By: Amber Hayes, Cultural Outreach Assistant

You’ve studied English for years; you’ve got the grammar textbooks that you’ve highlighted in every color and notecards with English vocabulary.

So why is it that you have no idea what your neighbor is saying?

English – much like any other language – is alive. It doesn’t always follow the rules and there are some phrases that don’t make it into school textbooks. Here are a few American English expressions you’ll most likely hear while you’re in the United States.

  • To Be Beat – To be very tired
    “I can’t go to the movies tonight; I’m beat after my 10-hour shift!”
  • To Bite the Bullet – To do something that you do not want to do
    “It’s time to bite the bullet and sell the house. I know you love the location, but you can’t afford it anymore!”
  • To Call it a Night – To stop an activity
    “We’re not going to finish this project tonight; we might as well call it a night. We can come back to it on Monday.”
  • To Add Fuel to the Fire – To make a bad situation worse
    “The citizens are already upset with the government, and now they’ve added fuel to the fire by cutting school funding.”
  • To Be Broke – To be poor
    “I’m broke; I need to get a part-time job!”

Keep a look out for your participant newsletter to learn more American English phrases!

Develop your English skills with the Work and Travel Program.