10 English Expressions You Should Know

There are so many expressions in the English language. These expressions differ from country to country, and it can be confusing to keep track of all of them. Yeah, you heard me right: expressions, not vocabulary. A lot of English language learners have this misconception that they only need to learn a lot of vocabulary to become fluent. That, indeed, is not true. How do you expect to sound like a native English speaker if you do not know their idioms, slang, and expressions that they use on the daily? Am I right? It’s impossible! If you don’t study and learn typical English expressions, there will always be that slight barrier up between you and speaking like a native.

So, I bet by now you’re wondering what some common expressions are, aren’t you? Don’t worry, we will get to that soon. First, I just want to make sure you know what an expression is. An expression is a group of words that are used a certain way, in order to convey a certain meaning. It’s important to note that expressions can be idioms and phrasal verbs too! Now, let’s jump right in.

1. “To fend for myself” (oneself/himself/herself)

  • Definition- to do things without help
  • Examples:

Ever since he was a child, he had to fend for himself.

After her parents passed away, she was forced to fend for herself.

I guess now that I am an adult, I need to fend for myself.
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2. “Bend the rules”

  • Definition- to not be strict or exact about following a rule.
  • Examples:

She is a great person, but she loves bending the rules.

He bent the rules too much, so we had to let him go.

Carrie doesn’t like bending the rules; she is very strict.

3. “Word- of- mouth”

  • Definition- Given or done by people talking about something or telling people about something.
  • Examples:

I didn’t have to advertise the new course, the students did so via word of month.

Word of mouth is perhaps the most effective way to promote a business.

I learned of this new cafe by word of mouth.

4. “To doze off”

  • Definition- to fall asleep, especially foe a short time.
  • Examples:

My mom used to yell at me for dozing off during class.

I tried so hard not to doze off during that lecture. It was brutal!

I usually doze off on my bus ride home from work.

5. “Make a first impression”

  • Definition- to have or create a strong impact on someone, whether good or bad.
  • Examples:

I hope I made a good first impression today at my new job.

He was so worried about making a good first impression, that he locked his keys in his car.

I think I’m one of the few people who believe that first impressions are everything.
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6. “Get a feel for something”

  • Definition- to develop a good knowledge or understanding of something.
  • Examples:

I need to get a feel for this new curriculum before I jump in.

He just moved here three weeks ago, so Davis is still getting a feel for his new town.

I hope Noah can get a feel for Korean before he moves.

7. “Something speaks for itself”

  • Definition- something is clearly so good, or effective, that no additional argument about it is necessary.
  • Examples:

Man, this restaurant speaks for itself, it’s delicious!

Why don’t you let the coffee speak for itself. Jennifer is an excellent barista.

Lucas’ paper really spoke for itself. He deserves to be in this honor class.

8. “Wing it”

  • Definition- to try or to do something without much practice or preparation
  • Examples:

Meh, I don’t need to study, I’m just going to wing it.

Linda doesn’t need recipes anymore, she wings it.

As teachers, we shouldn’t just wing our lessons. We need to prepare beforehand.

9. “Moral of the story”

  • Definition- the main message of the story: what the story is really about.
  • Examples:

Moral of the story, don’t leave the house without your cellphone. You never know what could happen.

The real moral of the story here, is that James cheated on Amber.

I didn’t know the moral of Trina’s story, she just kept talking and talking.

10. “Rubbing off on someone”

  • Definition- to have one’s characteristics, mannerisms, or behavior be adopted by someone with whom one has spent a lot of time with.
  • Examples:

After 3 years of marriage, it’s safe to say I’m rubbing off on my husband.

Chelsea and Amy were quarantined together in their dorm, and it seems as though they have rubbed off on each other.

I hope my teacher’s organizational skills can rub off on me.

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