12 Business English Jargon Phrases To Avoid And What To Use Instead

We’ve all been there -that business meeting or conversation where business English jargon and meaningless phrases fly around. Phrases or jargon like: “Keep me in the loop“, “It’s a win-win situation”, “We need some blue sky thinking around here”, “Don’t worry, it’s on my radar“.

Not only do native speakers of English like using them, more often than not I’ve heard non-native speakers voicing these jargon phrases because they are under the mistaken belief that using them will make them sound clever and more fluent in English. Unfortunately, what it actually does is to annoy the person with whom you’re talking – the complete opposite effect I presume you’re trying to achieve. It would be so much better if you used plain English.

Not only does jargon annoy your listener, it is meaningless. I have lost count of the number of times I’ve asked a native speaker what some of these phrases mean only to receive blank looks from them. I’d rather have non-native speakers of English use plain language to make themselves understood.

In this post, I’d like to share twelve jargon phrases and offer you an alternative expression that will win the gratitude and understanding of your listener.

1. We need to get back to the drawing board.
Plain English: We need to start again.

2. If we’re going to achieve the results we want this year, we have to hit the ground running with the project.
Plain English: If we’re going to achieve the results we want this year, we have to work hard and successfully on the project.

3. Let’s get the ball rolling.
Plain English: Let’s start.

4. If we want to compete in this market, we need to think outside the box.
Plain English: If we want to compete in this market, we need to think differently.

5. Right, thanks everyone. Let’s touch base tomorrow at 2pm.
Plain English: Right, thanks everyone. Let’s speak again tomorrow at 2pm.

6. Ok. See you Friday at 6pm. If I am running late, I’ll ping you a message.
Plain English: Ok. See you Friday at 6pm. If I am running late, I’ll send you a message.


BLOG_Elephant in the Room_Bizarro


7. Self-publishing is a no brainer for freelance trainers with limited resources.
Plain English: Self-publishing is the logical solution for freelance trainers with limited resources.

8. Working long hours is par for the course when you start a business.
Plain English: Working long hours is normal (or expected) when you start a business.

9. There’s an ongoing problem with the system that hasn’t been addressed. We’re going to have to circle back next week to discuss matters further.
Plain English: There’s an ongoing problem with the system that hasn’t been addressed. We’re going to have to meet again next week to discuss matters further.

10. Yes, sir. It’s all hands on deck to get this project done by the agreed deadline.
Plain English: Yes, sir. Everyone is working hard to get this project done by the agreed deadline.

11. It was obvious to everyone that there was an elephant in the room – the job cuts.
Plain English: It was obvious that everyone was trying the avoid the difficult subject of the job cuts.

12. Listen, I don’t have time for this. I have far too much on my plate and am finding it difficult to cope as it is.
Plain English: Listen, I don’t have time for this. I am far too busy  and am finding it difficult to cope as it is.
What other expressions do you know or have heard? Do you use any of the above in your business dealings? Think of how you use them and try to use Plain English instead.

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Ciao for now


English Skills: 5 Essential Polite Expressions When Speaking English


How-to-be-politeBeing polite is important in all languages especially if you are asking someone to help you. We all know that if we want things to be done whether in our personal or professional lives, it pays to be polite. You won’t get far by being rude or impolite. Different cultures have different ways of tackling politeness.

In English Language cultures, the need to be polite and to use the correct expressions is essential. Not only will people appreciate it, they will see you as a competent English Language speaker.

There are a few polite expressions that are frequently used in the English Language and it is important for learners to know how to use them correctly and in the right context. I’d like to share with you 5 of the most widely used polite expressions and show you how to use them correctly.

1. Excuse Me

You would use “excuse me” if you need to go past somebody, for example, if they’re blocking your way.

Similarly, if you need to get someone’s attention you would start the phrase with “excuse me”:

  • Excuse me, could you tell me the way to Charing Cross station?
  • Excuse me, do you have the time?
  • Excuse me, is this seat taken?


2. Sorry

We love saying “sorry” especially in the UK!

Sorry or I’m sorry is frequently used when we need to apologise for something small, for example, if you’re late or you’ve made a small mistake:

  • Sorry I’m late. The traffic was terrible.
  • I’m sorry, I didn’t realise that you were in the queue.

“I beg your pardon” is a formal expression which you might hear someone use.

  • I beg your pardon, I didn’t see you standing there.

