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Advanced English Words

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If you’ve been studying English for a while, you know the positive feelings that come with expanding your knowledge and improving your skills.

You probably felt overjoyed the first time you read something in English and understood it. You might have found yourself trying to eavesdrop on native speakers as your listening skills got better. And I’m willing to bet you felt a little bit proud of yourself after having your first English-language conversation. 

At this stage in your learning journey, memorizing more advanced English words is going to boost your confidence even further and provide you with a more comprehensive vocabulary base. 

In this article, we’ll introduce and show examples of advanced-level English words in the following categories:

  • Academic
  • Business
  • Medical
  • Legal

In addition, we’ve included a bonus section where you can find more professional, impressive words  you can use in place of their weaker counterparts.

    → Before we get ahead of ourselves, have you read our articles on Beginner words yet?

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in English Table of Contents
  1. Advanced Academic Words
  2. Advanced Business Words
  3. Advanced Medical Words
  4. Advanced Legal Words
  5. Bonus: Alternative Words for Acing Your English Exam
  6. Conclusion

1. Advanced Academic Words

A Woman Highlighting Key Notes in Her Textbook

Do you plan on finishing high school or attending university in an English-speaking country? Then you’ll need a suitable vocabulary! Below are some of the most common advanced English words used in academic settings.


Ambiguous 
Adjective
Unclear or uncertain; Able to be interpreted more than one way
The results from the last election are rather ambiguous

Analyze
Verb
To study something in a methodical manner in order to find relationships or patterns
Peter had to analyze the data from his biotechnology experiment. 

Assessment 
Noun
A tool used to measure one’s knowledge or ability
Each student was given a long assessment at the end of the semester.

Contemporary
Adjective / Noun
Adjective: Being of the current times
Noun: Something or someone who existed at the same time as another
Adjective: She doesn’t like contemporary artwork.
Noun: Franklin D. Roosevelt was a contemporary of Albert Einstein. 

Controversy
Noun
Quarrels or arguments resulting from opposing views on a topic of importance
The new film sparked a lot of controversy

Credentials
Noun
Documents or testimonials that indicate a person’s worthiness or ability to perform in a specific role
Lilly was asked about her credentials during the interview.

Curiosity
Noun
Inquisitiveness or interest in something
Curiosity is an important trait for any student to possess.

Discrimination
Noun
A prejudiced view; The act of judging others based on category and not their own personal merits or faults
Please write an essay on how discrimination has affected your life. 

Evaluate
Verb
To look over data in order to find patterns or relationships
Tom and Susan evaluated the data from their experiment. 

Factor
Noun
Any element that contributes to the success or accomplishment of something
What is the most important factor in learning a language? 

Finesse
Noun
 
A skillful, delicate, or refined manner of performing an action or completing a task
Polly recited the poem with great finesse

Former
Adjective
Previous; Coming before
When was the last time you talked with a former classmate?

Incident
Noun
A (usually negative) occurrence
We do not want a repeat of last week’s incident, do we?

Inferior
Adjective
Not as good as; Weaker than
Opal’s math skills are inferior to Rick’s. 

Inquiry
Noun
A question or series of questions asked in order to receiving information; An investigation
My recent inquiry went unanswered. 

Irrational
Adjective
Lacking reason, clarity of mind, or logic
Her behavior that day was irrational and frightening.

Irrelevant
Adjective
Lacking relevance; Having nothing to do with the topic at hand
The answer he gave was irrelevant and added no value to the discussion.

Juvenile
Adjective / Noun
Adjective: Childlike; Immature
Noun: A child or minor
Adjective: Cara hated his juvenile behavior. 
Noun: Because she was a juvenile, she was let off easy.

Latter
Adjective
Coming after
Now, let’s discuss the latter point.

Listless
Adjective
Having no energy or enthusiasm
After the breakup, Anne was listless

Motive
Noun
A reason for doing or saying something
What is the motive behind the president’s decision?

Observe
Verb
To watch closely
I had the chance to observe petals falling from the tree.

Outstanding
Adjective
1. Exceptional
2. Still needing to be dealt with
1. Her performance for Theatre class was outstanding
2. Will you pay the outstanding credit card balance? 

Parlance
Noun
A specific way of using words; Jargon
The two siblings had a special parlance between them. 

Proportion
Noun
A number or percentage of something
The proportion of people getting the COVID-19 vaccine is slowly increasing.

Qualm
Noun
A fear, doubt, or worry
Evelynn had some qualms about her upcoming appointment. 

Subsequent
Adjective
Coming after another thing (usually an event or action)
The rain brought on a subsequent hailstorm. 

Vast
Adjective
Wide; Expansive
The ocean is incredibly vast.

Widespread
Adjective
Existing across a large area or population
From where did this widespread belief originate? 

2. Advanced Business Words

Four Colleagues Smiling into the Camera

If your long-term goal is to grow your career in an English-speaking country, you’ll need a strong set of relevant words and phrases to ensure your success. Below is a list of advanced English words for daily use in business settings. 


Agenda
Noun
1. A plan or schedule (usually for a trip or meeting)
2. An underlying motive for doing or saying something
1. The first thing on our agenda is to discuss our budget for this quarter.
2. Politicians always seem to have a hidden agenda

Alternative
Adjective / Noun
Adjective: Different; Other
Noun: An option that is available or offered in place of another
Adjective: Are there any alternative methods available to us? 
Noun: I wish there was an alternative

Authorization
Noun
Permission from a superior to do something
You need authorization to make that purchase.

Banknote
Noun
A paper form of legal tender
Can you deliver these banknotes to the appropriate department?

Branch
Noun
A company division or office; An extension or subdivision of a company
The bank will be opening a new branch in my area.

Clause
Noun
A specific article or stipulation within a document
The rules were clearly outlined in the third clause.

Compensation
Noun
Payment received for one’s work; Money or another asset given to someone to make up for injury or loss
Dom was unsatisfied with the compensation he received for his labor.

Consensus
Noun
Agreement
We have yet to reach a consensus concerning our email marketing campaign. 

Consumer
Noun
One who purchases a product or service
In marketing, it’s important to understand the wants and needs of the consumer.

Counter-offer
Noun
An offer given to negotiate terms after hearing an original offer
Maria didn’t like the terms laid out, so she made a counter-offer.

Estimate
Noun / Verb
Noun: An educated guess 
Verb: The act of making an educated guess
Noun: Isla made a quick estimate on how much the project would cost. 
Verb: In the United States, most self-employed persons must estimate their taxes every quarter.

Expansion
Noun
Growth 
The library network underwent a large expansion last year.

Fiscal
Adjective
Relating to taxes or other government revenue
What was our gross income for the last fiscal year?

Invoice
Noun / Verb
Noun: A document containing information on services rendered and their costs
Verb: The act of sending someone an invoice
Noun: Have you sent Mr. Hayneedle the invoice yet?
Verb: No, I still need to invoice him for our services. 

Monopoly
Noun
Exclusive possession/control of a product or service
The grocery store had a monopoly in the area, because it had no competitors.

Reinforce
Verb
To encourage or strengthen something
Eva needed to reinforce the company guidelines.

Rendezvous
Noun / Verb
Noun: A scheduled meeting
Verb: The act of attending a scheduled meeting
Noun: We have scheduled a rendezvous with the stakeholders for tomorrow afternoon.
Verb: I must rendezvous with my family at the airport next week.

Revenue
Noun
Generated income
How can we generate more revenue next year?

Strategy
Noun
A detailed plan 
I am developing a new strategy for our customer service sector. 

Transfer
Noun / Verb
Noun: A move or shift to another location
Verb: The act of moving or shifting someone/something to another location
Noun: Thank you for banking with us; the transfer was successful. 
Verb: Would you like to transfer to another department? 

Visual aid
Noun
Images, graphs, tables, or charts used to help others visualize the presented information
The presentation was quite dull because Tammy did not incorporate visual aids.

Vocational 
Adjective
Relating to one’s field of work 
Can you describe your vocational goals?

Workaholic
Noun
One who works too much or too hard, especially if they seem addicted to working despite its consequences to their health
Joe is a workaholic; he hardly ever leaves the office. 

3. Advanced Medical Words

A Doctor and Two Nurses Helping an Elderly Woman in a Wheelchair

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for healthcare workers is projected to increase 15% over the next decade. If you would like to pursue a medical career, knowing advanced English words related to medicine and health conditions is essential! 


Analgesic
Adjective / Noun
Adjective: Reducing, relieving, or preventing pain
Noun: A drug or other medium that reduces, relieves, or prevents pain
Adjective: The doctor prescribed some analgesic drugs after the surgery. 
Noun: Many analgesics are habit-inducing and not for long-term use. 

Anemia
Noun
A condition characterized by a low red blood cell count; Symptoms include dizziness and lack of energy
Nina had to take an iron supplement due to her anemia.

Anesthesia
Noun
The controlled loss of sensation, commonly used before surgery or other medical operations
Ray was put under anesthesia before his major surgery. 

Aneurysm 
Noun
A bulge in an artery resulting from a weakened point in the artery wall
Liza suffered an aneurysm after working out too hard. 

Anomaly
Noun
Something that varies from the norm
The doctors discovered an anomaly during Gerald’s annual checkup. 

Anorexia
Noun
Loss of appetite; A condition in which one starves oneself and exercises excessively in order to lose weight 
Jasmine was hospitalized due to her anorexia

Aphasia
Noun
A condition in which one has difficulty understanding or using speech
Aphasia made it difficult for Henry to communicate with his family. 

Apnea
Noun
A condition in which one’s breathing stops for extended periods while they sleep, especially common in those who are obese or have heart/lung problems
Tom’s wife told him to see a doctor for his sleep apnea

Arthritis
Noun
A condition in which one’s joints are swollen and tender
His grandmother takes medication for her arthritis

Asymptomatic
Adjective
Showing no symptoms
Many people who contract COVID-19 are asymptomatic

Atrophy
Noun / Verb
The wasting away of something, usually muscle
Noun: He experienced muscle atrophy during his long hospitalization. 
Verb: His muscles began to atrophy during his long hospitalization. 

Autopsy
Noun
An examination done postmortem to pinpoint one’s cause of death
The autopsy revealed the man died of a heart attack.

Benign
Adjective
Not cancerous; Not likely to spread or be harmful
Lucille was relieved to hear that her tumor was benign

Biopsy
Noun
An examination done on human tissue to determine if a disease is present
Where are the results from the biopsy

Bronchitis
Noun
A condition in which the bronchial tubes (which carry air to/from the lungs) become inflamed
His coughing was a symptom of bronchitis

Carcinogenic
Adjective
Causing cancer
Processed meat and alcohol are said to be carcinogenic

Cardiology
Noun
A branch of medicine focusing on heart problems and other issues related to the circulatory system
Mellany studied cardiology for several years. 

Cauterization
Noun
The act of burning a section of the body in order to stop excessive bleeding or remove infected skin
Kevin’s wound required cauterization.

Chemotherapy
Noun
A standardized procedure using several drugs to target cancer cells
Their grandfather had finally finished his last round of chemotherapy

Chronic
Adjective
Long-lasting or permanent
Some medical conditions are chronic, such as arthritis. 

Colic
Noun
A condition in which a newborn baby cries for several hours a day over the course of several weeks
Valerie hadn’t slept all week because her baby had colic

Cranium
Noun
The skull
He’s lucky he didn’t fracture his cranium after that fall! 

Dementia
Noun
A condition encompassing symptoms such as memory loss and difficulty with speech
Sara’s aunt was diagnosed with dementia and could not remember her. 

Dermatitis
Noun
A general term for skin conditions or diseases
Sometimes, lotion can soothe the skin of those with dermatitis

Diagnosis
Noun
The identification of a condition based on symptoms
Buck anxiously waited to hear the diagnosis

Hemorrhage
Noun / Verb
Noun: A condition in which a ruptured vessel bleeds
Verb: To suffer a hemorrhage
Noun: There’s a hemorrhage in his brain that must be treated immediately. 
Verb: Once her brain began to hemorrhage, there was nothing more they could do. 

Psychiatry
Noun
The study and treatment of mental and/or emotional issues
Kellie studied psychiatry so that she could become a therapist. 

Residency
Noun
A period of time (usually several years) during which medical students practice what they’ve learned firsthand
After completing his five-year residency, Hector celebrated with friends and family. 

Therapy
Noun
The act of working with a therapist to overcome problems that interfere with your life (anxiety, depression, etc.)
Joyce began therapy after her divorce. 

4. Advanced Legal Words

Two People Swearing an Oath on the Bible in Court

Is it your parents’ dream for you to become a lawyer or a judge? Then you’d better study up! And I don’t mean on laws—there’s a ton of terminology and other advanced English terms you’ll need to know before donning that judicial robe. 

    → There are a few additional words on our Law Vocab Builder page. Hear their pronunciation and practice along!

Acquit
Verb
To clear someone of all charges against them
The man accused of robbery was acquitted of the crime. 

Adjudicate
Verb
To make an informed decision on a dispute
The jury plays a large role in adjudicating a case.

Affidavit
Noun
A written statement signed over oath and used as court evidence
William had to sign an affidavit to gain access to his funds.

Appeal
Noun / Verb
Noun: A request to change a ruling
Verb: The act of requesting a change to a ruling
Noun: He quickly filed an appeal to reverse the ruling. 
Verb: Olivia appealed to the higher court on the issue. 

Apprehend
Verb
To arrest
The criminal was apprehended by police at his home. 

Arraign
Verb
To call someone to court in order to answer a charge against them
Alyssa was arraigned due to suspicion of her involvement in a crime. 

Bail
Noun / Verb
Noun: A specified amount of money to be paid in order to release someone from jail
Verb: The act of paying said amount of money
Noun: Riley posted bail to release her son from jail. 
Verb: Wayne refused to bail his father out of jail. 

Bankruptcy
Noun
A legal process which allows debtors who cannot repay their debts to be relieved of the responsibility
Her mother filed for bankruptcy last year. 

Class-action lawsuit
Noun
A situation where several plaintiffs may simultaneously file and prosecute a complaint against the same party
Did you hear about that class-action lawsuit on the news? 

Complaint
Noun
A formal statement concerning an issue that one would like resolved
Jose decided to file a complaint against his neighbor. 

Curfew
Noun
A specific time by which time a person should not be outside of their home
The city government imposed a curfew of 11 p.m. on its citizens. 

Deed
Noun
A legal document that proves one’s ownership (of a house, property, car, etc.)
The Gallagers couldn’t find the deed to their home. 

Defendant
Noun
The party in court that has been accused of a crime or misdemeanor
The defendant kept his head down as he walked into the courtroom. 

Detention
Noun
The act of detaining someone
She underwent detention because she was a major suspect. 

Embezzlement
Noun
Handling the money of another in a way that is unauthorized, especially when done for personal financial gain
The businessman and his colleague were charged with embezzlement

Equity
Noun
1) A principle that encourages fairness in court rulings, especially those that are not straightforward
2) The actual value of a property
1) The court used the principle of equity in its ruling. 
2) The equity of the home was not impressive. 

Espionage
Noun
The act of spying on the political or military status of another country for the sake of one’s own country
The woman was openly accused of espionage

Evict
Verb
To legally remove someone as a resident of your home or other owned property
Matthew had to evict his friend from their shared apartment. 

Expiration
Noun
The act of ceasing to be valid by a specified date
Before the expiration of the contract, you will need to renew it. 

Felony
Noun
A crime
Robert’s brother committed a felony many years ago. 

Foreclosure
Noun
A situation where a mortgagor is forced to put their home up for sale due to not being able to make their payments
The foreclosure wreaked havoc on the family’s finances. 

Impeachment
Noun
The act of legally removing someone from their station, especially in government 
The government official faced impeachment as a result of his actions. 

Infringement
Noun
The act of breaking an agreement or limiting one’s right to something
Jessica sued her company over the infringement of her contract with them. 

Interrogation
Noun
The act of questioning someone in order to gain information (or a confession)
The interrogation lasted several hours, but yielded no results. 

Jurisprudence
Noun
A legal system
Abigail was well-studied in U.S. jurisprudence

Legislation
Noun
Laws on a given topic that are considered collectively
What are your thoughts on the current legislation

Legitimate
Adjective
Adhering to the law
Tristan was uncertain whether the company’s actions were legitimate

Liable
Adjective
Legally responsible for
The court deems you liable for the damage. 

Magistrate
Noun
A court official who typically helps in resolving smaller disputes
The magistrate resolved a minor dispute between neighbors. 

Malpractice
Noun
Physical activity that has been handled in an illegal or negligent manner
The hospital was sued for malpractice by a former patient. 

Marshal
Noun
The administrative head of a police department
Wendy was served the eviction notice via the marshal

Misdemeanor
Noun
A petty crime
The teenager had several misdemeanors on her record. 

Negligent
Adjective
Lacking the due care, caution, or diligence required for a given task or role
The court found him negligent in his duties. 

Null and void
Adjective
No longer binding or applicable
This contract is now null and void

Nullify
Verb
To cause an agreement or contract to be no longer binding or applicable
How can I nullify the agreement? 

Parole
Noun
 
A release from jail or prison, based on a set of rules the releasee must agree and adhere to
Noun: The prisoner was placed on parole

Penalty
Noun
A specified amount of money owed for breaking an agreement or contract, or otherwise failing to meet legally binding expectations
Sylvia had to pay a penalty of $1000 for breaking the contract.

Perjury
Noun
The act of lying while under oath
Barney was accused of perjury

Plaintiff
Noun
A person who accuses another party of committing a crime
The plaintiff accused the defendant of stealing her money. 

Prosecutor
Noun
One who performs the act of prosecuting a party in court
The prosecutor put forth the case against the defendant. 

Premarital
Adjective
Relating to a time prior to one’s marriage
The couple drafted and signed a premarital agreement. 

Precedent
Adjective / Noun
Adjective: Happening before another event or action
Noun: A ruling or court case example that serves as a model for future cases
Adjective: The precedent ceremonies seemed to take a long time. 
Noun: The judge drew on old precedents to rule the case. 

Refutation
Noun
A statement that declares another statement untrue or invalid
The lawyer put forth a refutation of the plaintiff’s account of events. 

Sentence
Noun / Verb
Noun: A formally declared judgement or punishment of the guilty party
Verb: To put forth the judgement or punishment of the guilty party
Noun: Joe was served a life sentence in prison for his heinous crimes. 
Verb: I hereby sentence you to life in prison.

Statute
Noun
A law
Emily became familiar with several statutes while studying law. 

Summons
Noun
An order to appear in court
Ursula received a summons to appear in court the following Thursday. 

Tenancy
Noun
The state of being a legal resident on a property
Her husband’s tenancy was in dispute. 

Treason
Noun
A crime committed against one’s own country
The politician was accused of high treason

Verdict
Noun
An official decision
The final verdict shocked nearly everyone in the courtroom.

Writ
Noun
A formal written document that contains an official order
She received a writ commanding her to testify on a case. 

5. Bonus: Alternative Words for Acing Your English Exam

Are you nervous about an upcoming English exam or essay? Then there are three things you should do: 

1) Practice some de-stressing methods

2) Head over to our article on The IELTS Exam

3) Study the following list of advanced English words for essays. 

Note: The words in red are basic words that you could use, and the words in green are more advanced words you should use instead. 

Another Note: There’s a time and place for any word to be used, even a basic one. If you’re ever in doubt about the exact meaning of an advanced word, it may be better to use the basic one that’s less nuanced. 

