Topic: Why Shoulda, Coulda, Should of, Would of? | English Speaking Habits

Pronouncing Modal Verbs in the Past


Modal verbs? What? As English speakers, we have lots of funny speech habits. To the average person, they may not seem like a big deal. But what about those that have decided to take on learning this complex language?

“Take on me-e … take me o-on!”

You can almost hear English singing in the shower. You might have heard such words as “shoulda” or “coulda” before. Well, that’s what we’re going to talk about here.

What are Modal Verbs, after all?

A modal verb is a type of auxiliary (or helping) verb. This just means their purpose is to help other verbs to make sense. Modal verbs themselves are used to show a necessity or possibility. These are words like could, should, may, might, would, and so on.

In the past tense, modal verbs are often followed by the word “have.” This lets us know they are modals instead of a regular past tense verb. How do we know that “could” is acting like the past tense of “can,” or if it is expressing a possibility? We know it’s a possibility when it’s next to “have.” Look at this:

  • When I was younger, I could run a mile without stopping. (past tense of “can”)
  • I could have been a track star. (past tense of the modal verb “could,” shows a possibility)

Remember, modals don’t always need “have.” Adding it is used to show that this necessity or possibility was in the past. The same goes with should have, may have, might have, would have, and more.

You Shoulda, Coulda, Woulda … Used Correct Grammar

The habit I told you about earlier is that many people turn “have” into a simple shwa sound (“uh”) when talking. They basically get rid of the “h” and “v” sounds. This makes could have sound like coulda.

  • I coulda been a track star. (could have)

This is so common that we have an expression to mimic this; shoulda, coulda, woulda. Or coulda, shoulda, woulda. Woulda, coulda, shoulda? I guess it doesn’t really matter what order you say it in. Some people say this to express when it’s too late to do something and the opportunity has passed. Similar expressions are “that’s too bad,” “too late,” or “keep dreaming.” 

 — You know, I could have been a track star.

 — Yeah! Shoulda, coulda, woulda.

Should of, Could of, Would of

To take it a step further, “have” can completely change and turn into “of.” This isn’t grammatically correct, but it happens because some people might pronounce the “could-a” like “could-uv.” This happens when we mean to contract “could have” and say “could’ve.” The pronunciation of the “of” sounds very similar to that final “ve” sound, so it’s easy to confuse the two in everyday speech. Many people who even know the correct grammar might make a mistake when writing or speaking and say “of” instead of the short “‘ve” because of how easy it is to switch the two. 

More info:

  • ‘Should have’ and ‘should of’ on Quora

*Try saying could of and could’ve out loud. Do you notice how similar they sound? 

Here are some more examples!

See, you shoulda / should of been more careful. 

I coulda / could of been a millionaire. 

She musta / must of been crazy to adopt a lion.


Thank you for reading! Check the Blog to see similar posts.

**Have a question about another English speaking habit? Is there something you don’t understand about the way people talk? Tell me about it and I’ll write a post for you, and offer other resources to better understand!

Contact me to collaborate or send a personal message at tietewaller@gmail.com or go to the Give Me Shout! page.

Slang words for House and Home | English & A Story ‘Soft Place Baby Bed’

Welcome to my house, we don’t have to go-wo out …” 

It’s a good thing you didn’t hear me sing that! To pick up on the topic though, we’re going to look at some different ways to refer to someone’s house. Well, the most popular slang ways, that is. There are multiple words one might use to describe a person’s house in English, whether it’s yours or somebody else’s. Some of these words can make the house sound better and others are … a lot less flattering. 

When referring to a small place (or when being sarcastic) people often refer to their home as a “humble abode.” Some people take it to the next level and call it a shack (hence the expression, shacking up). When people get a little carried away, they might say “hizzouse” or something like it. There are so many types of houses too. For example, a cabin, a duplex, townhome, country home, condo, split-level, etc., etc. Okay, swell. But what about common slang terms for a house?

Read More


Crib

From my African-American perspective, this has got to be the most common slang for “house”. Literally, a crib is a protective bed where we usually put babies to sleep. It’s a comfortable, safe place, so maybe this led to cribs being used to talk about homes. This is one of the more common slang words for a house, at least in the U.S. This is especially due to the show, MTV Cribs, ever since it started airing (and re-airing). 

  • Do you want to go to the crib and play video games? 

Spot

Spot has a lot of different meanings in English. Being slang for a house is one of them. Given all these many meanings of spot, it can sound a little more vague or ambiguous than other words when referring to your house. This is especially since “spot” is sometimes used to refer to a place in general. Note, this is very similar to the use of “place” to specifically talk about a house. Check the links below to learn more!

  • We should go to his spot after the movie. (Similarly, “go to his place”)

Pad

A pad in normal English is something nice and soft. It’s mostly used to soften a physical impact or any other kind of damage. I don’t know why we’d call a house that, but maybe it’s because a home is our safe place? So, possibly similar to “crib.” Again, these are mostly American slang, so I don’t know how extensively this word and the others are used in all English-speaking countries. 

  • So, what do you think of my new pad?

So these are just a couple of the most common slang you might use to talk about a house in English, or at least the American variety. There are many other ways to refer to a house in an informal, exaggerated, or silly way. You can check the links below for more information.

Also, below is a short story with dialogue to show you how today’s words might be used in context. Check it out if you like! Thanks, and take care out there.


Soft Place Baby Bed – slang words for ‘house’

 — There we are. Wanna come in?

Sheila turned a wide grin at her friend, Charles. In the happiest way possible, she urged him to come into her house. Charles, on the other hand, was utterly shocked.

 — Wow, I didn’t know your house was so big, he said. — Don’t you ever get lost?

Sheila brushed away his statement and pushed him along. He had good reason to be nervous; it was his first time alone with Sheila, a friend he’d been crushing on the past few months. The friend zone is a hard wall to cross, but a big house with no one in it could be the “tunnel” underneath he was looking for. Suddenly, he wasn’t so nervous after all. They arrived at the front gates.

 — Ready to see my crib? she laughed and led her friend further.

