8 common informal phrases
Here are some English phrases used in everyday situations. They’re very common, but they’re rather colloquial, so you often won’t find them in an English textbook! Learn these phrases and expressions as well as the situations in which you can use each one.
You can say “I’ll say” to show that you strongly agree with what the other person says. We often use “I’ll say” to imply that what the other person said was an understatement, and that the truth is even “stronger” than their statement.
Your friend: “Wow – that’s a big fish.”
You: “I’ll say!” (implies that the fish is not just big… the fish is GIGANTIC)
“Fat chance!” means that there is a very little possibility of something happening. The possibility is so small that you think it won’t happen. Note: This expression is rather sarcastic. You should only use it with very good friends, never in a professional situation.
Situation: You and your friend are talking about the baseball championships.
Your friend: The Red Sox are going all the way this year. (“going all the way” = going to win the championship)
You: Fat chance! They’ll never beat the Yankees!
A more formal and polite way to express a small probability is “I don’t think that’s very likely.”
I Rest My Case.
You can say this when you are expressing a fact or opinion, and then something happens to prove your point perfectly and show that you are completely correct.
Situation: You and your friend are talking about cooking.
You: You can’t cook at all.
Your friend: I can cook! I always make those instant noodle soups.
You: I rest my case.
(the fact that instant noodle soups are meals for people who don’t really know how to cook, shows that your first statement about your friend’s lack of cooking abilities was correct)
What’s The Catch?
You can say this when something sounds too good to be true. It means that you suspect that there is a hidden problem, which might make the opportunity not as good as it appears to be.
Situation: You and your friend are talking about working from home.
Your friend: I just found out about a great opportunity – I can work from home only 5 hours a week and I’ll earn at least $2000 a month, guaranteed!
You: Hmm… what’s the catch? (you think that there is some problem or lie about this opportunity)
When you respond to a statement with “good call,” you are saying that the other person made a good decision or a smart observation.
Situation: You and your friend are trying to decide whether to go to the mall or to the movies.
Your friend: Let’s go to the mall – they’re having a big sale this weekend. We can go to the movies anytime.
You: Good call.
Take Your Pick.
You can say “take your pick” when you are offering the other person items for them to make a choice.
Situation: You are going to make tea for your friend, and you have several different flavors. You want to know which type of tea she prefers.
You: I have chai, green tea, ginger tea, and black tea – take your pick.
Make Yourself At Home.
You can say this to welcome someone who comes to your home for a visit. It means they can sit down, get comfortable, and relax.
Situation: You invited your colleague and her husband over for dinner, and they arrive.
You: Hi! Please come on in – make yourselves at home.
Your colleague: Thank you! You have a lovely apartment.
It’s A Small World!
You can say “It’s a small world!” (or “What a small world!”) in reaction to an unexpected coincidence.
Situation: You are meeting a new colleague for the first time.
You: I heard you have a degree in physics. Where did you go to school?
Colleague: At Stanford University.
You: What a small world! I studied there too. What year did you graduate?