thoughts

Are New Year’s Eve events in the United States similar or different to those in your country? Tell us in the comments what some of your favorite New Year’s traditions are! We look forward to hearing from you. :)

If you would like to learn even more about United States culture, or maybe some vocabulary for the remaining wintery season, you may find the following pages useful:

Learning English doesn’t have to be boring or overwhelming—with EnglishClass101.com, it can even be fun! If you’re serious about mastering English, create your free lifetime account today.

Happy English learning, and a Happy New Year! :D

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English Language Family: “Son” in English and Much More!

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Studying how to describe family is important because family are the closest people to you, and in some ways they can even be considered an extension of yourself. It’s likely you’ll want to talk about your family at least a little while in the United States, and even more likely that you’ll be asked questions about your family as you start to make friends. By studying family descriptors in English, you’re preparing yourself for this.

So, let’s get started! Learn some important family vocabulary for American English family members with EnglishClass101.com!

Table of Contents

  1. Family in American English
  2. Family Member Terms and Basic Phrases to Use
  3. American English Immediate Family & American English Extended Family
  4. Family Terms for Married People
  5. Endearment Terms
  6. Common Family Proverbs
  7. Conclusion

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1. Family in American English

As with anywhere in the world, the concept of family in the United States has its own set of characteristics and expectations. So before we delve into the actual vocabulary for family, let’s go over a few unique facets of the American English family that may be helpful to know.

1- Is Family a Strong Institution in the United States?

On some level, family is a strong institution in the United States, though it seems to be decreasing in importance. While most people do love and care about their family members, it’s certainly common to like some of them more than others. Furthermore, as an individualistic country, it’s becoming more common to cut people who are “toxic” out of your life, making family bonds somewhat conditional.

That said, there are many who still consider family to be the most important thing, and the concept of family being there for each other no matter what is still common.

2- Does Age Difference Count?

This question is up for debate in the United States.

There are some people who believe age difference always matters, and those who are younger must always respect those who are older. For example, when it comes to parents and children, many traditional or conversative families strongly believe that children must respect their parents.

However, there’s also an increasingly common concept of age not mattering too much. While it’s thought by most people that young children should be under their parents’ or guardians’ control/protection, some also believe that children should have equal or near-equal respect as adults. Furthermore, it’s becoming more and more common for children to disrespect their elders (though this is usually frowned-upon).

Usually, when it comes to adults in the family, age isn’t considered too great a factor overall.

3- Other Factors to Consider

Friends are commonly referred to as being like family, and it’s common for people to refer to people as “father-figures” or “mother-figures” in a country where single-parenting is quite common. Also, people often think of their pets as members of the family.


2. Family Member Terms and Basic Phrases to Use

Family Words

Now that you have a better idea of how family in the United States is, let’s take a look at basic words to describe a family member’s relationship to you. As you learn about family, English vocabulary like that below is essential to have stored in your memory. Keep in mind that in the United States, anyone who’s related to you is called your “relative.”

Without further ado, here’s a list of basic English language family member terms you should know, including “son” in English. Later, we’ll go into more detail on family vocabulary in English; this just to give you an idea of how to say members of the family in English.

1- List of Family Member Names:

  • Mother
  • Father
  • Parents
  • Brother
  • Sister
  • Son
  • Daughter
  • Grandson
  • Granddaughter
  • Grandparents
  • Grandmother
  • Grandfather
  • Great-grandmother
  • Great-grandfather
  • Uncle
  • Aunt
  • Great-uncle
  • Great-aunt
  • Nephew
  • Niece

2- Phrases to Use

Chances are, you’ll find yourself wanting to talk about your family while you’re in the United States. (If not, you’ll probably need to talk about them a little bit anyway if people ask questions.) Here are a few basic phrases you can use to describe your family and your relationship with them. Hopefully this will also help you learn some family-related words in English!

  • “I have a [family member].” or “I have ___ [family members].”

    This phrase states the fact that you have a specific family member. For example, you could say: “I have a sister.”

    Or, if you have more than one sister, you could say: “I have three sisters.”

    Further, you can compound this sentence to say that you have two different types of family members. For example, you could say: “I have a sister and a brother.”

  • “My [family member] is ___ [adjective].”

    Use this phrase to describe directly how a certain family member is. This can be used in two basic contexts.

    The first is when someone asks you, “How’s your brother (or sister, or father, etc.) doing?” To this you could respond, “My brother is doing well.”

    The second context is when you’re simply describing these family members to someone. In this instance, you could say something like, “My mother is a perfectionist,” or “My uncle is funny.”

    This helps people get a better idea of the family you grew up with.

  • A Father, Son, and Uncle

  • “I love my [family member or family members].”

    Use this phrase to express affection or love for one or more of your family members. When talking to someone about your family, you may say something like, “I love my mother,” or “I love my siblings.”

    Further, you could generalize this sentence to simply say, “I love my family.”

  • “My [family member]’s name is ___.”

    Depending on who you’re talking with and how much you want to tell them about your family, you could also include what their names are.

    For example, you could say, “My great grandmother’s name is Maria,” or “My brother’s name is Tyler.”

    Of course, if you’re not comfortable sharing your family members’ names or simply don’t get the opportunity to, there’s no problem with that at all.

  • “My [family member] is ___ [age].”

    You can use this phrase to describe your family members’ ages. For example, if you’re talking about your cute little sister, you could say, “My little sister is seven. She’s so cute!”

  • “I’m the oldest/youngest/middle child of ___ kids/siblings.”

    This phrase is a little bit more complex. But let’s say that after talking about your little sister, the person you’re talking with wants to know how many siblings you have and whether they’re older or younger.

    You could incorporate the first phrase we went over with this new phrase to answer their question (with slight alterations), or simply use this newer phrase alone. Here’s an example conversation if you were to include the first phrase:

    You: “My little sister is seven. She’s so cute!”
    Friend: “Aw! How many siblings do you have? Are they all younger?”
    You: “I have two siblings. I’m the middle child.”

    Or, to simply use this phrase alone:

    You: “I’m the middle child of three kids.”

  • “My [family member] and I don’t get along very well.”

    Maybe there’s a family member you don’t quite get along with (we all have at least one!). If this happens to come up in a conversation, you could say something along the lines of, “My mother and I don’t get along very well,” and then maybe go into some more detail if you feel comfortable with the person you’re talking to.

