Money, money, money: English expressions related to $

Posted on 18. Sep, 2014 by in English Language, English Vocabulary

Image "Money." by Tax Credits on

Image “Money.” by Tax Credits on

Money, we all have it and we all want more of it!  Money is a big part of our lives whether we like it or not; and we all have different ways of approaching our use and saving money.  These common English expressions, idioms, and phrases all about money prove this – some people are savers some people are spenders.  Even though most of these expressions don’t have the word “money” in them, they all refer to the use of money. Your challenge today is to pick 3 of the phrases below to memorize and use in conversation over the next week to help build your vocabulary. Get ready, it is time to talk money!

Expression about money:

at all costs – to do something at any expense without importance of money or time

Example: The highest level of security must be maintained at all costs during the President’s visit.


to bet (one’s) bottom dollar – to bet all that you have on something because you are sure it is true or that you will win

Example: I would bet my bottom dollar that the teacher will be late for class again today.


 to break the bank – to use all of one’s money

Example: Buying this new house is going to break the bank, but it will be worth it to have a place of our own.


 to cost a pretty penny – to cost a lot of money

Example: Kate’s new car it is a BMW, it cost a pretty penny to buy.


 to be flat broke – to have absolutely no money at all

Example: I am flat broke, could I borrow some money from you to pay my heating bill?


 to foot the bill – to pay for something; usually when one person pays the whole bill for a group of people

Example: My boss decided to foot the bill for our team lunch today.


to grease (someone’s) palm – to pay a bribe in order to get a special favor

Example: In my country if you want to open a business you have to grease a lot of people’s palms to make that happen in a reasonable amount of time.


 to have money to burn – to have a lot of money; to have more money than is needed

Example: After my friend received his inheritance he had money to burn and was buying all sort of expensive new things.


 to be in the hole – to be in debt

Example: I think my company is too far in the hole to recover, so I am going to start to look for a new job now, before I get laid off.


 to be loaded – to have lots of money

Example: Do you know Tommy? He is loaded. If you want to have a good time you should hang out with him.


 to make a killing – to make a large amount of money

Example: My sister made a killing on the stock market last year.


 money doesn’t grow on trees – money is valuable and shouldn’t be wasted

Example: My dad always tells me “Money doesn’t grow on trees ,” whenever I ask him for money.


 penny-wise and pound foolish – This is an expression that describes a person who is careful with small amounts of money, but careless or wasteful with large amounts of money.

Example: My friend Jane is penny-wise and pound foolish, she has a strict budget for groceries each week, but wastes money buying a new car every year.


 a red cent – a small sum of money

Example: I wouldn’t pay a red cent for my neighbor’s car, it is the worst car I’ve ever seen or heard!


to squirrel away money – to save money over a period of time

Example: My grandmother was able to squirrel away over $1,000 in a year and then she went on a vacation to Florida for the winter.


to tighten (one’s) belt – to use less money than usual

Example: After my wife lost her job we had to tighten our belts and do a better job at saving money.


to be worth its weight in gold – to be very valuable

Example: The picture I have of my grandfather that was taken with my whole family the week before he died, that is worth its weight in gold to me.


Which two of these phrases do you think you will try to use in the next week? You might try and pick two to try and use next week too – this would be a great way to keep building your vocabulary over time.

Polite ways to say “no” in English.

Posted on 16. Sep, 2014 by in English Language, English Vocabulary

Image "No." by sboneham on

Image “No.” by sboneham on

Here is a good rule to keep in mind about English; it is often better to be polite than it is to be direct. English speakers often use more words than are necessary to say ‘yes’ and ‘no’ because they are adding polite words to the simple messages they are trying to get across. If you are too direct in saying ‘no’ in English this can be considered rude. Let’s take a look today at some different, polite, ways to say ‘no.’ You might want to practice these new expressions often, so you don’t have to worry about appearing rude when speaking English to native speakers.

Here are some polite ways to say ‘no’ to a request for help:

I would love to help you, but …
I wish I could help you, but …
Normally I would be able to, but …  or Normally I would say yes, but…

Unfortunately now is not a good time for me….