You would use Pardon? or  Sorry? if you haven’t heard or understood what someone has said and you want them to repeat it. 

  • Pardon? I didn’t quite hear that. Could you repeat the number please?
  • Sorry? Did you say 30 or 13?

Sorry is more used than pardon. A student once told me that their teacher had told him ‘pardon’ was an old-fashioned word and not used. Whilst it may not be as common as ‘sorry’, ‘pardon’ is still used and you wouldn’t come across as a strange person!

One expression that is most definitely not polite  is “What?”. If you use it when you haven’t heard or understood something, you may get some disapproving looks from the other person.




3. I’m afraid

If you have to give someone some bad news and want to apologise for this, you would use “I’m afraid”.

There’s a joke that the British like to apologise for everything, so “I’m afraid” is almost a default phrase at the tip of their tongues!

  • I’m afraid I won’t be able to attend the meeting next week.
  • I’m afraid we’ve run out of seats.
  • Do you have change for £5?  I’m afraid not.
  • I’m afraid there’s been a misunderstanding.


4. Please

If you ask for something (ask a favour) or want somebody to do something for you, using “please” is a must in English.

  • Could you give me a hand, please?
  • Could you please call the suppliers tomorrow?
  • Could I have tomorrow off, please?
  • Quiet, please!


5. Thank you

It is normal to say “thank you” or “thanks” when somebody gives you something or you receive information. Also, when you buy something and the person hands you your goods, a “thank you” is expected. Some people may be offended if you don’t thank them.

‘Thanks’ is informal.

Some people may respond to your thanks with “You’re welcome”, “Welcome”, “Don’t mention it”, “That’s all right” or “No problem”

When you accept something, you would say “thank you” or “Yes, please”

  • Would you like a cup tea? Thank you/ Thanks/ Yes, please.
  • Would you like a receipt? Thank you/ Thanks/ Yes, please.

Similarly, when you refuse something, you would say “No, thank you” or “No, thanks”.

  • Would you like some more coffee? No, thank you/ No, thanks.


Now that you’ve mastered these 5 expressions, go out there and mingle with English Language speakers!! Have fun.


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Ciao for now


Saying Farewell To A Loved One – Some Key Vocabulary

Sri Lanka Orchid Photo: Pixabay

Nine months ago (almost to the day) I wrote this post about visiting a loved one in hospital. It was about my uncle (my father’s youngest brother). I described my visit to see him and shared some hospital vocabulary with you.

Nine months on it is with extreme sadness that I share with you the news that my uncle died or passed away last Wednesday. He suffered a massive stroke from which he never recovered. Even if he had recovered he would have been left blind and brain-damaged with practically no quality of life. So, in the circumstances, his death was a blessing.

Blessing or not, it is still a huge shock for my family and me. My uncle was only 61 and despite suffering poor health for a number of years, his death was totally unexpected. He suffered a fall coming down the stairs in his flat last Saturday and must have hit his head very hard because he lost consciousness immediately and never woke up. He was airlifted by air ambulance and taken to the trauma unit of one of the leading hospitals in the UK.

My uncle’s partner called me that Saturday evening and I went to the hospital the following day and stayed all day with my uncle. He was hooked up to all sorts of machines and a ventilator was helping him breathe. He was in a ward with three other patients who had all suffered severe brain injuries. It was so difficult to see all these patients. It just made me realise how much our brain does and what can happen when it malfunctions.

The nurses tending to the patients were fantastic. The care my uncle received was faultless. They were extremely caring, compassionate and sympathetic. They kept us informed of how he was doing on a regular basis. Each patient had his own nurse and he or she was with their assigned patient at all times. When it comes to emergencies and serious conditions, I have always said that the health care we receive through the National Health Service in the UK is unparalleled.

My uncle’s partner and I sat by my uncle’s bedside for three days. I had a full immersion student with me so as soon as I finished lessons in the morning, I would catch the train and head to the hospital in East London. The doctors told us that apart from the serious head injury my uncle had sustained, he had also suffered a huge stroke to the back of the brain. This stroke together with my uncle’s poor health made a recovery extremely unlikely. We decided that the ventilator would be removed on Wednesday afternoon and we would then see how he responded. We left on Tuesday evening with this plan.