  • “Do you want to meet my [family member] (or simply family)?”

    You probably shouldn’t use this phrase when meeting someone for the first time, as it can seem too forward (or even creepy) to invite someone to meet your family so soon. An invitation like this should wait until after a few meetings and until a closer relationship has been formed with this person.

    Once this has been established, there’s usually no problem inviting someone to meet your family. It can even be seen as a polite gesture and there’s a chance that you’ll one day get invited to meet their family too.

    Here’s an example conversation using this phrase:

    You: “My children are coming to visit this weekend. Do you want to meet my family?”
    Friend: “Sure. What time should I come over? I’ll bring something to eat.”

  • “I miss my [family member] (or simply family).”

    Homesickness: Some people are more prone to it than others, but we all miss one family member or another at some point. You can use this phrase to express this to someone.

    For example, maybe you’ve just been talking about your grandmother; her sweet nature, how excellent her cooking is, all the dice games you’d play… you’re about to tear up right now. You could say, “I miss my grandmother,” to express how you’re feeling.

  • “My [family member] is a ___ (job title)” or “My [family member] does ___ for a living.”

    If you want to be a little offbeat in your family conversation (or if it just happens to come up), you can talk about what a family member does for a living. Here are some family expressions in English using both of the options above.

    1. “My mother is an accountant.”
    2. “My son does carpentry for a living.”
    3. “My aunt is a teacher.”
    4. “My cousin does restaurant critiquing for a living.”

Woman Teaching English


3. American English Immediate Family & American English Extended Family

Near the beginning of this article, we went over various names for family members. Now, we’ll go into a little more detail about how each of these relatives are related to you. Consider this list of family members in English a sort of English word family dictionary.

1- Basic Terms

  • Mother Meaning: Your “mother” is your female parent.
  • Father Meaning: Your “father” is your male parent.
  • Grandfather Meaning: Your “grandfather” is your mother or father’s father.
  • Grandmother Meaning: Your “grandmother” is your mother or father’s mother.
  • Son Meaning: Your “son” is your male child.
  • Daughter Meaning: Your “daughter” is your female child.
  • Grandson Meaning: Your “grandson” is your son or daughter’s male child.
  • Granddaughter Meaning: Your “granddaughter” is your son or daughter’s female child.
  • Brother Meaning: Your “brother” is your male sibling.
  • Sister Meaning: Your “sister” is your female sibling.
  • Uncle Meaning: Your “uncle” is your mother or father’s brother.
  • Aunt Meaning: Your “aunt” is your mother or father’s sister.
  • Cousin Meaning: Your “cousin” is the child of an uncle or aunt.
  • Niece Meaning: Your “niece” is your brother or sister’s female child.
  • Nephew Meaning: Your “nephew” is your brother or sister’s male child.

2- Additional Notes

Parent Phrases

There’s a common phrase relating to family members that may be helpful for you to know: “On my father’s/mother’s side.”

In truth, it may be a rare occasion that you actually use this phrase, but it’s used frequently enough in the United States that it’s good to know.

This phrase simply indicates which “side” of your family a relative you’re talking about is on. For example, when you’re talking about a favorite aunt, the person you’re talking to may not know whether you mean your father’s or mother’s sister. But if you say, “My aunt on my mother’s side,” it becomes clear that you’re talking about your mother’s sister and not your father’s.


4. Family Terms for Married People

Wedding with Family

1- Basic Terms

When you get married, you gain not only your spouse but their whole family. Let’s go over some family terms for married people:

  • Wife: Your “wife” is your female spouse.
  • Husband: Your “husband” is your male spouse.
  • Daughter: Your “daughter” is your female child.
  • Son: Your “son” is your male child.

2- In-Laws

We mentioned that when you marry, you gain your spouse’s family. In the United States, there’s a special term we use for family members who are now yours through marriage to your spouse: “In-laws.”

Your spouse’s sister becomes your sister-in-law, their mother and father become your mother-in-law and father-in-law respectively, and so on.

3- Steps

Furthermore, in the United States it’s increasingly common for previously divorced individuals with children to marry. This is where “Steps” come in. “Steps” are family members who you’ve gained through a parent’s marriage rather than your own.

For example, let’s say your previously divorced mother gets remarried to a man who has a daughter. This man would now be your “stepfather,” and his daughter would be your “stepsister.” These are people who now are “related” to you through law after your mother remarried, but have no actual biological ties with you.


5. Endearment Terms

In the United States, they sometimes like to use “terms of endearment” for family members, especially those they are particularly fond of. While endearment terms can vary as much as people themselves, here are just a few of the most common for various family members (note that there are a lot of Grandmother synonyms!):

1- Basic

  • Father: Dad, Daddy, Pa, Pop
  • Mother: Mom, Mommy, Ma
  • Brother: Bro
  • Sister: Sis
  • Grandfather: Grandpa, Granddad, Gramps, G-pa
  • Grandmother: Grandma, Granny, Grams, Grammy, G-ma
  • Aunt: Aunty, Auntie
  • Uncle: Unc, Unk
  • Cousin: Cous, Cuz

2- Spouse, Significant Other, or Other Close Family Member

  • Dear
  • Darling
  • Sweetie
  • Sugar
  • Honey (or Hon)

Also, keep in mind that nicknames are a common form of endearment when referring to or talking with a family member. These nicknames can be just about anything.


6. Common Family Proverbs

Family Quotes

In the United States, and around the world, proverbs about family are abundant. Here are just a few of the most common ones used in the United States, along with their basic meaning.

1- “Like father, like son.”

This proverb is one of the most common, and means that a person’s child tends to be a lot like them. This may be especially true of fathers and sons, and mothers and daughters. Genetics combined with careful observation of parents’ actions and attitudes make for children who largely resemble their parents in life.

2- “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.”

This proverb is similar to the one above, with essentially the same meaning. In this case, consider that an apple is the fruit of a tree, just as a child is the “fruit” of its parents.

This saying indicates that the “fruit,” will eventually fall (or in the case of children, grow up and leave home), but will still always resemble the type of tree (or parents) that grew (or raised) it. This phrase can be used to highlight a positive or negative quality.

