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American Idioms, Expressions and Phrases

7 Confusing American Expressions and Phrases and What They REALLY mean

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In this article, you will learn 7 confusing American expressions and phrases, you can use them in your daily speech without being misunderstood or confused.

You’ve learned English to communicate with the local people in the USA, yet sometimes, when you talk with native English speakers, you may have no idea what they’re saying even if you’re fluent in English.

English is spoken in over 50 countries, but the way Americans speak can be different from other cultures, as they have their own way of using English. This is because Americans have lots of unique expressions and phrases that they use in their daily speech.

These phrases usually come from their culture, so you may feel confused when you hear them if you’re not familiar with the American culture or if English is not your first language.

American expressions and phrases can be about everything: friendship, food, sports, love, and many more. They give color to English, but sometimes they can be confusing for non-native speakers.

Using common American expressions is a good way to increase your fluency in English and enrich your conversations with the local people. BUT you need to be careful! Sometimes the expressions you use may not have the same meaning as you thought.

You also need to make sure you’re using natural, clear pronunciation to convey your message. With ChatterFox, you’ll learn both!

Confusing American Expressions

7 Confusing American Expressions and Phrases and Their Meanings

We’ll See / I’ll Let You Know

These two expressions can mean maybe, but in fact, they are the alternatives for saying NO. Instead of saying no, you can use them in order not to hurt people’s feelings. So, we’ll see and I’ll let you know are nicer ways to say no.

 

I’ll See What I Can Do

Another tricky expression is I’ll see what I can do. You may hear this expression when you ask someone for help; for example, when you call your credit card company and ask for help, the representative may say, “OK, I’ll see what I can do”. Unfortunately, what the representative truly means is that he or she is probably not going to help you but doesn’t want you to know that.

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Correct Me If I’m Wrong

When you hear this expression from someone, you can assume that they don’t want you to correct what they’re saying; instead, they are trying to make a point of something is not being said yet.

To give an example, assume that you’re in a meeting and someone says, “Correct me if I’m wrong but didn’t we agree that we weren’t going to have pointless meetings anymore?”. In this situation, what they truly mean is “Don’t you dare correct me because I’m correcting you!” So, when you hear this expression from someone, be careful because they don’t want you to correct them, they just want to make a point.

 

No Offense

No offense, but…”. When you hear this phrase from someone, you can assume that person is about to say something offensive. For instance, imagine you’re a doctor and someone says, “No offense, but I think doctors are overpaid.” Obviously, this statement is offensive to you since they’re talking about you as a doctor. However, by using this phrase, they’re trying to be less offensive and defend themselves. So, prepare yourself if someone starts their sentence with this phrase because they’ll probably say something offensive to you.

 

Tell Me About It

Tell me about it is an alternative for saying I agree. Let’s say you’re in a workplace and one of your co-workers says, “I need to find a new job, this one is so boring.” Another person may say, “Tell me about it!”, meaning they also think that the job is boring.

So, when you hear this phrase, be careful because they don’t want you to tell them more information, what they really mean is that they agree with the previous statement.

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How Are You?

“How are you?” can simply mean Hello. So, try to say something quickly like “Good thanks, how are you?” when someone says this phrase to you. All they need to say is “Hi”, they don’t want you to tell them more information about how you’re doing.

 

I’m on My Way/I’m Almost There

We bet you’ve said these phrases at least once in your life. I’m on my way or I’m almost there usually means I probably haven’t left yet. When you use these phrases, you can say a little white lie if you’re talking with your friends to meet at a place but haven’t even left your house yet. So, by saying I’m almost there or I’m on my way, you may calm your friends down while they wait for you to arrive.


Now that you’ve learned 7 confusing American expressions and phrases in American English, you can use them in your daily speech without being misunderstood or confused. At ChatterFox, we will always be here to help you speak American English with confidence!

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