At 6am the following morning, I received a call from my uncle’s partner telling me that my uncle’s blood pressure had plummeted and that it was going to be a matter of an hour or so before he would pass away. I got hurriedly dressed and rushed to catch the train. By the time I arrived at the hospital and reached  my uncle’s bed he had already passed away. He had died 20 minutes before. My uncle’s partner arrived 5 minutes too late,too. We hugged each other and cried. We held my uncle’s hands and stroked his face and arms. I had never seen a person who had just died, but it didn’t make me feel strange at all.

I spent that day with my uncle’s partner. We went back to their flat and together we tidied the place up, changed the flowers and made all the necessary phone calls to family and friends. My father arrived the following evening (from Malaysia) and on Friday we went to see my uncle in the mortuary. He was freezing but he looked the most peaceful I had ever seen him. I held my father’s hand as he sobbed at seeing his youngest sibling. I have never seen my father cry and witnessing this private and emotional moment will stay with me forever. I, too, shed many tears and my father and I hugged as we tried to comfort each other.

Out of all my uncles and aunts, this uncle was the only relative with whom I had a meaningful relationship throughout my adult life. He was a huge support when I first arrived in the UK to attend university. He helped me decorate my room in the halls of residence. He came with me to buy all the things I needed. I would often visit him and his partner in London at the weekends where I would be throughly spoilt with fabulous food. He was an excellent cook.

He single-handedly organised my entire wedding (the first one!) He was there when my marriage collapsed. I decided to move nearer to him after my divorce as he was the only blood relative I had living in London. He was a huge part of my life. He did try to meddle in it and there were many times when I wanted him to leave me alone. We did fall out at various times over the years, but there were plenty of reconciliations.
Meddling or not, I know that he loved me and all his nieces and nephews. He took a genuine interest in all of us and was like a second parent to us.

I spoke to him a few days before his fall and promised I would visit him with our dog, Buster whom he loved. I was planning to visit him this week. I am glad that I was with him in the last few days of his life. I am not sure if he was aware that we were with him until the end. I hope so.

Farewell, Uncle Bala. I am going to miss you. I hope you’ve found peace wherever you are and that you’re having a great time with your parents and sisters.

Your loving niece, Shanthi.

How To Talk About Business Travel: Let’s Explore Some Vocabulary

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Photo Credit: Pixabay

The other day my client told me that he had to be in London on business and consequently wouldn’t be available for our next scheduled online lesson. The conversation naturally led to the topic of business travel and, particularly, the pros and cons of travelling by air or by rail.

Travelling by Rail
My client, who is based in Milan, often has to travel around Italy and more often than not takes the train to get to the main cities. If his meetings are in the city centres, he says travelling by train is the best option. Most train stations are located in the centre of cities and therefore, getting to clients’ offices is a lot easier than from an airport which tends to be outside a city. Nowadays, with high-speed trains you can get to your destination in no time at all.

A further advantage of the train is that you don’t have to arrive 2 hours before departure. I realise that with domestic flights the waiting time is less, but it is still longer than a train. If you’re travelling by train, you only have to arrive 30 minutes before departure, hop onto the train and you’re off!

Whether you are travelling First Class or Standard Class, you can select a carriage that has the facilities for you to work – Wi-Fi connection and power access to charge your laptop, tablet and phone. Train travel allows business travellers to work comfortably during their journey. The only snag, though, is that, unless you’ve booked a quiet carriage, you could end up sharing your carriage with some very noisy mobile phone users

Travelling by Air
Depending on your destination, you may have no alternative but to travel by air. For those of us who are lucky to travel in Business or Club class, there is nothing quite like the luxury of using the First Class Lounge at the airport after check-in. The comfortable seats, free drinks and food and relaxing environment set you up for the flight ahead.

My client and I joked about how great it feels to board the plane and turn left (Business Class) instead of right! The wide seats with spacious legroom are very comfortable. Soon after you’re seated the air hostess serves you a drink (often alcoholic, unless it’s an early morning flight). The food is served in proper crockery and not plastic trays. On long-haul flights, you are given a goodies bag with all sorts of things like a toothbrush, toothpaste, flight socks, an eye pad, and good quality earphones (for the films).

My client and I both agree that Club Class is essential when travelling long haul. On short haul flights, however, Economy class is bearable! You might not have the legroom, but on some flights you can ask for the emergency exit seats or pay extra for more legroom. A lot of the budget airlines like Easyjet give you the option to do just that. My husband is tall and I always have to book the emergency exit seats. Of course, the budget airlines don’t have Club Class so everyone is together. In these difficult economic times, most companies will not approve business class travel for their employees, especially for short haul flights.