Polite ways to say ‘no’ to an offer that you do not want to accept:

I appreciate the offer, but …
That would be great, but ….
Thank you for the offer, but …


Polite ways to say ‘no’ to an invitation:

That sounds great, but….
I’m sorry I can’t come that day/night. I have …
I really appreciate the invitation, but…

I wish I could come, but unfortunately …


Okay, now let’s practice using these expressions in context with a few scenarios. Here are three situations in which you need to find a polite way to say ‘no.’ Try and use the help above and see what you come up with, then look below to see what I would say in these situations.


Scenario 1: Your neighbor is moving to a new apartment and comes over at the last minute asking for help moving her furniture. You have to prepare for a big presentation so you are too busy to help.


Scenario 2: Your boyfriend offers to pick you up from work, but you already have plans to have drinks with your co-workers and so you don’t need a ride home.


Scenario 3: You are invited to a party at a co-workers house, but you don’t really like the co-worker and don’t want to go.


Scenario 1:

I would love to help you, but I am really busy working on a presentation for work right now, so I am not free.
I wish I could help you, but I have a lot of work to do for a presentation I am making tomorrow.
Normally I would be able to, but I have to prepare for my big presentation that is happening tomorrow.

Unfortunately now is not a good time for me, I have to work on an important presentation.


Scenario 2:

I appreciate the offer, but I was planning on having drinks with my coworkers.
That would be great, but just not tonight, because I am having drinks with my coworkers.
Thank you for the offer, but I have plans already to have drinks with my coworkers. Why don’t you come and have drinks with us!


Scenario 3:

That sounds great, but I can’t make it this time.
I’m sorry I can’t come that night. I have other plans already.
I really appreciate the invitation, but I am not going to be able to make it this time.

I wish I could come, but unfortunately I won’t be able to be there. Have a great party.


How do your responses compare to mine?

A good old English grammar review.

Posted on 12. Sep, 2014 by in English Grammar

Image "My Grammar and I" by Gwydion M. Williams on

Image “My Grammar and I” by Gwydion M. Williams on

It is time to do a review of the parts of speech in English! This post will be a review for many people, but for some it may be introductory. For everyone there is a practice exercise at the end of this post for you to see how well you know your parts of speech.


Parts of speech are words that are found in sentences. Each word, in every sentence, in all of English, belongs to one of the parts of speech listed below – there are no exceptions. We use the different parts of speech (i.e. verbs, nouns, pronouns) to make sentences, and if we put the parts of speech together in the right order our sentences are understandable to others. That is the goal, right? To write and say sentences that makes sense to others and mean what we want them to mean. This is why it is good to know the different parts of speech and how they are used.


Let’s take a look at all the parts of speech in English to help us better do what we want to do with our words – say something!


Nouns:  Nouns are naming words for people, places, and things. We can’t talk or write about anything until we have given it a name.


Pronouns: A pronoun is a word that stands in for a noun so that we don’t have to repeat the name of a noun over and over again. In English we have male (he), female (she), and gender neutral (it) pronouns.


Verbs: A verb expresses action. You could say the verb is the motor that runs the sentence (like a motor runs a car), without it there would be no movement.


Adjectives: An adjective is a word that describes a noun. It adds descriptive or more detailed information about the noun, but the adjective is not a noun itself.


Adverbs: An adverb is a word that describes a verb. It can also describe another adverb or an adjective. It adds descriptive meaning.


Prepositions: A preposition shows or draws connections between nouns/pronouns and other words in a sentence.  In English, prepositions go before (or in front of) nouns/pronouns in sentences.


Conjunctions: A conjunction joins words and groups of words together. Conjunctions are the glue that holds other words together in a sentence.


Interjections: An interjection is a word or phrase that express an emotion (like ‘Oh!’). It is its own unique kind of word and shouldn’t be confused with a noun. Onomatopoeia is a kind of interjection.


Those are the parts of speech in English, now here is your practice. Take a look at the group of words below and separate them out into these eight different parts of speech. Scroll down to see if you got them all right.



be, an, but, I, boo, the, ouch!, when, silently, some, bird, would, John, and, hi, you, quickly, music, she, to, some, after, English, two, on, interesting, job, when, wish, very








Nouns:  bird, John, music, English, job

Pronouns: I, you, she

Verbs: be, would, wish

Adjectives: an, the, some, two, interesting

Adverbs:  silently, quickly, very

Prepositions: to, after, on

Conjunctions: but, and, when

Interjections: boo, ouch!, hi,


Now here is your real challenge, see if you can write a (long) English sentence using as many of these words as possible! Please share it with us all in the comment section below