Common English Phrases – 120 Useful English Phrases for Everyday Use | Lesson 1
1. as easy as pie means “very easy” (same as “a piece of cake”)
Example: He said it is a difficult problem, but I don’t agree. It seems as easy as pie to
2. be sick and tired of means “I hate” (also “can’t stand”)
Example: I’m sick and tired of doing nothing but work. Let’s go out tonight and have fun.
3. bend over backwards means “try very hard” (maybe too much!)
Example: He bent over backwards to please his new wife, but she never seemed
4. bite off more than one can chew means “take responsibility for more than one can manage
Example: John is so far behind in his studies. Besides classes, he plays sports and works
at a part-time job. It seems he has bitten off more than he can chew.
5. broke means “to have no money”
Example: I have to borrow some money from my Dad. Right now, I’m broke.
6. change one’s mind means “decide to do something different from
what had been decided earlier”
Example: I was planning to work late tonight, but I changed my mind. I’ll do extra work
on the weekend instead.
7. Cut it out! means “stop doing something bad”
Example: That noise is really annoying. Cut it out!
8. drop someone a line means “send a letter or email to someone”
Example: It was good to meet you and I hope we can see each other again. Drop me a
line when you have time.
9. figure something out means “come to understand a problem”
Example: I don’t understand how to do this problem. Take a look at it. Maybe you can
figure it out.
10. fill in for someone means “do their work while they are away”
Example: While I was away from the store, my brother filled in for me.
11. in ages means “for a very long time”
Example: Have you seen Joe recently? I haven’t seen him in ages.
12. give someone a hand means “help”
Example: I want to move this desk to the next room. Can you give me a hand?
13. hit the hay means “go to bed” (also “hit the sack”)
Example: It’s after 12 o’clock. I think it’s time to hit the hay.
14. in the black means “the business is making money, it is profitable”
Example: Our business is really improving. We’ve been in the black all year.
15. in the red means “the business is losing money, it is unprofitable”
Example: Business is really going poorly these days. We’ve been in the red
for the past three months.
16. in the nick of time means “not too late, but very close!”
Example: I got to the drugstore just in the nick of time. It’s a good thing, because I really
need this medicine!
17. keep one’s chin up means “remain brave and keep on trying”
Example: I know things have been difficult for you recently, but keep your chin up. It will
get better soon.
18. know something like the back of your hand means “know something very, very well”
Example: If you get lost, just ask me for directions. I know this part of town like the backof my hand
19. once in a while means “sometimes, not very often”
Example: Have you been to the new movie theater? No, only see movies once in awhile. I usually stay home and watch TV.
20. sharp means “exactly at a that time”
Example: I’ll meet you at 9 o’clock sharp. If you’re late, we’ll be in trouble!
21. sleep on it means “think about something before making a
Example: That sounds like a good deal, but I’d like to sleep on it before I give you my
22. take it easy means “relax”
Example: I don’t have any special plans for the summer. I think I’ll just take it easy.
23. to get the ball rolling means “start something, especially
Example: We need to get this project started as soon as possible. I’m hoping you will
help me get the ball rolling.
24. up to the minute means “the most recent information”
Example: I wish I knew more about what is happening in the capital city. We need more
up to the minute news.
25. twenty-four/seven means “every minute of every day, all the
Example: You can access our web site 24/7. It’s very convenient!
120 Common Phrasal Verbs in Speaking