Travelling by air requires you the passenger to arrive around 2 hours before departure for check in. Most airlines ask you to check in online before arriving at the airport. That way you already have your boarding pass. Unless you have hold luggage, you can go directly to security with your carry-on (cabin) luggage without queuing at the check-in desks. Airport security can be rather tiresome but it has become a part of flying and something that has to be tolerated.

If you are flying short haul and have arranged meetings for the day of travel, you may choose to catch an early morning flight. My client was catching the 7am flight today to London. That would have allowed him to attend his first meeting scheduled at 9am. With London being one hour behind, he would have arrived in London at 7.30am (UK) – 8.30am Italy.

When I give training workshops, I prefer to arrive at my destination the night before. So, I will take an early evening flight and stay overnight. That way I have time to prepare the venue and the equipment for the workshop the following day.

For the long haul flights some travellers prefer to travel through the night and arrive at their destination in time for their meeting. These are known as red eye flights. I am not sure I’d like that because unless you have a great night’s sleep during the flight, you wouldn’t be in a position to perform efficiently. You may also have jet lag to deal with depending on how many timezones you’ve travelled.

Business travel may sound glamorous with all that Club Class service and benefits, but it can also be exhausting. What do you think?

Do you travel for business? Is it by train or air? Or do you drive? I used to do a lot of business miles on the road. While it allowed me to listen to the radio, it was exhausting and often very time-inefficient. I am very glad that part of my life is past me.

What do you like or dislike most about business travel? I’d love you to share your business travel experiences with me.

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Ciao for now


Shall I Compare Thee To A Summer’s Day? Let’s Explore Some Summer Vocabulary

"Photo taken from http://flickr.com/eltpics by Martin Eayrs, used under a CC Attribution Non-Commercial license, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/"
“Photo taken from http://flickr.com/eltpics by Martin Eayrs, used under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial license.

The blog title comes from a line from Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18. In the sonnet, the speaker compares his beloved to the season of summer and says that she is better.

The beloved is both “more lovely and more temperate” than a summer’s day. The speaker lists some negative things about summer: it is short—“summer’s lease hath all too short a date”—and sometimes the sun is too hot—“Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines.” However, the beloved has beauty that will last forever, unlike the fleeting beauty of a summer’s day. By putting his love’s beauty into the form of poetry, the poet is preserving it forever. “So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see, So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.” The lover’s beauty will live on, through the poem which will last as long as it can be read. (Taken from Wikipedia)

Incidentally, if you want to hear a musical version of Shakespeare’s sonnet, listen to this beautiful rendition by Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour. Thanks to my fellow teacher, Helen Waldron for sharing the link with me. Click here for the words.


Summer has finally arrived in the UK. When I say summer, I mean, sun, blue skies and heat. For those of you who live in countries that enjoy proper summers, you will not understand what all the fuss is about. However, for us living in the UK, a prolonged spell of hot weather is to be celebrated and written about. When I say ‘a prolonged spell’, I mean up to a week, not more than that! That’s why we have to grab whatever sun rays we can get before the clouds, rain and cooler temperatures take over.

So what happens in the UK when the sun shines? Well, for starters, waking up to blue skies immediately puts a smile on your face. You feel energised, there is a spring in your step and you can’t wait to get out there and bask in the sunshine. You can finally wear that floaty, summery dress or skirt that you bought over a year ago and have never worn until now. The sandals come out and with a bit of luck, you’ve had a pedicure and your toenails are painted in bright summer colours.

You make plans to meet up with some friends for a light lunch or picnic in the park or lunch outdoors (or alfresco as we say in English) in a restaurant or cafe. If you’re working, you will take advantage of your lunch break to sit in a park and soak up the sun. Many people will sit in the sun regardless of what they are wearing (for example, their office suits) and if they have suncream or sunblock on or not. Very few people will look for some shade under a tree, for example, which often means that they will end up looking as red as a lobster by the end of the day. I don’t like to sit in the sun for long periods of time so you will always find me under a tree or in a shaded area.

If I am in a park on a warm, sunny day, I like nothing more than to remove my shoes and feel the cool grass under my feet and toes. There is something luxurious about that feeling. I will find a big tree with plenty of shade, sit against its trunk with a good book or simply watch the world around me go by.There is nothing better than people watching, is there?

