6 Strange Things Americans Say & What They Mean

By 5 December 2017 Video lessons 6 Comments
American expressions

Hey there, and welcome to Speak English with Christina, where you’ll have fun becoming fluent in American English. I’m your English coach Christina, and have you ever noticed that Americans have some strange ways of saying things.

For example, in school you learned expressions like “Thank you”, “I understand”, and “What are you doing?” but we Americans have other ways of saying these things. Time to understand Americans the way they really talk.

Let’s go!

Do you need a speaking partner?

Before we start, let me share with you the site italki, where you can increase your speaking fluency and get lots of real conversation practice. Plus, you’ll get $10 in italki credit when you buy your first lesson, because I have a special partnership with them. Here’s the link to find a partner, so check it out after today’s lesson.

Now, let’s look at those strange ways Americans say things, like…

Expression #1: You still working on that?

This has nothing to do with your job, or your professional life. And in fact, when you hear it, you’re more likely in a restaurant than in your office.

Let’s say you’re at Applebee’s a popular American restaurant. You’ve eaten most of your triple bacon cheeseburger, but you’re not quite finished. The server comes over, sees you haven’t finished and says… “You still working on that?” and it means “Are you still eating your meal?”

Because I guess for Americans, eating is something you have to work to do? I don’t know, but now you know why the server asks you “You still working on that?”

Expression #2: ‘ppreciate it!

Probably, one of the first expressions you learn in English is “Thank you.” It’s polite. It’s useful in so many situations. And then you go to the US, and you hear Americans saying, in the place of thank you: “ppreciate it!”

That’s short, spoken English for “I appreciate it”, and it has become like a synonym for “Thank you.”

The server brings your food? ‘ppreciate it! Someone holds the door open for you? ‘ppreciate it! Your colleague brings you a cup of coffee? ‘ppreciate it! Of course, you can say thank you, but now you can also recognize ‘ppreciate it!

Expression #3: Whatcha up to?

I’m sure you already know the expression “What are you doing?”, which already, has a different pronunciation: /whutcha do win/.

But there’s another way Americans say this: What are you up to?, which sounds like /whatcha up to/
Let’s say you’re at your computer, your colleague stops at your desk and says “Hey Véronique, whatcha up to?” You would respond something like “Just sending some emails” or “Just watching cat videos on Facebook” (which is probably closer to reality.)

Expression #4: Good call!

Good call, not like (telephone hand gesture…it’s in the video), no. “Good call” means something like “That’s a good idea,” or “I like what you did.”

For example, your American friend says “I thought we could go out to Red Lobster for dinner with some of the guys on the marketing team.” You like this idea, so you say “Oh, good call! I love Red Lobster!”

Or they tell you “I turned the coffee machine off. It was making funny noises.” You think this was a good thing to do, so you say “Oh good call. I hope it’s not broken!”

Expression #5: I’m fixing to do something

OK, this expression “I’m fixing to do something” is a little special, because it’s typical of the southern part of the US, where I’m from, y’all!

Any idea what it means, like if I say “I’m fixing to have lunch” or “Are you fixing to leave?”

It means “Are you going to…soon?”. “I’m fixing to have lunch: I’m going to have lunch soon. “Are you fixing to leave?”: “Are you going to leave soon?” What about you, what are you fixing to do?

Expression #6: Have a good one!

This one’s pretty easy, because there’s just one word that changes. “Have a good one!” means “Have a good day!” And it’s about time for me to say that to you, because we’re fixing to finish this article.

But first, you need to watch the episode!

What about you?

What other “strange” expressions have you heard Americans use? Share them with us in the comments, because it’s the best place to continue our conversation today!

And be sure to check out italki, so you can practice using today’s expressions in real conversations.
Thanks so much for watching Speak English with Christina, and y’all have a good one!

More English lessons...

Click the image to see the lesson

American slang
Understanding The Cashier At The Supermarket
American Summer Fun-Understanding Real Spoken English


Leave a Reply

Get your free email templates now