Verbs

Two Colleagues Looking Over Stats

I concur with his analysis.

AgreeConcur
I agree with his analysis.

Vs.

I concur with his analysis. 

AskInquire
I asked about her work.

Vs.

I inquired about her work.

BuyPurchase / Acquire
She bought a new dress.

Vs.

She purchased a new dress. 
She acquired a new dress.

DelayDefer / Postpone
The school delayed its opening.

Vs.

The school deferred its opening. 
The school postponed its opening.

ExpectAnticipate
I expect she will marry soon.

Vs.

I anticipate she will marry soon.

FindDiscover
It took her years to find her hidden talents.

Vs.

It took her years to discover her hidden talents.

GiveOffer / Provide
He gave his children an allowance.

Vs.

He offered his children an allowance.
He provided his children with an allowance.

HaveOwn / Possess
She has many houses.

Vs.

She owns many houses.
She possesses many houses.

KnowComprehend / Understand
Mr. Luis knows the law.

Vs.

Mr. Luis comprehends the law.
Mr. Luis understands the law.

LookExamine
I looked at the pictures.

Vs.

I examined the pictures.

MakeCreate 
He made significant changes within the company.

Vs.

He created significant changes within the company.

NeedRequire
I need additional resources to achieve my goal.

Vs.

I require additional resources to achieve my goal. 

PutPlace
This has put much strain on the organization.

Vs.

This has placed much strain on the organization.

SayClaim
She said they are having financial difficulties.

Vs.

She claimed they are having financial difficulties.

ShowIllustrate / Reveal
This shows how far the nation has fallen.

Vs.

This illustrates how far the nation has fallen.
This reveals how far the nation has fallen.

StartArise / Begin / Develop
When did the problem start?

Vs.

When did the problem arise?
When did the problem begin?
When did the problem develop?

TalkDiscuss
We need to talk about our plans for next year.

Vs.

We need to discuss our plans for next year.

TryAttempt
The doctor tried to save the patient.

Vs.

The doctor attempted to save the patient. 

UseEmploy / Utilize
We need to use additional resources.

Vs.

We need to employ additional resources.
We need to utilize additional resources.

WantDesire / Long for
It is normal to want companionship. 

Vs.

It is normal to desire companionship.
It is normal to long for companionship.

Adverbs

A Woman Whose Nose Is Growing as She Lies

She is certainly not telling the truth.

AfterwardSubsequently
The company went bankrupt and notified the public afterward.

Vs.

The company went bankrupt and notified the public subsequently

AlsoMoreover
Also, she has never been married.

Vs.

Moreover, she has never been married.

CarefullyTediously
The bookkeeper carefully recorded the numbers.

Vs.

The bookkeeper tediously recorded the numbers.

DefinitelyCertainly
She is definitely not telling the truth.

Vs.

She is certainly not telling the truth.

ExactlyPrecisely
Please arrive at exactly four o’clock.

Vs.

Please arrive at precisely four o’clock.

MainlyLargely
It was mainly a matter of patience.

Vs.

It was largely a matter of patience.

OnlyMerely
She was only fifteen.

Vs.

She was merely fifteen.

On purposeDeliberately
The bank misled their customers on purpose.

Vs.

The bank misled their customers deliberately.

QuicklyPromptly
Please respond to this email quickly.

Vs.

Please respond to this email promptly

ReallyQuite
She was really inconsiderate.

Vs.

She was quite inconsiderate.

SoTherefore / Thus
He left the company, so we must find a replacement.

Vs.

He left the company, therefore we must find a replacement.
He left the company, thus we must find a replacement.

TooOverly
The new trainee was too optimistic.

Vs.

The new trainee was overly optimistic.

Adjectives

An Angry Man with Hands Over His Head

He was upset at the outcome.

AngryUpset
He was angry at the outcome.

Vs.

He was upset at the outcome.

BeautifulAttractive / Lovely
The interior decorating was beautiful.

Vs.

The interior decorating was attractive.
The interior decorating was lovely.

BigEnormous / Large / Significant
The event had a big impact on the future.

Vs.

The event had an enormous impact on the future.
The event had a large impact on the future.
The event had a significant impact on the future.

CheapAffordable / Budget-friendly
The desk was cheap.

Vs. 

The desk was affordable.
The desk was budget-friendly.

GoodBeneficial 
The result was good for everyone.

Vs.

The result was beneficial for everyone. 

HappyEcstatic / Glad 
He was happy about his promotion.

Vs.

He was ecstatic about his promotion.
He was glad about his promotion.

InterestingFascinating / Noteworthy
Here are some interesting facts.

Vs.

Here are some fascinating facts.
Here are some noteworthy facts.

PoliteAmiable / Well-mannered
The interviewer was very polite.

Vs.

The interviewer was very amiable.
The interviewer was very well-mannered.

PoorLess fortunate / Proletariat*
We should help the poor in our society.

Vs.

We should help the less fortunate in our society.

*Proletariat is a term from Marxist theory that refers to the poor working class. 

RichWealthy / Bourgeoisie*
The rich should give to the poor. 

Vs.

The wealthy should give to the poor. 

*Bourgeoisie is a term from Marxist theory that refers to members of society who control the means of production to serve their own interests.

SadDepressed / Mournful / Sorrowful
She was sad after her mother passed away.

Vs.

She was depressed after her mother passed away.
She was mournful after her mother passed away.
She was sorrowful after her mother passed away.

SmallPetite / Tiny
The dog was small

Vs.

The dog was petite.
The dog was tiny.

UglyUnappealing / Unattractive
The dress was ugly.

Vs.

The dress was unappealing.
The dress was unattractive

Conjunctions

A Green Apple and An Orange

I like both apples and oranges.

AndBoth… and…
I like apples and oranges.

Vs.

I like both apples and oranges.

OrEither… or…
I want pizza or Chinese food

Vs.

I want either pizza or Chinese food.

NorNeither… nor…
I do not like pineapple nor water chestnuts

Vs.

I like neither pineapple nor water chestnuts.

Prepositions

AboutConcerning / Regarding
May we have a talk about your son?

Vs.

May we have a talk concerning your son?
May we have a talk regarding your son?

ByNear
He lives by my house.

Vs.

He lives near my house.

In spite ofNotwithstanding
In spite of the snow, the school opened at its normal time.

Vs.

Notwithstanding the snow, the school opened at its normal time.

FromVia
He got cash from the ATM.

Vs.

He got cash via the ATM.

6. Conclusion

A Woman Raising Her Arms in Victory Atop a Mountain

Remember that your English learning journey is one with no definite end point—you can progress and learn as much as you want, and each achievement will feel like a major victory! We hope this article gave you some new vocabulary goals to work toward and has helped you take another step toward your life goals. 

Did you know any of these words already, or were they all new to you? As always, feel free to drop us a comment with any questions or concerns you have regarding the advanced English words we covered. 

Whatever direction your studies are taking, know that you can count on EnglishClass101 to provide you with fun, detailed lessons on every aspect of the English language. Speaking of, be sure to keep your eyes peeled for our upcoming article series on beginner, intermediate, and advanced English phrases. 😉 In the meantime, you can also explore our advanced English course library and scope out the best lesson pathway for your studies. 

Happy learning!

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Master a Conversation with These English Phone Call Phrases

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You recently moved to the United States. Unfortunately, you get an incredibly painful toothache within your first week of residence. What should you do?

Hello. Thank you for calling Bright Smile Dental Clinic. This is Jenny. How may I help you?
*silence*
Hello? Hello?

Language barriers, especially on the phone, can be so inconvenient. Today, you will learn how to overcome such situations with common English phone call phrases.

Placing phone calls in English is easier than you think. For starters, phone call phrases are often routine. Therefore, learning the common ones in English will make calls easier to understand and respond to.

In this article, you’ll learn how to handle a phone call in English in both professional and casual contexts. By the conclusion, you will know how to:

  • Answer the phone
  • Make reservations and appointments
  • Arrange a meeting with friends and acquaintances
  • Leave a message
  • Ask to speak to someone

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in English Table of Contents
  1. The Roles of a Caller and Receiver
  2. Politeness on the Phone
  3. Stating the Reason for Your Call
  4. Ways to Speak to Someone During a Phone Call
  5. How to End a Phone Call
  6. Sample Phone Conversations
  7. Subscribe to EnglishClass101.com!

1. The Roles of a Caller and Receiver

During phone calls, you play the role of either:

  • Caller – the person making the phone call
  • Receiver – the person answering the phone

The atmosphere of a call changes, depending on whether it is a casual or professional phone call. For close acquaintances, friends, family, and regular callers, it is advisable to add their phone numbers to your Caller ID. Additionally, mobile phones have the option to categorize callers from family members to coworkers.

Your role as a caller and receiver changes, depending on who you talk to via phone.

Let’s first review how you answer the phone as both the caller and receiver.

How to Say “Hello”

First of all, there is a very important word that you must say whenever placing or answering a phone call. 

Hello.

However, your tone changes depending on your role. If you are the caller, you must say “Hello” as a statement or a neutral tone. If you are the receiver, you will answer with “Hello” interrogatively, while saying the final syllable with a rising intonation.

Here is an example phone call as a caller.

Thank you for calling the Italian Bistro. This is Mike. How may I help you?
Hello. I would like to make a reservation for Friday night please.

Here is an example as a receiver.

Hello?
Hello. This is Jenny at the Bright Smile Dental Clinic, calling to confirm your appointment for tomorrow afternoon.

You will say “Hello” these ways when having business-related phone calls or talking to people who are unfamiliar. However, the calls are vastly different when answering or placing a call with a friend. With friends, “Hello” is a little too formal.

Hello?
Hey, this is Tyler!
Oh! Hi, Tyler! What’s up?
Are you free tonight?

Chatting with a Friend

When making the phone call, your friend will act familiar, unless they do not have your phone number saved in their Caller ID.

Hey! What’s up? I missed you!
Hi, Tyler! BTS’s concert ticket sales will go live in two hours! Should I buy one for you, too?

Those are the common phone calls in English. It always depends on who you are talking to. As you become familiar with these calls, it becomes easier.

Here are more ways to say “Hello.”

2. Politeness on the Phone

There are some rules for having phone calls in English, particularly in America.

Stating Who You Are

In America, it is common courtesy to state who you are first when you are placing a call. Never call someone and ask for their name first. Otherwise, it appears rude and may result in something similar to the following tense conversation:

Hello?
Hello. Is this Joseph?
Who wants to know?

When calling someone, always state your name before asking someone to reveal their identity.

Hello?
Hello. This is [your name], calling for Joseph. Is he available?
This is he.

On the contrary, it is advisable to not reveal your name before a caller. If this ever happens, always respond by asking, “May I ask who is calling?” If the caller refuses to reveal their name first, there is nothing wrong with simply hanging up and/or blocking the caller’s number.

However, if the caller introduces himself or herself first, it is courteous practice. Likely, if someone calls you, they want to speak with you specifically. Therefore, they will commonly ask “Is this [your name]?” or “Is [your name] available?” It is more formal to respond with “This is he/she.

Here is an example conversation. 

Hello?
Hello. This is Kiki of Latimer Motors, calling for [your name]. Is she/he available?
This is he/she.
Hello, [your name]. We received your job application and want to schedule an interview with you.

If you are having professional phone calls, you would want to state your identity by mentioning your company name, too.

When answering the phone, you will say, “This is [company], [your name] speaking.” To express even more politeness, thank the caller beforehand.

Answering a Call at Work

Thank you for calling Latimer Motors. This is [your name]. How may I help you?

If you say these phrases during phone calls, you will appear nearly fluent in English.

Here is more info on how to introduce yourself on the phone in English.

3. Stating the Reason for Your Call

In order to have a successful English phone call conversation, you should be able to state the reason for your call.

You may want to ask a question.

I’m calling to ask if you have the Playstation 5 in stock.
I’d like to talk to someone about vehicle appraisals.
I am calling, because…

You can make appointments or reservations.

I’d like to make an appointment/reservation for [date].

It can also be as simple as returning a missed call.

This is [your name], returning your phone call.

Once you boost your vocabulary in English, it will be easier to express your wants and needs during phone calls. You can increase your vocabulary quickly with vocabulary lists on EnglishClass101.com!

4. Ways to Speak to Someone During a Phone Call

We touched on how to begin a phone conversation, but now we will review how to extend the phone conversation.

Asking to Speak to Someone

Perhaps there is a particular person that you would like to speak with. 

Imagine that you are looking for an attorney who specializes in personal injury. After searching for law firms nearby on Google, you located one that is rated 4.6 stars.

There are three common situations for phone calls similar to this one. If the main desk answers, the conversation will go like this:

Thank you for calling [name] Law Firm. This is Natalie. How may I direct your call?
May you please transfer me to [name]?

Maybe you dialed your friend’s number, but someone unfamiliar answered.

Hello?
Oh! Hello. This is [your name]. Is Tyler available?

Lastly, you can simply ask “May I speak to…” Once you learn how to ask to speak to someone, you must know the language for asking someone to wait.

Asking Someone to Wait

There are various reasons to ask someone to wait. Maybe the receiver has to check on an answer to a question.

If you are still anxious to know the availability of the Playstation 5, for example, you may hear either of the following common English phone call phrases:

  • Just a moment, let me check.
  • I am going to transfer you to the Electronics Department. Please hold.

Placing Someone on Hold

In any situation, you will most likely hear this regularly said phrase.

Do you mind if I place you on a brief hold?

You may also hear the following:

Let me see if he/she is available. Please hold.
I am going to transfer you to his/her office. Please hold.

If you happen to be the receiver, you can practice those phrases, too. Hypothetically, if someone says something that you do not understand, you can always say, “Do you mind if I place you on a brief hold?” Then you can locate someone who can better assist the caller.

However, it is not polite to leave someone on hold for more than two minutes. Whether you are the receiver or caller, you should learn how to leave or take a message in such cases.

How to Leave and Take Messages

In cases where there is a long wait or the requested person is unavailable, you should take a message. A message consists of the caller’s name and callback number. Additionally, the message can have the caller’s reason for calling. However, the reason may be too personal. Therefore, do not ask for the reason. The caller will state the reason himself/herself.

You can take the message by saying the following:

Employee Taking a Message

[name] is unavailable at the moment. Can I take a message?

There are easier options, too, such as transferring the caller to the person’s voicemail. That way, they can leave their info independently.

If you are the caller and want to leave a message, you can say either of the following:

  • Can you please transfer me to his/her voicemail?
  • Can I leave a message?
  • Can you please tell him/her to return my call?

Here is more info on how to leave messages via voicemail.

After taking and when leaving the message, you have to make sure the info is accurate. That is where clarification comes in!

Asking for Clarification

When taking messages, we always ask for clarification. The message must be accurate in order to deliver it appropriately.

There may be times when you cannot hear the caller. In these cases, you will say:

I’m sorry. Can you please repeat that?

If you sense a bad connection, you can say the phrase below:

I’m sorry, but I’m having a hard time hearing you. I think there’s a bad connection.

Sometimes, certain names can be complicated to spell.

Can I take a message?
Yes, please. My name is Ashleigh.

You may or may not know that the spelling is different from the common name “Ashley.” You can ask the person…

Could you spell your name for me please?

When asking for clarification in English, not only do we repeat, but we use phonetic alphabets. Phonetic alphabets are commonly used in telecommunications. It is a list of words used for identifying letters of the alphabet. For example, here is Ashleigh’s response.

Yes. That’s “A” as in “Adam,” “S” as in “Sam,” “H” as in “Henry,” “L” as in “Larry,” “E” as in “Edward,” “I” as in “igloo,” “G” as in “George,” and “H” as in “Henry.”

Is your name unique? If so, save the receiver the trouble by immediately spelling your name.

Can I take a message?
Yes, please. My name is [your name]. That’s…

Based on this easy phonetic alphabet chart, how do you spell your name?

AAdamKKateUUnicorn
BBoyLLarryVVictor
CCharlieMMaryWWilliam
DDavidNNancyXX-ray
EEdwardOOscarYYo-yo
FFrankPPeterZZebra
GGeorgeQQueen
HHenryRRobert
IIglooSSam
JJohnTTom

When giving phone numbers in English, we often say it as an individual number. For example, we commonly read 234-567-8910 as 2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-1-0. However, sometimes, a person may read the last four digits as tens. It would be read as 2-3-4-5-6-7-89-10. To make things easier for the receiver, say your phone number as individual numbers.

Also, it is always best to repeat for clarification.

Thank you. I’m going to repeat it to make sure everything is correct. That’s [repeat spelling of name conventionally] and [say phone number as individual numbers]. Is that right?

If it is not correct, the caller will repeat to provide the correction.

5. How to End a Phone Call

Lastly, it is time to learn how to end a phone conversation. The common way to end a conversation is with “Bye.” However, there are more phrases to end calls before saying “Bye.” It is practically a summary of the call, giving thanks, and/or offering additional help.

For professional phone calls, you will likely hear or say the following phrases:

Is there anything else I can help you with?
Your reservation/appointment is set for [date] at [time].
Thank you for calling [company]. Have a good day.
You have been very helpful. Thank you.

For friends, it is a lot more casual. With friends, either you end a long conversation with phrases like these…

  • Talk to you later!
  • It was great talking to you!
  • Have a good day/night!

Or you say phrases confirming a meetup like these:

  • I can’t wait to see you on [day]!
  • See you then/later/soon! or See you on [day]!

In English, the very last word spoken on a phone call is Bye. Whether you’re having a formal or informal conversation, do not forget to say Bye.

6. Sample Phone Conversations

Here are two sample English phone call dialogues. The first one is informal, and the second one is formal.

Two friends are setting up a time to meet for brunch on a weekend.

Phone rings. The caller ID says “Tyler.”

– Hi, Tyler!
– Hi there! How’s it going?
– It’s going well! How about you?
– Same here! Are you free on Sunday morning at 11?
– No, I’m free. Why?
– There’s a German restaurant nearby that opened recently. Do you want to try their brunch menu together?
– That sounds great!
– Awesome! I’ll call and make the reservation now.
– Perfect! Thanks, Tyler!
– No problem! See you on Sunday!
– See you on Sunday! Bye!
– Bye!

Reserved Table

Tyler calls the German restaurant.

– Thank you for calling Better Bratwurst. This is Jon. How may I help you?
– Yes. I’d like to make a reservation for two on Sunday morning at 11.
– Sure. May I have your name and phone number please?
– Yes. My name is Tyler. That’s “T” as in “Tom,” “Y” as in “Yo-yo,” “L” as in “Larry,” “E” as in “Edward,” and “R” as in “Robert.” My phone number is 2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-1-0.
– Thank you for that information. I set your reservation for two on Sunday morning at 11. Is there anything else I – can help you with?
– No, that is all. Thank you so much.
– You’re very welcome. Thank you for calling Better Bratwurst. Have a good day.
– You too. Bye.

7. Subscribe to EnglishClass101.com!

Congratulations! You made it through your first lesson of common English phone call phrases! You now know how to answer the phone, state who you are, leave messages, and more! We hope you’re feeling more confident now, but let us know in the comments if there are any phrases or situations you’re still uncertain about. We’ll be glad to help! 

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Exactly 245 Basic English Words for Beginners

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A: “Have you seen Clara today?”
B: “Yeah! She was at the…uhm…the…the community center.”

Have you ever had this happen to you during a conversation? 

Forgetting the word for something is common enough in one’s native language, but it can become a real struggle when speaking a foreign language. 