We are in the UK so the art of drinking is never far. Summer drinking has its own attractions. Most people will drink beer, cider or a white wine spritzer. I love the European habit of drinking aperol spritzers in the summer. Unfortunately, we don’t have this drink in the UK.

Summer days equal barbecues. The smell or aroma of barbecue food is never too far and wafts into our garden from all directions on a hot summer evening. If we’re lucky we get invited to a barbecue by one of our lovely, friendly neighbours!


Hot, summer days also mean our gardens need to be watered more regularly. The British are proud of their gardens and you will often see water sprinklers on their front lawns watering the grass and flower beds in the early morning or late evening. The other plants are watered with a water hose.

Summer sun and warmth puts everyone in a good mood. The feeling of the sun on your skin is simply wonderful. That much-needed Vitamin D and heat make you feel that anything is possible. May it last as long as possible. I’m off to sit in my garden and sunbathe for a while.

Is it summer where you are or are you in the Southern Hemisphere where it’s winter? Do you have the change of seasons where you live? What does summer mean to you?

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Ciao for now


4 More Tips On How To Learn English Everywhere and Anywhere

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I shared this poster prepared by American English at State on my Facebook Page the other day. The words expressed by Sarah Caldwell apply to everything we do in life, but I’d like to apply them here to learning the English Language.

My husband and I have just returned from a 6-day trip to Budapest. During our trip, we went on a guided walking tour around the Jewish quarter of the city. The tour was in English as, alas we don’t speak Hungarian. Our guide, Petra was a delightful Hungarian who made our tour particularly memorable. She was extremely knowledgeable and we came away far more informed about Jewish traditions and the history of Jewry in Hungary over the centuries than when we started.

Despite lacking 100% accuracy, Petra managed to convey her ideas and information with enthusiasm and she was a joy to listen to.
We all congratulated her on her English and when asked where she’d learned the language, her response was astonishing. She learned English through watching TV programmes like Dr Who, Sherlock and Game of Thrones!

And there you have it, ladies and gentlemen. Petra enjoys watching TV programmes in English and decided to use that medium to learn English. By doing something she enjoys, she motivated herself to study.

And that is what learning a language should be all aboutFUN.

My Tips
I wrote a post about two years ago where I shared 5 Tips On How To Immerse Yourself in English Every Day. In that post I emphasised the need to make your learning fun, practical and convenient.

Other Teachers’ Tips
A similar discussion is going on in a Facebook Group to which I belong called English Students. A number of teachers have offered ways on how learners can study effectively. Here are some of their tips:

1. Get comfy
“My advice for studying is to make a fun thing to do. Get comfy, relax, get all your things organized around you and then go to it. If you make studying a happy experience, it will go faster, easier and you will learn and retain more.” Rob Howard

2. Set the time aside in your diary
“Setting aside a certain time each day or week for online learning is essential”. Stephen Greene

3. Give yourself a daily dose of English
“Make studying a part of your daily habit. Read blogs, watch TV/Movies and listen to podcasts. (Pick topics of your interest or that are important to you) Take advantage of the Internet! Using social media is a fun way to practice your English. You can practice the English words that you’ve learned by commenting on posts.” English Teacher Anne

4. Watch movies or TV programmes in English
“Watch movies in English, with or without subtitles. If you’ve already seen it and know the story well, try to watch without subtitles. And try to get different pronunciations: American, British, Australian, ghetto, slangs, whatever. Train your ears!” Renata Costa Silva


A Fellow Learner’s Tips
And here is a post by a client of mine, Alessandra, who shared her 3 Tips To Practise and Improve Your English. 

I hope this post has given you some useful tips that will help you on your journey. Please share any others that have worked for you. My readers and I would love to hear from you.

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Ciao for now


Magna Carta – 800 Years Later. What Is Its Legacy To The World? Let’s Explore Some Vocabulary

Blog_Magna Carta

Sealing the Magna Carta

On this day,15 June, in 1215, King John 1 of England signed and sealed the document that would over the years come to symbolise freedom, justice, equality under the law and democracy for billions of people around the world – Magna Carta or ‘The Great Charter’. It is one of the most famous documents in British history.