Once inside the front gates, they came to a yard filled with strange objects. There were plastic women and rubber bones lying on the ground. Mixed in with the dry scattered leaves, the yard looked like a sort of toy wasteland. 

They eventually made it past the garden and into the house. Sheila shut the high wooden doors behind her and revealed her world to Charles. 

 — So, this is my pad. Sorry about the mess. I picked up a couple’a side gigs while I wait for my album to finish. Covid kinda ruined my schedule. I know! Let’s go upstairs. I can show you my room.

She stuck out a hand and grabbed onto Charles. Before he could figure out where he was, they had already arrived at her room. Was this his moment? “This is finally it!” he thought to himself.

BWAAA!

The sound of a thousand babies flushed into both of their ears. Okay, it was just two, but they were yelling super loudly. 

 — Oh, crap! I forgot about you two! 

Sheila rushed over to pull the two babies out of their tiny beds, repeating “Sorry, sorry” to them. 

 — I know you were talking about your house, but I didn’t know you were gonna show me your actual “cribs,” Charles told her. 

He reached his arms out to help hold one of the babies. She cried for a minute but soon relaxed against his chest.

 — Look at you! You’re a natural with the kids.

Charles felt extremely uncomfortable, but he couldn’t deny how nice it felt to hold the baby girl. 

 — If you say so. What’s her name?

 — That is Janey, and this here’s little Maxy. She stroked Maxy with her hands.— Sorry I couldn’t show you the house. I know you really wanted to see more of my place. 

That was just part of the plan, Charles thought, but okay. 

 — It’s fine. The house is really nice. But next time let’s go to my spot, alright?

Sheila laughed and agreed. After sitting a while the babies were finally asleep. 

 — Shh! Look, they’re sleeping, she advised Charles. 

He nodded, and Sheila tapped the bedside next to her as if to invite him to come sit closer. Charles got up and sat next to Sheila. They smiled wide at each other, then he reached his hand over to fix her hair. Then …

BAH-BAH-BAH-WAH!

 — Oh, no, I forgot … I also take care of dogs!

To be continued …

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‘Crush’ by Tessa Violet | Lyrics for English Students

Flag of the United States, home country of Tessa Violet
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album cover Bad Ideas by Tessa Violet home to her song Crush
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Sometimes life can get the best of us. One minute we’re focusing hard on a task, and the next we’re scrolling down a complete stranger’s social media page drooling over their hot pics. This is part of the spirit behind this fun and poppy song, today’s subject under study! “Crush” is a song from Tessa Violet’s 2019 album Bad Ideas. Below are the lyrics with some explanations for English learners, helping to clarify some of the confusing grammar, slang, expressions, and cultural points.

For lyrics without my explanations:

For better practice: 1) Listen to the song will reading the lyrics simultaneously; 2) Read through the lyrics and explanations with no music; 3) Listen to the song (and watch the video!) without reading the lyrics and check for understanding.

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Uh, alright

I can’t focus on what needs to get done

I’m on notice hoping that you don’t run, ah

  • Common Terms / Expressions: Being “on notice” is the same as being alert, paying attention to something like a guard on watch. She’s being careful. By “run,” she means that she hopes the person doesn’t run away.

You think I’m tepid but I’m misdiagnosed

  • Figurative Speech: “Tepid” means lacking passion, enthusiasm, or interest. In more literal contexts, it has to do with the temperature of something being not hot but not cold. Another word for this is “lukewarm.” Basically, this person thinks that Tessa is not that interesting, or maybe she doesn’t seem interested in them. Still, she’s “misdiagnosed,” so the person’s assumption is wrong!

‘Cause I’m a stalker, I seen all of your posts, ah-ah

  • Grammar: *”Because I’m a stalker, I have (I’ve) seen all of your posts …”
  • Vocabulary: You probably know this one, but a “stalker” is someone who follows another person in an obsessive and secretive way. In pop culture, it’s often used in the sense of following someone’s posts and pictures obsessively on social media, usually without that person knowing.

[Bridge]

And I’m just tryna play it cool now

  • Informal Speech: *”And I’m just trying to play …”
  • Slang: To “play it cool” is to try to stay calm, maintain self-composure, and act as if you don’t want something even when you really do.

But that’s not what I wanna do now

  • Informal Speech: *”What I want to do now …”

And I’m not tryna be with you now, you now

Mhm

  • Voice: The way Tessa voices this “Mhm” sound is a funny way to signify that you agree with or acknowledge what someone says.

[Verse 2]

You make it difficult to not overthink

And when I’m with you I turn all shades of pink, ah

  • Figurative Speech: This probably means she is “blushing” or gets embarrassed, shy, etc.

I wanna touch you but don’t wanna be weird

It’s such a rush, I’m thinking, wish you were here, ah-ah

  • Figurative Speech / Expressions: A “rush” is a feeling of intense emotions, usually a mix of excitement and nervousness all wrapped into one.
  • Clarifying: She is thinking, “I wish you were here.”

[Pre-Chorus]

And I’m just tryna play it cool now

But that’s not what I wanna do now

And I’m not tryna be with you now, you now

[Chorus]

But I could be your crush, like, throw you for a rush, like

  • Popular Vocabulary: I think we all know what a “crush” is. Someone that we like or are attracted to but we haven’t told them yet. You can also “have a crush on” someone.
  • Casual Expressions: “Throw you for a rush” just means that she wants to make him feel that rush of emotions we talked about earlier.
  • Culture / Society: Tessa repeats “like” a lot in the lyrics. This is similar to how English speakers, mostly younger generations, tend to repeat “like” as a filler word when they speak. She could be trying to represent herself as a silly young woman who’s losing her thoughts thinking about her “crush”.

Hoping you’d text me so I could tell you

I been thinking ’bout your touch like

  • Grammar: *”I have (I’ve) been thinking about your touch, like …”

Touch, touch, touch, touch, touch

I could be your crush, crush, crush, crush, crush

I got a fascination with your presentation

  • Grammar: *”I have (I’ve) got a fascination …” Also, “I have a fascination …”
  • Figurative Speech: With his physical appearance, dress style.

