English Phrases to Sound Like a Native Speaker
Are you a non-native English learner aspiring for native-like fluency? If the answer is yes, here are some suggestions that can get you closer to your goal.
Before we begin, I would like to point out that native English speakers from around the world do not sound the same, there are many regional variations. However, today we will focus on commonalities as opposed to differences.
Popular Phrases to Sound Like a Native Speaker
Let us start with the ‘Magic Words’ that will help you sound polite.
Please - when you are making a request.
Compare – ‘Wait / ‘Please wait’
Thank you - to express your gratitude for something given to you (a gift, compliment, etc.) or service is done for you.
You also use this expression to accept or refuse an offer.
Now how would you respond and accept someone’s thanks:
You are welcome / My pleasure / Please don’t mention it/ Anytime / No worries / That’s Ok
Excuse me – when you are trying to get someone’s attention, asking someone to move out of the way or pass you something.
You also use this expression to ask for forgiveness or interrupting someone.
I always say ‘Excuse me’ when I sneeze.
Sorry – to regret an action.
How would you respond when someone says sorry?
That’s OK / No problem / That’s all right / No worries
Many non-natives do not use these words often enough and may sound rude.
Greetings. Polite questions. Answers
Hello / Hi / Hey / Good Morning / Good Afternoon / Good Evening
Nice to meet you / It is a pleasure to meet you / Pleased to meet you
How are you?
You can reply in a few different ways -
- ‘I am fine thank you and you’ / ‘Good thanks and you’ / ‘I am great, thanks’/ ‘Not too bad’
- Here are some more variants:
- ‘Hey, how’s life?’ / ‘Hi, how’s it going?’ / ‘Hi, how are you doing?’
- You can answer with a short ‘Good’ / ‘Great’ / ‘Fine’/ ‘All good’/ ‘Not bad’ or with a longer reply.
What’s up? / Sup? / How have you been?
You can reply with ‘Nothing’ / ‘Nothing much’ / ‘Everything good’/
Cheers is not only used when having a drink and clinking glasses, but it also often means thank you and even goodbye!
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Native speakers use phrases, idioms, and slang to spice up their language. Here is a small list of some common expressions, mind you, there are hundreds, with each region having its own favorites.
Better late than never: It is better to something after the planned time than not do at all.
It took him 4 years to complete the course, better late than never.
Break the ice: to do something to reduce the tension or awkwardness in an unfamiliar social situation.
Call it a day: to stop doing something because you are tired, or you think you have done enough.
It’s past nine and I am tired, let’s call it a day.
For God’s sake: you use this expression to show frustration, impatience, or annoyance.
There are other similar expressions: For goodness’ sake / For heaven’s sake
Get my head around it: to understand something confusing or complex
I need time to get my head around the new policies.
Give me a break: to ask someone to stop annoying or bothering you.
Are you ready? Give me a break, the party does not start until 9.
Long-time no see / It has been a while: when you have not been in touch with someone for a period of time.
Once in a blue moon: not very often
I go to movies once in a blue moon now that I have kids.
Piece of cake: something that is easy to do
Learning a new language is not a piece of cake.
Sick and tired: annoyed or bored with some things or someone
I am sick and tired of that dog making a mess everywhere.
So far so good: to say a situation or activity is progressing well, without problems.
How is your new job? So far so good.
Time flies: time passes quickly
I have been married for 17 years, time flies.
Social Media Slang
Social media has had a big impact on language, and you do need to be aware of the popular slang words to be relevant, here are some to get you started
Lit: something exciting, great, or enjoyable.
The party was lit, bro.
Salty: to get upset or angry
He was very salty after losing the match,
To flex: to show off
“Hey, I got some buds today”. “Nice flex!”
Sic. Sick / Insane / Dope: cool or awesome
That car is sick.
IDK: I don’t know
IDC: I don’t care
Native speakers use reductions in spoken English. Words are blended and reduced and are tricky for non-natives to understand. Practicing with reductions will help with the natural flow of your speech.
Whadaya mean? (What do you mean?)
Donno (do not know) : I dunno
Gonna (going to) : I am gonna be late
Wanna (want to): I don’t wanna stay here
Kinda (kind of): I am kinda tired.
Can’tcha (can’t you)
Shoulda (should have) / coulda (could have): I shoulda studied harder. I coulda done better.
How to Sound Like a Native English Speaker
Please remember that slang and reductions are used informally, and you should avoid using them professionally. Also, note that we do not use reduced words in written English.
It is not just what you say but how you say is equally important. Pronunciation, emphasis, intonation, pace, volume all matter. Spend as much time as you can listening to and talking with native speakers, pay attention, listen carefully and keep practicing. The more you practice the easier it gets.
Next time you use English just relax, don’t rush, and enjoy your conversation!
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