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The Best English Quotes for Every Occasion

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Why are people drawn to quotes? I think it’s because a quote can do one of two things: 

1) Put our existing feelings and opinions into words

2) Help us see things from new perspectives

These are things that everyone needs from time to time, and the quotes that resonate with us may stay with us forever.

In this article, we’ll show you the best English quotes for students of the language! These are quotes that will inspire you, make you think, or make you smile. We’ll explain each quote in detail, so you can understand their background and meaning.

Enjoy!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in English Table of Contents
  1. Quotes About Success
  2. Quotes About Creativity and Inspiration
  3. Life Quotes in English
  4. Quotes About Time
  5. Love Quotes in English
  6. Quotes About Family
  7. Quotes About Friendship
  8. Quotes About Food
  9. Quotes About Language Learning
  10. Final Thoughts

1. Quotes About Success

A Tall Tree with Sunshine Coming Through the Leaves

We all want to be successful, but not everyone agrees on what success is or how to get there. Here are some motivational quotes in English about success from some very successful people.


“Someone’s sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.”

Author: Warren Buffet

This quote means that the things we do today will impact the future for someone else. It also refers to the fact that the things we have today were given to us (or “planted”) by those who came before us. 

“A successful man is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks others have thrown at him.”

Author: David Brinkley

If someone throws a brick at you, it’s going to hurt. In this quote, the “bricks” represent negativity or obstacles that other people give you. To be successful, you can’t give up when others don’t believe in you. Instead, you need to keep going, using that negativity to build yourself up toward success. 

“Don’t aim for success if you want it; just do what you love and believe in, and it will come naturally.” 

Author: David Frost

The most successful people are those who do what they love, or who are fighting for a cause they believe in. Everyone wants to be successful in one way or another, but you can’t get there by simply striving for perfection. You need to enjoy what you do!

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

Author: Thomas Edison

Thomas Edison was a famous American inventor, particularly known for his work in creating a functional light bulb. It took him a lot of time—and many failures—to get it right. 

This quote suggests that he refused to accept defeat, and rather thought of his “failures” as mistakes that would drive him forward toward progress. If you find 10,000 ways that won’t work, it must mean that you’re 10,000 tries closer to finding what will work. 

“Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.” 

Author: Eleanor Roosevelt

Eleanor Roosevelt was the United States’ First Lady from 1933 to 1945, and is known for her social work during this time. 

This fascinating quote means that people who only gossip or talk about things that happened will never get as far in life as those who discuss ideas. In other words, to be successful, one must look at the bigger picture and not be distracted by things that don’t really matter.

“To succeed in life, you need three things: a wishbone, a backbone, and a funny bone.” 

Author: Reba McEntire

In this witty quote from American celebrity Reba McEntire, the “wishbone” refers to hope, the “backbone” refers to strength and courage, and the “funny bone” refers to a sense of humor. As long as you have these three things, you can make it through any tough situation stronger than before.

“A diamond is a chunk of coal that did well under pressure.” 

Author: Unknown

Diamonds are formed by putting coal under lots of pressure. This quote plays with words to explain how the same thing can happen to people. Sometimes, “pressure” (a bad or stressful situation) can make you a better, more beautiful person (like the coal becomes a diamond). 

“The best is only bought at the cost of great pain.” 

Author: Colleen McCullough

This quote is from Colleen McCullough’s novel The Thorn Birds. This novel focuses on the many painful sacrifices that we must make in order to achieve the thing most important to us. Without making these sacrifices, one can never reach their ultimate goal.

“It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things.” 

Author: Leonardo da Vinci

The Italian polymath Leonardo da Vinci is one of the most famous historical figures today, and for good reason. He accomplished many things in a number of fields, particularly in science and the arts. 

This is a longer quote, but the message is simple: In order to achieve great things, you have to make them happen. It’s easy to let life happen to you and make excuses for why you can’t do things. But if you’re serious about achieving your life’s ambitions, you’ll do something about it. 

2. Quotes About Creativity and Inspiration

A Bunch of Kids Finger Painting

Do you consider yourself to be the creative type? Below is a list of quotes about creativity and inspiration to help you keep going on your latest creative project! 


“Every child is an artist, the problem is staying an artist when you grow up.” 

Author: Pablo Picasso

Pablo Picasso was a notable twentieth-century artist and poet, best known for founding the Cubism art form—so he certainly has the authority to speak on creativity! 

Children tend to be very creative and imaginative by nature, and are often drawn toward making things. However, many adults lose the creativity they once fostered as children. According to Picasso, it’s important to maintain that creativity, even as you age. 

“Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.” 

Author: Thomas Edison

This quote means that inspiration isn’t nearly enough to bring a project to fruition; you need to act upon that inspiration, and work really hard to make it come alive. 

“Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.” 