Many of the rights which we take for granted today were first enshrined in Magna Carta. The Charter’s main principle was that everyone is equal under the law and, more importantly, no one is above the law.

It is that idea that gave birth  to so many of our rights and freedoms, to parliamentary democracy, the right to a fair trial, and a series of controls on the abuse of arbitrary power.

Over the centuries, Magna Carta has provided the inspiration for key moments in British and world history like the US Declaration of Independence and has had influence over the United Nations.

Blog_Magna Carta 2

The significance of what Magna Carta stands for has always been challenged, but never more so than in today’s world where basic human rights and basic freedoms are under threat in many parts of the world. Indeed, I sometimes feel that we are going backwards and not forwards which is a real tragedy.

The ideas of Magna Carta – equality under the law, no one is above the law – together with the subsequent rights and freedoms of society have always been principles close to my heart. And for that, I have my father to thank.

A lawyer by profession, my father has dedicated his life to human rights and to ensuring the rights and freedoms of any man, woman and child are protected by the rule of law. He has fought tirelessly for the independence of the judiciary because he says that without an independent judiciary no country can call itself a democracy and claim that everyone is equal in the eyes of the law.
He was a Special Rapporteur for the United Nations for nine years, during which time he travelled around the world investigating and reporting on abuses of executive (government) power. He got into trouble in his own country for the work he did.

It is through my father that I became a member of Amnesty International and continue to be so. He is an inspiration to my siblings and me.

I am very fortunate to live in a country where the rule of law is upheld and where the citizen does have basic rights and freedoms. I live in a country where women have the right to study, work and be treated equally to men. It’s not perfect and there are many things that need to be addressed but it could be a lot, lot worse.

Thank you for reading. If you liked my post please share it. And don’t forget to subscribe to my blog if you don’t want to miss out on my posts.

Ciao for now.


If you’d like to know more about Magna Carta, take a look at this BBC iWonder guide.

Visiting London Anytime Soon? You May Hear This British English Vocabulary On The Streets

I saw this entertaining infographic the other day and shared it on Facebook.

We’re coming to the time of year when many people will be visiting London as part of their holidays or English Language courses.

For those of you who plan to visit this wonderful city, you will inevitably come across a lot of the expressions highlighted below. You may hear them or see them written on signs in restaurants, cafes, shops or out and about. As for the insults, I hope you don’t hear them, but I’m afraid you may just be within earshot of an angry person or irate motorist, in which case you will hear some of them.
You will hear many of the slang terms as they are widely used. Remember though, that most of them are used in spoken English rather than in written form.

This infographic by Visually compares British and American words, and whilst the comparisons are accurate, I’d like to point out some discrepancies in usage and also to show you in what context you may hear some of them. I haven’t gone through ALL of them. I’ve picked the ones that you’re likely to hear.

May I also add that you don’t have to visit London the hear these terms. There are many British TV programmes and films where these words are used.

I am going to divide the sections in the same way as the infographic. So here goes.

You Sound Like You


The British do not refer to a sandwich as a “butty” unless they’re talking about a “chip butty”. A sandwich is a sandwich or maybe a “sarnie”.
A chip butty is simply two slices of buttered bread with potato chips in between. It originates from the North of England and is traditionally eaten with fish and chips. My husband ALWAYS has a chip butty when we have fish and chips. Like he doesn’t have enough carbs (carbohydrates) with all those chips! It makes me feel ill.

Cuppa (colloquial)
You will hear this word in this expression: “Fancy a cuppa?” You are not likely to hear it on its own. People refer to a cup of tea as a cup of tea unless they are offering you a cup.
More on ‘fancy’ later.

Fairy cake
Yes we use this but cup cake has become more common now.

“I am feeling rather peckish. I think I’ll get something to eat”. Peckish means a little hungry. If you are really hungry you would say ‘I’m starving or ravenous.


I have never heard this word used to describe a scarf, even though it is accurate. We say scarf. So don’t go into a clothes shop and ask for one as you will get blank stares from the assistants!
We use ‘muffler’ to describe the automotive device in an engine to silence the noise. We also call it a silencer.
We also call them “underpants“.
I want to point out that I don’t normally teach my clients insulting words, despite EVERY language learner wanting to learn them. However, you are going to come across them, so it’s worth knowing what they mean. You will hear them a lot on TV and films. 
*******A note of warning:  Insults are notoriously difficult to get right context-wise in a foreign language. USE them at your peril. You have been warned.