Vocabulary is the most essential element in being able to communicate with others. Knowing just a couple hundred words can help you express your needs and wants and allow you to talk with others.

In this article, we’ll introduce 245 basic English words for beginners. These are words that you should know at the beginner level (levels A1 and A2 of the CEFR scale). You will hear and use the words on this list every day!

Many of these words may be familiar to you already, and some of them may be new to you. We recommend taking note of any words you don’t recognize and adding them to a flashcard deck. 

Let’s get started.

Three Women Chatting in the Kitchen

A good vocabulary will help you communicate effectively in English and make friends!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in English Table of Contents
  1. Pronouns
  2. Numerals
  3. Nouns
  4. Verbs
  5. Adjectives
  6. Conjunctions
  7. Final Thoughts

1. Pronouns

The first set of words you should add to your English vocabulary are pronouns. Many learners struggle to learn them, but they serve a few important functions. Pronouns are the words we use in place of nouns to make sentences smoother and to avoid redundancy of proper nouns. 

Personal

#1

II make soup.

#2

You [s]You make soup.

#3

He / She / ItHe makes soup.

#4

WeWe make soup.

#5

You [p]You make soup.

#6

TheyThey make soup.
Chicken Noodle Soup

I make soup.

Demonstrative

#7

ThisWhat is this?

#8

ThatWhat is that?

#9

TheseWhat are these?

#10

ThoseWhat are those?
A Little Boy Pointing at Something at a Carnival

What is that?

Interrogative

#11

WhatWhat does it mean?

#12

WhoWho are you?

#13

WhereWhere is the bathroom?

#14

WhenWhen is the meeting?

#15

WhyWhy did you leave early?

#16

HowHow do you feel?
A Question Mark Written in Chalk

Interrogative pronouns help you ask questions.

Reflexive

#17

MyselfI ate the pizza myself.

#18

YourselfWhere do you see yourself in ten years?

#19

HimselfHe needs to take better care of himself.

#20

HerselfShe went to the mall by herself.

#21

OurselvesWe were ashamed of ourselves.

#22

YourselvesWhat will you do with yourselves?

#23

ThemselvesThey ate the whole pie themselves.
A Stack of Pumpkin Pies

They ate the whole pie themselves.

2. Numerals

Numbers are everywhere, so it’s important that you know how to read numbers and talk about numbers out loud.

    → You can find a few more numbers in our Numbers vocabulary list and learn how to use them in our article Numbers in English

#24

One (1)I’ll have one cookie, please.

#25

Two (2)I’ll have two cookies, please.

#26

Three (3)I’ll have three cookies, please.

#27

Four (4)I’ll have four cookies, please.

#28

Five (5)I’ll have five cookies, please.

#29

Six (6)I’ll have six cookies, please.

#30

Seven (7)I’ll have seven cookies, please.

#31

Eight (8)I’ll have eight cookies, please.

#32

Nine (9)I’ll have nine cookies, please.

#33

Ten (10)I’ll have ten cookies, please.
Chocolate Chip Cookies Beside and Inside a Brown Paper Bag

I’ll have seven cookies, please.

3. Nouns

Nouns are the most important English words for beginners to learn. Even if you have a limited vocabulary, nouns can help you get your point across. 

In English, there are common nouns and proper nouns. Common nouns simply label an object or idea (boy, park, month). Proper nouns give a specific name to a common noun (Jim, Eisenhower Park, October). As you will notice, proper nouns are capitalized in English. 

You will see both types of nouns on this list.

People

#34

PeopleWho are those people?

#35

ManThat man is wearing a hat.

#36

WomanThat woman is wearing a scarf.

#37

ChildThat child is playing a game.

#38

HusbandThis is my husband, Roger.

#39

WifeThis is my wife, Ellen.

#40

SonHere is our son, Thomas.

#41

DaughterHere is our daughter, Susan.

#42

GrandmotherIs Grandmother doing well?

#43

GrandfatherIs Grandfather doing well?

#44

BrotherI have a younger brother.

#45

SisterI also have a younger sister.

#46

SiblingsThey are my siblings.
Neighbors Greeting Each Other

This is my wife, Ellen.

Occupations

#47

WorkThat was hard work.

#48

JobDo you have a job?

#49

OccupationWhat is your occupation?

#50

LawyerSteve is a lawyer.

#51

FarmerSue is a farmer.

#52

EngineerHe is an engineer.

#53

MechanicShe is a mechanic.

#54

ElectricianHe wants to be an electrician.

#55

DesignerShe wants to be a designer.

#56

GardenerHer mother is a gardener.

#57

DoctorHis father was a doctor.

#58

PharmacistPolly works as a pharmacist.

#59

PlumberDavid works as a plumber.

#60

BarberDavid’s brother is a barber.

#61

SalespersonPolly’s sister is a salesperson.

#62

ClerkYou are a good clerk.
A Doctor Examining a Pill Bottle

His father was a doctor.

Time

#63

TimeWhat time is it?

#64

SecondA second is a very short unit of time.

#65

MinuteA minute is sixty seconds.

#66

HourAn hour is sixty minutes.

#67

DayWhat day is this?

#68

WeekI made cookies last week.

#69

MonthWhat are you doing next month?

#70

YearNext year is full of opportunities.

#71

MondayMonday is the first day of the work week.

#72

TuesdayTuesday is the second day of the work week.

#73

WednesdayWednesday is the third day of the work week.

#74

ThursdayThursday is the fourth day of the work week.

#75

FridayFriday is the fifth day of the work week.

#76

SaturdaySaturday is the first day of the weekend.

#77

SundaySunday is the second day of the weekend.

#78

JanuaryJanuary is the first month.

#79

FebruaryFebruary is the second month.

#80

MarchMarch is the third month.

#81

AprilApril is the fourth month.

#82

MayMay is the fifth month.

#83

JuneJune is the sixth month.

#84

JulyJuly is the seventh month.

#85

AugustAugust is the eighth month.

#86

SeptemberSeptember is the ninth month.

#87

OctoberOctober is the tenth month.

#88

November November is the eleventh month.

#89

DecemberDecember is the twelfth month.
An Image of All Twelve Months

Body Parts

#90

HeadMy head hurts.

#91

FaceYou have a pretty face.

#92

NeckHer neck is sore.

#93

ShoulderShe dislocated her shoulder.

#94

ChestAre you having chest pains?

#95

ArmWhat happened to his arm?

#96

HandLet me see your hand.

#97

FingerI cut my finger chopping vegetables.

#98

LegDon’t put pressure on your leg.

#99

FootWhich foot did you hurt?

#100

ToeI stubbed my toe.

#101

StomachMy stomach is rumbling.

#102

BackSitting too much is bad for your back.
A Woman Rubbing Her Neck

Her neck is sore.

Food

#103

VegetableBroccoli is my favorite vegetable.

#104

FruitAvocado is my favorite fruit.

#105

GrainQuinoa is a healthy grain.

#106

MeatShe doesn’t eat meat.

#107

DairyMilk and cheese are dairy products.

#108

EggCrack the egg in the bowl.

#109

OilPut oil in the pan.

#110

ButterMelt the butter in the microwave.

#111

SaltAdd salt to taste.

#112

PepperAdd pepper to taste.
A Chef Seasoning a Dish

Add salt to taste.

Around Town

#113

HospitalHe is sick in the hospital.

#114

SupermarketCan you pick up milk at the supermarket?

#115

SchoolI don’t want to go to school.

#116

DowntownWe can meet up downtown.

#117

Movie theaterWe saw a film at the movie theater.

#118

Jail / PrisonShe was taken to jail yesterday for a crime.

#119

LibraryYou must be quiet in the library.

#120

Community centerOur community center has a pool.

#121

ParkShe took her son to the park.

#122

Restaurant The food at the restaurant was wonderful!

#123

MallWe can buy clothes at the mall.

#124

CarYou must travel there by car.

#125

RoadHe walked up the road.

#126

StreetMake a left on the next street.

#127

TrainYou must travel there by train.

#128

BusYou must travel there by bus.

A Woman Reading the Label on a Milk Jug

Can you pick up milk at the supermarket?

School and Office

#129

DeskRyan sat at his desk.

#130

ChairLily bought a new chair yesterday.

#131

PencilI need to sharpen this pencil.

#132

PenThat pen is out of ink.

#133

NotebookThe notebook is full.

#134

BookTurn to page 228 in your book.

#135

PaperclipMay I have a paperclip?

#136

StaplerUse the stapler to keep the pages in order.

#137

DrawerPut your sack lunch in the drawer.

#138

CabinetThere’s more glue in the cabinet.

#139

FolderPlace the assignment in your folder.

#140

FileWhich computer file do I open?

#141

ComputerThis computer isn’t working.

#142

KeyboardThis keyboard is missing a letter.

#143

MouseI use an ergonomic mouse every day.

#144

EmailHave you received my email?

A Man Frustrated with His Computer Work

This computer isn’t working.

4. Verbs

When you use verbs and nouns together, you can form a complete sentence. Here are some of the most common English beginner verbs. 

    → We list plenty of verbs here, but if you want to learn more, read our article on 100+ Verbs in English!

Daily Routine

#145

Get upI get up at six every morning.

#146

Brush (one’s) teethYou should brush your teeth every day.

#147

Comb (one’s) hairDid Peter comb his hair today?

#148

Get cleaned upI should get cleaned up before dinner.

#149

BatheDoes Emma bathe often?

#150

ShowerI shower after a workout.

#151

EatLacy doesn’t eat much.

#152

DrinkI drink black tea in the morning.

#153

Go to workWhat time do you go to work?

#154

Go to schoolDo you still go to school?

#155

WorkI don’t like to work on the weekend.

#156

StudyDan wants to study nutrition.

#157

DriveCan Wendy drive yet?

#158

RideMay I ride with you to work?

#159

SleepShe needs to sleep more.
A Little Girl Brushing Her Teeth

You should brush your teeth every day.

Other Common Verbs

#160

GiveLet me give you this present.

#161

GetCan you get the remote for me?

#162

BringDid you bring her the flowers?

#163

ReturnEric forgot to return the library book.

#164

DoDoes Sherri do yoga?

#165

UseHow do you use that device?

#166

MakeTori makes dinner every night.

#167

CanI can speak a little Spanish.

#168

PutWhere did you put the scissors?

#169

LetWhy won’t he let me help?

#170

LeaveThe angry man was asked to leave.

#171

AskMay I ask you a question?

#172

TellShe promised not to tell the secret.

#173

TalkHarry and Helen need to talk.

#174

FindDid you find your cell phone yet?

#175

GreetHe didn’t greet me.

#176

SmileYou should smile more.

#177

RunThey run together every morning.

#178

SitWhere can I sit?

#179

Lie downHe is sick and needs to lie down.

#180

RestAfter the hike, she needed to rest.

#181

CookDo you know how to cook?

#182

ReadI like to read books sometimes.

#183

WriteIt is hard to write a book.

#184

Go outI need to go out to the grocery store.

#185

Shop Lucy shops at the mall often.

#186

BuyWe need to buy more clothing.

#187

WatchThey watch movies at night.

#188

ListenI listen to music while I work.

#189

FeelShe feels sad today.

#190

ThinkThey think it’s a bad idea.

#191

AgreeDo you agree with them?

#192

DisagreeI disagree with them.

#193

OpenWhat time does the coffee shop open?

#194

ClosePlease close the door.

A Couple Jogging Together

They run together every morning.

5. Adjectives

Adjectives are used to describe nouns. Here are the most useful English beginner adjectives.


Describing Objects

#195

BigArizona has big spiders.

#196

SmallOur neighbor’s dog is small.

#197

LongThis is a long list of words.

#198

ShortHe read a short book.

#199

RoundThe basketball is round.

#200

FlatThe ground here is flat.

#201

NarrowHe made a narrow escape from prison.

#202

WideThat road is very wide.

#203

HardMy desk is hard.

#204

SoftThe blanket is soft.

#205

LightThe sky is light blue.

#206

DarkIt will be dark outside soon.

#207

CheapThese pencils are cheap.

#208

ExpensiveThat sofa is expensive.

A Man About to Throw a Basketball into a Hoop

The basketball is round.

Describing People

#209

GoodHe is a good person.

#210

BadShe is a bad person.

#211

PrettySarah looks very pretty.

#212

HandsomeRichard looks very handsome.

#213

TallThat boy is tall.

#214

ShortThe other boy is short.

#215

ThinKaren is too thin; she should eat more.

#216

FatMike is too fat; he should exercise more.

#217

KindLinda is a kind person.

#218

MeanQuinten is a mean person.

#219

PoliteMary is always polite to others.

#220

RudeElliot is rude to his mother.

A Woman Holding an Older Woman’s Hands

Linda is a kind person.

Describing Emotions

#221

HappyEating good food makes me happy.

#222

SadKelly is sad after her breakup.

#223

AngryLouis becomes angry too easily.

#224

TiredThey were tired after work.

#225

UpsetI was upset when I spilled the soup.

#226

ExcitedCecilia was excited for the camping trip.

A Woman Sadly Staring Out the Window

Kelly is sad after her breakup.

Describing Weather

#227

SunnyToday it was sunny.

#228

CloudyWashington is always cloudy.

#229

RainyI don’t go outside when it’s rainy.

#230

FoggyIt was too foggy to drive.

#231

WindyThe trees bend when it’s windy.

#232

HotThe desert is very hot.

#233

ColdIt gets cold in the winter.

#234

WarmIt is warm where I live.

#235

CoolThe autumn air is cool.

Cars Driving in Fog

It was too foggy to drive.

6. Conjunctions

Conjunctions are small words that allow you to connect two or more clauses to each other. Due to their essential role in language, they’re among the most important words every English beginner must know. Here are a few common ones.

#236

AndI love chocolate and red wine.

#237

ButHe likes fruit, but not bananas.

#238

OrDo you want Chinese food or Mexican food?

#239

IfIf he says yes, then I will be happy.

#240

ThenIf he says yes, then I will be happy.

#241

BecauseWe left early because of an appointment.

#242

SoMark lied so he wouldn’t get in trouble.

#243

BeforeI eat breakfast before work.

#244

AfterI make dinner after work.

#245

ThanShe likes cake more than Nina does.

A Variety of Fruits and Berries Against a White Background

He likes fruit, but not bananas.

7. Final Thoughts

You just read 245 simple English words for beginners and saw them used in sentences. What are your thoughts? Were any of these words new to you?

The best way to memorize them is to create your free lifetime account with EnglishClass101.com and add them to your Flashcards. Our spaced repetition flashcard system is a proven method for easily memorizing new words. You can also create your own flashcards using index cards or another online system. 

Alternatively, you can write these words on sticky notes and place them around your house on the object they identify or describe. This will help you quickly start to associate the word with its definition because you’ll see the words all day long! 

We know that learning new vocabulary can be hard. But we encourage you not to give up! EnglishClass101 will be here with you every step of the way with help and useful resources.

Keep studying and practicing so that you’ll be ready for our upcoming articles on Intermediate Words and Advanced Words!

Happy learning and stay safe out there.

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Top 10 Most Common English Filler Words

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The professor walks into the lecture hall.

“Okay, class. Umm, clear your desks. It is time for your pop quiz. So basically, it’s not as hard as the last test. Well… It could be depending on how hard you studied. Now let’s get started. We, like, don’t have all day.”

If you were a student in that lecture hall, could you take the professor seriously? The professor used almost every English filler word on the planet.

How often do you listen to your speech? Whether in professional or casual settings, do you pay attention to your spoken words? Or the ones you’re hearing?

Chances are that you routinely use filler words too. We all do.

You may naturally be aware of filler words in daily conversations, especially if you are the epitome of a skilled public speaker. Educational organizations, such as Toastmasters International or TED Talks, discourage filler words because when they are used excessively, they can distract from the main message and reduce credibility.

Man Giving a Public Speech

In today’s article, we will review the top 10 most common filler words in the English language.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in English Table of Contents
  1. What are Filler Words and Why Do We Use Them?
  2. Filler Word #1: “Like”
  3. Filler Word #2: “I mean…”
  4. Filler Word #3: “So basically…”
  5. Filler Word #4: “You know…”
  6. Filler Word #5: “…Umm/Uh/Er…”
  7. Filler Word #6: “Well…”
  8. Filler Word #7: “…Okay/So…”
  9. Filler Word #8: “Now…”
  10. Filler Word #9: “Or something (like that)…”
  11. Filler Word #10: “…I guess…”
  12. Pros and Cons of Filler Words
  13. How to Eliminate Filler Words
  14. Conclusion

1. What are Filler Words and Why Do We Use Them?

Filler words are commonly known as words used in speech to express hesitation or the need for more time to think.

There are a number of other uses as well. The following are also functions of filler words:

  • Speak indirectly to avoid conflict
  • Approach sensitive topics, such as politics
  • Emphasize opinions and ideas
  • Hint at emotions or behaviors
  • Express uncertainty

If you are a non-native English speaker, it is especially helpful to learn filler words. By learning filler words, you will be able to identify them by listening. You will also know when and when not to use filler words yourself. 

If you use the right filler word at an appropriate time, you will sound more like a native speaker. This especially helps as you are becoming familiar with English. Once you learn more vocabulary and advance in English, you will be able to lessen the amount of filler words you speak.

As you will notice, different English filler words are used for different purposes; they each have their own unique meaning and usage.

2. Filler Word #1: “Like”

MeaningWhen to UseExample
may or may not be truewhen you’re not exactly sure or have a hard time describing something“What was his name again?”
“It was, like, Justin or something.”
extra emphasis when comparingor describing thingswhen you want to exaggerate a comparison or description “COVID-19 is like something I never imagined.”
“Like” is an overused filler word in English, used in both formal and informal settings. It is commonly spoken by Generation Y, also known as millennials, and Generation Z

3. Filler Word #2: “I mean…”

MeaningWhen to UseExample
to express emphasis to a statementto strengthen your opinion or statement“ I failed the biology exam today.”
“I mean, you can always study harder for the next test.”
to make a correction (sometimes to lie)to correct oneself or lie“Where is he?””He went to the store. I mean, he went to school.”
“I mean” is generally said to emphasize how one feels about something. When it is used to express honesty, it can sometimes be quite brutal. Take this statement for an example.

I mean, I never liked your cooking in the first place.

It is mostly used while making corrections. However, it can sometimes be used to change the truth into a lie or vice versa. Therefore, the listener may not take the speaker seriously.

4. Filler Word #3: “So basically…”

MeaningWhen to UseExample
to give an accurate account of a situation or statementto give a more detailed explanation (generally used in the beginning of a sentence)“So basically… The man was kicked out of the aircraft for refusing to wear a mask.”
to give further instructionsto give instructions that are easier to understand“I can’t afford to give each of my 30 students a family pack of candy.”
“So basically… All you have to do is buy one family size bag of candy and distribute it evenly among the students.”
“So basically” is mostly used when telling stories or giving instructions. Therefore, when you hear someone begin a sentence with “So basically,” expect to get lots of details.

Man Giving His Side of the Story

5. Filler Word #4: “You know…”

MeaningWhen to UseExample
to refer to something already knownasking for confirmation“This book is a New York Times bestseller, you know?”
to prove something to someoneto help someone understand what you mean“You know, last night’s party was really lame and tiring.”
“You know” is said when the speaker assumes that the listener already knows something. It is also used to further explain how you feel or what you mean.