3- “Family isn’t always blood.”

This saying essentially means that people other than blood relatives can be considered family. This is especially true in the United States, where people often consider close friends to be a part of their family despite lacking blood ties.

4- “Blood is thicker than water.” or “Blood of the covenant is thicker than the water of the womb.”

These two phrases, technically speaking, have two different meanings. However, the second one is less used and the first one is really just a shortened version of it.

“Blood is thicker than water,” indicates that blood family (or direct relatives) always come before anyone else.

On the other hand, “Blood of the covenant is thicker than the water of the womb,” indicates the opposite. In this phrase, the “water of the womb,” represents immediate family ties, while “blood of the covenant,” represents other ties (such as strong friendship or marriage).

Essentially, this one means that holding to a covenant, or promise, with someone who’s important to you is more important than loyalty to immediate family.

5- “You can’t choose your family.”

This is a favorite saying among family members all across the United States. “You can’t choose your family.”

This is an interesting phrase as it can have both a negative and positive connotation, depending on the context. Oftentimes, it’s both at the same time.

You don’t have any control over who your parents are, who your parents’ relatives are, or whether or not you have siblings. You just have to try and love them all; whether you like it or not, you’re stuck with the family you have. Make the most of it!

6- “Children are a poor man’s riches.”

This endearing phrase about family means that someone who has children is rich, despite their monetary value. It indicates that children are precious, and a person who has one has something very valuable.

7- “A house divided cannot stand.”

This proverb means that in order for a house (or family) to stand properly, it must be whole or united. Once divisions have occurred among family members in a household (be it arguments, jealousy, deceit, or anything else along these lines) that household is doomed to fall if it can’t reunite.

This emphasizes the impact that family has on daily life.

8- “Families are like fudge - mostly sweet with a few nuts.”

This is one of the more lighthearted family proverbs in the United States. If you’re not familiar with fudge, it’s a dessert commonly made in the United States, usually from chocolate, and often with nuts inside.

This phrase compares family to fudge. For the most part, family is “sweet”; it’s nice to be a part of a family and there’s really nothing like the love a family offers its members. But just like fudge, there’s always a few “nuts”—family members who are a little odd, quirky, or just not your favorite person.

But nuts or no, fudge is still a dessert to be enjoyed. :)

7. Conclusion

Now you have a better idea of how to talk about your family in English. This was a lot to go over, but it’s worth it for the sake of family, right? ;)

Visit us at EnglishClass101.com to continue learning English while having fun! We offer an array of insightful blog posts, free vocabulary lists, and an online community where you can discuss lessons with fellow English learners. You can also check out our MyTeacher program if you prefer a one-on-one learning experience with your own personal English teacher.

Your hard work in learning English will pay off, so study hard and get ready to reap the rewards. We wish you the best in your English-learning journey!

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English Travel Phrases Guide

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If you plan on traveling to the United States (or another largely English-speaking country) soon, you’ll definitely want to know some English travel phrases. Even if you’re not fluent in English yet, it’s important to know how to effectively communicate with the people you’re going to encounter—bus drivers and train station managers, hotel staff, shop clerks, and the list goes on.

Increasing your English travel vocabulary is an essential step in your visit to the United States.

Knowing just a few basic English travel phrases will ultimately make your life easier as you navigate this new place. Instead of struggling to find words when ordering at a restaurant or asking for directions, you’ll have these most common English travel phrases at the back of your mind for safekeeping, to use whenever the need arises.

English travel phrases are the most important phrases to know, because they’ll help you get from point A to point B with ease. Whether that means getting from the airport to your hotel, from your main course to dessert, or from casual acquaintances to friends with someone you meet. These are English phrases for traveling you’ll use constantly during your visit to the U.S., and you’ll be glad to know them.

The ease factor aside, knowing English travel phrases can also help you out in a pinch—if you lose your luggage, get terribly lost yourself, or encounter an emergency, knowing these phrases can be a real lifesaver.

And let’s not forget that if you happen to be traveling for business purposes, knowing basic conversational English along with additional phrases will make you look good. It’ll greatly impress your U.S. associates and colleagues, and will grant you their favor more quickly than if you couldn’t communicate with them effectively.

With these things in mind, let’s move forward with EnglishClass101.com and learn about the most basic English travel phrases you should know. (Think of this as your very own online travel English booklet!) Let’s learn English travel phrases!

Table of Contents

  1. Basic Phrases: Greetings and Manners
  2. Phrases for Transportation
  3. Hotel Phrases
  4. Phrases to Use When Shopping
  5. Restaurant Phrases
  6. Directions
  7. Phrases to Use in an Emergency
  8. Flattery Phrases and Compliments
  9. Useful Phrases to Go Through Language Problems
  10. Conclusion

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1. Basic Phrases: Greetings and Manners

Preparing to Travel

The first English travel vocabulary we’ll go over are some basic greetings. You probably know some of these English language phrases for tourists, but if not you’ll find this section very helpful. (We also have an entire article dedicated to English greetings, in case you want a more in-depth look at these.)

1- Hello / Hi / Hey

These three words are the most common English greeting words. These words are basically interchangeable, meaning you can say any of these when first meeting someone. However, they do express different levels of formality.

“Hello,” is the most formal greeting word of the three, and is what you should probably use when meeting with a business colleague or when greeting someone for the very first time.

“Hi,” is a little bit less formal, and is probably the most versatile of the three; you can use this word to greet just about anyone in any situation (unless “Hello” seems more proper).

“Hey,” is the least formal, and is best used with people you’re very familiar with. If you make close friends while traveling in the U.S., this phrase is totally acceptable to use with them (and is even expected).

2- Good Morning/Afternoon/Evening

After you’ve said your initial greeting (or sometimes in place of one of the above phrases), you can tell the person “Good Morning,” “Good Afternoon,” or “Good Evening,” depending on what time of day it is.

You can say “Good Morning,” any time before noon. “Good Afternoon,” is best used from noon to about five o’clock PM, and “Good Evening,” can be used any time after that until the next morning.

Each of these phrases is basically doing one of two things (or both):

  1. Wishing the person has a good day.
  2. Telling the person that you hope their day has been good up until that point.

However, these phrases are often said out of habit and so their meaning is sometimes vague or not actually implied.

3- How are you? / How have you been?