Author: Harriet Tubman

Harriet Tubman is well known for her involvement with the Underground Railroad in the United States, which was a secret organization working to free African-American slaves during the nineteenth century. 

This quote is meant to inspire anyone with a dream to work toward it. You can always use the tools you have available to you to make a positive change.

“Don’t think. Thinking is the enemy of creativity. It’s self-conscious, and anything self-conscious is lousy. You can’t try to do things. You simply must do things.”  

Author: Ray Bradbury

Bradbury explains that in order to successfully complete a creative endeavor, you need to do it. Thinking too much can hinder your creative process, and keep you from putting your ideas to work.

“Some men see things as they are and say why—I dream things that never were and say why not.” 

Author: George Bernard Shaw

Creativity isn’t bound by what we see or what we know already; creativity can stretch much farther than that. To create something worthwhile, it’s important that you don’t keep yourself tied to the world you know. Explore new ideas and bring them to life! 

“Creativity is intelligence having fun.” 

Author: Albert Einstein

According to Einstein, creativity happens when you use your knowledge in a way that’s entertaining for you! 

3. Life Quotes in English

A Variety of Chocolates

What is life? Why do we exist? How can we make our lives the best we can? 

No one knows for sure, but the English quotes about life below offer insight from a few notable people (and characters).

“Life is like a box of chocolates—you never know what you’re going to get.” 

Author: Forrest Gump

This may be one of the most iconic American quotes ever, and it originates from the movie Forrest Gump. To provide context, we see the main character (Forrest Gump) trying to sell boxes of chocolate in a park, and he sits beside someone on a bench to tell them his life story. He opens with this line. 

In a box of chocolates, there are usually a variety of different chocolate pieces and you don’t know what kind you’ll have until you take a bite. Life is the same way; you don’t know what your life will hold until you experience it, piece by piece.

“Get busy living or get busy dying.” 

Author: Stephen King

This quote means that you can either start living your life to the fullest, or you can simply exist until the day you die. 

“Life is trying things to see if they work.”

Author: Ray Bradbury

As you live your life, you experience many things and make constant decisions. Sometimes these decisions work out well for us; other times, they make things worse or have no effect at all. Life is comprised of these decisions and experiences. 

“I only regret that I have but one life to give for my country.” 

Author: Nathan Hale

This is another iconic quote, said by American soldier Nathan Hale during the time of the American Revolutionary War. When he said this, he meant that he loved his country so much that he would die for it again if he could. 

“If you don’t like the road you’re walking, start paving another one.” 

Author: Dolly Parton

We all find ourselves dissatisfied with our lives at some point. When this happens, it’s important to remember that we’re not stuck on that “road”; we can always do things to start making our lives better. 

“What comes easy won’t last long, and what lasts long won’t come easy.” 

Author: Unknown

In life, the best things are those that we earn through lots of hard work. When we try to get these good things without hard work, they’re not going to be worthwhile.

“Every day may not be good, but there is something good in every day.” 

Author: Unknown

This is a great quote to remember, especially on the toughest days. It’s important to remember that even when everything is falling apart, there’s at least one good thing that you can still appreciate. 

“Every day above ground is a good day.”

Author: Unknown

Similar to the quote above, this one means that you should appreciate something about every day. As long as you’re “above ground” (alive), your day can’t really be that bad, can it?

“The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” 

Author: Mark Twain

When you’re born, you’re brought into existence; when you discover what you’re meant to do with that existence, it gives your life meaning and purpose.

4. Quotes About Time

Nebulae in the Night Sky

Now, let’s look at some of the best English quotes about time, one of life’s greatest mysteries.

“Time and tide wait for no man.”

Author: Geoffrey Chauncer

Here, “tide” refers to the ocean’s waves, and how they shift according to the moon’s pull. This quote is basically saying that time and nature’s cycles will go on, whether you’re ready for it or not. So use your time wisely!

“You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending.” 

Author: C.S. Lewis

If you’ve ever done something you regretted, or wish that a certain part of your life had been different, you know how it feels to wish that you could go back in time to change things. This quote is saying that while going back is impossible, you can do things today that will make your future better.

“For age is opportunity no less / Than youth itself, though in another dress / And as the evening twilight fades away / The sky is filled with stars invisible by day.” 

Author: Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

This is from one of my favorite poems, by renowned nineteenth-century poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Sometimes, it can feel like time is slipping away, and we’re afraid that as we get older, we’ll lose opportunities. But at the same time, age and the passing of time can bring new opportunities that we didn’t have before. 

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.”

Author: Steve Jobs

It’s easy to live your life based on other people’s opinions, or to compare yourself to other people. But by doing this, you’re robbing yourself of the ability to live your own life, how you want to.

“Forever is composed of nows.” 