6. Filler Word #5: “…Umm/Uh/Er…”

MeaningWhen to UseExample
expressing hesitationwhen you don’t want to respond“Do these pants make me look fat?” “Uh…”
added pause in speechwhen you need more time to think about what you’re going to say*giving presentation at meeting* “Today, we are going to review last week’s…Umm…sales.”
“Umm,” “uh,” and “er” are used to fill awkward silence. It is spoken when either the listener doesn’t want to cause conflict with someone or needs more time to think.

7. Filler Word #6: “Well…”

MeaningWhen to UseExample
to think about your next wordsto get more time to think or stall“Well… Alright, I will extend the deadline by another week.”
to mark the end of a conversationto end a conversation“Well, it was nice talking to you! Bye!”
“Well” can be used when you want to make a quick decision but need to think about it first. It can also be a polite way to end a conversation.
Woman Thinking about Her Next Words

8. Filler Word #7: “…Okay/So…”

MeaningWhen to UseExample
marks the start of a conversation or ideato start a new topic“So why did the two singers argue at the Oscars?”
to give instructionswhen you want to give details or instructions“Okay, so let’s turn to page 78. Who wants to read the first paragraph? Okay, Jonathan?”
to give a summarywhen you prepare to summarize an event“So, yesterday, I went to Starbucks to study Korean, and the barista asked everyone to wear their masks.”
When someone is preparing to start a new topic, give instructions, or provide a summary, he or she starts a sentence with “So” or “Okay, so…”

9. Filler Word #8: “Now…”

MeaningWhen to UseExample
to give instructions or introduce an ideawhen you want to start a conversation“Now… What is the main idea of the story?”
to express confusionwhen you’re in wonder“Now how did my laptop end up on the bathroom floor?”
to give honesty on changes needed to something or someonewhen you need to be honest about a situation“Now you have to stop smoking. It is bad for your health.”
“Now,” as a filler word, is used at the beginning of a sentence. Like most filler words in English, it is used to lighten a statement to not cause offense. It is also a marker to the start of a conversation. Lastly, when something seems bizarre or confusing, the speaker may begin their statement with “Now.”
Man Scratching His Head in Confusion

10. Filler Word #9: “Or something (like that)…”

MeaningWhen to UseExample
to give similaritiesto provide examples“If you want to watch a sad romance, you should watch The Notebook or something like that.”
to give a guesswhen you’re not entirely sure what something is“Her job is IT-related and consists of coding or something like that.”
This filler phrase is usually used to keep a conversation active and interesting. 
“Or something (like that)” leaves the listener with many options of comparisons or guesses to what the speaker is referencing. Once the listener has a clear understanding, given the examples provided by the speaker, he or she is left with many options and choices.

11. Filler Word #10: “…I guess…”

MeaningWhen to UseExample
affirmation but without certaintywhen you’re not entirely sure about something“I guess he overslept, because he is an hour late for work today.”
to express no harm done or will be doneused as reassurance that everything will be fine“I guess it’s okay for you to use my car this weekend.”
“I guess” is used to make light of situations, in case it’s not true or harmful.

12. Pros and Cons of Filler Words

You now learned the top 10 most common English filler words, their meaning, and their usage. 

As you can see, filler words are not terrible. However, they are highly discouraged.

Here are the reasons why.

Pros

You appear gentle during talks of sensitive topics, such as politics and controversial issues.

Usage of some filler words like “I mean” and “okay/so” may lighten the mood during tense conversations. It’s understood that by using filler words, the speaker intends to speak with added politeness and respect and to minimize any perceived aggression. 

Take this conversation as an example.

Speaker 1: Did you see the first 2020 U.S. Presidential Debate? The moderator did such a poor job.

Speaker 2: I mean, he did the best he could. I doubt any other moderator could have calmed down the president.

Other than politics, conversations about other people or special events can be taken lightly, such as some of the sample sentences above.

People are more likely to understand what you say, whether you answer directly or not.

Usually, when people are direct, the listener may not understand where they are coming from. By using filler words like “or something like that” and “you know,” the listener is prepared to hear further details and comparisons.

Here’s a conversation as an example.

Speaker 1: It saddened me that Chadwick Boseman passed away.

Speaker 2: Who?

Speaker 1: He played Black Panther. You know, Black Panther is one of the Avengers from Marvel.

Speaker 2: Oh no! Black Panther passed away?! I’m so sad!

Filler words mark the start of further explanations, which are always helpful in conversations.

It makes you seem fluent in a language, because it is naturally used by native speakers in daily conversations.

Depending on your level in English, you could easily trick people into thinking you’re a native English speaker. Once you master the meanings and usage of English filler words, it will become second nature. You will begin using filler words like a pro!

Woman Who Can Speak Multiple Languages

Your first step can be to learn the filler words from the list above!

Cons

You will be seen as unreliable and dishonest.

Usage of filler words is not always natural. As the speaker, you want to display your true self and personality. When you use filler words, especially excessively, you appear unreal to your audience.

Female Employee Who Has No Idea What She’s Doing

Filler words have the disadvantage of making you seem distracted and dishonest. If someone wants an answer to a question or your opinion on a certain issue, it will be disappointing to hear you hesitate and fill your response with filler words.

It is especially upsetting during a speech. If you want the audience to understand your point of view, using filler words will not deliver your message clearly. It will cause the audience to lose interest and decrease your credibility.

It is unprofessional and puts you at the bottom of the hiring pool.

Employers often seek ideal employees with honesty and great speaking skills. By confidently speaking with little to no filler words, you impress the employer with your excellent communication skills. On the other hand, if you constantly hesitate or speak filler words during a job interview, employers will sense a lack of responsibility.

If you have an upcoming job interview, do yourself a favor and practice answering frequently asked questions beforehand.

Your speech will bore your listener(s).

Audience Bored during Presentation

Your goal as the speaker is to convey a message to your listener. Imagine the listener eager to hear what you have to say, but you use 1-2 filler words like “Umm” and “like” per sentence. It will create disappointment for the listener, because in addition to the heavy usage of filler words, you wasted his or her time by not having fluid speech.

13. How to Eliminate Filler Words

Like all bad habits, eliminating or reducing the number of filler words from your speech will not be easy. However, by following these three tips, you will become a better speaker and increase your charisma.

Awareness

Become aware of the filler words you use most often and how you tend to use them. Take a mental note of how often you speak them and which filler words you use the most. As you continue to have conversations, you will become more conscious of your speech and know to eliminate your filler words.

Woman Realizing She Said a Filler Word

For the moment, replace your filler words with pauses. Learn to be okay with pauses, but avoid holding long pauses of five seconds or more. If you sense a long pause in a casual conversation, prepare an honest excuse, such as “I apologize. I forgot what I was going to say.” On the contrary, if it is during a presentation, move onto the next part of the speech that you remember. The listeners will understand.

In order to prevent the pauses, consider the next two tips.

Role Play

Whether you have a presentation or job interview in the near future, role play in the mirror or with a trustworthy source (e.g. a mentor or close friend). Practice your speech or presentation as much as necessary, which will enable you to speak flowingly on the big day.

You can also go the extra mile and prepare answers for questions that you will likely be asked. That is one reason to have an audience during your practice rounds.

Increase Vocabulary

What is the word I am looking for? It’s on the tip of my tongue.

How often do you share that thought when speaking? It is possible that you actually lack vocabulary.

One surefire way to increase your vocabulary is by downloading apps that involve studying with spaced-repetition system (SRS) flashcards. SRS is a method in which you see a vocabulary word repeatedly during different intervals. It allows you to remember words and burn them into your brain. 
For example, you learn the word simultaneously. At first you will see the word again in a few minutes. Later, if simultaneously appears before you again and you remember the definition, you will see the flashcard again in a few days, weeks, or months.

Girl Studying Vocabulary with Flashcards

On EnglishClass101, you will find numerous vocabulary lists with different themes. Best of all, you can add these words to flashcard decks on our site to study with SRS.

Also, subscribe to Learn English with EnglishClass101.com on Youtube. Its Youtube channel includes ways to start conversations in English with phrases and vocabulary. Take the video “Learn Over 100 English Words for Daily Conversation!,” for instance. It features 100 English words for daily conversations, and a number of them are advanced, including the word “esoteric.” As you will learn from the video, esoteric means “something that requires specialized knowledge.”

As your vocabulary improves, you will cleverly replace filler words with them.

14. Conclusion

Believe it or not. 

Learning new languages will cause you to become more aware of how you speak. When learning a new language, you learn important factors, such as vocabulary, pronunciation, and grammar. 

That is where Innovative Language comes in!

By subscribing to Premium PLUS on EnglishClass101 or any of our 34 language courses, you will have access to your own personal teacher and assignments. From thousands of audio lessons to our Core Word Lists, you will learn a new language in an enjoyable way!

Start speaking a new language almost immediately by shadowing with our line-by-line audio. Take advantage of our free resources as well!

From learning about filler words to understanding blog entries, you have everything you need to learn about your target language at your fingertips!

Happy learning with EnglishClass101!

Were any of the filler words unfamiliar to you? What are some equivalent filler words in your native language? Let us know in the comments!

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Love Phrases in English to Improve Your Love Life

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The need for companionship runs deep. The desire for a hand to hold even as we grow old alters the way we lead our daily lives. The longing to find a person who embraces us completely—and whom we can embrace completely—burns within our hearts like an illuminated candle…until we meet that person and everything becomes so clear in the light of a roaring fire.

A Couple Running Along a Beach

But then we find ourselves tongue-tied! What do we say to win this person’s heart? And what about in English?

What you need, in this case, are some quick and easy-to-use love phrases in English.

Proper communication is key in any relationship. And this can be difficult in an unfamiliar country, speaking a language that’s not your own! If you struggle to find love or keep the romance alive in your relationship with an English speaker, you’ve come to the right place.

In this article, I’ll introduce you to English love phrases that you can start using when the time is right. In addition, I’ll provide you with other words and terms you should know about romance in the United States and information about American dating culture. 

Ready? Let’s get started.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in English Table of Contents
  1. Words and Phrases About Love & Romance
  2. Terms of Endearment
  3. Confess Your Affection
  4. Fall in Deeper
  5. Take it One Step Further
  6. A Handful of Love Quotes to Brighten Your Day
  7. Romance and Dating in American Culture
  8. Final Thoughts

1. Words and Phrases About Love & Romance

A Man and Woman Putting Their Foreheads Together in Understanding

Do you think these two are “soulmates”?

There are a lot of English love idioms and phrases, as well as specific words you’ll hear often in the context of romantic relationships. I won’t even try to cover all of them here, but I will introduce some of the ones you’ll see in this article. You can find several more on Grammar.YourDictionary.com.

LikeIf you “like” someone, it means that you have feelings for them, but not necessarily serious feelings. We can even use this term platonically between friends of the same or opposite sex. 
LoveIf you “love” someone, it means that you have serious feelings for them and care about them. We can use this term with both family and romantic partners. 
AdoreIf you “adore” someone, it means that you find them cute or admirable for some reason. The word “adore” is often used to show affection (e.g. “I adore you.”). This term is primarily used in romantic relationships. 
CherishIf you “cherish” someone, it means that you care about them, appreciate them, and hold them in high regard. This term is primarily used in romantic relationships.
TreasureIf you “treasure” someone, it means that you think highly of them, see their value, and care for them deeply. This term is primarily used in romantic relationships.

Fall in loveWhen you “fall in love,” it means that you develop romantic feelings for someone.
In love withWhen you’re “in love with” someone, it means that you have romantic feelings for them.
Have feelings forWhen you “have feelings for” someone, this refers to romantic feelings.

Get togetherWhen you “get together” with someone, it means that you spent time with or go on a casual date with someone. 
Go outWhen you “go out,” it means that you have a date with someone, usually in a public area like a restaurant or movie theater.
Are you free?If you ask someone “Are you free?” it means that you want to know if they’re doing anything during a specified time. If they’re not, you may ask them out for a date. Synonymously, you might ask, “Are you available?” although this sounds slightly more formal. 

SoulmateYour “soulmate” is the person you’re destined to be with, the person who knows and understands your soul. 
Love of my lifeIf someone is the “love of your life,” it means that you love them more than any other person, and will for the rest of your life.
Better halfYour “better half” is the person who not only completes you, but also represents the better qualities of the relationship. 

2. Terms of Endearment

A Man Showing His Girlfriend Something on His Phone

Honey, did you see this funny video yet?

A term of endearment is a word that’s used in place of someone’s name to show affection. In the case of romantic couples, these words often have a sweet or suggestive nature. Here are some of the most popular endearment terms, what they mean, and how to use them.

DescriptionExample
Honey / Hon / Hun“Honey” (or Hon / Hun for short) is a popular endearment term. By calling the other person “Honey,” you’re referring to the fact that you find them sweet. Honey, could you take out the trash, please?”

“Wait a minute, Hon.”

DescriptionExample
Baby “Baby” is a little less common, but still frequently used among some couples. It’s used almost like a diminutive, to refer to the other person in a “small” way. It can be used to show that you will take care of that person, though it can also have a more suggestive connotation.Baby, are you okay? Do you need to talk about it?”

DescriptionExample
BabeThis is a shortened version of “Baby,” and the two terms can be used interchangeably. “Babe” tends to be a little more intimate.Babe, are you almost ready? We have to go.”

DescriptionExample
Bae“Bae” (pronounced like “bay”) is mainly used by the younger generations. It stands for “Before Anyone Else,” referring to how important the other person is to you. It also sounds similar to “Babe,” which may account for its fast-growing popularity. “Dinner’s ready, Bae.”

DescriptionExample
Hubby“Hubby” is an affectionate term used to refer to one’s husband. It’s normally used when talking about one’s husband to others.“My hubby is the best. He brought me flowers and chocolate yesterday.”

DescriptionExample
Sweetie“Sweetie” is an endearment term used to show that you find the other person to be sweet or cute.“Oh, Sweetie, thank you so much for the gift!”

DescriptionExample
Darling“Darling” is used to show the other person that they’re precious or dear to you. It’s considered a bit more classy and traditional than many of the other endearment terms on this list. It can be used with or without the person’s name, depending on the context.“Linda, Darling, you look lovely today.”

“Where are you going, Darling?”

DescriptionExample
Dear“Dear” is another term that expresses how precious the other person is to you. Dear, have you paid the electric bill yet?”

DescriptionExample
(My) loveCalling someone “my love” is a very romantic and tender way to show that you cherish the other person.“George, my love, you’ve been gone so long.”

DescriptionExample
(My) amour If you don’t know, amour is the French word for “love.” Many people find this version of “my love” even more romantic (because everything is more romantic in French or Italian). This version also has more a sexual connotation, and can be used to refer to lovers who are having an affair.My amour, I can never live without you.”

DescriptionExample
SexyWhen you call your partner “Sexy” it means that you find them attractive, especially to the point that they’re irresistible. This is often used between couples who have been together a while, and is considered a cute endearment term that can also have a sexual connotation. “Hey Sexy, where have you been all my life?”

DescriptionExample
Shortened version of first nameMany couples also refer to each other with a shortened version of their first name. For example, if a woman’s name is Cheryl, her S.O. may call her Cher. If a man’s name is Robert, his S.O.may call him Rob or Robbie. Cher, could you hand me the notepad please?”

Robbie! You’re looking handsome tonight.”

Keep in mind that endearment terms are not limited to those above. Couples can use any affectionate terms with each other, depending on their relationship, their history together, and a number of other factors. 

3. Confess Your Affection

So, you find yourself attracted to a new coworker, a schoolmate, or some other person you’ve recently met. How can you get their attention and let them know how you feel?

Generally speaking, it’s important not to come across as aggressive, pushy, or needy. In the United States, most people value their space and privacy, and flirting or asking someone out in an overt way can really make an American uncomfortable. 

Below are several English love phrases you can use to get the person’s attention, flirt with them, and eventually ask them out on a date.

Getting His / Her Attention

A Man and Woman Flirting while Working on a Laptop

I thought you did well on your presentation.

One of the best ways to get a man or woman’s attention is to offer them genuine compliments. If you don’t know the person well, you should make sure your compliments aren’t too personal or suggestive (though you can compliment their appearance as long as you’re respectful). 

I love your ___.I love your jacket.
I love your attitude.

You have a beautiful / handsome ___, you know?You have a beautiful smile, you know?
You have a handsome face, you know?

I thought you did well ____.I thought you did well on your presentation.
I thought you did well in the bowling tournament.

You’re such a ___ person.You’re such a cool person.
You’re such a sweet person.

Pick-Up Lines

A Man Flirting with a Woman from Outside a Window

Are you as beautiful on the inside as you are on the outside?

A pick-up line is a sentence someone says to indicate they like someone or want to go out with them. It’s important to note that most pick-up lines are silly and noncommittal. They’re often cleverly worded, but used far too often to really mean anything. 

Did it hurt when you fell from heaven?This indicates that someone is so beautiful or so kind that they must be an angel.

Do you have a name, or can I call you mine?This is a play on words. In English, we can call someone “ours” if we are in a serious relationship with them. In this pick-up line, the speaker uses “mine” as a placeholder for the other person’s name to indicate they “want” the other person.

I thought happiness started with an H, but mine starts with U (you). This is another play on words. The word “happiness” begins with the letter H, but the beginning of the speaker’s happiness begins with the other person (in this case “you” or U).

Are you as beautiful on the inside as you are on the outside?This phrase indicates that the speaker thinks the other person is attractive. In English, we consider someone “beautiful on the inside” if they are a good person. So this phrase is like saying: “You’re very beautiful / handsome. Are you also a good person?” Normally, a man says this to a woman.

If being in love was illegal, would you be my partner in crime?A “partner in crime” is someone who helps another person commit a crime, usually on an ongoing basis. This phrase is like asking if the other person is also in love with you.

What are you doing for the rest of your life? Because I want to spend it with you.This is a cheesy way to let someone know you like them, and maybe even love them. 

If you feel like making your English study time a little more fun today, you can head over to Pickup-Lines.net, where you’ll find tons of pickup lines in different categories. Great practice for understanding English wordplay and humor! You’re welcome. 😉

Asking Someone Out

A Man and Woman Having a Romantic Date at a Restaurant

You’ve gotten their attention…now, can you capture their heart? Here are some different ways you can ask them to go out on a date with you. 


Would you go out with me?This is a straightforward (but still polite) way of asking someone if they want to go on a date with you.

Would you like to have dinner with me?This is a slightly more specific way of asking someone on a date. It lets the other person know the activity you have in mind, making it easier for them to make a comfortable decision. You can replace “have dinner” with any other activity (“see a movie” / “walk” / etc.).

Are you free this weekend / evening?You can ask the person this question to hint that you would like to do something with them if they’re free. This is a set phrase, and it allows you to ask someone out in a light manner while allowing that person an easy way out if they’re not interested.

I would like to get to know you better.This phrase is a bit more serious in nature, indicating that you’re considering a relationship with that person. It’s a way of asking if they would like to go out with you, especially on a long-term basis.

I would like to spend more time with you.This phrase can be used similarly as the one above, though there’s a greater emphasis on “time” being important. 

Could we get together sometime?This is a basic phrase you can use to ask someone out in a generic manner. You could be asking for a romantic date or a more casual outing to get to know each other better. Either way, it indicates that you like the other person.

Can I have your number?In the United States, it’s fairly common to ask people for their phone number if you want to contact them again in the future. In the context of dating, asking for someone’s number is a way of showing that you’re interested in them and want to continue talking (and planning more dates). 

