Welcome to our brand new series on colloquial English where we’re looking at common phrases and expressions we use when we’re speaking. The best way to learn them is to see them in action. That way you can see when it’s appropriate to use the phrases and they become more memorable.
Using colloquial phrases will help your English sound more natural and conversational. In this video we’re looking at these ones: That’s a pity/What a pity That’s a shame That’s a bit much Who’s counting? Search me How should I know? Get over it All set Knock ’em dead Here goes Break a leg Get a life
What does it mean if you knock someone dead?
Or you tell them to get a life?
Or to break a leg?
We have these and lots more useful English phrases for you.
And best of all, we’ll show you how to use them in action.
Welcome to the first in a new series of videos we’re making.
It’s exciting. We’re looking at colloquial phrases.
So they’re phrases we use mostly in spoken English and they’re often informal.
They’re going to help your English sound more natural and conversational.
The best way to learn them is to see them in action, so you can see when we’d say them.
Let’s roll the first video.
It’s happened again!
My yogurt’s disappeared. I wanted to have it with my lunch.
Oh that’s a pity.
I put it in the office fridge with a label saying ‘this belongs to Jay’ and someone took it.
That’s a bit much.
It’s the ninth time this month, but who’s counting?
Well, you are.
Well who took it?
I think it was Kathy. Or do you think it was Scott in Finance?
How should I know?
I was really looking forward to it.
Oh Jay. It’s a yoghurt. Get over it.
Go and buy another one.
OK, I will.
If something bad happens to someone, you can show you’re sympathetic and disappointed for them by saying ‘That’s a pity’ or ‘What a pity’.
It shows you understand that something’s not right and that you wish it could be different.
And you could also say ‘That’s a shame’. It would mean much the same thing in this situation.
Somebody’s stolen my yogurt
Oh, that’s a shame.
Here’s another phrase that’s similar. It’s British English and we use it to describe behaviour that’s unfair, impolite or unacceptable.
Stealing his yoghurt nine times was probably a bit much. It’s nice yoghurt though.
Aha! It was YOU that took it! I knew it!
You caught me! But could you say ‘it’s a bit much’ in American English?
No. We’d probably say something like ‘That’s not right’ or ‘That’s unacceptable.’ Taking my yoghurt is totally unacceptable!
Next phrase: Who’s counting? This one’s interesting because it has two different uses.
I’ve had seven of these chocolate bars today, but who’s counting? I love chocolate, so I don’t care.
That’s the first meaning. We use ‘Who’s counting?’ to say that we don’t care how many times something happens.
But more often, it has a sarcastic meaning where it means the opposite. So we say it when we DO care about the number of times something happens.
And that’s what I did here.
It’s the ninth time this month that somebody’s stolen my yogurt, but who’s counting?
OK, next. You heard a couple of different things you can say when you don’t know something. First one:
Who took my yogurt?
You can use ‘search me’ to say you don’t know the answer to a question. It’s quite emphatic. OK, next phrase.
Who took my yoghurt?
How should I know?
The idea here is that the question is unreasonable because I can’t be expected to know the answer.
And that’s when you stopped being sympathetic and nice to me.
I was really looking forward to having it after lunch.
Oh Jay. It’s just a yoghurt. Get over it.
If we get over something, we accept it and move on.
But it’s not a very kind thing to say. You were getting impatient with me there.
Well yeah, I was getting fed up because you kept complaining about your yoghurt!
OK, let’s look at a different situation.
I’ll be nice to you in this one.
So are you ready for your presentation?
I’m all set. How do I look?
Fantastic! You’ll knock ’em dead.
OK, here goes.
Break a leg!
The word ‘set’ has a lot of different meanings in English. Here it means ready to do something.
Completely ready, completely prepared.
I’ve done my research and now I’m all set for my presentation.
OK, another phrase. Knock ’em dead.
Notice the pronunciation. We drop the th and ‘them’ becomes ’em. What happens if you knock someone one dead?
You go to jail?
Not in this case. If you knock somebody dead then you impress them very much, so they admire you.
It’s something we say to encourage someone to perform well.
You look fantastic. You’ll knock ’em dead.
Another common phrase: Here goes. This is what we say before we do something exciting or dangerous. Like before a bungee jump.
And the last phrase you heard was ‘break a leg’.
Of course this doesn’t mean I want you to hurt your leg. It means ‘good luck’.
It comes from the theatre. Actors are often superstitious and they don’t like to say good luck, so instead they say this before someone goes on stage. And now we say it too.
Break a leg
OK. Do we have another situation?
Yes, one more. Let’s roll the video.
This is a really good book, Jay. Do you want to read it?
Hey, shall we go out to the movies tonight?
Or we could go for a meal.
Oh, give me a break Jay.
Well, you’re always playing solitaire.
Well, I like it.
Get a life!
Notice the phrase ‘give me a break’. We can say this when someone’s doing something annoying and we want them to stop.
So it indicates we’re annoyed or angry.
It’s very direct so don’t say it if you want to be nice. Unless you’re joking of course.
And we can also use it when someone keeps saying things that aren’t true. Let’s see.
Solitaire’s a great game.
No it’s not.
It’s great exercise for the brain.
Oh, give me a break.
So why did Vicki say ‘give me a break’ there?
It was because Jay kept saying things that weren’t true. And again, I meant ‘stop it’.
And you also told me to ‘get a life’
Ah yes. We use this to tell someone to stop being boring and to do something more interesting.
Hmmm, so what do you plan to do today?
I thought I might play solitaire.
Oh get a life.
Get a life is a quite a rude thing to say to someone.
You’ll often hear it when people are joking though.
Yeah. And we can use it to talk about ourselves.
I stayed up till three o’clock this morning watching YouTube videos. I need to get a life.
But we hope you’ll spend time watching OUR videos. They’re a good way to spend your time.
Yes, they’re an investment in your future.
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