This word is used but you will also hear “dickhead”. ‘Knobanddick refer to the male reproductive anatomy.
Never heard of this. If anyone else has, please illuminate me.

Update: One of my readers, Louise Robertson has told me what “radge” means. Here is the explanation:
“The word radge is a Scottish slang word, so probably not commonly heard south of the border. It is, however, widely used up here!
It used to describe someone who is deemed to be a bit crazy or has done something that others consider to be crazy.
You’re a radge’ meaning you are a bit crazy is, while not a polite thing to say to anyone, very commonly used.”

Thank you very much, Louise. I have learned a new word and promise not to use it when next in Scotland!

Oh yes, this is quite commonly used to refer to someone who is not terribly clever. In other words, an “idiot”.


Sod Off
If you tell someone to sod off you are telling them to go away. You’re either angry with them or you are joking. The seriousness of the insult depends on the situation. Some people will say it jokingly and others will be very serious. It used to be a taboo insult. Over the years it has become more acceptable in spoken English (within reason).
The British also use ‘piss off’.

Both terms are extremely derogatory, insulting or disrespectful to describe a woman who is thought to be too easy. Please do NOT use them.

Once again, these terms are highly insulting and NOT to be used unless you want to be hit!
Dog’s Bollocks
Mmmm, yes…I’m afraid you will hear this when someone is describing how fantastic something is. “The new Maserati is the dog’s bollocks
You may also hear the word ‘bollocks’ in the following ways:
‘That’s just bollocks  meaning  That’s just rubbish”.
‘He got a bollocking from his boss” meaning “He got told off by his boss”
Both terms are vulgar and not to be repeated. You might hear them, though.

Fancy (not strictly slang)
The verb “to fancy” means to “like” or “desire”. It’s frequently used by the British. You will hear it everywhere.
Fancy a cuppa?”, “Do you fancy going to the cinema tonight?”, “Simon really fancies Greta”.
When someone say they are ‘gutted’ it means that they are disappointed or upset. This is often used.“He was really gutted he missed his uncle’s funeral”

Yes, this word is used to mean a nap (short sleep). I love my afternoon kips.

“You will feel so much better once you’ve had a good kip.”
If you’re knackered you are extremely tired. Zonked can be used although ‘knackered’ is more common.
Splash Out
“Tim loves to splash out when he is trying to impress Jane”.  
Another common expression. 

There is always one person who loves to waffle on in business meetings. It’s always so difficult to get them to stop.




Most of the words in this group are regularly used. Having said that,“dosh” is not that common.
Well, that’s it. If you’re interested in knowing more British Slang, check out these two posts that I’ve written: Part One and Part Two.

I hope you found the post interesting. If you did, please share it and don’t forget to subscribe to my blog if you want to receive my posts directly in your inbox.

Ciao for now


How To Answer Interview Questions In English? Use The STAR Technique, Of Course!


I’ve been to many interviews in my working life. Some of them have been successful and some have been complete disasters. I’m sure we all have colourful stories we could share with each other.

Let’s face it, interviews are always nerve-wracking. You want that dream job and you badly want to make a good impression. You arrive at the interview in plenty of time. You dress smartly and you think that you look the part. The initial questions about yourself go well and then we get to the competency-based (skills) questions. You know, those questions that start with:

  • “Tell me about the time when ….”*
  • “Describe a situation where you …..”*

This is when you have to give the interviewer real examples of situations and show them what you’re capable of. It’s your chance to shine through. Your response will be the deciding factor of whether you get the job or not.

This experience is challenging enough in your own language let alone in another language. Not only have you got to think on your feet,but you’ve also got to ensure that you don’t make too many language mistakes and sound eloquent. So, how do you prepare to answer competency-based questions for an interview in English?

Why, you use the STAR technique, of course!

And to introduce you to this, may I present you to my fellow trainer, Christina Rebuffet-Broadus’ excellent video? Christina is a freelance Business English trainer based in France. Her You Tube channel offers superb Business English tips ranging from “How to ask a Visitor if they need the toilet” to “Talking About Wine in English”. Her videos last 6 minutes each and she releases a video each week. Christina is American and she gives some excellent tips on American English and the requirements that American companies have of potential employees. I would encourage you to subscribe to her channel.