Are you on ___ (Facebook, Twitter, etc.)?Nowadays, asking for someone’s social media information is more common than asking for their phone number, especially among younger people. Asking this has the same meaning as asking for their number: you want to stay connected.

Did you have a wonderful first (or second) date? Then you may want to let the other person know that you enjoy spending time with them, and that you definitely have feelings for them. 

Did your date not go so well? There are a couple of polite ways you can let them know that, too. 

I had a great time last night. This is a great phrase to use the day after a date. It shows that you appreciate their time, and that you would like to spend more time with them.

I enjoy spending time with you.You can use this phrase to let the other person know that you enjoy their company and being with them.

I would like to do that again sometime.This is a straightforward way of letting the other person know that you would like to go on another date with them.

I’m sorry, but I didn’t really feel a connection.You can use this phrase to politely let the other person know that you’re not interested in future dates. Saying “I’m sorry” softens the blow and lets the other person know you respect them and their feelings. By saying you “didn’t really feel a connection” you’re letting them know you appreciate their time, but don’t see a future together.

I enjoyed spending time with you, but I don’t think we’re right for each other.You can use this phrase interchangeably with the one above.

Telling How You Feel

A Smiling Couple Holding Hands while Standing against a Wall

I think of you as more than a friend.

If you’ve had a few dates now and have gotten to really know each other, it may be time to start expressing how you feel. Here are some phrases you can use to let the other person know you like them.

I (really) like you.Telling someone this means that you have romantic feelings for them.

I have feelings for you.Like the phrase above, this one means that you have romantic feelings for the other person. Using the word “feelings” here gives it a more romantic feeling than only saying “like.”

I think of you as more than a friend.This phrase is a bit of a cliche. You can use this phrase when letting a friend know that you have romantic feelings for them, especially if you’ve been friends for a while.

I’m falling for you. / I’ve fallen for you.When you “fall” for someone, it means that you fall in love with them. In this context, it indicates that not only do you have feelings for them, but you’re starting to become infatuated with them.

I think I’m in love with you.If you’ve been seeing someone for a while, this phrase would be appropriate to use if you have strong feelings for them. Using “I think” at the beginning softens the impact of saying that you’re in love with them, so there’s no pressure for them to say the same thing to you. 

I can’t get over you.If you “can’t get over” someone, it means that you’re always thinking about them, wanting them, and wishing they were with you. 

You’re the object of my affection.This is a classier phrase, most often said by a man to a woman (though not always). When someone is the “object of your affection” it means that you give affection to them, or that they receive affection from you. It basically means that you cherish and care for them.

You can find even more romantic words to whisper in your partner’s ear in our list of 15 Love Phrases for Valentine’s Day

4. Fall in Deeper

A Man Holding His Girlfriend while Watching Autumn Leaves at a Park

We were made for each other.

You’re past the initial dating phase and have moved into a serious long-term relationship with someone. You can’t believe how lucky you are to have found this person, and to have them share your feelings. But what can you say to let them know how much you love them? Here are some cute English phrases to express love:

    ★ I love you.
    ★ You mean the world to me.
    ★ You are my everything.
    ★ I feel lucky to be with you.
    ★ We were made for each other.
    ★ We were meant to be.
    ★ You’re my soulmate.
    ★ You’re the love of my life.
    ★ I miss you (a lot, so much, already).
    ★ I can’t stop thinking about you.
    ★ You make life worth living.
    ★ You are my sunshine.
    ★ You are the light of my life.
    ★ I’ll always want you / need you.
    ★ There’s no one else I’d rather be with.
    ★ You’ll never know how much I love you.
    ★ I treasure / cherish you.
    ★ You’re my better half.
    ★ I can’t wait to see you again.
    ★ You make me (want to be) a better person (or man / woman).
    ★ I love you more than words can say.
    ★ I can’t imagine my life without you.

5. Take it One Step Further

You’re both madly in love, spend all of your free time together, and continue to develop your relationship into something deep and meaningful. But it’s not enough. You think it’s time to take some positive steps forward in your relationship, and want to discuss this with your partner. Here are some phrases for common life situations you can use!

Meeting the Parents

A Couple Entering a Family Home for a Holiday

In the United States, most people see it as polite to meet your partner’s parents, especially before you take any huge steps forward in the relationship. 


I think it’s time you meet my parents.This is a gentle way of approaching the topic. Saying “I think” at the beginning makes it sound more like a gentle suggestion than a demand. 

Have you met my parents yet?Asking if your partner has met your parents yet is an even gentler way of approaching the topic. 

Would you like to have dinner with me and my parents?You can use this phrase as an invitation for your partner to get to know your parents over dinner. 

I would like to meet your parents.You can use this phrase if you want to meet your partner’s parents. Do keep in mind that not all Americans are close with their parents, so it’s possible that your partner won’t want to introduce you.

Moving In Together

Several Moving Boxes Packed with Belongings

Many couples in the U.S. decide to move in together before getting married, and most people consider this a positive step forward if the relationship is going well. This is a major life decision, though, so make sure you approach the topic gently and respectfully. 

Do you think it’s time to move in together?You can say this if you’ve been dating the person for a while, and want to know their thoughts on moving in together at this point in your relationship.

Would you move in with me?This is a more straightforward way of asking someone to move in with you.

What do you think about living together?This question is a great way of asking for the other person’s opinion while expressing yours at the same time.

What would you say to moving in together?This phrase is similar to the one above.

Getting Married

A Man Proposing to His Girlfriend on a Bridge

If you know you’ve found the one, there may come a day when you want to propose and ask them to marry you. Here are some common phrases you can use during your marriage proposal. 


Would you marry me? / Will you marry me?This is the most common way to ask someone to marry you. 

I want to spend the rest of my life with you.This phrase indicates that you’re serious about your relationship and will love them forever.

I want to grow old with you.This phrase has a similar meaning as the one above, though there’s a greater emphasis on “growing old.” It means that you’ll stay with them for your entire life, and love them even in old age.

I wish I could give you everything, but I hope this ring is enough.This is a cheesy way of proposing. It means that you love the person so much that you want to give them everything, but because that’s impossible, you give them all of yourself and your life (as the ring symbolizes marriage and eternal love). 

I never want to be without you.This phrase shows that you always want to be with the other person, and that you never want to be in their absence.

Will you do me the honor of becoming my wife / husband?This phrase indicates that you not only want to marry them, but that it would be an honor to you if they said yes. It shows affection and respect for the person you’re proposing to.

Starting a Family

A Couple Playing with Their Child in the Ocean

Whether or not to have children is a huge decision that couples need to make, and it often requires a long and respectful discussion. I can’t guide you through the entire discussion, but I can offer you some opening lines. 

I want to raise a family with you.This simple statement is a great way to open a conversation about having children. 

I want you to be the mother / father of my children.This phrase is a little more intimate. It indicates that you know your partner well and trust them to be a good parent for your children.

There is no one else I would rather have be the mother / father of my children.This one is even more intimate, and there’s more emphasis on the fact that this person is the only person you would want to raise children with. 

In case you do both agree to start a family and raise children, you’ll need these Common English Phrases to Know About Having a Baby

6. A Handful of Love Quotes to Brighten Your Day

A Woman Smelling Flowers

Life is the flower for which love is the honey.

How would you describe love or romance? Here are some words on the topic from a variety of legendary figures. Do you agree with them?

    ★ Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all. – Alfred Lord Tennyson
    ★ Life is the flower for which love is the honey. – Victor Hugo
    ★ I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear. – Martin Luther King, Jr.
    ★ The course of true love never did run smooth. – William Shakespeare
    ★ At the touch of love, everyone becomes a poet. – Plato
    ★ Love is when the other person’s happiness is more important than your own. – H. Jackson Brown, Jr.
    ★ Love is blind. – Geoffrey Chaucer
    ★ Love is suffering. One side always loves more. – Catherine Deneuve
    ★ Passion is momentary; love is enduring. – John Wooden
    ★ To witness two lovers is a spectacle for the gods. – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

We’ve collected additional love quotes in our list of the top English Quotes About Love and in our recent blog article about The Best English Quotes for Every Occasion!

7. Romance and Dating in American Culture

A Man Surprising His Girlfriend with Flowers

To close, I did want to bring up a few key elements about romance and dating in American culture. (If you’re curious about dating in England, you can read this interesting U.S. dating vs. England dating article from BBCAmerica!) Let’s get to it.

As with many other aspects of American culture, dating traditions and ideals vary from region to region, and even from state to state. In more conservative regions, dating is taken more seriously and is often seen as the first step toward marriage. In more liberal regions, dating is taken less seriously in this regard and focuses more on the happiness of each individual in a relationship.

    There are nationwide similarities, though.

Throughout the country, popular date ideas include: having a nice dinner, going out for drinks, seeing a movie, and doing outdoor recreational activities (like hiking or kayaking). Additionally, most Americans find certain things particularly romantic when in a dating relationship: men buying women flowers and chocolate (or vice-versa), candlelit dinners, expensive wines, love notes, and doing small but meaningful things for each other.

    It’s okay for women to ask men on a date.

While it’s still more common for a man to ask a woman, it’s becoming increasingly common for a woman to ask a man. A lot of it depends on the region and the individuals themselves. 

    It can be hard to know what a date is.

Oftentimes, when one person is asked to go and do something fun with another person, they’re unsure of whether to consider it a date or not. In the U.S., it’s common for a man and a woman to have a platonic (non-romantic) relationship, in which they go out and do things together as friends. To avoid confusion, it’s best to make it clear from the beginning whether the activity is meant to be a date or not.

    Dating relationships aren’t necessarily exclusive.

This is especially true at the very beginning of a relationship (e.g. if you’ve only had one or two dates with the person). Younger Americans, in particular, may be “dating” more than one person for a little while, in order to speed up the process of finding the best candidate. Of course, if you do see your relationship lasting long-term, it may be a good idea to have a discussion with your partner about exclusivity to make sure you’re on the same page. Normally, once a relationship has been established, couples choose to be exclusive (only date each other). 

Final Thoughts

With all of the English love phrases, endearment terms, and other romantic words from this article, you should be much more prepared to woo your future lover. Which of these love phrases is your favorite, and why? Let us know in the comments!

The world of dating and romance is complicated already, and even more so when you’re trying to find love in an unfamiliar culture. Before you plunge headfirst into romance, it may be a good idea to get settled in your new home. EnglishClass101.com has just the resources for you:

Create your free lifetime account today and keep improving your English skills with us. The love of your life will thank you for it one day. 😉

We hope to see you around! <3

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Negation in English: The Art of Saying No

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Your friend is offering you cake, but you’re on a strict diet. There’s some creepy guy at the bar trying to ask you out, and you’re a little scared. Your new coworker wants to know about your likes and dislikes, but you don’t know what to say…

The world is full of situations that require us to say “no,” turn down offers, or negate a response altogether. 

In this article, I’ll show you how to properly use negation in English. Learning how to make negative sentences in English will empower you to stick to your goals, keep yourself safe, and express yourself effectively! 

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in English Table of Contents
  1. How to Negate a Positive Statement
  2. How to Give a Negative Response to a Question
  3. Telling Someone Not To Do Something
  4. Other Words and Phrases for English Negation
  5. Double Negatives
  6. Final Thoughts

1. How to Negate a Positive Statement

If you read my article on English Word Order, you know that a typical English sentence follows the SVO (Subject-Verb-Object) pattern:

  • I love wine.
  • Wendy has a dog.
  • They arrived together.

There are many ways you can negate a statement, but this is the most common pattern for sentence negation:

[Subject] + [Auxiliary Verb] + [Negative Word] + [Verb] + [Object or Complement]

For example:

  • I (S) do not love (V) wine (O).
  • Wendy (S) does not have (V) a dog (O).
  • They (S) did not arrive (V) together (C).

A Woman Snuggling a Kitten

Wendy does not have a dog…she has a cat!

There are two things you may have noticed: 

1) The auxiliary verb for each sentence is different:

This is because there are different conjugations of the auxiliary verb “to do” depending on the person, number, and tense. You may find it helpful to memorize this table:

PresentPastFuture
IDoDidWill do
You (singular)DoDidWill do
He / She / ItDoesDidWill do
WeDoDidWill do
You (plural)DoDidWill do
TheyDoDidWill do

As you can see, the conjugations are very consistent, and only the third person present tense differs. 

    → To learn more about the conjugation of English verbs, you can read my article all about English Verb Conjugation

2) The main verb in the last two sentences changed from the original statement:

This has to do with the fact that the auxiliary verb indicates the tense, and the tense may require a different form of the verb to ensure subject-verb agreement. 

2. How to Give a Negative Response to a Question

What if someone asks you a question and you want to respond in the negative? 

1) Giving a General Negative Answer

The basic pattern for giving a negative response to a question is:

[Negative Word]* + [Negative Phrase] + [Complement or Reason]

*The negative word at the beginning of your response is usually optional. You can also respond with only the first negative word, though this is sometimes seen as rude.

Here are some questions and their most appropriate negative answers.

  • Do I love wine? / No, I do not love wine.
  • Does Wendy have a dog? / No, Wendy does not have a dog.
  • Did they arrive together? / No, they did not arrive together.

Note that after the first negative word, the rest of the sentence is exactly the same as when you simply give a negative statement. Sometimes this sentence pattern is used to add clarification. For example, perhaps the person who posed the question could not hear your response clearly. They may ask again to clarify.

  • Speaker A: Oh, you do love wine?
  • Speaker B: No, I do not love wine.

2) Turning Someone Down or Refusing an Offer

A Man Scratching His Head in Uncertainty

No, I’m sorry. I have to…

What if someone asks you if you would like to go out with them on a date or offers you something you don’t want? There are three patterns you can use to turn someone down or refuse an offer:

[Negative Word] + [Thank You]

[Negative Word] + [I’m Sorry]

[Negative Word] + [Thank You / I’m Sorry] + [Reason or Complement]

It can be as simple as saying: “No, thank you” or “No, I’m sorry,” but most people will appreciate it if you give them a reason for your answer. Of course, you don’t have to give a reason; the other person should respect your decision anyway. But it is considered polite to have a reason or excuse for why you’re saying no. 

Here are a few examples of negation in this context:

  • “Would you like to go out?” / “No, I’m sorry.”
  • “Would you like some cake?” / “No, thank you. I’m on a diet.”
  • “Can you watch my kids this Saturday?” / “No, I’m sorry. I have plans that day.”
  • “Could you come into work early tomorrow?” / “No, I’m sorry. I have to drop my kids off at school.”

Want more? We have a vocabulary list of Ways to Reject an Invitation. Check it out!

3. Telling Someone Not To Do Something

A Man Holding Out His Hand to Say Stop

Stop bothering me.

Has someone made you uncomfortable or upset you with something they’re doing (or thinking about doing)? There are a few ways you can ask or tell someone not to do something. In some cases, we will use the imperative/command verb form. In other cases, we will form gerunds. Here are a few common patterns:

Do not ___.

This one is the most basic way to ask someone not to do something.

Please, do not ___.

This one is a little bit more polite, and also denotes a greater sense of desperation (like you really want them not to do that thing). 

Stop ___.

This one is most commonly used when the person saying it is frustrated or upset about something. 

For example:

  • Do not walk on the grass.
  • Do not mess with me.
  • Please, do not do anything stupid.
  • Please, do not move things around in the kitchen.
  • Stop bothering me.
  • Stop ignoring everything I say.

You can learn more about forming commands in our beginner lesson.

4. Other Words and Phrases for English Negation

A Woman Crossing Her Arms and Thinking

What’s the best word for my negative sentence?

While “no” and “not” are the most common negative words in English, there are actually several others you can use depending on the situation, as well as set phrases.

BarelyHe barely eats anything. (He eats very little.)
HardlyShe hardly spends time with me. (She doesn’t spend much time with me.)
NeverEva never smokes or drinks.
No moreThere are no more carrots in the fridge.
No longerVicky no longer enjoys going out.
Not anymoreA: Are you still stressed about the exam?
B: Not anymore. I studied a lot this week.
Not reallyA: Do you like pineapple?
B: Not really. The flavor is too strong.
Not recentlyA: Are you still practicing the piano?
B: Not recently. I’ve been very busy.
Not at allA: I’m sorry, have I disturbed you?
B: Not at all. Come in.
NobodyNobody was prepared for what happened.
NowhereHe looked for the missing cat all day. It’s nowhere.
NothingShe has done nothing wrong.
NoneNone of us enjoyed the party.
Neither… Nor…I like neither beets nor radishes.
I doubt it.A: Will Jim show up on time for the meeting?
B: I doubt it. He’s always late.

5. Double Negatives

Many languages use double negatives, and English is one of them…sort of

There are certain situations and contexts where using a double negative makes sense. However, there are also cases where double negatives are considered improper grammar. Let’s break it down.

1) When Can You Use Double Negatives?

In English, double negation is appropriate when you’re:

  • Answering a question in the negative.
    • No, Wendy does not have a dog. ✅
    • No, I have not seen him lately. ✅
    • No, the restaurant does not have a bathroom. ✅
  • Making a “negative prefix” word more or less meaningful. 
    • It’s not uncommon for it to rain in the summer. ✅
    • I don’t dislike him, but I do find him annoying. ✅
    • He doesn’t disapprove, he’s just worried about you. ✅

You can find more information about negative prefixes in our lesson!

2) When Can’t You Use Double Negatives?

A Bald Man Shouting in Anger

Bob doesn’t have any patience…

You can’t use double negatives when you’re:

  • Trying to make a sentence more negative.
    • I don’t have nothing.
    • She isn’t going nowhere.
    • Bob doesn’t have no patience.

When you use double negatives like this in English, the second negative word cancels out the first one, making it a positive statement (in theory). For example, these sentences would really mean:

  • I have something.
  • She is going somewhere.
  • Bob has patience.

Instead, these sentences should be:

  • I don’t have anything. ✅
  • She isn’t going anywhere. ✅
  • Bob doesn’t have any patience. ✅

There are situations where you’ll hear people use improper double negatives, as this is simply a feature of spoken English in some areas. It tends to make the speaker sound uneducated, though, so it’s best to avoid them!

If you want to learn more about when to use an “any” word versus a “no” word (anything vs. nothing, etc.), we recommend our lesson Are You a Slave to American Coffee? It contains useful information on when to use one or the other so you can avoid these double negative mistakes.

6. Final Thoughts

Now you have a better idea of how to make negative sentences in English, give negative responses to questions, properly use double negatives, and more. 

Do you feel more confident in your ability to use negation in English, or do you still have some questions or concerns? Let us know in the comments, and we’ll do our best to help!

If you enjoyed this lesson, be sure to visit EnglishClass101.com often and take advantage of our numerous free resources and vocabulary lists. To get the most out of your learning experience, we recommend creating a free lifetime account to gain access to tons of video and audio lessons for learners at every level. 

We hope to see you around!

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An Overview of English Tenses

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Does this title make you feel a bit…tense? (Yeah, me too.)

Jokes aside, tenses are an important part of English grammar. They allow speakers to clarify the timing of an action so that there’s no confusion. 

In this article, I’ll briefly explain each English tense and show you how it affects verb conjugation. 

Let’s get started.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in English Table of Contents
  1. What are Tenses?
  2. Present Tense
  3. Past Tense
  4. Future Tense
  5. Irregular Verbs
  6. Time to Practice!
  7. Final Thoughts
  8. Answers

1. What are Tenses?

A tense indicates the timing of an action. There are three basic tenses in English: present, past, and future.