After you’ve greeted someone it’s polite to ask, “How are you?” You can ask this to anyone you’ve met, though you shouldn’t expect an in-depth answer if this is someone you hardly know. They’ll probably reply with, “Good” or “Well,” and ask how you are.

If you’re talking with someone you’ve met before or someone you know pretty well, you can ask, “How have you been?” instead. This question implies that you want to know how they’ve been since the last time you met. Depending on how well you know this person, the answer can be vague ( “Good,” ) or more in-depth. The person you’re talking with is likely to ask how you’ve been as well.

4- Please / Thank you

In the United States, it’s very much expected to say “Please,” when asking for something or making a request. For example, “Can you please give me directions to the hotel?” or “Please let me borrow your phone.” This word shows that you know the weight of the favor you asked, and that the other person is totally capable of refusing; it’s a sign of respect and humility, and is considered good manners in general.

You say, “Thank you,” after you receive what you asked for or a request you made is completed. This phrase shows that you appreciate the other person (or people) for their help.

5- Excuse me

“Excuse me,” can be used in a variety of situations and for multiple reasons, making it one of the most useful English travel phrases. For instance, you can say this to someone if you’re trying to get around them or if you accidentally run into someone while walking. You can also use this phrase to get someone’s attention.

For example, imagine you’re trying to get a store clerk’s attention to ask them where something is in the store:

“Excuse me, where can I find ____?”

This is one of the most important English phrases for travel due to its versatility and general usefulness.

6- I’m sorry

It’s always good to know how to say sorry, even if it’s only for small inconveniences or mistakes. Especially in the United States, it’s considered polite and common practice to apologize often. This may also be one of the most appreciated English language travel phrases to natives.

For instance, imagine you accidentally stepped on someone’s foot while walking in a crowded store or street. You can quickly say, “I’m sorry,” or simply, “Sorry,” and then keep walking.


2. Phrases for Transportation

Airplane Phrases

Finding a good mode (or modes) of transportation is very important when traveling in the United States. Luckily, there’s a variety of options available depending on where you are and where you’re going. But to get the most out of your transportation experience, you’ll want to know a few basic English travel phrases related to transportation.

1- Taxi Phrases

  • Getting the Taxi’s Attention. If you plan on traveling by taxi (or using a similar service, such as Uber or Lyft), the first thing you need to do is “hail a cab” or use a phone to call for one to pick you up.
    • When hailing a cab (or taxi), first make sure that it’s actually available. You can find lots of good information on how to effectively hail a taxi online. If it’s available, one common way to signal for the driver’s attention is to extend your arm in the cab’s direction.
    • If you’re going to call a cab instead, it’ll be good to have taxi company phone numbers for the area you’re in written down or saved on your cell phone. You can also use the increasingly popular services of either Uber or Lyft instead, as it may be easier to find availability this way.
  • “I need to get to ___.” Once you’ve gotten the attention of a taxi driver or your Uber/Lyft driver has arrived, you’ll need to tell them where you need to go. You can do this by saying, “I need to get to ___” and say the name of the place where the blank is. For example, if you’re visiting Oregon, USA, you could tell your driver, “I need to get to the Oregon Zoo.”
  • “Could you please take me to ___.” This is a more polite way of telling your driver where you need to go, and is basically interchangeable with the above phrase.
  • “What’s the fastest (or easiest, or best) route?” or “Please take the fastest (or easiest, or best) route.” You should ask your driver which route is the fastest if you’re in a hurry; asking this indicates that you would like them to take that route, or discuss it with you. Or, if you’re less concerned with discussing the route, you can simply tell them, “Please take the fastest route.”
  • “How much will this cost?” It can be hard to keep an eye on your spending when traveling, especially out of the country. To ensure that you don’t spend more than you need to (or to get a better idea of what you can expect to spend on taxis for the rest of the trip), you can ask your driver how much the route you discussed will cost.

An example conversation when getting a taxi ride could go something like this:

You: [Hails a cab] “Could you please take me to the Oregon Zoo?”
Cab driver: “Sure. Is there a route you want me to take?”
You: “What’s the fastest route?”
Cab driver: [Tells you the fastest route] “Is that okay with you?”
You: “Yes. How much will this cost?”
Cab driver: “About $30.00 if traffic is good.”

2- Bus Phrases

  • “May I have the bus schedule?” or “What is the bus schedule?” You can use the first phrase if you would like to receive a copy of the bus schedule for future reference (if there’s one available). The second phrase may be more helpful if you just want to know the day’s schedule, because you plan on going somewhere later.
  • “How much will this ticket cost?” When purchasing a bus ticket, it’s very important to know how much you’re spending on a single trip. This is especially true since certain buses and certain bus-to-bus routes will cost much more than others. You can simply ask the driver or the ticket salesperson, “How much will this ticket cost?” once you’ve decided on the route you need.
  • “Is this seat available?” This phrase is to be used once you’re actually on the bus. Depending on where you are and what time of day it is, finding a seat on a bus can be very difficult. Before taking a seat next to someone (or deciding there’s no room to sit), it never hurts to ask someone if an empty seat next to them is available. Here’s how an example conversation could go:
    • You: “Hello, is this seat available?”
      Person: “Yes, it is.”
      You: “Thank you.” (Sit down beside them)

      If they answer with “No,” or “I’m saving this seat for someone,” you can either ask around for other available seats, or simply stand up and hold onto the bus’s poles during the ride.

3- Train Phrases

While trains are not the most popular mode of transportation in the United States, you may decide you’d like to travel by train anyway. (Depending on where you are, the scenery can be gorgeous and the service wonderful!) There are also the infamous “subway” trains of New York City that you may find convenient to take if you’re staying there for a while. Here are a few phrases you should know:

  • What’s the schedule for this train?” To inquire about a train’s schedule while you’re at the train station, you can ask someone who works there, “What’s the schedule for this train?”
  • “What route does this train take?” Once you know what the train’s schedule is, you may want to ask about the actual route of the train. You can simply ask, “What route does this train take?”
  • “I would like to buy a ticket to ___ for ___ train.” When buying a ticket for a train, you need to state two things: 1.) Where you’re going, and 2.) Which train you want to take you there. You can use this phrase to do just that.
  • “How much will this cost?” If you can’t find train ticket prices listed anywhere, you should ask the ticket salesperson how much a particular ticket will cost before you make a firm decision.