Christina released the video below last week and when I saw it I just knew I had to share it with you, my readers. In the video, she shows learners how to use the STAR technique to answer interview questions.

Step One: Watch the Video

Step Two: Let’s recap

This is what Christina says.

To avoid ‘losing your bearings’ and forgetting key details, use:

Situation – give the context of your story

Task – describe the action you needed to take or the solution you needed to find

Activity – describe the action you took

Result – What happened in the end as a result of your action

Christina gives an example of how to apply this technique by imagining that you have to answer the following interview question:

“Tell me about a time when you had to save a project that was going very badly?”

When using the STAR technique Christina adds that you need to:

a) Be specific
Talk about precise projects, give precise figures and successes. DON’T be vague.

b) Keep your answers short and straight to the point
She suggests one or two sentences per answer. Recruiters don’t have the time to listen to long drawn-out answers.

c) Create a stock of pre-prepared answers
Imagine probable questions you might be asked and prepare a list of answers. That way you will feel more confident answering in English.

I am really indebted to Christina for preparing this video and allowing me to share it with you here on English with a Twist. I, for one, know that my clients will find it invaluable. I can’t wait to use the technique with my next client who requires help with their interviewing skills.

I hope you found the post helpful. If you did, please share it. And don’t forget to subscribe to my blog to receive my posts directly into your inbox.

English Grammar Pill: When To Use Say or Tell?

Grammar OwlSay or Tell?

These two ‘little’ verbs cause so much confusion to English Language learners. I had been thinking for a while to write a post to provide some clarity for learners until lo and behold, the excellent Vicki Hollett and her husband, Jay produced a video precisely on this subject.

I had the privilege of meeting Vicki at the IATEFL conference in Manchester having followed her for over a year before then (on social media, not in person!).
Vicki and Jay’s company Simply English Videos is a wonderfully innovative and excellent language resource. They create engaging and fun videos to teach vocabulary, idioms, grammar and much more. I recommend that you take a look at their You Tube Channel and subscribe to get their latest videos. You’ll love them.

As I watched the video I knew  I had to share it with you, my readers. The grammar points are clearly explained by Vicki. However, I thought I would summarise the content so that you have the main points ready to hand. I have added some more examples to each point.

Step One: Watch the video

Step Two: Now let’s recap

1. Say and Tell have no difference in meaning in this context except for the structure of the sentence.

You SAY something 
“He said that he would be back at 3pm”.

You TELL someone something
“He told me that he would be back at 3pm”.


2. Use SAY when you’re quoting someone or with ‘thank you’, ‘sorry’ and ‘hi’.

“Johnny, say thank you to the lady for giving you the ice cream”.

Say hi to Tom when you see him later”.

“Silvia says sorry for not getting back to you earlier. She has been so busy with work”


Use TELL when giving/asking for information or asking for instructions

“Could you tell me the time?” ( information)

“Can you tell me the quickest way to the railway station?” (instructions)

“Could you tell me when the next sales meeting will be?” (information)

“Hold on, I need to tell you something (information)

“Can you tell me how to work this computer?” (instructions)


4. We use TELL when we recognise signs

A: “You’ve been in the sun, haven’t you?
B:  How did you know?
A:  I can tell by your tan.

A: You’re from the UK, aren’t you?
B: How can you tell?
A: I can tell by your accent.

A: How can you tell you’re in love?
B: Mmm, let me think about that.


5. TELLSpecial Expressions
We normally tell someone something. However, there are special expressions where we don’t have to tell someone. Here they are:

a. Tell a story or tell a joke  
You can tell a story (or you can tell me a story)

“I love telling jokes with my friends”
“Tell me a story”
“My family always tell stories around dinner table”. 

b. Tell the truth or a lie
You can tell the truth and the whole truth (or you can tell me the truth and the whole truth)

“He has told so many lies in his career”
“I want you to tell me the truth for once”.

c. Tell Secrets
You can tell someone a secret or you can tell secrets

“He loves telling secrets”
“Can I tell you secret?

d. Tell the difference or tell things apart
You can tell someone the difference but you cannot tell someone things apart

“Can you tell me the difference between these two shirts?”
“Can you tell the difference between these two shirts?”
“I can’t tell the twins apart


I hope that between Vicki’s video and my post, how to use say or tell is clearer.

If you liked this post, please share it. And don’t forget to subscribe to my blog if you don’t want to miss out on my posts.

Ciao for now


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