Making me feel like you’re on my island

You’re my permanent vacation

Touch, touch, touch, touch, touch

I could be your crush, crush, crush, crush, crush

Sorry

  • Other Meanings: This “Sorry” here shows how awkward and weird she can get when thinking about her crush. In the song, she says it in kind of a nerdy way, on purpose.

[Verse 3]

I fill my calendar with stuff I can do

Maybe if I’m busy it could keep me from you

  • Common Expression: To “keep from” something is to stay away from it, not interact with it.

And I’m pretending you ain’t been on my mind

  • Informal Speech: *”And I’m pretending that you haven’t been …”

But I took an interest in the things that you like, ah-ah

  • Expressions: To “take an interest” is to start being interested in something. Another way to say this is to “take up an interest.”

[Pre-Chorus]

And I’m just tryna play it cool now

But that’s not what I wanna do now

And I’m not tryna be with you now, you now

[Chorus]

But I could be your crush, like, throw you for a rush, like

Hopin’ you’d text me so I could tell you

I been thinkin’ ’bout your touch like

Touch, touch, touch, touch, touch

I could be your crush, crush, crush, crush, crush

I got a fascination with your presentation

Makin’ me feel like you’re on my island

You’re my permanent vacation

Touch, touch, touch, touch, touch

I could be your crush, crush, crush, crush, crush

[Bridge]

And yeah, it’s true that I’m a little bit intense, right

  • Other Meanings: Funny, usually when saying “right” at the end of a sentence, it is formed like a question, as if the speaker is asking to confirm something, “Right?” Here, she doesn’t say it like a question. It’s as if she is confirming this information for us. “Yeah, I am a bit intense. It’s true.”

But can you blame me when you keep me on the fence, like?

  • Idioms: To be “on the fence” or be “kept on the fence” is to be in the middle of two decisions. Basically, she is undecided, not sure what to do next.
  • Familiar Speech: This “like” at the end reminds me of how some people use it. “He was walking, real quiet-like.” The “like” doesn’t have a real meaning in this sense, it just adds a bit of emphasis to “quiet,” or “on the fence” in the case of our lyrics. This way of speaking is more old-fashioned but you still hear it in cartoons or for stereotyped movie characters.
  • Other Meanings: The “like?” as a question could also mean that she is waiting for an answer. “I waited for your call and you never did, like?”

You might also like:

Tennis Court Lorde; Habits (Stay High) Tove Lo; Day ‘N’ Nite (Nightmare) Kid Cudi; Dani California Red Hot Chili Peppers; Tighten Up The Black Keys; Carnies Martina Topley-Bird; Colorado Kota the Friend; Don’t Start Dua Lipa; Cameo Lover Kimbra; The Ghost Who Walks Karen Elson; Child Lights; i like the devil Purity Ring; Pleasure Feist; After the Storm Kali Uchis

And I’ve been waiting, hoping that you’d wanna text, like

Text like

(It’s what I was born to do)

And yeah, it’s true that I’m a little bit intense, right

But can you blame me when you keep me on the fence, like?

And I’ve been waiting, hoping that you’d wanna text like (Hey!)

Text like, Ugh

Then the lyrics repeat.

What do you think of this song and the music video? Was this the first time you heard of Tessa Violet, or are you a certified fan? Do you stalk your crush online too? Let us know what you think (just don’t get too personal :D).

Thank you for coming and I hope you enjoyed reading and listening. Take care out there. Spread some love. Peace!

For contact or collaboration: tietewaller@gmail.com or Give me a Shout!

Contracting Words with ‘Of’ – English Speech Habits

a pink neon question mark in a box down a dark hallway, doubts about contracting words with 'of' in English speech
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In English, like in any language, we speakers have some funny habits when it comes to using the language. Hey, at least it adds some character, am I right? Today I want to dwell a bit on this thing we do when we contract a quantifier word with the word “of”. This is similar to what happens when we combine “want to (wanna).” But first thing’s first; what in the Anglo-ing world is a quantifier?? Well, quantifiers are words that indicate a quantity (no, really!) or in other words, an amount of something. 

Contracting Quantifiers with ‘Of’

Some examples of this are: a little, a lot, many, some, a few

Read more about the types of quantifiers:

When describing an amount (or quantity) of something, some of these words are followed by “of.” 

  • a lot of cake; some of the cake; a bit of cake

Keep in mind, this is not all the time. Many quantifiers and some of their uses don’t have an “of” after them. 

  • some cake; a few cakes; many cakes

*“Some cake” and “some of the cake” can mean the same thing. Although, usually “some of the cake” sounds more specific (a piece of a specific cake) while “some cake” sounds more general (a piece of any cake)

When there is an “of” behind those quantifiers that need it, some speakers have a habit of combining the quantifier word with “of.” In this way, it forms a contraction. 

  • There’s a lotta cake left in the fridge. (a lot of)
  • Do you want to take home somma this cake? (some of)

This is more common in speech and when people are talking quickly. This habit is not a rule though, and these words are almost never spelled in the contracted way except in very informal text. It is also not universal and not everyone has this habit. Still, it is fairly common and a good thing to be aware of, say, when you talk with native speakers or watch TV. 

This plays into the larger trend of changing short words with the “shwa” sound (uh, like ‘of’, ‘to’, ‘the’) and just contracting them with a bigger word.

The most popular one of these you’ll notice in day-to-day speech will most likely be kinda. As a quantifier, it has about the same meaning as “somewhat” or “a little bit.”


Examples

Here are some other common instances of contracting quantifiers with “of.”

a bunch of

  • They’re a buncha sore losers. (They’re a bunch of sore losers.)

some of

  • Do you want somma my fries? (Do you want some of my fries?)

kind of (used as a quantity)

  • I kinda like him. (I kind of like him.)

a couple of

  • They’re just a coupla / couple’a guys hanging out. (They’re just a couple of guys hanging out.)

enough of

  • Okay, I’ve had enough’a this. (Okay, I’ve had enough of this.)

all of

  • Oh no! All’a / all’o the food is gone. (Oh no! All of the food is gone.)

We thank you for reading and learning new things! Feel free to explore more posts here on Cult-surf. Similar posts can be found on the Blog. Enjoy yourselves, and take care out there!