3. Hotel Phrases

Basic Questions

Chances are you’ll be staying in a hotel for at least part of your trip to the United States. Here are a few common travel phrases in English that you should know during your hotel stay:

  • “What rooms are available?” or “Do you have available rooms for [date] to [date]?” If you didn’t book a room prior to your trip, these are the first questions you may want to ask at the reception desk. The person at the front desk should answer by telling you about a couple of available rooms. If you plan on staying from one specific date to another date, you can use the second phrase to ask about rooms available for this specific time frame.
  • “How much will my stay cost?” When telling you about available rooms, the person at the front desk should also tell you the approximate cost per night; once you’ve indicated how long you’ll stay, they should also tell you the total cost and give you payment options. However, don’t shy away from asking about this if they didn’t give you enough info.
  • “When is check-out time?” In case it wasn’t made clear what time you need to check-out of your room on the last day, you’ll need to ask the person at the front desk.
  • “Is there free breakfast?” If free breakfast is important to you, feel free to ask the front desk about this with this phrase.
  • “Is there free WiFi?” The vast majority of hotels in the U.S. should have free WiFi, and most will offer you the WiFi password upon check-in. However, if they didn’t make it clear that they have WiFi, you can ask the front desk.
  • “I need new towels/bed sheets.” There’s a good chance that you’ll want clean towels and bed sheets before your stay is over. Room service should take care of this while you’re out and about, but some hotels prefer that you ask for fresh towels or bed sheets before they’re given. You can either ask room service for these directly if you happen to be in your room when they arrive, or you can go to the front desk and request them. (Some hotels allow you to request multiple items free of charge, such as soap and razors; you can ask about these as well.)


4. Phrases to Use When Shopping

Shopping! Whether for groceries, clothing, or a swanky souvenir, shopping is just about inevitable when visiting another country. Here are some common travel phrases in English to use during your shopping experience:

  • “Excuse me.” You can use this phrase to get a store clerk’s attention.
  • “Do you have ___?” or “Where can I find ___?” If you’re having a hard time finding a particular item or section of the store, you can get a clerk’s attention and ask one of these two questions. Here are a couple of examples:

    You: “Excuse me, do you have canned tomatillos?”
    Clerk: “I’m not sure what a tomatillo is. Can you describe it?”
    You: “It’s like green tomatoes, in a can.”
    Clerk: “I’m not sure we have those… Let me check.”
    You: “Okay, thank you.”

    You: “Excuse me, where can I find your men’s clothing?”
    Clerk: “If you see the restroom sign right there, it’s to the right.”
    You: “Thank you.”

  • “There’s a problem with my ___.” It happens all too often that you find an issue with a product after you’ve left the store. You discover a tear in your new (and expensive!) blouse, your souvenir falls apart for no reason, and the list goes on. To inform a store clerk about an issue like this, you can return to the store with the item and receipt, get the clerk’s attention, and say, “There’s a problem with my ___,” where the blank is the item you bought.
  • “Can I have a refund?” Once you’ve shown the clerk (or staff at a Customer Service desk) what the problem is and that you still have the receipt, you can ask them, “Can I have a refund?” Most stores have some sort of refund policy, which the clerk will then explain to you.
  • “Can I exchange this product?” If you would like to exchange your damaged product for another product, you can ask the clerk, “Can I exchange this product?” The rules and specifications for this vary by store, but some stores do allow exchanges.

By using these travel phrases in the English language, you can make your way around just about store or shop in the United States—and ensure that you get the best products from your visit to them.


5. Restaurant Phrases

Waiter Taking Order at Table

No matter where you are, good food and restaurants are an essential part of the trip. Here are some English travel phrases you should know when eating at a restaurant.

1- Seating and Ordering

  • “I would like a table for [number].” When you first enter a restaurant, the first thing you’ll be asked is, “How many?” To this, you can respond with the phrase, “I would like a table for [number],” or simply, “A table for [number],” where you replace [number] with the number of people in your group. You’ll then either be led to a table, or told how long you’ll need to wait for an available table.
  • “Excuse me.” Here’s yet another good use for the phrase “Excuse me.” You can say this in order to call your waiter or waitress’ attention if you’re in need of something (more water or the check, for example).
  • “Water, please.” Your server will ask you what you would like to drink, usually in the form of, “Can I get you started with something to drink?” though sometimes they’ll ask more specifically, “Would you like coffee, orange juice, milk?” You can reply with “Water, please,” if you would like water, though you can also say, “Coffee, please,” etc.
  • “I’ll have the ___.” After your server asks you what you would like to eat, or what you’ll have, you can respond with, “I’ll have the ___,” where the blank is the name of a dish (or food) on the menu. For example, if you’re eating at an Italian restaurant you might say, “I’ll have the Chicken Alfredo.”

2- Types of Courses

You may find it helpful to have a breakdown of the different types of courses available to you, and the types of foods you can expect to be served for each one.

1. Breakfast

In English, the first meal of the day is called “Breakfast.” In most restaurants, this is only served in the morning (if breakfast is served there at all), with the exception of certain places which specialize in breakfast dishes.

Some common drinks served during breakfast hours include:

  • Coffee
  • Milk
  • Juice (orange juice, apple juice, cranberry juice, etc.)
  • Water

Bacon and Eggs Breakfast

Common food items include:

  • Cereal or oatmeal
  • Eggs (you can have these prepared in a variety of ways)
  • Bacon or sausage links
  • Potatoes or “hashbrowns”
  • Toast (plus butter and jam)
  • Pancakes
  • Waffles
  • Crepes
  • French toast
  • Fruit
  • Biscuits and gravy (yummy biscuits covered in thick, usually meaty gravy)

2. Lunch

“Lunch” is usually served and eaten around the middle of the day (usually from around eleven o’clock in the morning until about two o’clock in the afternoon). When it comes to lunch, there are a variety of things you can eat and drink, mainly depending on the type of restaurant you find yourself in.