Author: Emily Dickinson

We only have this moment to live in. “Forever” is made up of every moment a person has experienced. In other words, every moment you have is infinitely important and valuable; enjoy each moment, and make the most of your time.

“Time is what we want most, but what we use worst.”

Author: William Penn

How many times have you said “I need more time,” or “There’s not enough time”? After all, time and tide wait for no man…

We all wish that we had more time, but we also tend to use the time we do have poorly. This quote is basically saying that instead of wishing for more time, we should make better use of what time we have.

“There’s only one thing more precious than our time, and that’s who we spend it on.” 

Author: Leo Christopher

We spend time with the people who are important to us, and we even spend time doing things for them. If we’re willing to spend time on them, they must be very precious to us.

5. Love Quotes in English

A Couple Holding Hands and Watching the Sunset

Are you a hopeless romantic? In a serious relationship with the love of your life? Just reading this section because it’s here? Let’s have a look at some popular love quotes in English! 


“The best feeling is when you look at him and he is already staring.”

Author: Unknown

Have you ever had this experience? It’s nice to know that the person you love thinks about you as often as you think about them. 

“Thank you for always being my rainbow after the storm.”

Author: Unknown

This is something sweet you can say to your significant other (or even a best friend). Just like a rainbow after a storm, the person we love is something beautiful we can look forward to after a bad time. 

“The course of true love never did run smooth.” 

Author: William Shakespeare

It’s tempting to think of love as a smooth, straight path where everything is perfect. But this is never the case. 

Every serious relationship is going to have bumps along the way, and every couple will eventually run into problems. But this is the test of true love.

“Hell has no fury like a woman scorned.” 

Author: William Congreve

You may be wondering how this is a love quote… Well, this is something that some women say jokingly, perhaps even to their significant other. It’s basically saying: If you make a woman angry, you’d better watch out! Sometimes you hear this quote used in other contexts too, like politics, to underscore a woman’s ferocity or toughness. 

“Love is an irresistible desire to be irresistibly desired.”

Author: Robert Frost

Have you ever been completely in love with someone, and wish they would return your feelings? According to poet Robert Frost, this is a sign that you really love someone. 

“Years of love have been forgot in the hatred of a minute.” 

Author: Edgar Allen Poe

To end this section on English love quotes, here’s a more depressing aspect of love we often overlook. I think this quote actually has two meanings. 

On the one hand, we should be careful of how we treat the person we love. Hurting someone badly enough, even if you’ve loved each other for years, can be enough to make them leave. 

On the other hand, we should also be careful about how we respond when someone we love hurts us. It’s easy to become angry, even to the point of hate, so we should be careful not to let that anger disrupt all the love there was before.

6. Quotes About Family

A Couple Walking on the Beach with Their Daughter

We may not always get along with our families, but family is still an essential aspect of life. Here are some popular English sayings and quotes about family! 


“Family means no one gets left behind or forgotten.” 

Author: David Ogden Stiers

If you’ve ever seen the Disney movie Lilo and Stitch, you’re probably familiar with this one. It basically means that you should never abandon your family, because each family member is precious.

“Family is not an important thing. It’s everything.” 

Author: Michael J. Fox

Nothing should ever be as important to you as your family; without your family, you have nothing.

“You can’t choose your family.”

Author: Unknown

This is a very common quote in the United States. People usually say it to express that we don’t always get along with our family members, but there’s nothing we can do to change who our family is. We’re stuck with them, so we should make the most of our familial relationships. 

“Family is like a batch of brownies; you always have a few nuts.”

Author: Unknown

Brownies are a favorite chocolate dessert for many Americans, and some people make them with nuts baked inside. “Nut” is also a word we use to describe a person who’s a little crazy or not quite right in the head. People jokingly (and lovingly) use this quote to describe the fact that every family has a few people who are kind of crazy. 

“Home is where you are loved the most and act the worst.” 

Author: Marjorie Pay Hinckley

Let’s admit it: We all tend to act differently at home with our family than we do anywhere else. And it’s not always a good thing. 

This quote means that the love of family is so strong that your family will put up with you when you’re at your worst. 

7. Quotes About Friendship

Best Friends Hugging Each Other

If you’re lucky enough to have a best friend or a close circle of friends, you’ll love these friendship quotes in English! 


“A real friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out.”

Author: Walter Winchell

True friends are special. Like family, a good friend will stay with you during your worst times, when everyone else would simply leave. 

“Friends are born, not made.” 

Author: Henry Adams

A lot of people use the phrase “making friends” when they talk about becoming friendly and developing relationships with people. But a friendship isn’t something that’s made; it’s something that needs time to grow before being “born.” In a sense, friendship is a precious living thing, not an object.

“Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.” 

Author: Michael Corleone (The Godfather character)

Why should you keep your enemies closer than your friends? Because this way, you can keep an eye on them, gain their trust, and get the upper hand! 