For contact or collaboration: tietewaller@gmail.com; Give Me a Shout

Careful looking outward – How to use expressions with ‘Watch’ (watch out, watch it, & more)

Looking at a kangaroo juggle fire can be interesting. But watching a kangaroo juggle fire is a lot better. The difference between “look” and “watch” is often a struggle for English learners to understand, but consider this; “watching” is like “looking” more attentively.

Look = just using your eyes to observe something.

Watch = looking at something and paying attention to / processing what is happening.

Watch

That’s part of the idea behind some informal meanings of “watch.” In some situations, people may use watch as a way to tell someone to be careful. This relates to someone paying attention, usually because they’re being a little careless.

  • Watch your step. The sidewalk is very uneven here.

Watch it

This is similar to the term watch it which has the same meaning, telling someone to be careful. When said in a disciplinary tone, it can be used to warn someone about their (bad) behavior too.

  • Watch it. The drivers at this intersection don’t check for pedestrians.
  • You better watch it! I told you to stop being rude.

Watch yourself / your back / your mouth + more

Oftentimes, “watch it” can be short for expressions like watch your mouth or watch yourself. All of these have the same general meaning of being careful with what you say. We usually say this to people who are acting wildly, saying offensive things or simply behaving badly. You may also hear people use several variations of this, like “watch what you say,” “watch your words,” “watch your tone,” “watch your back,” and so on. That last one, by the way, is more of a threat than the others.

  • Nina from third period called you ugly? I hope you told her to watch her mouth.
  • Excuse me, Sir! You are being extremely rude. You need to watch yourself.
  • You better watch your back when you come around here next time.

Watch out!

Another precautionary expression that is pretty popular is watch out. Telling someone to “watch out” is the same as saying be careful. This is usually because something is putting them in danger, although the danger could be physical or otherwise. When telling someone to be careful about something specific, we would tell them to “watch out for” that thing.

  • Whenever they tell George of the Jungle to “watch out for that tree,” he always ends up hitting it anyway.

Those are some of the key points you’ll want to know about the expressions using “watch.” How would you use these in a sentence? Have you heard these expressions before? Let us hear your thoughts!

Below is a short story, part of the Adventures of Charles series where we explore the above terms in their everyday usage. If you like stories and want to get some reading practice in, I encourage you to read along!


Careful looking outward – Short Story

Nothing could be heard but the rush of the wind blowing into the open windows. The sight, on the other hand, was much more beautiful. There was a mountain on one side covered in emerald grass and a few heads of cactus; the dark gray asphalt extended and curved out ahead of them, lined down the middle with yellow stripes the whole way; the crashing waves of the ocean burst onto the rocky shores. The most scenic part of it all that Charles could place his eyes on was Sheila, who was sitting next to him in the driver’s seat.

–All right! You ready to drive? she asked him.

–Who, me? Oh, I don’t know. I haven’t driven since I came to this country. I don’t really feel safe.

–Come on, it’s like riding a bike! Sheila insisted.

The two hopped out of the blue BMW M and traded seats. Charles suddenly noticed how new and, especially, how fast the car looked.

–You’ll do fine. Just don’t crash us into the ocean.

Sheila said this as a joke, but it didn’t make him feel any better. Charles started the car, shifted gear, and drove off. For a minute he felt pretty comfortable. Hey, I could get the hang of this. He was so relaxed that he started looking off at the waves, the green hillside, and got stuck on Sheila’s charming face. From the cheeks to the eyes, down to the nose, and then the chin …

–Make sure you watch the road, yeah?

Charles suddenly jerked the steering wheel, making the whole car jump until he could settle it. At that moment, a big rig truck started coming at them from the other direction.

Watch it

When he saw the truck hurling his way, Charles panicked and turned sharply onto a narrow stony road. He kept going from there.

–I’ll hand it to you. I never have come down this road, Sheila said in a sarcastic tone.

–Where did I take us? Oh, son of a–

–Hey! Watch your mouth. There’s a lady present.

Sheila snickered at her own comment. Charles pulled the car over to contemplate. After about a minute, they noticed a rumbling coming over the countryside. They both looked at each other, like, What is that? A few dark spots peeked over the green pastures until the hills were suddenly covered with them. One of the creatures ran towards the BMW, apparently interested in the vibrant paint job.

–What are those things? asked Charles.

–You’ve never seen these? They’re called bison, I think.

And bison, they were. A curious cow nearest them was licking Sheila’s rearview mirror, comically trying to check her teeth. She gave a hard sneeze and fogged the mirror, then she ran away to graze on some grass.

Sheila then said, –Hey, I’ve got an idea. Put the car into reverse, and try to make it back to the highway.

–Why reverse? Charles replied. –Can’t I just go straight?

–There’s a lot more bison ahead of us, and if you scare them they might stampede. You just have to steer, you’ll be fine.

–That’s what you said the last time.

Sucking up all the confidence he could find, he put the car into reverse and started backing up. The bison initially weren’t interested in the two of them at all. That was until Charles accidentally revved up the motor really loud, and all the bison started to scatter.

–Go faster, faster! We have to get out of here!

Charles steered one way and Sheila grabbed the wheel trying to steer another. The bumps and stones on the ground made the car jump and shake uncontrollably. They crisscrossed through bison, being extra careful (or extra lucky) not to hit any of them. After being nearly frightened to death, somehow Charles was able to get them past the maze of bison and onto the highway again. To Sheila’s surprise though, one stray bison had made its way onto the pavement, and a car was coming right at it.

Watch out, little bison! she yelled.

The sound of screeches and the smell of hot rubber filled the air around them. Charles and Sheila shut their eyes in horror. When they opened them again, they were surprised to see the other car stopped to a complete halt. The bison, probably the same cow that had come to Sheila’s car, was at the other car now, licking the rearview mirror as before.

–Oh, thank God, Sheila sighed. –That was too close.

Charles looked at her now, smiling.

–So, how did I do? Ready to drive back?

Sheila was quick to respond, “Ohh, that is okay. I’d better take over on this one.”