When it comes to classic American food, however, you’re likely to find the following items on your menu for lunch:

  • Hamburger (or cheeseburger)
  • Sandwiches or wraps
  • Salads
  • Soups

Many classic American lunch dishes come with side items, the most common of which are:

  • Fries (basically just fried, long-cut potatoes)
  • Onion rings (ring-cut onion slices dipped in batter and fried)
  • Side salad (usually a small bowl of greens with tomato, cucumber, red onion, and croutons)
  • Coleslaw (cabbage with carrots and sometimes other veggies, in a special dressing)
  • Side soup (there are usually a variety of options available for the type of soup)

The most common lunchtime drinks are water and soft drinks (such as soda).

3. Dinner

Especially if you’re visiting the United States on business, you’ll probably find yourself eating out for “dinner,” or the last meal of the day. For most restaurants, dinner meals are served from around 3 o’clock in the afternoon until late at night. Dinner is probably the most versatile meal in the United States.

Plates served for dinner are usually larger than those used for serving lunch, and the meals are often more expensive (depending on where you’re eating). Meal types range from classical American, like we described above, to other things like:

  • Steak meals (a portion of steak, usually served with multiple sides)
  • Fish meals (depending on where you are, any type of fish fillet served with multiple sides, such as rice)
  • Various pasta dishes (most restaurants serve some kind of pasta dish, though the best pasta is usually from Italian-style restaurants)

4. Appetizer

An “appetizer” is usually served before a lunch or dinner meal is served, and is prepared upon request; it’s usually served to the table as a whole. It’s called an appetizer because it’s supposed to prepare your appetite for the meal to come. There may just be more types of appetizers in the United States than there are actual meals. Appetizers are sometimes unique to a specific restaurant, so be sure to have a good look at the appetizer section of the menu.

5. Dessert

Slice of Chocolate Cake

For some people, the “dessert” is the best part of the meal. It’s usually served after lunch or dinner. In the United States, this is usually some type of a sweet treat to eat after you’re done eating the main meal. Common U.S. dessert items include:

  • Ice cream or frozen yogurt (this can be prepared a number of ways)
  • Slice of cake
  • Slice of pie
  • Cookie

Some restaurants may also serve healthier desserts, such as fruit trays.

For this section, I sought to provide an array of example for classic American foods, but keep in mind that the types of food available fully depends on where you’re eating, and in the U.S. you can find restaurants serving food based on just about any other country’s food as well. So get out there and explore!

3- Money/Payment Words and Phrases

When you’re done eating, you’ll need to pay. Here are some useful phrases for you:

  • “Check, please,” or “May I have the check?” You can use these phrases interchangeably to ask your server for the check. The first phrase is less formal, but is a simpler and more efficient way of asking for the check; the second one is a little more formal, so you may want to use it if you’re eating at a nice restaurant.
  • “Credit card.” If you’re asked how you’ll be paying for your meal, you can simply answer “credit card,” if you’ll be using a credit card. Other possible answers are “cash,” and “check,” (though be aware that some restaurants don’t accept these). Further, a “debit card” can be used in place of a credit card.
  • “May I have the receipt?” Oftentimes, you’ll be asked after paying if you would like a receipt, to which you can reply “yes” or “no.” However, if you would like your receipt and it wasn’t offered, you can simply ask, “May I have the receipt?”
  • “How much should I tip?” While this may be an awkward question to ask the server, it can still be helpful to ask this to someone in the party you’re eating with. Tipping is always much appreciated, and asking a colleague how much you should tip definitely won’t be frowned upon.

4- Allergies and Special Accommodations

If you have a food allergy or are following a strict diet, don’t be afraid to speak up. Here are a few phrases you may find helpful for communicating your needs to your party or the restaurant staff:

  • “I’m allergic to ___.” Use this phrase to let someone know you’re allergic to something, where the blank space is the food (or foods) you’re allergic to. For example, you could say, “I’m allergic to peanuts,” or “I’m allergic to shellfish,” both of which are common food allergies. If you’re allergic to multiple foods, you could say, “I’m allergic to fish, milk, and tree nuts,” for instance.
  • “I’m a vegetarian,” or “Do you have vegetarian options?” You can use the first phrase to inform either the server or someone in your party that you don’t eat meat, so that they can help you find a tasty meatless meal on the menu. You can use the second phrase if you want to simply ask the server for recommendations on vegetarian options. (Keep in mind that you can replace “vegetarian” with whatever type of diet you’re following. E.g.: “I’m a vegan,” “I’m on a keto diet,” etc.)
  • “Can I have this without ___?” You can make this request to your server, filling in the blank with whatever ingredient in the meal you don’t want. For example, if you ordered a steak meal that usually comes with mashed potatoes, green beans, and rice, you could say, “Can I have this without the green beans,” if you don’t like green beans.
  • “Can I have extra ___?” On the other hand, if you absolutely love green beans and can’t get enough of them, you could ask the server, “Can I have extra green beans?” You may just be surprised how many restaurants are willing to accommodate requests like this.
  • “Can you substitute ___ for ___?” or “Can I have ___ instead of ___?” You can ask these questions pretty much interchangeably, and both are used to ask for one food item instead of another. For example, if you ordered a fish meal that’s usually served with rice and steamed broccoli, but you want mashed potatoes on the side instead of rice, you could say: “Can you substitute the rice for mashed potatoes?” Many restaurants will accommodate for things like this.


6. Directions

World Map

You’ve just finished eating your meal, the table conversation is starting to slow, and your U.S. colleagues are getting up to leave. You suddenly panic and realize that you don’t remember the way back to your hotel. As the table empties, you hurry to get one of your colleagues’ attention…we’ll call him Phil. So how do you ask Phil how to get to the hotel?

1- Asking for Directions

Asking for directions can be embarrassing or awkward, but it’s nothing to be ashamed about. In fact, learning these travel phrases in English can really get you out of some sticky situations. Here are some common travel phrases in English you can use to ask for directions:

  • “Where is ___?” Probably the simplest way to ask for directions is to ask the question, “Where is ___?” The blank represents the destination you’re trying to get to.
  • “How do I get to ___?” This is another simple way to ask for directions, and is a more straightforward way of asking. (”How do I get to,” implies that you want specific directions, whereas “Where is,” implies that you need more general information.)
  • “How do I get to ___ from here?” This is a little bit more complex, but has the same meaning as the two phrases above; the only difference is that you’re adding “from here” to the end, which indicates you want directions with your current location as the starting point.
  • “Can you tell me where ___ is from here?” This has the same meaning as the phrase above, though it’s a little bit more formal and polite. In the case of asking your colleague Phil for directions, this may be the best option. (Tip: Be sure to say something like “excuse me,” before you ask the actual question as this is seen as generally polite.)
  • “I’m trying to get to ___. Can you point me in the right direction?” If you want to add a little flair to your directions-asking, this is a good option. It’s a little bit more complex than the others, but it has a more conversational tone and will be particularly well-received by the person you’re asking.

