Phrases that Native English Speakers DON’T Say

Phrases that Native English Speakers DON’T Say

As you are learning English, you will see many English phrases in your textbook. These phrases can help you improve your English and expand your vocabulary, but sometimes you find that when you use the phrases that you learned, native English speakers act surprised or confused.

­­Every language is always changing, so sometimes it may seem hard to follow, especially when learning a foreign language. If you want to make yourself sound like a native English speaker, here are some phrases that you should NEVER say. 

1.       How do you do?

Asking someone, "How do you do?" is outdated and extremely formal. People no longer use this greeting in casual conversations. Instead, try a "Hey, how are you?" or "How's it going?" 

2.       It's raining cats and dogs

This is an idiom that people use to express that it is raining very hard. When you are first learning what an idiom is, this is a common example that teachers use. However, people nowadays do not actually say it's raining cats and dogs in a casual conversation, although people do understand what the idiom means. 

3.       I am fine. Thank you. And you?

Some people still respond to greetings using this response, but it is not common. When people greet you with a "Hey, how are you?" It is most common to respond, "I'm good. You?," or “I’m fine. How about you?” It is a very short and simple way to greet people in a friendly way when you don't have a lot of time to have a full conversation. 

4.       Have you ever been in (country)?

While most native speakers know that you are asking if we have ever visited a certain country, “in” is the wrong preposition to use. Instead, we say “to.” Have you ever been to Spain? Have you been to Italy? Make sure you are using the correct preposition. 

5.       You look tired/sick

In the U.S., it is not polite to tell someone if they look tired or sick. It is seen as rude, and people may get offended. If you think that someone does not look well, you can ask them if they are feeling okay to show your concern. The only time that this phrase can be acceptable is if you are really close friends with that person and have a good relationship with them. 

Now that you know what phrases not to say, you are on your way to sounding more like a native English speaker!

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Published on April 1, 2021

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