Everyday Expressions about Cars and Driving (part 2) – English List

dark Porsche car driving at sunset, related to the topic of words about cars and driving
Peter Miranda

Welcome to this version of English List. Cars have had such a huge impact on that language–the English one–and we’re here to prove it! This is part 2 of Everyday Expressions about Cars and Driving, including some terms that can be used for both vehicles and other life situations.

For English students, these can be a cool way for you to liven up your word choice and vocabulary. Otherwise, you may just like driving cars or be an awesome English-speaking person that loves to learn. Whatever it is, I hope you enjoy the article. Feel free to give your own examples, ask questions, give feedback, do whatever!

Alrighty, let’s get rolling.

Read Part 1: Some Everyday Expressions about Cars & Driving

Full Tank

Powered up

It’s easy to imagine the benefits of a full tank of gas. Similarly, when talking about people, we can say that person has a full tank. This is like saying that they are full of energy, ready to go, and pumped full of enthusiasm. There’s also the expression “on full,” which is the opposite of “on E” (on empty). Careful, though! “On F” isn’t quite a popular expression (yet).

No stopping … no stopping

  • Let’s make sure the truck’s got a full tank so we don’t have to stop the whole trip.
  • He has been running for hours and is still on a full tank! Can you believe it?

Roll up (the window)

Windows shut

This one may sound obvious, but it might not be so for English learners. When talking about making the window go up in a car, we can say roll the window up or roll up the window (it works the same for “down” too). Roll up by itself also has a multitude of meanings. It can be as simple as “to roll something” or to “arrive or go somewhere.”

Read also: Roll out, rolling, & other expressions

Getting there

  • Can you please roll the window up? It’s freezing in here!
  • I have to roll up my clothes so that they can fit in my suitcase.
  • Do you feel like rolling up to my cousin’s house? You know, she’s the one with the big TV.

Junk in the trunk

Big things in the back

This phrase is near and dear to many English speakers. Literally, it refers to having too much “junk”, or lots of random and useless objects, in the trunk of one’s car. Junk in the trunk can also be used to talk about people, especially women, saying that they have a big behind. This is actually the first thing that will come to mind to most English speakers when this silly phrase is said.

It is a very playful expression, used mostly with people we are really comfortable with, and it can be a really funny thing to say.

A beautiful mess

  • Do you know if Tyler has any jumper cables? There’s so much junk in his trunk, I can’t find it.
  • Mark told me I had a lot of junk in my trunk. Uh, I think he likes me.

Backseat driver

No driving from the back

Just picture it: you are riding along happily in your car, not a care in the world. Suddenly, you hear a voice from the back seat telling you to turn your blinkers on before you switch lanes. That’s decent advice, but still, nobody likes a backseat driver.

This expression is used to refer to someone who is giving instructions or directions but is “out of line” to. Maybe they are unqualified, or maybe they just weren’t a part of the conversation, to begin with.

Input from the sidelines

  • I thought to tell you to slow down, but I didn’t want to be a backseat driver.
  • The parents on the other team are such backseat drivers. They should just let the coaches do their jobs, right?

Down the road

What is to come

Driving is a lot more comfortable when you can see far down the road. This expression refers to what is ahead of you, further down the street. In a figurative sense, it means what is ahead in life, as opposed to the actual street or highway. Still, it’s a very useful idiom to know.

Looking forward

  • There’s a new Chipotle that opened up down the road. Want to try it?
  • You should always be prepared because you never know what might happen down the road.

U-turn

Turn it around

When driving, some people get the sudden urge to want to completely change directions on the road. That round 180-degree change is called making a U-turn. Likewise, people can make a “U-turn” in life as they completely change directions or go back to old habits.

Another very informal way of saying this is making a U-ey. (Some also say “pulling” a U-ey, “busting” a U-ey, “flipping” a U-ey, it’s all the same)

Bring it back

  • Sheryl was so happy in retirement. Now, all of a sudden, she did a big U-turn and went back to teaching again.
  • Do you think we can make a U-ey on this road? I think we can.

Run out of steam

Steam-less

No one wants this. When you’re driving and the car suddenly stops working. Apparently it’s got no more gas, no power, and everything says that is has run out of steam. The same idea can go for people when they don’t have the smallest bit of energy left in them.

Run until the running’s done

  • Boy, I sure hope this old truck doesn’t run out of steam before we make it home.
  • Alex started the day off full of energy, but now she looks like she ran out of steam.

Driving (me) nuts!

Nuts and (crazy) berries

Many people like to drive, while others get enraged by it. Driving someone nuts is the same as making them feel crazy. Other ways to say this are driving someone “mad,” driving someone “crazy”, driving someone “bananas,” and driving someone “coocoo”, among others.

This “driving” is usually used with negative emotions, so you would not say “driving me happy,” for example.

Ja-Making me crazy!

  • Is this Camila Cabello? Oh no, her music drives my brother insane.
  • I can’t handle being around kids while they’re crying. They drive me nuts!

Read more expressions about cars and driving: Hubpages


**Thank you for reading! Do you know any other car-related expressions or phrases? Can you use them in a sentence? Feel welcome, this is your place!

Contact for personal messages, English advice, or collaboration: tietewaller@gmail.com (Contact Page)

Check out similar posts on the Blog

Peace & love, y’all!

“Habits (Stay High)” by Tove Lo – Lyrics for English Students

Flag of Sweden
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Tove Lo album cover, Queen of the Clouds, album of the song Habits (Stay High)
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Going to the club and watching strangers have a go at each other isn’t a habit that most people have, I’d feel pretty safe to say. But most of us do have a bad habit that we’re trying to kick, which made this song more relatable in the end. Maybe you’re an English student or English learner. Maybe you heard this song and loved it, but didn’t understand some parts. Maybe you understand all the lyrics and just wanted to hear it again. Whatever brought you here, welcome! These lyrics are meant to help those who are learning English and may not have picked up on certain expressions or grammar, but anyone is welcome to read.

To read the lyrics without my explanations: Genius Lyrics

Challenge for better practice:

1) listen to the song and try to pay attention to the words, 2) read the lyrics with the explanations below, then, 3) listen to the song again to check your comprehension.

Warning!

The video and the lyrics have some slightly inappropriate content. It may not be good for kids, and parents might have to use discretion on this one. Everyone’s taste is different so, you know … enjoy!