Woman Giving Man Directions

2- Giving Directions

How is Phil going to answer your question?

1. Common Directional Words

  • North
  • East
  • South
  • West
  • Right
  • Left
  • Toward
  • Ahead
  • Behind
  • Around
  • Near

2. Common Directional Phrases

  • “Find ___ and make a right/left.” The blank here is usually a street name, though it can also be some kind of landmark. Phil may tell you, for instance, “Find Coyote Road and make a left,” and then, “At the fork in the road, make a right.”
  • “Stay ___ on ___.” In this phrase, the first blank is usually a direction (north, east, south, or west), and the second blank is usually a highway, road, or street name. For instance, Phil may tell you, “Stay north on Highway 89.

If Phil is a less technical kind of guy or if you happen to have a hard time remembering street names, he may use more general directional phrases and words. These are usually associated with some kind of a landmark, such as a certain building or park.

  • “___ is near ___.” In this phrase, the first blank can either be the place you’re looking for, or a road he mentioned. The second blank is some kind of landmark. For instance, Phil may tell you: Your hotel is near Heritage Park.”
  • “You’ll find that road around ___.” In this phrase, Phil is seeking to give you a better idea of where a road he mentioned is. For instance, he could say: “You’ll find that road around the Heritage Park Zoo.”


7. Phrases to Use in an Emergency

Survival Phrases

Just because you’re on vacation or a business trip doesn’t mean emergencies won’t happen. It’s very important that you know how to communicate serious problems with those around you and with those trained to handle emergencies.

Here are some useful travel phrases in English to help you out in an emergency, as well as other important information. Keep in mind that these are some of the most important travel phrases in English.

1- Emergency Numbers

Before anything else, it’s important that you know what phone number to call in case of an emergency, how to dial it, and what to expect during the call. Here’s a list of some of the most common numbers:

  • 911: This is the catch-all emergency phone number in the United States. Whatever your emergency is, dial 911 on your phone and answer their questions to the best of your ability. In particular, you’ll need to know where you’re located at the time of the emergency and what the emergency is. If you’re unable to talk on the phone for whatever reason, you can also request that someone else makes the phone call.

2- Phrases to Ask for Help

Here’s a list of useful travel phrases in English you can use to ask for help in a pinch:

  • “Can you help me?” or “Please help.” The first phrase here is a more polite way of asking someone for help, and should probably be started with “Excuse me.” You can use this for emergencies that aren’t particularly urgent (such as if you lost something that’s not ultra-important to you). The second phrase is less polite, but also suggests more urgency; this should be used for more urgent emergencies, such as if someone’s been seriously injured or you’re in some kind of trouble.
  • “I lost my ___.” or “My ___ was stolen.” These are two phrases that you can use if you’ve either misplaced something important to you or if somebody took off with it. For instance, if you can’t find your cell phone anywhere, you can declare to someone, “I lost my cell phone,” and then ask them if they’ve seen it. Or, if you definitely saw someone pick up your phone and walk away with it, you can say, “My cell phone was stolen.”

3- List of Common Health Emergency Words

Man Clutching Stomach

The first thing to do if you or someone around you is experiencing an urgent health emergency is call 911. Here are just a few of the most common ailment words to describe what’s happening:

  • Headache: Most headaches aren’t an emergency, but if it’s very severe or is impairing your (or someone else’s) ability to go about normal daily tasks, it may be time to call 911. This is characterized by a dull or sharp throbbing in or around your head, and can be caused by various factors.
  • Heart attack: If you think that you or anyone around you is experiencing (or about to experience) a heart attack, dial 911. Be sure to learn some of the most common heart attack symptoms, so that you can know it when you see it (or feel it!).
  • Dehydration: When you’re dehydrated, it means that you haven’t been consuming enough fluids. Common symptoms include headache, weakness, and stomach ache/nausea. Be sure to drink a lot of fluids during your visit, and then keep drinking lots of fluids when you get back home!
  • Stroke: A stroke is a serious medical condition which can be caused by an array of things. Be sure to brush up on your stroke knowledge so that you’ll know the symptoms and how to help.
  • Stomach ache: A stomach ache can either mean that you feel pain in your stomach, or that you’re very nauseous (though it can be both at once). While not always an emergency, a stomach ache can be a sign that something is very wrong; if a stomach ache is very painful or persists for a long time, be sure to call 911.
  • Injury: While most injuries aren’t serious or life-threatening, they can be; for instance, if a deep wound won’t stop bleeding or you’re in a lot of pain, you should see a doctor.
  • Doctor: A doctor is someone who usually works at a hospital, and has extensive medical knowledge as well as the authority to prescribe medication or treatment. If you’re in an emergency where you need a doctor but can’t get yourself to the hospital or dial 911, you can simply tell someone, “I need a doctor,” and they should get you help immediately.
  • Ambulance: An ambulance is a large vehicle that’s used to transport someone to the hospital if they’re in very bad condition or can’t get there themselves. Oftentimes, an ambulance is sent after someone dials 911.
  • Emergency: It’s important to know the word “emergency.” This word will be very useful in a pinch, as you can use it to explain the severity of a situation. For example, you enter the hospital with a friend who’s about to have a stroke and tell the person at the front desk, “It’s an emergency!” Your friend should then be taken to the emergency room for immediate attention.


8. Flattery Phrases and Compliments

Travel phrases in English language learning aren’t all formal!

When you travel, English conversation is likely to take an informal turn. Nearly everyone appreciates a well-placed compliment, and this is especially true in the United States. Whether you’re here for business or pleasure, knowing a few flattery phrases and compliments will certainly be useful. Not to mention the flair it’ll add to your English-speaking!