Verb tense is formed based on a sentence’s main verb and the auxiliary words around that verb. 

Now, there are four aspects of each tense:

SimpleExpresses a simple fact.

Tony runs quickly.

He runs, in general, declarative terms. 
ProgressiveExpresses something that takes place during a limited period of time. 

Tony is running quickly.

He is running right now, in this moment. 
Perfect Expresses something that occurred in the past, but is linked to another point in the future. 

Tony has run quickly.

Tony ran in the past and up until the present moment. 
Perfect ProgressiveExpresses something that began in the past, but continues into the future. 

Tony has been running quickly.

Tony started running in the past, up until the present moment. This emphasizes the duration of the past action. 

These aspects affect how the verb is conjugated, as well as which auxiliary words are used in the sentence (if any). 

Don’t worry if this seems too complicated. Many native English speakers struggle with this, too. The good news is that some verb tenses are more common than others. We’ll start with those. As you continue learning English, you can delve into more complex English verb tense forms to express more specific ideas.

In this article, I’ll be covering only the simple aspect for each tense. If you want to get a more in-depth look at all of the English tenses and aspects, though, see my article on English Verb Conjugation. (And while you’re at it, you can learn The 50 Most Common Verbs in English!)

2. Present Tense

A Woman Taking a Whole Chicken Out of the Oven

I cook.

The present tense is used to refer to something that is happening now, in the present. It can also be used to describe something that occurs on a regular basis (or is generally true, like facts and information). 

To form the simple present, you simply take the infinitive form of the verb and remove the word “to” to create the base infinitive. Most conjugated verb forms will look identical to the base infinitive form.  

The only exception is in the third person (he / she / it). In this case, you must add an -s to the end. 

See this table of English tenses to understand how the infinitive verb “to cook” is conjugated for each person in the simple present tense:

PersonPresent Tense Verb (“To Cook”)
ICook
You [singular]Cook
He / She / ItCooks
WeCook
You [plural]Cook
TheyCook

Easy, right? The only thing you have to remember is that the third person requires the -s at the end. In this audio lesson from EnglishClass101.com, you can learn more about how the simple present tense works in a real-life situation. 

Of course, you can make these sentences longer and more specific by adding time words/phrases. These are words that indicate exactly when the action is taking place. 

Common Time Words & Phrases for Simple Present Tense

TodayShe cooks today.
Every dayI cook every day.
OftenThey cook often.
SometimesSometimes, you cook.
At ___We cook at night.

Do you need more words and phrases? Check out EnglishClass101’s free vocabulary list for Essential Adverbs of Frequency and Time!

3. Past Tense

A Man Putting a Hand to His Ear

He listened.

The past tense is used to refer to something that happened previously, in the past. 

To form the simple past, you take the infinitive form of the verb (in this case, “to listen”), take away the word “to,” and add -ed to the end of the root verb:

PersonPast Tense Verb (“To Listen”)
IListened
You [singular]Listened
He / She / ItListened
WeListened
You [plural]Listened
TheyListened

This is even easier than present tense, right? 😉 As you will notice, all subjects take on the same verb form, even the third person singular. Their conjugation is identical. 

If you want a more detailed explanation or some examples, check out this video lesson where Alisha teaches you how to form the simple past. 

Common Time Words & Phrases for Simple Past Tense

YesterdayWe listened yesterday.
EarlierI listened earlier.
A few hours agoThey listened a few hours ago.
Last weekYou listened last week.
Last yearHe listened last year.

4. Future Tense

A Businesswoman at Her Computer, Shrugging

You will work.

The future tense is used to refer to future actions or, in some cases, probable future actions. 

To form the simple future, take the infinitive form of the verb (in this case, “to work”), remove the word “to,” and add the word “will” in front of the root verb. In this case, “will” indicates a future event. 

As you will notice, “will” does not take on a special conjugation. The same form is used for all verbs. 

PersonFuture Tense Verb (“To Work”)
IWill work
You [singular]Will work
He / She / ItWill work
WeWill work
You [plural]Will work
TheyWill work

Watch this video lesson to hear a detailed explanation of how the simple future tense works.

Common Time Words & Phrases for Simple Future Tense

TomorrowI will work tomorrow.
SoonThey will work soon.
Next weekYou will work next week.
In a few daysWe will work in a few days.
Next yearShe will work next year.

5. Irregular Verbs

Everything we’ve covered so far has been pretty easy, right? All you have to do is memorize the conjugations—and there’s not even that much to memorize! 

But we haven’t talked about irregular verbs yet. These are verbs that don’t conjugate the same way as regular verbs (like the ones we saw above), which means you’ll have to remember separate conjugation rules for them. 

In this section, I’ll show you the conjugations for the most common irregular verbs: “to be,” “to do,” and “to have.” The good news is that once you get past the present tense, the irregular conjugations for past and future are still pretty consistent and easy to remember.

Let’s go! 

A- Present

A Man Yawning while Eating Breakfast

He is tired.

PersonPresent Tense Verb (“To Be”)Example Sentence
IAmI am tired.
You [singular]AreYou are tired.
He / She / ItIsHe is tired.
WeAreWe are tired.
You [plural]AreYou are tired.
TheyAreThey are tired.

PersonPresent Tense Verb (“To Do”)Example Sentence
IDoI do a lot of cooking.
You [singular]DoYou do a lot of cooking.
He / She / ItDoesShe does a lot of cooking.
We DoWe do a lot of cooking.
You [plural]DoYou do a lot of cooking.
TheyDoThey do a lot of cooking.

PersonPresent Tense Verb (“To Have”)Example Sentence
IHaveI have a cat.
You [singular]HaveYou have a cat.
He / She / ItHasHe has a cat.
WeHaveWe have a cat.
You [plural]HaveYou have a cat.
TheyHaveThey have a cat.

B- Past

A Couple Sitting, Facing Opposite Directions

They were angry.

PersonPast Tense Verb (“To Be”)Example Sentence
IWasI was angry.
You [singular]WereYou were angry.
He / She / ItWasShe was angry.
WeWereWe were angry.
You [plural]WereYou were angry.
TheyWereThey were angry.

PersonPast Tense Verb (“To Do”)Example Sentence
IDidI did karate.
You [singular]DidYou did karate.
He / She / ItDidHe did karate.
WeDidWe did karate.
You [plural]DidYou did karate.
TheyDidThey did karate.

PersonPast Tense Verb (“To Have”)Example Sentence
IHadI had some coffee.
You [singular]HadYou had some coffee.
He / She / ItHadShe had some coffee.
WeHadWe had some coffee.
You [plural]HadYou had some coffee.
TheyHadThey had some coffee.

C- Future

A Woman Sleeping

I will be asleep.

PersonFuture Tense Verb (“To Be”)Example Sentence
IWill beI will be asleep.
You [singular]Will beYou will be asleep.
He / She / ItWill beThe cat will be asleep.
WeWill beWe will be asleep.
You [plural]Will beYou will be asleep.
TheyWill beThey will be asleep.

PersonFuture Tense Verb (“To Do”)Example Sentence
IWill doI will do my job.
You [singular]Will doYou will do your job.
He / She / ItWill doShe will do her job.
WeWill doWe will do our job.
You [plural]Will doYou will do your job.
TheyWill doThey will do their job.

PersonFuture Tense Verb (“To Have”)Example Sentence
IWill haveI will have more money.
You [singular]Will haveYou will have more money.
He / She / ItWill haveHe will have more money.
WeWill haveWe will have more money.
You [plural]Will haveYou will have more money.
TheyWill haveThey will have more money.

6. Time to Practice! 

Do you have it now? Then let’s practice. 

I’ll give you three regular verbs to conjugate according to the tense. See if you can do it, and I’ll show you the answers at the end of this article.

A- Present

“To Walk” (Present Tense)
You [singular]
He / She / It
We
You [plural]
They

A Couple Taking a Stroll Together

They ___. [present tense]

B- Past

“To Play” (Past Tense)
You [singular]
He / She / It
We
You [plural] 
They

A Little Kid Jumping on the Bed

He ___. [past tense]

C- Future

“To Bake” (Future Tense)
You [singular]
He / She / It
We
You [plural]
They

A Woman in a Yellow Dress Reaching into the Oven

She ___. [future tense]

7. Final Thoughts

A University Student Arriving on Campus

Are you ready to keep learning?

See? The simple English tenses are pretty easy to master after all!

Of course, things get a little more complicated when you look at the other aspects (not to mention those pesky irregular verbs), but even then, the conjugations tend to be consistent. With enough study time, dedication, and practice, you’ll be able to master all the English conjugations.

I hope this English tenses lesson has been helpful for you! How do you feel about English tenses at this point? Do you need more time to review what we covered in this article, or are you ready to move forward? Let us know in the comments, and we’ll do our best to answer any questions you have. 

At EnglishClass101.com, it’s our goal to help you learn English in the most fun and effective way possible. Sign up for your free lifetime account today, and gain access to tons of audio and video lessons, word lists, and your very own set of flashcards. We hope to see you around! 

8. Answers

“To Walk” (Present Tense)
walk
You [singular]walk
He / She / Itwalks
Wewalk
You [plural]walk
Theywalk

“To Play” (Past Tense)
played
You [singular]played
He / She / Itplayed
Weplayed
You [plural]played
Theyplayed

“To Bake” (Future Tense)
will bake
You [singular]will bake
He / She / Itwill bake
Wewill bake
You [plural]will bake
Theywill bake

How did you do?

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How Long Does it Take to Learn English Fluently?

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Learning a language can feel like climbing a huge mountain. It’s not so bad when you start, but the higher up you get, the more difficult the terrain becomes. You’re tired, you’re out of breath, and you don’t know if it’s worth it to keep going. Things aren’t going well, and you’re getting discouraged.

When this happens, it can really help to have a more realistic sense of the work involved and the direction you must take. This way, you can prepare yourself for the road ahead and regain your energy. And I have some good news: If you’re reading this article, you’re almost there! You just need to keep pressing forward. 

In this article, I’ll talk about how long it takes most people to learn English and give you some advice on how to learn English fast!

Let’s get started.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in English Table of Contents
  1. First, a Few Factors to Consider
  2. Reaching Beginner Level (CEFR A1 – A2)
  3. Reaching Intermediate Level (CEFR B1 – B2)
  4. Reaching Advanced Level (CEFR C1 – C2)
  5. Final Thoughts

First, a Few Factors to Consider

From Start to Finish

So how long will it take, really? It depends on who you ask.

According to English UK, it generally takes 120 hours for each level of English fluency. But if you ask Cambridge ESOL, it takes closer to 200 hours per level. 

One thing professionals agree on is that there are certain factors that influence how difficult English will be for you. (We covered a few of these points in our recent article titled Is English Hard to Learn? You can check it out for more information.) 

  • How similar your native language is to English.

If you speak German, Spanish, or French, you’ll likely have an easy time learning English! But if you speak a very different language, particularly a language that does not belong to the Romance language family (like Chinese, Japanese, or Arabic), learning English will be a lot harder for you. 

  • What other languages you know.

If you already know more languages than your mother tongue, learning English won’t be nearly as difficult (no matter what your native language is). This is because you’ve already trained your brain to pick up new language patterns. In other words, once you learn a new language, every subsequent new language is easy to learn. And if the language(s) you learned are similar to English, that’s even better.

  • How much time and money you’re able to invest in learning.

If you spend six or more hours a day learning English, you’re going to pick it up much faster than someone who only studies for an hour or less. In addition, investing in language courses or better learning tools can significantly help your learning process!

  • How dedicated and motivated you are.

If you don’t have an end-goal or aren’t really passionate about the language, you probably won’t get very far. It’s important to have a goal (or series of goals) to help you along, and it’s even better if you can find ways to love learning English.

  • Your everyday exposure to the language.

The more exposure to English you have each day, the faster you’ll learn. If you’re struggling to make progress, you might want to start implementing English-language content into your daily routine. Listen to English-language music, read books, stream movies on Netflix, or find an English YouTube channel to follow! 

  • How effective your learning tools and methods are.

When you’re using the best tools available to you and learning in a way that works for you, you’ll absorb so much more information! I recommend doing a little research on learning styles, so you can make more effective study decisions based on how you prefer learning.

  • How old you are.

Children tend to be much more effective language-learners than adults. Their brains are more adept at acquiring new information in general, while the adult brain has more difficulty learning new things. My advice: If you’re young and want to continue improving your English, take advantage of your youth while you can. 😉 But if you’re learning English as an adult, don’t despair: You can still make progress and even perfect your language skills! It will just take a little longer. 

1. Reaching Beginner Level (CEFR A1 – A2)

A Man Tired While Hiking

Level A1

Time: Approximately 70 hours of regular study time. 

Language points and abilities: 

  • Understand basic phrases
  • Greet and introduce yourself
  • Engage in short conversations (when the other person talks slowly and clearly)

Level A2

Time: Approximately 180-200 hours of regular study time. 

Language points and abilities:

  • Understand frequently used phrases
  • Exchange basic information
  • Talk about things of immediate relevance without too much trouble

How to Learn Faster

  • Set a clear goal. What do you want or need from the language? Make sure your goals are manageable and that they line up with your reasons for studying. 
  • Make flashcards. The flashcards you create should have something to do with your goal. In this case, you’ll probably want to memorize words that have to do with basic conversations and everyday life. 
  • Practice listening. In addition to EnglishClass101’s podcasts and video lessons, I recommend you do some passive listening. Watch TV shows in English, listen to songs in a genre you like, or tune into a podcast that interests you. A few minutes a day can really add up. 

Relevant Lessons

Daily Conversations in English for Beginners. 

This lesson series provides five and a half hours of native English dialogue. In each of the twenty-five lessons, you’ll learn a new aspect of everyday English conversations, from common phrases to verb tenses. 

Also see the following blog posts about basic conversations:


2. Reaching Intermediate Level (CEFR B1 – B2)

Someone Climbing a Mountain at Dusk

Level B1

Time: Approximately 350-400 hours of regular study time.

Language points and abilities:

  • Understand main points about familiar things
  • Possess the vocabulary needed for travel
  • Produce simple text
  • Express dreams, plans, and events

Level B2

Time: Approximately 500-600 hours of regular study time.

Language points and abilities:

  • Understand more complex texts (abstract + concrete + technical)
  • Participate in increasingly fluent conversation
  • Write clear text 
  • Express and support opinions

How to Learn Faster

Are you wondering how to learn English properly at this stage? Here are a few tips for you. 

  • Continue expanding your vocabulary. Make more flashcards and study them regularly. You may find it beneficial to label items in your home or office with their English name. This will expose you to the vocabulary all day, every day, and help you associate the word with what it is.  
  • Practice listening and writing. Listen to things in English that have to do with your interests and language goals, and write in English whenever you can. Do you want to open a restaurant in the U.S.? Listen to cooking podcasts and start a food blog in English. This will help you learn words and phrases that match up with your goals. 
  • Practice reading. Start with simpler texts and work your way up. It’s also important to read things that you’re interested in, and in a format you feel comfortable with. If you enjoy reading magazines in your native language, you should try reading them in English; if you like reading fiction novels, try your hand at a shorter English novel. 
  • Work on your pronunciation. If you haven’t yet, now’s the time to get serious about your pronunciation. Even with a strong vocabulary, your speech will falter if your pronunciation isn’t right. A good way to start is by reading vocabulary words out loud and checking your pronunciation against that of a native speaker. 

Relevant Lessons

In our Ordering Pizza lesson series for lower-intermediate learners, you’ll learn what to expect during a casual phone call. You’ll also learn things like:

    ❖ How to use the modal verb “would” for polite requests
    ❖ How to use wordplay and humor in conversations

Each lesson in this series also includes 1) a transcript so you can read along with the lesson, 2) a printed version of the conversation, and 3) a vocabulary list that you can study, practice, and add to your flashcard deck. 

I also recommend checking out the following series and lessons:


3. Reaching Advanced Level (CEFR C1 – C2)

A Man Who Has Reached the Top of a Snowy Mountain

Level C1 

Time: Approximately 700-800 hours of regular study time.

Language points and abilities:

  • Understand longer, more complex texts and their implicit meaning
  • Have fluent/spontaneous communication with others, and express yourself
  • Use the English language in a flexible manner
  • Produce clear and detailed text with excellent command of all grammatical aspects

Level C2

Time: Approximately 1000-1200 hours of regular study time.

Language points and abilities:

  • Understand just about everything you hear and read in English
  • Be able to summarize texts or conversations
  • Reconstruct arguments
  • Perfectly incorporate linguistic nuances in spontaneous communication

How to Learn Faster

You’re so close to total mastery! Here’s some advice on how to learn English effectively as you approach the advanced level. 

  • Write longer texts and listen to longer-form material. Take notes when needed, make flashcards, and look words up in a dictionary if you need to. As you increase the amount of writing and listening you do, you’ll become more comfortable with it and get a better understanding of nuances.  
  • Quiz yourself and take mock quizzes. One of the funnest ways to learn something is to play games with yourself. In this case, you can quiz yourself throughout the day (or once a week) on things you’ve recently learned, read, heard, or even said! Additionally, you can find pre-made quizzes online to help you find areas for improvement. Some of them can even help you prepare for major English tests like the IELTS
  • Think in English. This can be the hardest part! I’m currently learning Spanish and Korean, and it’s so unnatural for me to think in those languages. It will take practice, but it will be very worth it. Thinking in English will make the language feel more natural to you over time.
  • Learn English-language nuances. Every language has its own nuances that foreigners find difficult to learn. By familiarizing yourself with little-known grammar rules, spelling exceptions, and turns of phrase, you’ll be one step closer to full English mastery. 
  • Practice speaking with native speakers. One of the best ways to really test yourself is to have practice conversations with native English-speakers. This will expose you to real, everyday language and give you someone to help correct your mistakes. If you’re not living in an English-speaking country, you can always find online chat groups, language-learning forums, or even pen pals to practice speaking with! 

Appropriate Lessons

EnglishClass101.com has plenty of audio and video lessons for advanced learners to help them hone their skills. For example, this lesson about Michael Jackson’s song Thriller provides learners with cultural information, more complex sentences to study, and an interesting topic to listen to. 

I also recommend the following series and vocabulary lists:


Final Thoughts

A Helping Hand

I hope this article has shown you that becoming fluent in English is totally doable, even if there are some aspects of the language that seem insurmountable now. 

Now that you know some of the milestones you can look forward to, are you wondering how to learn English more effectively? 

At EnglishClass101.com, we understand that English has its tough points, and that you might be tempted to give up. We want you to know that you don’t have to make this journey alone! 

Here are just a few of our features:

We’re dedicated to making English an accessible language for everyone, and that’s reflected in our themed lessons for beginners, intermediate learners, and advanced students. There’s always room for growth, and we’ll be here to help on every step of your journey. 

If you’ve read this entire article, it means that your English is already really good! But if you’re not satisfied with your current level, you can work on improving key areas (such as speaking, pronunciation, or grammar). Everyone needs a helping hand sometimes, so we hope you’ll stick with us.

Before you go, do you have any tips for fellow English-learners? Or maybe a question about something in this article? We’d love to hear from you in the comments.

Happy learning with EnglishClass101.com! 🙂

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45 Proverbs in English to Start Using Today

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I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard that “every cloud has a silver lining” when I was sad. Or that “curiosity killed the cat” when I asked too many questions. Or, my least favorite as a child, that I should “never put off until tomorrow what I can do today” when I wanted to play video games instead of finishing my homework. 