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Read more: Lyrics “Explained”


Habits (Stay High) – Lyrics & Explanations

I eat my dinner in my bathtub, then I go to sex clubs

Watchin’ freaky people gettin’ it on

  • Slang / Informal Expressions: “Freaky” in this sense means to be very sexually open, promiscuous, and adventurous. Or, it’s just someone who likes sex a lot. To “get it on” means to get physical, have intimate relations with someone.

It doesn’t make me nervous, if anything, I’m restless

Yeah, I’ve been around and I’ve seen it all

  • Expressions / Idioms: Saying “I’ve been around” is like saying that the person has experience, has lived through many situations, and some things that are shocking to most seem normal to her. An extended way to say the same thing is, “I’ve been around the block.”

I get home, I got the munchies

  • Slang / Informal Speech: “The munchies” is being hungry or having a craving for certain types of food. It usually is an abnormal hunger, persistent and won’t go away. I think it was popularized with cannabis culture since people often get the munchies after smoking.

Binge on all my Twinkies

  • Common Speech: To “binge” is to consume a lot of something in a short amount of time, often to the point of getting sick from it. It’s often used to talk about food, but nowadays people also “binge-watch” a TV show or series.
  • Snacks: I’ll post a picture of a Twinkie for those that don’t know.

Throw up in the tub, then I go to sleep

And I drank up all my money, dazed and kinda lonely

  • Casual Speech: To “drink up” something means to drink it all. She is referring to drinking alcohol, or spending all her money on liquor.
  • Common Speech: “Dazed” means to be in a weird mental state of numbness and confusion, almost like being in a trance.

You’re gone and I gotta stay high

  • Grammar: *”And I’ve got to stay high …” also, “and I have to stay high …”
  • Slang: “High” is being under the influence of drugs, probably cannabis in Tove Lo’s case.

All the time to keep you off my mind

Ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh, ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh

High, all the time, to keep you off my mind

Ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh, ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh

Spend my days locked in a haze tryna forget you, babe

  • Grammar: *”I spend my days … trying to forget you babe …”
  • Common Speech: “Haze” is like a fuzzy, thick smoke or pollution in the air. When talking about a mental state, it relates to being in a fuzzy, clouded state of mind where things don’t really make sense. It also could just mean that she smokes every day trying to forget her ex or whoever.

I fall back down

Gotta stay high, all my life, to forget I’m missin’ you

Ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh, ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh

Other lyrics you might like: After the Storm, (Kali Uchis); Pleasure, (Feist); What Goes Around …/… Comes Around, (Justin Timberlake); i like the devil, (Purity Ring); Cameo Lover, (Kimbra); Don’t Start, (Dua Lipa); Dani California, (Red Hot Chili Peppers); Colorado, (Kota the Friend); Day N Nite, (Kid Cudi)

Pick up daddies at the playground, how I spend my daytime

Loosen up their frown, make ’em feel alive

  • Casual Expressions: To “loosen up” something is to undo it, unwind it, or put it in a relaxed state.
  • Grammar: *”Make them feel alive …”

I make it fast and greasy, I’m numb and way too easy

  • Informal / Casual Speech: “Greasy” is usually used to describe food that is oily and bad for you, as well as car parts that are dirty and covered in sticky oil, which we would call “grease.” By saying it’s “fast and greasy,” it’s as if she is relating the situation to fast food, food that is quick and tastes good at the moment but leaves you feeling bad or dirty afterward. By saying her encounters were greasy, they were probably dirty, oily, sticky, and sort of uncomfortable. When someone is referred to as “easy,” it usually means they are easy to get with or sleep with. In less explicit contexts, it means that the person is really easy-going and isn’t very demanding. Saying “way too” is like adding emphasis to the “too.” It just means very very very. “It is way too hot outside.”

You’re gone and I gotta stay high

All the time, to keep you off my mind

Ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh, ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh

High, all the time, to keep you off my mind

Ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh, ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh

Spend my days locked in a haze, tryna forget you, babe

I fall back down

Gotta stay high, all my life, to forget I’m missin’ you

Ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh, ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh

Staying in my play pretend, where the fun ain’t got no end

  • Expressions: “Play-pretend” is kind of like the world of “make-believe,” like the world of a child’s fantasy.
  • Grammar: *”Where the fun doesn’t have an / any end …”

Oh, can’t go home alone again, need someone to numb the pain

  • Grammar: *”I can’t go home … I need someone to numb …”

Oh, staying in my play pretend, where the fun ain’t got no end

Oh, can’t go home alone again, need someone to numb the pain

Then it repeats.

**Do you have a song suggestion you’d like me to explain the lyrics for? Want more songs by Tove Lo? Contact me with a one-to-one message or for collaboration at tietewaller@gmail.com (also on my contact page). Thanks again for stopping by. Peace to you!

Some Everyday Expressions about Cars and Driving – English List

Speed-racing, fast-flying, metal-clunking, oil-charged … these useful little machines called cars have a lot more to do with the English language than one might imagine. There are so many popular idioms and expressions that were inspired by these furiously fast vehicles. Whether for a compliment or a “total wreck,” this language has you car-lovers covered.

Below is a list of some expressions that were inspired by cars or driving. Most of these can be used in a literal driving context but also in a figurative way. It’s not a complete list at all, and there are many more expressions out there. Still, these are some that, in my life, seem to be the most commonly used. So let’s get the motor runnin’!

Oh, and I’ll be writing more lists about this topic in the future if you want to know even more phrases related to cars. So, stay tuned for that!

a wrecked car on the side of a green hill, representing an English expression about cars and driving
How did that get there? Tobias Tullius

Total Wreck / Totaled

Utter Destruction!

Let’s go ahead and start with one that I just used. A total wreck, whether for a car or in general life, is a complete disaster. Something has been destroyed and it doesn’t look like there’s going to be any coming back. If you total a car, it’s totaled, and this has the same meaning as a “total wreck.” It’s “totally” destroyed … totally, man!

This word is used more specifically for cars, but can be used for other things if you want to get creative. A complete wreck is another option with the same idea.