“There’s not a word yet for old friends who’ve just met.” 

Author: Jim Henson

Have you ever met someone, and instantly felt a friendship connection? Or have you ever sat down to talk with your best friend of many years, and reflected back on your first meeting? I think that’s what Jim Henson was talking about here. 

“Friends are those rare people who ask how we are and then wait to hear the answer.” 

Author: Ed Cunningham

In the United States, it’s very common to ask how someone is, and not really listen to their answer (if you give them time to answer, at all!). 

You know that someone really cares about you when they wait to hear what you have to say. 

“The most beautiful discovery true friends make is that they can grow separately without growing apart.” 

Author: Elisabeth Foley

Even when you’re far away from your closest friends, a true friendship allows you to stay in each other’s lives no matter what comes.

“Some souls just understand each other upon meeting.” 

Author: N.R. Hart

If you’ve ever known right away that someone was going to be a good friend, you’ve probably experienced this feeling—like two puzzle pieces clicking together. 

8. Quotes About Food

A Group of Friends Eating Dinner Together

Our list of English quotes wouldn’t be complete without some words of appreciation for good food. This section is for the foodies, the cooks, and anyone who appreciates a good meal. 

“People who love to eat are always the best people.” 

Author: Julia Child

I think this quote from the famous cooking teacher Julia Child says it all. 

“Let food be thy (your) medicine and medicine be thy (your) food.” 

Author: Hippocrates

This quote from Hippocrates (the Greek “Father of Medicine”) means that the food you eat should be good for you, like medicine is when you’re sick. In a sense, food and medicine are similar to each other in nature. A  good diet can keep you healthy and even make you feel better.

“I cook with wine. Sometimes I even add it to the food.” 

Author: W.C. Fields

If you’re looking for funny quotes in English that are also relatable, here you go. Usually when someone “cooks with wine,” it means that they use it as an ingredient when cooking. Here, Fields plays with words to explain that “cooking with wine” means he drinks it while cooking. 

“Eating is so intimate. It’s very sensual. When you invite someone to sit at your table and you want to cook for them, you’re inviting a person into your life.” 

Author: Maya Angelou

This quote from Maya Angelou expresses the opinion that eating with someone is a major occasion. Cooking for another person, in particular, is a sign of friendship and care. 

“Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you who you are.” 

Author: Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

This quote basically means that what a person eats can say a lot about them. A more popular variation of this quote is the expression: “You are what you eat.”

“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.”

Author: J.R.R. Tolkien

To end this section, a quote from famous fantasy writer J.R.R. Tolkien

There are things much more important in life than gold (wealth), and recognizing those things will make you and the people around you happier. In this case, Tolkien uses food, cheer, and song as examples. 

9. Quotes About Language Learning

A Woman Covering Her Face with a Book and Laughing

These quotes are perfect for any language-learner who needs a bit of motivation. No matter where you are in your language-learning journey, these words are sure to make you feel refreshed and ready to keep going.


“Language is wine upon the lips.” 

Author: Virginia Woolf

This quote refers to the beauty of language, and how sweet it can be when used well. 

“Any time you think some other language is strange, remember that yours is just as strange, you’re just used to it.” 

Author: Unknown

Starting to learn a new language is very daunting, and in many cases, we’re not used to how that language works. It’s tempting to believe that a new language is impossible to learn, and give up. But by remembering that your language is weird too, you’ll be more motivated to continue learning that new language.

“Those who know nothing of foreign languages know nothing of their own.” 

Author: Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Our native tongue is something that comes natural to us, and oftentimes, it’s something that we’re forced to learn as we grow up. It’s not until you learn another language that you start to understand language itself. 

“Language shapes the way we think, and determines what we can think about.”

Author: Benjamin Lee Whorf

You may be familiar with the concept that language can influence the way someone thinks about the world. But it can go even farther than this; language can also limit what you’re able to think about, and by learning a new language, you can broaden your horizons! 

“If any language scratches your mind, that language is going to disappear as soon as you reach the threshold of the school door. But if that language scars your mind, it will last forever.”

Author: Safir Kassim Boudjelal

This quote means that in order to really master a language, you can’t just stop after the basics. You need to go all-in, and make sure that what you’re learning leaves a scar in your mind! 

10. Final Thoughts

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In this article, you read several English quotes on life and love, learning and food. We hope that these quotes inspired you, resonated with you, made you laugh, and gave you even more reasons to keep learning English! 

What were your favorite quotes from this article, and why? What are some popular quotes in your language? We look forward to hearing what you have to say! 

Finally, if you want to make sure that you get an English “scar” in your mind and expand your world, check out EnglishClass101.com and everything we have to offer! Free resources and vocabulary lists are waiting for you, and by creating your free lifetime account today, you’ll get access to tons of fun and effective lessons. 

We look forward to having you. 😉

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