These are only three of the most commonly used proverbs in English, but I swear I’ve heard these hundreds of times! 

I’m sure that you’ve heard similar proverbs and sayings over and over again in your native language. These words of wisdom can give us a new perspective, reinforce good habits, and give us something to say when we’re at a loss for words. And for you, as the avid language-learner you are, using these proverbs well will help you sound more like a native English-speaker! 

In this article, I’ll show you forty-five popular English proverbs, what they mean, and how to use them in a given context. You might know some of these already, but do you know all forty-five?


Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in English Table of Contents
  1. Life
  2. Success
  3. Love and Relationships
  4. Family and Friendship
  5. Health and Beauty
  6. Religion and Virtues
  7. Final Thoughts

1. Life

A Kitten Meowing with Its Eyes Closed

Curiosity killed the cat.

Life can be crazy or calm, joyful or sorrowful, busy or relaxed. Whatever stage of life you’re in, there’s certainly a proverb in English you can use to describe or add spice to it. 

Here are a few of the best English proverbs about life. You can start using these right away and in a variety of situations! 

1 – Actions speak louder than words.

What it means: 

It’s easy to say that you’ll do something or that you believe something, but there’s no reason for people to believe you unless you act accordingly. 

How to use it:

Your significant other says that he or she is sorry for doing something that hurt you. But later, they do that thing again and then apologize for it. At this point, you could tell them: “Actions speak louder than words.” Meaning that if they want you to believe them, they need to show their remorse through their actions, not their words alone. 

2 – Curiosity killed the cat.

What it means:

Trying to learn more about something can sometimes cause more harm than good. 

How to use it:

Parents often use this phrase toward their children, especially if the child is trying to do something dangerous as a result of curiosity. For example, a child sees that the oven is turned on and wants to take a look inside, the child’s parent may keep them away from the oven, and warn: “Curiosity killed the cat.” This is because if the child touched the oven, they could burn themself.

3 – Don’t bite the hand that feeds you.

What it means:

If someone is providing for you or helping you in some way, don’t treat them badly or betray them. The imagery here refers to how a dog or cat will sometimes bite the hand of someone who’s trying to feed it.

How to use it:

This is another proverb that parents tell their children often. For example, if a parent has offered to do something nice for their child (like let them stay over at a friend’s house), and their child begins to misbehave in the meantime, the parent may say: “Don’t bite the hand that feeds you.” This is a warning that the privilege can be taken away at any time. 

4 – Every cloud has a silver lining.

What it means:

Even negative things that happen can have a more positive aspect to them. (Just as clouds are perceived as gloomy, but when you look closely, you can see the sun peeking through the edges.)

How to use it:

A friend has told you that they just lost their job. Trying to comfort them, you may say: “Every cloud has a silver lining. Maybe there’s a better job out there for you.”

5 – Every man has his price.

What it means:

Every person has a price point where they become willing to turn their back on what they believe in or what they value.

How to use it:

Someone you know took a shady job because it paid more than their old one. You may say to yourself: “Every man has his price.”

6 – Give them an inch and they’ll take a mile.

What it means:

If you give someone just a little bit of something, they’ll expect for you to give them a lot more. 

How to use it:

Your friend is talking to you about someone who’s been manipulating them into doing things for them all the time. You may say: “Give them an inch and they’ll take a mile.” This would serve as a warning that your friend should stop doing things for that person before it gets more out of hand. 

7 – Good things come to those who wait.

What it means:

When you’re patient, it creates a calmer environment that may cause good things to happen. (And if you’re impatient, things will take longer to happen!)

How to use it:

There are two ways you can use this proverb: seriously and jokingly. 

To use it seriously, imagine that a family member is complaining that nothing in their life is going right. You say: “Good things come to those who wait.” This lets them know that something good may be coming in the future if they’ll just be patient for it. 

To use it jokingly, imagine that your child is waiting for cookies to come out of the oven and they are being impatient. You may say to them: “Good things come to those who wait.” (Though this might make them more impatient…)

8 – If life gives you lemons, make lemonade.

What it means:

When bad things happen, try to make the best of them or use them for good. You can change your thinking and create a positive situation out of a negative one. 

How to use it:

Your friend is complaining that the mall is closed. You tell your friend: “If life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” This will suggest that there might be something even better they can do than go to the mall. 

9 – As you sow, so shall you reap.

What it means:

The actions you do now will affect the outcome of a project or situation. A more common variation is: “You reap what you sow.”

How to use it:

Your friend wants to start a business. They’ve been doing a lot of research on how to succeed, but are still worried about failing. To reassure them, you might say: “You reap what you sow. Your research and diligence will help you succeed.”

10 – All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.

What it means:

It’s important to have fun in life, instead of just working all the time. If you only work, you won’t have time for personal growth or fulfillment. 

How to use it:

Your sibling has been working on an essay for several hours now, and you’re worried about them. You may tell your sibling: “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” This would suggest to them that they should take a break and do something fun.

2. Success

A Man Multi-tasking

Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today.

The need to be successful can really drive a person forward and help them achieve their most important goals. But what things contribute to success? What does success look like, and how can you get there? Here are some of the most popular proverbs in English about success. 

    → What does success mean to you? Do you think you’re successful right now? Let us know in the comments, and be sure to study our list of the Top 11 Quotes About Success for more inspiration!

11 – A chain is only as strong as its weakest link.

What it means:

Even the strongest chain will be useless if just one link is weakened, missing, or broken. Likewise, a business, project, or idea can’t succeed unless even its weakest link is strong enough to help support it. 

How to use it:

You and a friend are eating at a restaurant that has great food but terrible service, and you decide not to go there again. When you’re leaving, you tell your friend: “A chain is only as strong as its weakest link.” This indicates that the great food meant nothing because the service was so bad.

12 – A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

What it means:

Even the greatest successes and accomplishments started with taking the first step toward it. 

How to use it:

A family member has told you that they want to start a business, but are afraid to begin making preparations because they might fail. You can tell them: “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” This should help encourage them to take the first step toward their business.

13 – A stitch in time saves nine.

What it means:

Taking an action as soon as it’s necessary, or fixing a problem right when it happens, will save you time and effort in the future.

How to use it:

Your friend feels ill, but they don’t want to go to the doctor because it may be nothing. You may say to your friend: “A stitch in time saves nine.” This refers to the fact that going to the doctor now may keep things from getting worse later.

14 – Don’t bite off more than you can chew.

What it means:

Don’t take on more responsibilities than you’re able to handle.

How to use it:

A friend is telling you that they just took on a second job and have started volunteering part-time. They look tired, so you say: “Don’t bite off more than you can chew.” This indicates that you think they’re doing too much to be productive and stay healthy.

15 – Don’t cast pearls before swine.

What it means:

Don’t show or give something that’s valuable to someone who won’t treasure or take care of it.

How to use it:

A friend tries out to make it onto a dance team. You think they did really well, but they didn’t get a place on the team. You tell your friend: “Don’t cast pearls before swine.” This indicates that you think your friend was too good to be on the team anyway.

16 – Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket.

What it means:

Don’t rely too much on one thing to lead you to success. Instead, you should diversify. (If you put all your eggs in one basket, they’ll all break if you drop the basket, and you’ll have no eggs left.)

How to use it:

Your friend has spent all their time and effort trying to get into one college. You might warn them: “Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket,” and encourage them to apply to more colleges in case they don’t get into that one.

17 – Never put off until tomorrow what you can do today.

What it means:

If you have the time and means to get something done today, you should! This will make your workload the following day much easier (and tomorrow is never guaranteed, anyway).

How to use it:

Imagine a mother asks her son to take out the trash, and he says that he’ll do it “later.” The mother may say: “Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today.”

18 – Rome wasn’t built in a day.

What it means:

Big things take time and effort to accomplish. 

How to use it:

You’ve been trying to write a novel for the past several years, and you’re ready to give up. While you’re talking to a friend about it, they may tell you: “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” In other words, writing a novel is a huge task so you can’t expect it to be fast or easy. 

19 – The early bird catches the worm (but the second mouse gets the cheese).

What it means:

“The early bird catches the worm” means that those who start something early will be rewarded for their diligence. 

The second part (“but the second mouse gets the cheese”) is a fun addition to the traditional phrase. It refers to how a mousetrap will kill the first mouse that tries taking the cheese, allowing the next mouse that comes by to take it for himself. It means that sometimes it’s better to wait and be patient, instead of trying to be first all the time. 

How to use it:

Your significant other asks you why you get up so early on the weekend. You say “The early bird catches the worm,” meaning that waking up early gives you more time to get things done. They may reply with: “But the second mouse gets the cheese,” in a light gesture, to mean that the second person will benefit from the first’s work (a clean home, freshly brewed coffee, etc.)

20 – Haste makes waste.

What it means:

Trying to get things done too quickly often results in poor-quality work. 

How to use it:

Your child finished their math homework super-fast so they could play video games earlier than usual. But you warn them: “Haste makes waste.” In other words, they’ll probably regret doing their homework so quickly because there will be more mistakes.

3. Love and Relationships

A Couple Hugging at the Airport

Absence makes the heart grow fonder.

Where would you be without your best friend or lover? Learn some of the sweetest (and strangest) English proverbs about love. 


21 – Absence makes the heart grow fonder.

What it means:

When you love or care about someone, those feelings become even stronger when that person is far away from you, especially for long periods of time. 

How to use it:

Your significant other needs to leave for a week-long work conference. You may say: “Absence makes the heart grow fonder.” This will let them know you’ll miss them. 

22 – All’s fair in love and war.

What it means:

Just like war can bring out the worst in people, so can love when it becomes a battle. In another sense, we can interpret this to mean that there are no rules, both in terms of love and war. 

How to use it:

This is most often used when two people are trying to attract the same person for a romantic relationship. It basically means that anything goes, since the two people are “at war” for the other person’s heart. 

23 – Grief divided is made lighter.

What it means:

When you have someone to share your grief with, it doesn’t feel quite as bad. 

How to use it:

You see that your best friend looks sad, so you ask them what’s wrong. If they seem hesitant to share what’s wrong, you might say: “Grief divided is made lighter,” to encourage them. 

24 – No man is an island.

What it means:

Islands are small, isolated pieces of land. This proverb means that no man should isolate himself this way. Instead, it’s important for people to be part of a community. 

How to use it:

Someone you know has been withdrawing more and more from their friendships and relationships. In this case, you could say to them: “No man is an island.” This would be a way of encouraging them to maintain their relationships better, and of letting them know you’re there for them.

25 – Never let the sun go down on your anger.

What it means:

When you’re angry with a friend, family member, or other loved one, it’s important to resolve the issue as quickly as possible. 

How to use it:

Your friend is telling you that they had a fight with their significant other, and they want your advice. You may say: “Never let the sun go down on your anger,” to encourage them to resolve the issue quickly. 

26 – Happy wife, happy life.

What it means:

This is normally used jokingly. It means that it’s important to keep one’s wife happy, otherwise said wife might make your life miserable. 

How to use it:

If you’re a woman, imagine your spouse brings home a chocolate bar for you after work. You thank them for it, and they say: “Happy wife, happy life.” This means that by doing something that made you happy, everyone at home is able to live more peacefully. 

27 – The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.

What it means:

This one is often used jokingly as well. It means that the best way to win a man’s heart (or keep it) is to cook delicious food for him.

How to use it:

Women often use this proverb when talking with each other about the men in their lives. For example, one woman may be talking about a new recipe she tried that her husband liked, to which another woman may respond: “Yes, the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.”

4. Family and Friendship

A Group of Girls Hugging from Behind

Birds of a feather flock together.

Whether you’re single or in a whirlwind romance, your friends and family likely hold a huge part of your life and heart. Here are some common proverbs in English about family and friends. 


28 – Blood is thicker than water.

What it means:

Here, “blood” refers to blood relations (i.e. one’s family). The proverb means that the relationship one has with their family is more important than any other relationship they have. 

How to use it:

Your friend is talking to you about a dilemma they’re facing. They have to choose between spending a week with their family in another country, or spending that week with their significant other instead. You say: “Blood is thicker than water,” to encourage them to spend that time with their family. 

29 – Birds of a feather flock together.

What it means:

Just like birds of the same type will flock together, people with similar personalities or interests also tend to spend time with each other. 

How to use it:

Your friend says something about how much time you two spend together. You say: “Well, birds of a feather flock together.” This means that you spend so much time together because of how similar you are. 

30 – Great minds think alike.

What it means:

Often used jokingly, this proverb implies that when two or more people think the same way, it’s a sign that they have “great minds.” 

How to use it:

You and your sibling are having a conversation about something, and you both happen to say the same thing at the same time. In this case, you may say: “Great minds think alike.”

31 – The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

What it means:

Here, the “apple” refers to a child, and the “tree” refers to that child’s parent. This proverb means that children often end up being a lot like their parents. This can be used both positively and negatively.

How to use it:

You’re telling your grandmother about how much you enjoy crocheting. Because your mother also likes to crochet, your grandmother might say: “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.”

32 – Children are a poor man’s riches.

What it means:

Children are of great value to their parents, especially if their parents have very little. 

How to use it:

Two fathers are talking about their children, and one of them mentions how proud he is that his daughter graduated college with honors. The other father may say: “Yes, children are a poor man’s riches.”

5. Health and Beauty

A Mother and Her Young Daughter Laughing

Laughter is the best medicine.

In the United States, people tend to view health and beauty as two of the most important things a person can possess. Following is a list of English proverbs on health, beauty, and how to maintain both! 


33 – An apple a day keeps the doctor away.

What it means:

If you eat things that are good for you and live a healthy lifestyle, you won’t have to see the doctor as often. 

How to use it:

People may reference the proverb while literally eating an apple, or else, eating healthy food that will hopefully lead to good health in the long term. 

Note:

People often play around with this proverb by replacing the words “apple” and “doctor” with other words that make sense in a given context. For example: “A smile a day keeps the sadness away.”

34 – Laughter is the best medicine.

What it means:

Sometimes, nothing can make you feel better than having a good laugh.

How to use it:

Your friend seems sad, so you suggest that you watch a funny movie together, and say: “Laughter is the best medicine.”

35 – You are what you eat.

What it means:

The foods you eat on a regular basis can say a lot about you. Also, the foods you eat can affect your health.

How to use it:

Your significant other asks why you didn’t have a bowl of ice cream after dinner. You say: “You are what you eat.” This implies that you skipped eating ice cream because it’s not very good for you. 

36 – Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

What it means:

Beauty is subjective, meaning that what one person thinks is beautiful, another person may not. 

How to use it:

You’re telling your friend about a poem you thought was really beautiful, and they tell you that they didn’t like that poem very much. You say: “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”

37 – Beauty is only skin-deep.

What it means:

Even if a person is beautiful or handsome on the outside, this doesn’t say anything about what the person is really like on the inside. 

How to use it:

Your friend is reading through a fashion magazine, and says she wishes she looked like one of the models. You might say: “Beauty is only skin-deep.”

38 – Don’t judge a book by its cover.

What it means:

This proverb means almost the same thing as the one above. You can’t really tell what a person is like (or a book, or a movie, etc.), just by looking at them. 

How to use it:

You just cooked a new recipe for dinner, but it doesn’t look very appetizing. Your significant other says so, and you reply: “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” This means that while it might not look good, it will probably taste good. 

6. Religion and Virtues

Someone Washing Their Hands with Soap and Water

Cleanliness is next to godliness.

I’ll end this list of commonly used proverbs in English with a handful of proverbs related to religion, virtues, and morals. 


39 – Cleanliness is next to godliness.

What it means:

This proverb implies that keeping yourself and your environment clean is extremely important. 

How to use it:

Your child didn’t wash their hands after using the bathroom. You ask them to go back and wash their hands, saying: “Cleanliness is next to godliness.”

40 – God helps those who help themselves.

What it means:

This proverb is mainly used in religious contexts. It means that unless you take initiative and work hard to make change yourself, you can’t expect God’s help. 

How to use it:

A distant relative of yours says that they’ve been praying for something to happen, but nothing has happened yet. You might say to them: “God helps those who help themselves.” This would encourage them to take action instead of just hoping that God will take care of the problem. 

41 – Honesty is the best policy.

What it means:

Whatever situation you’re in, it’s best to tell the truth. 

How to use it:

Imagine you’ve made a big mistake that you’re afraid you’ll get in trouble for. You confide in a friend, and they tell you: “Honesty is the best policy.” This would encourage you to be honest about your mistake with the affected party. 

42 – Practice what you preach.

What it means:

If you tell someone that they should do something or live a certain way, you should also be doing that thing or living that way. Otherwise, you’ll be a hypocrite and the person you’re “preaching” to won’t take you seriously. 

A popular equivalent is: “Take your own advice.”

How to use it:

This is normally used in a negative way. For example, imagine that a mother and her daughter got into a fight about something. The mother told her daughter not to stay up too late, but her daughter replied with: “Why don’t you practice what you preach?” This implies that if the daughter has to go to bed early, so should her mother. 

43 – Two wrongs don’t make a right.

What it means:

When someone hurts you or does something that you think is wrong, hurting that person back won’t make the situation right. 

How to use it:

You’re telling your friend that a coworker said something mean to you the other day, and that you want to say something mean in return when you get a chance. But your friend warns you: “Two wrongs don’t make a right.”

44 – Before you judge a man, walk a mile in his shoes.

What it means:

To “walk a mile in someone’s shoes” means to look at things from the other person’s perspective, and to imagine what it’s like to live life through their eyes. This proverb means that you should do this before you judge someone for their attitude or actions. 

How to use it:

You hear a family member complaining about someone they don’t like, but you know the person they’re talking about, and think your family member is being close-minded. You might say: “Before you judge a man, walk a mile in his shoes.” This would encourage your family member to look at things from the other person’s perspective.

45 – People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.

What it means:

This one is a bit more complex.

“Throwing stones” refers to the act of stoning someone, or condemning/judging them. And a “glass house” refers to something that’s both delicate and completely see-through. 

If you live in a “glass house,” it means that your own life is completely visible to others (so they can see if you’re being hypocritical or not). And, of course, throwing stones against glass will cause the glass to shatter (just as your life can shatter if your own wrongdoings are found out). 

So this proverb means that you shouldn’t judge or condemn others so long as people can see your life and actions. It also implies that you may be in a particularly vulnerable position, and you should especially not judge when you may need to seek the mercy of others. 

How to use it:

Your friend sees someone smoking outside a restaurant, and starts complaining to you about why that person shouldn’t be smoking. But you happen to know that your friend has a problem of spending too much money. So you say: “People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.” 

Note:

Do be careful when using this proverb, as it can easily hurt someone’s feelings or make them upset with you. There is a time and a place to use it, but be cautious and considerate of others’ feelings. 

7. Final Thoughts

I do want to end on a quick word of caution here: 

While proverbs can make your speech seem more fluent and add depth to a conversation, you shouldn’t use them too often. Proverbs are like salt: a little bit can make your meal more flavorful, but too much will cause you to gag or get sick. Use them sparingly for the best results.

I hope that with this quick guide, you have a better idea of how and when to use some of the most common English proverbs. But if there’s anything you’re uncertain about, feel free to ask us in the comments! We’ll get back to you with useful information as soon as possible. 

How many of the sayings on our English proverbs list did you know already? Which ones were new to you? Drop us a comment down below, and let us know.

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An English Learner’s Guide to American Culture

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As an individualistic country that’s home to people of numerous cultures, the United States has not one cultural identity, but many. 