Messed up car, messed up life

  • My life is just a total wreck right now!
  • Did you see? Max totaled his Audi the other day.

Rev Up

Getting things hot

Revving up an engine is to get it started, get it hot. You press your foot on the gas and get ready to run (as in driving, of course). It’s similar as a figurative expression, where it means to get really excited, get “fired up,” and start an activity with lots of power and energy. It’s also used as an adjective in the same way.

Passion from within

  • Cars are so noisy when they rev up their engines.
  • Be careful with Charlie. He gets all revved up at football games.

Curb

Take a pause …

Has someone ever been talking to you and you just wanted to stop them and change the topic? Well, you could have curbed them, which is doing exactly that. It usually means to stop something in order to change its course. Think of a car’s wheels hitting a curb.

An abrupt stop

  • Joey’s car got scratched when he curbed it last week.
  • Guys at bars always come at me with terrible conversations. I wish I could just curb them and move on.
a speedy lime green car racing on a track, representing common phrases about cars and driving in English
It’s okay to speed on the race track. Wes Tindel

Speeding

That’s doing too much

This means going really fast, simple as that. It works in cars as much as in life situations. It generally has the context of doing more than one should or more than needed.

Breaking the limit

  • Is it okay to speed in Germany?
  • All his speeding through life is going to catch up with him someday.

In The Rearview

A look back

As in, in the “rearview mirror.” When looking in their “rearview,” someone can see what’s behind them. Outside of driving, something in the rearview or looking in the rearview has to do with being in the past. Usually we say it when something gets put in the past or when someone is focusing on their past.

Checking what’s past

  • Make sure to check in the rearview while you drive.
  • I used to work as a waitress, but that’s all in the rearview now.

On E

No fuel for the fire

This is can also be expressed as “running on E.” On E literally means on empty, which happens when a car has no more gas in the tank. This is helpful to express when a car has an empty gas tank, or when a person has no more energy in their metaphorical “tank.”

Running on 0%

  • I got this new rental car, but the tank was already on E.
  • Messi looks so tired out on the field. He must be running on E by now.

Full Throttle

Going strong

When talking about cars, full throttle means the vehicle is moving at full capacity or is driving very quickly. Well, that’s about the same as someone doing something at “full throttle,” or with lots of enthusiasm, energy, and speed.

Full speed ahead

  • She loves to drive with her convertible at full throttle through the desert.
  • If you choose to do something in life, make sure to do it full throttle.

Like A Deer In Headlights

Caught you looking

Sometimes people say “headlamps,” but it means the same thing. Often said as a deer caught in headlights, this phrase intends exactly what comes to mind when you read it. Someone usually makes this look when they are caught doing something they shouldn’t be. They can be very shocked or even embarrassed.

Scared deer, scared baby

  • Have you ever actually seen a deer caught in headlights?
  • When Sean’s mom caught him stealing cookies from the cabinet, he was like a deer in headlights.

Hit The Brakes / Hit The Gas

Just press go … or stop

Hitting the gas or the brakes in a car means to push your foot on the gas or brake pedal to make the car go or stop. These expressions sometimes get used in other situations, like when you want a person to speed up or slow down. Pumping the brakes or the gas is another alternative, as well is pushing the brakes / gas. Although, the sensation is a little less “rushed.”

Advice for driving, dates, and driving dates

  • Never hit the brakes too suddenly. But when the light turns green, you need to hit the gas.
  • Jake tried to kiss me on our first date and I was like, pump the brakes! Now it’s been two weeks, and I wish he would push the gas!

Park It

Bring it in, sit it down

Parking, we know, is to pull your car over to the side of the road and leave it. Or, you can leave it in a parking lot. When someone says to park it, they usually are asking you to sit down. Sometimes it can mean to stop what someone is doing, too.

Pull over and leave it there

  • When you learn to drive a car, you must learn how to park it.
  • Hey, Jimmy! Come park it next to me.
  • He knows he was wrong. He should just park it and apologize.

Swerve

Evade, avert

A swerve (action) or to swerve mean to make a sudden and unexpected turn while driving. This is usually to avoid an obstacle in the road, like a tree branch or something. Figuratively, one can swerve to avoid a situation or person, mostly because they don’t like them. I think it can also be used to talk about making a sudden change in life or in movement.

This is part of where all those “skrrt” sounds came from in Trap and Hip Hop music these days, since car tires make a skrrt sound when they swerve.

Going around, literally

  • Why is this guy swerving? There’s nothing in the road.
  • Yeah, man. When Gina called me, I had to swerve.
  • Sometimes in life we have to swerve around and try something new.

Rolling

Wheels and squeals

Car wheels roll, and that’s the idea behind this word. To roll can simply mean to drive, but it can also mean that someone is leaving or going, as if they were “driving” away. People also use rolling to mean that they are laughing really hard, as if they were “rolling” on the ground and holding their stomach.

Funny trip

  • Do you want to roll in my truck tonight, or are we taking dad’s?
  • After the party we can roll to my house.
  • Oh my God, that movie was hilarious! I was rolling the whole time.

Read more: Rolling, Roll, Roll Out, & more

Cruising

Riding cool

Some people love to just get in their car and enjoy the ride. Cruising is driving low and slow with nowhere to go, but just having a cool time. Outside the car, it usually means the same thing but in a more general life sense. It can also mean to move through some situation really easily and smoothly.

Smooth move

  • Every Tuesday me and my cousins go cruising in our Chevys. Wanna come?
  • Everyone says how bad airport security is, but we just cruised through the last time.
a smiling man behind the steering wheel with his seatbelt buckled up
This guy’s buckled and ready to go. Humphrey Muleba

Buckle Up

Safety first … or not

Well, everyone’s got a different opinion on whether to buckle up their seatbelts or not. Whether you’re an all-the-time buckler or a never buckler, one thing remains consistent. Buckle up is also used to tell someone to get ready, because something big is surely coming.

Get ready!

  • Alright, Maddie. Let’s buckle up before we drive to school.
  • Buckle up, boys. This year’s vacation is going to be insane!