That said, here’s some English for tourism conversations:

  • “I like your ___.” This is a fairly informal compliment, and is especially appreciated among friends or family. Simply replace the blank with what it is you want to compliment the person on. Oftentimes, this is a clothing item or accessory (“I like your shirt), though it can also be a physical attribute (“I like your smile) or personality characteristic (“I like your caring nature).

    You can also say the phrases “I really like your ___” and “I love your ___.” Both of these phrases add emphasis to your compliment. The word “really” in the first phrase indicates an additional level of approval, while the word “love” in the second phrase means that “like” isn’t even a strong enough word to describe your approval.

    Note: Be careful of how you use this phrase. While it’s generally a nice compliment, this phrase is sometimes used in a sarcastic way as well. You shouldn’t have a problem using this phrase, as long as you say it with sincerity.

  • “You look nice today.” This is a more generic compliment, and can be used in most situations for most people. It’s a simple way of expressing your approval about someone’s physical appearance. This compliment is always well-received; you’ll typically receive a “thank you,” or “thanks,” in response, along with a big smile.
  • “Thank you for ___.” Everyone likes to feel appreciated, and saying thank you is the best way to make sure someone knows you appreciate them. You can use this phrase with literally anyone. Simply replace the blank with whatever it is you’re thanking them for. Here are some examples:

    1.) [A friend came to pick you up from your hotel so you could go to the zoo together.]
    You: “Thank you for picking me up.”

    2.) [A U.S. colleague took the time to introduce you to other colleagues after a meeting.]
    You: “Thank you for introducing me.”

    3.) [A store clerk helped you find just what you were looking for.]
    You: “Thank you for showing me where that was.”

  • A Thank You Note

  • “Do you have a Facebook?” You can ask this to someone you’re becoming friends with (or would like to become friends with). While it may not be good to ask this after first meeting someone, by the second or third meeting, this should be fine to ask. Also note that you can replace “Facebook” with any other social media platform you use (e.g. Twitter, Instagram, etc.). If the other person has this social media account and is also interested in becoming friends, they will give you their information so you can stay in touch.
  • “Can I have your phone number?” In the United States today, asking for someone’s phone number usually comes after asking for their social media information. Also, this question is better asked to someone you’ve met a few times already (unless you’re asking a colleague for their number so you can work on a project together or something). If the person you ask wishes to give you their number, they’ll probably ask for your number too. This is called “exchanging numbers.”


9. Useful Phrases to Go Through Language Problems

Finally, how do you tell someone that you don’t speak English very well yet? How do you effectively communicate to work around these issues? Learn some travel sentences in English for going through language problems with someone.

  • “I apologize for my poor English.” Apologizing for your poor English is both polite and a great first step in letting someone know your English isn’t fluent yet. A simpler way of saying this is, “I’m sorry for my poor English.”

    The words “apologize” and “sorry” here are just about interchangeable. However, “apologize” is a verb, while “sorry” is an adjective, so you must include the word “am” when saying that you’re “sorry.”

  • “Can you repeat that?” This is a phrase that you’ll likely need to use often while visiting the United States. (Heck, even U.S.-born, native English-speaking folks say this often!) This is a simple way of asking someone to repeat what they said because you didn’t understand it the first time; they’ll likely say it slower, more loudly, or with clearer pronunciation so you can understand what they said easier.
  • “Can you speak more slowly? I don’t understand English very well.” This is a more complex phrase, and does two things: 1.) It makes a request for the speaker to speak more slowly, and 2.) It informs the speaker that you don’t speak English well, which is important for them to know. After you use this phrase, the speaker will likely repeat what they said more slowly, and pronounce their words more clearly in future dialogue.
  • “How do you say that in my language?” This is a helpful phrase to use if someone you’re with knows your native language (even if only a little bit). Some English words just don’t translate easily, and others are hard to learn; with a little research, however, you and the people you’re speaking with should be able to find similar words or phrases from your own language.
  • “Is there another/easier word for that?” As noted above, some English words are hard to learn or don’t translate easily. However, there’s almost always a substitute (or synonym) for these words. After you ask, “Is there another/easier word for that?”, the person you’re speaking with will probably offer you one or two simpler words for what they mean.

    For example, let’s say you don’t know what the word “bashful” means and someone brings it up in a conversation. It may go something like this:

    Colleague: “That’s Jeff, he’s pretty bashful.”
    You: “Is there another word for bashful?”
    Colleague: “Yes. Bashful also means ‘shy’ or ‘timid.’”

  • “Can you please write that down?” If someone’s using a word you’re not very familiar with or is talking too quickly for you to follow, you can ask them, “Can you please write that down?” Sometimes, it’s easier to understand what something means when you read it; also, when something’s written down, you can read it and analyze it over and over again until you “get it.” In most cases, it shouldn’t be a problem for the person you’re talking with to write down what they said.

    Note: In some situations, it won’t be appropriate for you to ask for something to be written down, such as during a business meeting or presentation. However, it’s likely that there will be enough written material available to get the gist of what’s being said or talked about.

  • “How do you read/pronounce this?” Maybe you can speak and understand spoken English pretty well, but have a more difficult time reading and writing it. Or maybe you just came across a particularly tricky word to pronounce. Whatever the situation is, it never hurts to ask someone how you read or pronounce a word or phrase. In fact, it will show the person that you’re interested in learning and that you want to speak/read English to the best of your ability. They should be more than happy to help you out.

Two Women Discussing Material


10. Conclusion

Whew! That’s quite a mouthful of English travel words and phrases. We hope you learned some useful travel words in English and other English phrases about travelling.

You’re definitely not expected to memorize all of them right away, but we do hope that you’ve gained some insight into the types of phrases you should know and when to use them. When you learn to use English travel phrases, you can expect a few bumps in the road—but with enough practice, the struggle will be well worth it! With a few of these phrases under your belt, you should have a much smoother trip to the United States. Enjoy!

If you want to learn even more about the U.S. English language, be sure to visit us at EnglishClass101.com. We have an array of helpful blog posts, vocabulary lists on a range of topics, and even an online community forum where you can chat with fellow English learners! And if you want a one-on-one approach to your English learning, you can also download our MyTeacher app!

We wish you all the best on your trip to the United States. Have fun and be successful in all of your English-learning endeavors! And be sure to practice these useful English phrases for tourists.

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