Learning about American culture, values, and lifestyle is a great way to immerse yourself in the English language. Whether you’re just curious about what life in the United States looks like, or you plan on moving to the country soon, the information in this article will help you better understand what to expect. 

You’ll learn about a variety of topics, from religion to food, and walk away with a clearer image of the American culture basics. 

Let’s get started.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in English Table of Contents
  1. Values and Beliefs
  2. Religion in the United States
  3. What is an American Family?
  4. American Work Culture
  5. Art: The Gateway to Self-Expression
  6. Food
  7. Traditional Holidays
  8. Final Thoughts

1. Values and Beliefs

The American Flag

Every country was built upon values and beliefs that define it. There are many values that Americans hold near to their hearts, so, here, I’ll outline the most prevalent ones.

Keep in mind that while these are American ideals, the United States is a melting pot of cultures, religions, and ideologies. As such, these basic values of American culture may be experienced differently from person to person.

IndividualismAmericans take pride in being unique individuals. In addition, we tend to focus our attention on personal happiness and satisfaction, as opposed to what’s better for others. 
IndependenceThis applies to the country as a whole, and to individual Americans. As a country, America strives to be independent from other countries; as a people, Americans value independence in other areas of life (such as caring for one’s own needs).
DemocracyDemocracy is a cornerstone of American culture. In a democracy, people vote for representatives who will work for the people. In our democracy, everyone over the age of eighteen is allowed to vote, and the majority wins. 
JusticeJustice means that people get what they deserve. If someone does good, they should be rewarded. If they do wrong or commit a crime, they should be punished according to that injustice or crime. 
EqualityThough America has had a rocky past in terms of equality, this is a value that’s becoming more and more prevalent in the country. We believe that every person, regardless of race, sex, age, or any other factor, should be treated with the same dignity and respect as anyone else.
CompetitionAmericans are very competitive. Our schools and workplaces are practically built around competition, with those who work the hardest, get the best grades, and put in the most time, are rewarded with honors or higher positions. 
CapitalismCapitalism is an economic system that promotes personal wealth accumulation, the owning of private property, and an individual’s ability to attain more wealth and belongings.
YouthIn the United States, it seems that everyone is obsessed with youth—that is, the ability to look and feel young and healthy. Some people spend a lot of money on makeup, lotions, medications, cosmetic surgeries, and special foods or vitamins that they think will help them achieve this. 
Self-expressionThis is sort of a step further than individualism. Americans, especially the younger generations, think of self-expression as a thing to be cherished and taken full advantage of. They often express themselves through the clothes they wear and the opinions they give.

Want to learn more about American culture and society? See our lesson on the Top Five Things You Need to Know About American Society

2. Religion in the United States

An Old Man with Glasses Reading the Bible

The United States is a country founded on the principle of religious freedom. This gives U.S. citizens the freedom to believe any religion (or no religion) and to worship according to their beliefs. As such, the United States doesn’t identify with a single religion, and you’ll find people of just about any religion here! 

That said, Christianity is the most prominent religion in the United States. Just under half of U.S. citizens identify as Protestant Christians, and around twenty percent identify as Catholic. There are also plenty of Christians who don’t identify with a single denomination (non-denominational) or who belong to a smaller subset of Christianity. 

Because the United States is such a melting pot of peoples and cultures, there are also many people who identify as Hindu, Buddhist, Jewish, Islamic, Mormon, and a handful of other religions.

Lately, there’s been a growing trend toward atheism (no belief in a god or gods) and agnosticism (the doubt that a god or gods exist). This is especially true of the younger generations, generally those under the age of thirty. 

In American culture, religion is a common topic of discussion and many people see their religion as part of their identity. You can read more about the religious demographics of the United States on WorldAtlas.com.  

3. What is an American Family?

A Family at a Park Flying a Kite Together

The average nuclear family.

Over the years, what a “typical” family looks like has evolved. Several decades ago, the average family was labeled the “nuclear family,” consisting of a father, a mother, and their children. 

Recently, there are more and more families across the United States that don’t look like this. This is due to a number of factors, including:

  • Higher divorce rates
  • Fewer couples having children (or having fewer children)
  • An increase in single-parenting (where one mother or one father raises their children alone)

In light of these changes, there’s also been an increasing trend toward “step families.” This happens when a couple with children divorces, and one or both of the divorced parents remarries. Children in situations like this receive a “stepparent” (the new spouse of their biological parent), as well as step-siblings (if the new spouse also had children from a previous relationship). 

In addition, the United States is becoming more and more open to what families, romantic relationships, and marriages should look like: 

  • Many couples in the U.S. choose to live together before they marry. 
  • Some couples choose not to marry at all.
  • LGBTQ marriages and civil unions are largely accepted in thirty-seven states.

In the United States, gender roles are quite flexible, and becoming even more flexible over time. There are plenty of working women and men who stay at home to take care of the children (though the latter is less common). In many households, both the man and woman work. 

Children in the U.S. are expected to attend school. The ages that a child must attend school varies from one state to another, but it’s generally from the ages of seven to eighteen. Educational opportunities vary. Most children attend public or private schools. Some private schools have a religious affiliation, but not all. Some children are even homeschooled (taught at home, usually by a parent), although specific regulations regarding home schooling vary from state to state. 


4. American Work Culture

A Bunch of People Working at Computers in an Office

There’s no single type of work atmosphere in the United States, though most companies and workplaces do share a few things in common:

  • There’s generally a clear structure of hierarchy.
  • It’s important to be punctual for all work-related activities.
  • Formality levels and dress codes vary greatly depending on the company/workplace. 

Americans often feel that their job should be fulfilling, and many also believe that their work defines who they are. Perhaps this is why many Americans, especially the younger generations, tend to change jobs often

In addition, many Americans feel the need for achievement and competition in their work. The American workplace practically revolves around competition, especially in larger companies. Coworkers may try to outdo each other in work performance or put in extra hours to impress their superiors. This is usually done in hopes of getting a promotion or a raise in their salary.

But despite the competitive nature of work in the United States, most Americans agree that work isn’t everything. We definitely enjoy our time off! Whether this means going out with friends after a long day, staying at home with a glass of wine in the evening, or planning fun weekend activities with family, Americans highly value relaxation and entertainment.

That said, the United States is surprisingly behind the rest of the world in terms of vacation days and paid time off. Only three-quarters of employers offer their employees vacation days, and those that do, don’t offer nearly as many as employers in other countries do! Generally, American workers are allowed more days off per year the more years they’ve worked at a particular company (starting with ten days off after one year).


5. Art: The Gateway to Self-Expression

Perhaps due to our love of self-expression, Americans tend to enjoy many different types of art. Here, I’ll outline what you should know about various artforms in the United States.

A- Painting

A Paint Brush and Different Colored Paints

In the eighteenth century, paintings in colonial America were largely influenced by British painters and aesthetics. During this time, most artists were self-taught and their work usually illustrated historical and religious subjects. 

Painters in the nineteenth century began focusing more on rural scenes as the United States underwent exploration and expansion. In the later years of this century, American artists received influence from French artists, particularly in the form of Impressionism.

The twentieth century saw Realism and controversy find its way into American paintings. At this point in time, American artists began to turn their back on what was considered the “right” way of making art, and individuality began to emerge during this era’s paintings. One of the most famous paintings from this time is called American Gothic by Grant Wood. This century was also a time of growth and change in the country itself, and made way for abstract art and art by African Americans

Today, there’s no one style of art that’s considered the best or most popular. This falls in line with the American culture of individualism, and is thought to be the result of cultural pluralism.

You can read a more detailed review of art in the United States on Wikipedia

B- Literature

A Librarian Putting Books Back on a Shelf

The United States has a rich literary history, and it’s become a melting pot of literary styles, tastes, and voices. I can’t cover everything, but I’ll outline the basics for you. 

Most Famous American Writers of the Past

Most Famous WorksAdditional Notes
Benjamin Franklin
(1706-1790)
Poor Richard’s Almanack
Father Abraham’s Sermon
The Way to Wealth
He often wrote under the pseudonym Richard Saunders.

Many popular modern-day adages are attributed to him. 
Edgar Allen Poe
(1809-1849)
The Raven
The Tell-Tale Heart
The Fall of the House of Usher
He wrote mostly poetry and short stories.

Poe is known for his dark, psychological, and often grotesque writing style and themes.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
(1803-1882)
Divinity School AddressEmerson is known for his strong transcendental themes and philosophies. 
Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens)
(1835-1910)
Old Times on the Mississippi
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
His real name was Samuel Clemens, but he wrote under the pseudonym Mark Twain.

Twain’s work was both highly controversial and well-admired. 

He often used elements of humor in his writings about darker topics.
Ernest Hemingway
(1899-1961)
The Old Man and the Sea
The Sun Also Rises
A Farewell to Arms
Hemingway wrote using a style he coined the “iceberg theory.”

Much of his writing focused on naturalism and gender issues.
F. Scott Fitzgerald
(1896-1940)
The Great Gatsby
This Side of Paradise
Tender is the Night
Fitzgerald’s work largely covered the Jazz Age of the U.S.

Many people call his book, The Great Gatsby, “The Great American Novel.”
John Steinbeck
(1902-1968)
Of Mice and Men
The Grapes of Wrath
Tortilla Flat
Steinbeck won a Nobel Prize in 1962. 

His work has been described as “imaginative” and “socially perceptive.”
Harper Lee
(1926-2016)
To Kill a Mockingbird
Go Set a Watchman
Lee won the Pulitzer Prize for her novel To Kill a Mockingbird in 1961. 

In 2015, the novel’s sequel Go Set a Watchman was published. Later, it was found to actually be the first draft of To Kill a Mockingbird.

Famous Poets

Most Famous WorksAdditional Notes
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
(1807-1882)
Paul Revere’s Ride
The Song of Hiawatha
Evangeline
The Courtship of Miles Standish
Longfellow was a member of The Fireside Poets, a group of poets who gained much popularity and associated themselves with New England.

He translated Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri.

His poetry was both lyrical and versatile.
Emily Dickinson
(1830-1886)
The Poems of Emily Dickinson
(poetry collection, 1955)
Most of Dickinson’s work wasn’t published until after her death. 

Her poetry often employed the use of dashes and capital letters. 

Much of her work focused on the concept of death.
Walt Whitman
(1819-1892)
Leaves of Grass (poetry collection, 1855)
Song of Myself
Whitman was known for writing very sensual poetry.

Much of his work employed free verse and cadence. 

Leaves of Grass wasn’t published until after his death, because he revised it continuously until then.

American Literature Today

In the United States, reading tastes vary greatly from person to person. A few popular genres include:

  • Mystery / Crime
  • Sci-fi / Fantasy
  • Horror
  • Romance
  • Historical Fiction
  • Action / Adventure
  • Classic Literature

Popular names today include Stephen King, James Patterson, J.K. Rowling, Ray Bradbury, Danielle Steel, Dean Koontz, and Nora Roberts. And you can’t forget the fantasy giants J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, whose works are much-beloved even today. 

C- Music

An Ameteur Rock Band Playing in a Garage

Like in its other artistic endeavors, American music is not bound by a single element or genre. Globalization has added to the United States’s melting pot of musical styles, and one can find just about any type of music being played on the radio, on music streaming sites, or even on the streets. 

Some of the most popular music genres in the United States include:

  • Rock 
  • Classic Rock
  • Pop
  • Country
  • Rap
  • Hip-Hop

Other genres include, but are not limited to:

  • Folk
  • Metal
  • Classical
  • Opera
  • Blues
  • Reggae
  • Indie/Alt Rock
  • Jazz

It’s not uncommon to find today’s artists mixing different musical genres to create more unique sounds, and to better express a point they’re trying to make or feelings they want to express. 

In the U.S., younger generations have also developed quite a liking for K-Pop music, and other types of music from other cultures! 

D- Architecture

A Series of Skyscrapers in Los Angeles, California

American architecture tends to be innovative, and there’s no one style that defines it. 

Our architecture draws influence from a number of other cultures and time periods, most notably European, English, Spanish, and Greek. 

Perhaps above all else, the United States is known for creating the first skyscraper. This building was called the Home Insurance Building, and it was built in Chicago in the mid-1880s. At 138 feet tall, this building led the way for the creation of even taller, more impressive skyscrapers in the United States and around the world.

Some famous buildings in the United States include:

You can read more about these buildings and their creators on MentalFloss.com! 

E- Body Art / Self-Expression

A Woman with an Arm Tattoo and Nose Piercing Crossing Her Arms and Smiling

Self-expression and individuality are core characteristics of American culture. Today, many people—especially the younger generations—tend to express their individuality through body art. 

Body art is a fairly vague term, but it refers to using one’s body as a way of reflecting who they are and what they feel. Tattoos, body piercings, hairstyles and colors, and clothing choices are just a handful of ways that Americans typically do this. 

The concept of body art has become so popular in the United States that there are even body art competitions on TV

A cultural tip: If you’ve never been to the United States before, and you’re from a culture that doesn’t prioritize individualism in the same way the US does, you may experience some culture shock. And that’s okay. Just remember that in the United States, it’s generally considered rude to stare, point, or call someone out for dressing or looking a certain way. 

6. Food

A Hamburger on a Sesame Seed Bun

Like every other aspect of U.S. culture, our cuisine consists of elements from a variety of cultures and countries. A lot of our foods are dishes that have been adapted from other cultures, or “Americanized.”

One notable feature of American food culture is our love for fast food! Americans tend to keep busy and don’t like “wasting” time waiting on food to be prepared (or cooking it themselves), especially around lunchtime. Whether grabbing a breakfast burrito through the McDonald’s drive-thru before work, heading to Burger King for a quick lunch, or getting a Popeye’s chicken sandwich over the weekend, you can see Americans going through drive-thrus all day, every day! It’s cheap, fast, and addicting. 

Perhaps the only thing we love more than a quick bite to eat is actually sitting down in a nice restaurant and having someone cook for us. This is a bit pricier, but the quality and dining experience are worth it! 😉 

Of course, it’s still fairly common for families and individuals to cook and eat at home, especially for dinner on weekdays. 

Some of the most popular American foods include burgers, hot dogs, apple pie, and chocolate chip cookies. Many Americans also enjoy a variety of drinks and beverages with their meals; some of the most popular options are soft drinks, fruit juices or other fruit-flavored drinks, and alcoholic beverages (wine and beer, especially). In the morning, many Americans love a cup (or seven) of coffee, and some people consume milk or other dairy products with breakfast as well. 

You can read more detailed information about current U.S. eating trends on this official government website


7. Traditional Holidays

In the United States, we celebrate lots of holidays, both religious and non-religious. 

A- Religious

As mentioned earlier, most Americans identify as Christian, so two of our biggest holidays are associated with Christianity. These are Christmas and Easter, both of which are also celebrated secularly. 

Christmas

A Warm Christmas Scene with a Christmas Tree and Fireplace

Christians celebrate Christmas as the day that Jesus was born. Popular activities include going to a Christmas Eve service the evening before, reading Bible stories associated with Jesus’s birth, and giving gifts to family members and other loved ones. 

In addition, many families will put up a Christmas tree in their home a couple of weeks before the holiday and decorate it with ornaments, tensile, and sometimes a star or angel on top. Around Christmastime, you can expect to see people’s yards decorated with things like inflatable snowmen and Christmas lights. All of the radio stations will play nonstop Christmas music and carols, and companies do a lot of marketing around this time. 

Most U.S. children are told the story of Santa Claus, and they wait all year long to receive presents from him on Christmas Day (if they’ve been good all year, that is). 

Many families will have a special Christmas dinner, prepare seasonal desserts, and invite extended family over to celebrate the holiday together. 


Easter

An Easter Image with Green Grass, Easter Eggs, and a Rabbit

Easter is celebrated as the day that Jesus was resurrected three days after his crucifixion. It’s common for there to be a sunrise service on this day, during which Christians hold a service outdoors, sing worship songs, and read Bible passages related to Jesus’s resurrection. 

For some, Easter is strictly a religious holiday. For others, Easter is celebrated separately from specific religious practice. 

Other activities include painting eggs, putting candy or money inside of plastic eggs and hiding them for children to find, and simply enjoying the spring weather. 

The Easter Bunny is a fictional character associated with Easter, and children believe that this character is the one who hides the eggs. 


B- Non-Religious

There are plenty of non-religious and secular holidays in the United States as well. These include, but aren’t limited to:

Halloween (October 31)

A Group of Children Dressed in Costumes and Trick-or-treating

Halloween originates from a pagan holiday that used to take place around the same time. 

On this day, many children dress up in costumes (usually scary, but sometimes cute or ones that look like a favorite superhero/character). On Halloween night, they walk around their neighborhood, knock on people’s doors, and say “Trick or Treat” to get candy or small toys. 

People like to decorate their homes and yards with things that are spooky, such as fake spiderwebs, jack-o-lanterns, and witches or zombies that can talk and move. Oftentimes, local community centers or libraries will hold special Halloween events for kids and adults. 


Independence Day (July 4)

A Sparkler in Front of the U.S. Flag

This is the date in 1776 that the United States gained independence from Great Britain. 

Americans often celebrate this day by hanging the American Flag, having barbeques with friends and family, and watching firework displays that night. In some places, people are allowed to buy their own fireworks to set off, in addition to sparklers and similar products. 

    → Learn more about the Fourth of July in this blog post, and pick up some relevant vocab while you’re at it!

Thanksgiving (Fourth Thursday of November)

A Family Eating Thanksgiving Dinner

On Thanksgiving, Americans are encouraged to be grateful for what they have. 

On this day, Americans prepare a large Thanksgiving dinner and eat with family or friends. Sometimes, families with young children will have everyone at the table take turns saying what they’re most grateful for. 

New Year’s Eve (December 31)

Four Glasses of Champagne behind a Clock

On New Year’s Eve, Americans prepare for the New Year. 

We stay up late that night, until midnight or later, usually at a special New Year’s party or with family. Americans often indulge in champagne and other alcoholic beverages to celebrate, and the celebrations reach their peak right at midnight. 

In New York, many people gather to watch the famous Ball Drop (and people who couldn’t make it to New York may watch it on the television). 


Memorial Day (Last Monday of May)

A Small American Flag in Front of a Veteran’s Tombstone

On Memorial Day, Americans remember those who lost their lives in service to their country. 

Many people visit the graves of loved ones who have died, and place flowers on or around their tombstone. In addition, families may gather together in remembrance of departed loved ones, and there are honorary parades in some cities.

Super Bowl Sunday (Early February)

Football Players Tackling Each Other

Super Bowl Sunday is all about American football! 

This is when the NFL (National Football League) holds its annual championship football game. On this day, family and friends often get together at home to watch the game on TV. People eat on this day like they do on Thanksgiving! Popular foods on Superbowl Sunday include buffalo wings, chips and dip (especially guacamole), nachos, beer, and soft drinks. 

8. Final Thoughts

American culture and traditions are not easily defined, as you can probably tell by now. Due to the strong presence of individualism, every person you encounter will have their own set of values, beliefs, preferences, and experiences. 

How does American culture compare to your country? Share your thoughts with us in the comments, and see what your fellow English-learners have to say! 

We only scratched the surface here, and there’s a lot more to learn about American culture and lifestyle. Luckily, EnglishClass101.com caters to your curiosity with hundreds of fun, accessible lessons. Create your free lifetime account today, and start learning English like never before with our audio and video lessons, free vocabulary lists, and insightful blog posts like this one. 

We hope to see you around. 😉

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