Riding / Rider / Ride Or Die

On the road together

Riding in a car or any vehicle can be lots of fun. Outside of that context though, riding might have to do with going together with someone, or being there for someone no matter what. A true and loyal companion. A rider or a ride or die also have these noble qualities.

True company

  • It’s fun to ride in the back of a pick-up truck.
  • I’m going to get some pizza. Are you riding?
  • Yeah, Marcy is a rider too, but Janelle is my ride-or-die. We’ve been through it all together.

Read more: Ride, Rider, Ride-or-Die, & more

Shift Gears

Switching course

No matter how popular automatic transmission gets, there always seem to be enough manual cars to practice driving stick shift. When you change from gear one to two and so on, that’s shifting gears. Now that I think of it, you can “shift gears” in an automatic car too. Just change from park to drive and whatnot.

Okay, so shifting gears has a similar meaning in other contexts, too. Changing one’s situation or circumstance comes to mind.

Nice maneuvers

  • Shifting gears can be hard for beginner drivers.
  • He was a great athlete before shifting gears and becoming an actor.

Pedal To The Metal

Pressing ahead

This is like putting your foot on the gas pedal as hard as you can, all the way to the floor. In a car, this means to drive as fast as you can. We tend to hear it a lot outside of cars too, since it can be used to tell someone to hurry up, give it all they’ve got, and put one’s full energy and effort into something.

Fast life youngsters

  • Did you see how fast Sarah was driving? She really likes to put the pedal to the metal.
  • Come on, son. Put the pedal to the metal and finish that homework. It’s almost midnight.

Also, here’s a resource I found useful for helping me write this article. They have plenty of cool car expressions!

**Thank you for reading. Great job coming to practice your English skills (or just for being curious)! Feel free to read similar posts here on the Blog, as well as share or comment. Can you think of other expressions that have to do with cars and driving? There are a lot out there. Well, drive safely, be careful, and happy learning! Peace.

Contracting verbs with “to”, Wanna, Gonna, Hadda & more – Speaking Habits

a pink neon question mark in a box down a dark hallway, asking questions without auxiliary in English

There’s a dirty habit that English speakers have … okay, it’s not that terrible. Still, when many people speak, they have a habit of contracting certain verbs if they come before the word “to.” These verbs usually stand ahead of another verb that is in its infinitive form, which is the most basic (e.g. to love, to go, to see). Here, I’m talking about the verb that comes before these infinitive forms. Read some examples to see what I mean:

Examples – connecting verbs with “to”

  • I wanna help you.

(“Want to” might get fused together, so this sounds more like, “wanna”)

  • You hadda say that, didn’t you?

(You had to say that, didn’t you?)

  • You hafta help me, please!

(You have to help me, please!)

Don’t know what I’m talking about? Or, do you want more info? Look at this article on RealLifeGlobal.com along with the video below.

http://reallifeglobal.com/.

This might happen because the word “to” is normally pronounced as a “shwa” or a short “uh” sound. When people are speaking, it can be a drag to pronounce every letter and word. So, they get bunched together and form into a new word. It’s similar to how “would have” can turn into “would’ve.”

One thing to remember is that this fusing the verbs before “to” doesn’t work all the time. You might have to pay attention to which words this is used most commonly. Also, unlike with “would’ve,” hafta, wanna, and hadda are just how these words are pronounced in speech. They aren’t proper English, though, so you shouldn’t write these words on a paper or test (but they’re fine in text messages or social media).

Some other noteworthy examples of these contractions I’m sure you’ve all heard before are gonna and gotta.

More examples

  • They’ve gotta be kidding.

(They’ve got to be kidding.)

  • No one told you what’s gonna happen?

(No one told you what’s going to happen?)

  • She hasta help her mom first.

(She has to help her mom first.)

Thank you all for reading! I hope you learned something. Read the Blog for other posts like this about English habits. Go ahead and share a comment with us if you’ve heard this habit before. And as always, take care out there. Peace! ☮️

Not Pronouncing the ‘D’ & ‘T’ – English Speaking Habits

a cat sticking its tongue out, representing the tongue-twisting nature of people not pronouncing their d's and t's in common English speech
Don Hassan

Don’t know what I’m talking about? Watch it here:

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Dropping the D & T

We’re here to look at a funny habit that many English speakers have. Sometimes we drop the “d” or the “t” sound in the middles or ends of words. This is more common if that “d” or “t” is next to another consonant, and especially if it’s between two consonant sounds.

Examples

  • “I can’t hear a thing you say.” Pronounced, I cann hear a thing you say.
  • “There’s going to be a band night this evening.” Pronounced, There’s going to be a bann night this evening.

Above, the “t” in can’t gets lost between a “nnn” and a “hhh” sound. The “d” in band gets lost between two “nnn” sounds. This doesn’t always happen as a rule, but it is common for many people.

The “d” and “t” sounds when next to consonants are already pronounced weakly in normal cases, so it wasn’t so hard to completely omit them. Still, the sound is not simply dropped, but usually, the sound before it gets a little stressed. Remember, that’s like the “n” sound in I cann hear a thing you say.

Taking other letters along

In some words, the “d” and “t” take some other letters away with them. This can be heard in some accents with the words don’t, doesn’t, and didn’t, among others. Watch how many sounds get dropped from these words.

Examples

  • “He doesn’t look like he knows what that means.” Pronounced, He ‘onn’ look like he knows what that means.
  • “Elvis also played the guitar, didn’t he?” Pronounced, Elvis also played the guitar, dinn’ he?

This might look pretty funny on paper, but it sounds smoother in speech. Again, not all English speakers have these habits when talking, but they can be noticed in several accents. This usually happens so that the words can come out easier since so many “d’s” and “t’s” right next to each other just don’t seem natural.

It’s some people’s way of making the speech flow better. Of course, lots of people may find these habits weird or think they’re uneducated, and there are plenty of those that do try to annunciate all their letters. This is just another habit that English learners may come across when they practice their new language.

Read more: about dropping d’s and t’s especially in American English

Find more posts like this in the Blog.

More examples

I havenn heard from you in a while. (haven’t)

It’s hard to benn metal. (bend)

Chris ‘onn’ even know how to change a tire. (doesn’t)

I dinn’ see that one coming. (didn’t)