How To Say Common English Expressions! 💬 Small Talk PART 2

Lesson Overview

Lesson Summary 

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In this lesson, I’ll show you how to say 4 really common English expressions used by native English speakers all the time!

This lesson will teach you how to say common English expressions naturally, just like a native speaker. You’ll practise connected speech, reductions and contractions to help you improve your pronunciation and sound more natural when you speak. This is REAL English pronunciation.

NOTE: My video lessons are created to help English learners to improve their pronunciation and speaking skills. Please note that the pronunciation of some of these words and expressions differs between English accents. I speak with an Australian English accent

CLICK HERE to read the full lesson transcript.

Video Transcript
Section 1
Well hey there! I’m Emma from mmmEnglish! In this lesson, we’ll focus on the natural pronunciation of some very common English expressions. We’ll study how a native speaker would really use these expressions and practise saying them together, exactly as a native speaker would.

Common expressions, ones that are used all the time, are not often pronounced as you would expect. As native speakers, we say them quickly, the sounds reduce, they even disappear. And even simple expressions become difficult to recognise if you’re not used to hearing them.

In my lessons, you hear me speak really clearly and a little slower than I normally would and while that makes you feel good like, ‘Yes! I can understand everything she’s saying.’ you do need to listen to different English, different accents, people who mumble. When you study English, try to experience the diversity by listening to a variety of different English speakers.

Another way to do this is to join online communities and no, I’m not talking about online English language communities, I’m talking about communities around your hobbies and special interests but where all the members are speaking in English.

Now this strategy is awesome for advanced and ambitious English students and what I love about it is you can personalise your English practice and make it about something that you’re really interested in. You’ll learn vocabulary and expressions that are really relevant to the conversations you’re going to have.

So a few weeks ago, I received an email from Skillshare. Skillshare is an online learning community and I thought this is the perfect tool to share with you. They have thousands of classes, not only language classes but classes on all kinds of stuff like design, video production, illustration, crafts, leadership, cooking. And all of these classes can be taken online wherever you are.

So Skillshare asked me if I thought you could benefit from taking these online classes and of course, I said yes! This is one of the strategies that I teach my students. So firstly, you’ll learn new skills from whatever course you take, right? Win. But by taking a course in English, you’ll hear  common English expressions and new vocabulary in an area of life that interests you like your work or your hobbies, right?

The other awesome thing is that many of the courses offered at Skillshare actually have a community that forms around the classes which would give you even more opportunities to practise your English skills, right?

Now I want you to know that Skillshare are sponsoring this lesson which is great for me, they’re helping to support me a little while I make free lessons for you. But they have also agreed to give the first five hundred mmmEnglish students who sign up using the link in the description below free access to their premium level membership for two whole months! So that’s two months of whatever courses you choose in English for free!

Like I said, I’m a huge fan of this strategy. Learning and using your English in different contexts. So if you want to try it, then please be quick to take me up on that offer. I was only able to get it for five hundred students so click the link that you can see below to make sure you’re one of them. Alright let’s get back to the lesson.

Since we’re focusing on common natural expressions in this lesson, I want to show you a short video clip of a conversation I had with my friend, Sim.

Emma: Sim!
Sim: Emma! It’s so good to see you!
Emma: Fancy seeing you here!
Sim: Well I live here now.
Emma: What do you mean? I thought you were living in Melbourne?
Sim: We just got a job and I’ve just moved in.
Emma: Really?
Sim: Yeah!
Emma: Do you need a hand?
Sim: Well most of our stuff’s already been moved in but would you have a car that I could borrow?
Emma: Yeah I definitely do. We’ve got two actually. I live in number twenty-three so just come grab the keys anytime. I’ll come down and see you.
Sim: It’s so good to see you!
Emma: So good to see you too!

You heard a few different expressions there. Now I want to take you a little deeper into some of them so that you know when to use them and how to say them. Let’s go back to the very first thing that I said when I saw Sim.

Fancy seeing you here!

This expression is a common one but it has two different meanings depending on the tone used when it’s spoken. So the first meaning is a genuine expression of surprise when you meet someone that you know in an unexpected place. It’s like ‘What are you doing here? I’m so surprised to see you! I wasn’t expecting it at all.

Now the second meaning is a sarcastic one. So it’s a sarcastic greeting when you see someone Okay? It’s not surprising to see them there.

So here’s an example. Every Friday, no joke, every Friday, I go to this delicious bakery near my house to get a phenomenally good pastry and a coffee. Now I only allow myself to go there on Fridays because it’s so good and it’s so close that if I don’t have rules I would go there every day. So Friday is the day I’m allowed to go. And most people know that about me, all of my neighbours know, all my friends know so if they ever run into me on a Friday morning at the bakery, it really won’t be a surprise. They might say: “Well, fancy seeing you here.” Like it’s not a surprise at all.

I’m there every Friday but my expression was different during my conversation with Sim. I was genuinely surprised to see her, right? In a positive way. I didn’t expect to see her there and you can tell by the tone. As women, we tend to raise the tone of our voice when we get excited, right? Very excited to see each other.

Did you notice that all of the words were stressed when I said them? We don’t really hear any of those sounds reduce down, we hear everything quite clearly. In the multi-syllable words you hear one stressed syllable that’s louder and clearer than the other one. The other one reduces down.

Now you might hear that /ng/ sound reduced down to become the /n/ sound when it’s spoken, right? It’s a little easier to say, right? So it happens quite a bit in spoken English. Hear how the pitch stays high? Now in the sarcastic version, it sounds a little different. It would sound like ‘Well fancy seeing you here

So hear that tone changing? The meaning is different. I’m saying that I’m not actually surprised at all to see them in that place. The pitch is lower. You’ll probably need to add an eye roll there just for maximum effect, right?

If you’re a regular viewer here at mmmEnglish and I recognise you in the comments, I might say: “Jorge! Fancy seeing you here!” Like, I see you every week!

Let’s look closer at another expression I used during that conversation.

What do you mean?

I’m using this expression because I’m surprised and confused. At the time, I thought that Sim lived in Melbourne so it was strange to see her at my apartment building, right?

What are you doing here? I’m surprised, right? ‘What do you mean?’ is a great expression to show that you’re a little confused. It suggests that you need a little more information to understand what’s happening, what’s going on. Any kind of confusion can be cleared up by asking this question.

I thought it would be ready to pick up this afternoon!
I’m not dressed appropriately?
What do you mean you’re busy? I thought you took the afternoon off work?

See? In all of those situations this phrase is super helpful to clear away any confusion, right? Now if you watched this lesson here, another lesson about common expressions, then you’ve already practised the pronunciation of these three words with me. Pronounced naturally, it sounds more like. The unstressed vowel’s reduced down and the words link together.

You might also hear these words expressed as. Right? Depends on the English accent. Now, ‘mean’ is the most important word here. Now, ‘mean’ is the most important word here in this question so it’s stressed. We hear it really clearly but all of the others reduce down. It also helps if you put a confused face on as well.

So once I found out that Sim had only just moved into the building, I wanted to offer my help, right? Like a good friend would. Moving house is hard work right? Have you ever done it? In my life, I’ve done it over twenty-five times so of course, I know how arduous that task is and like a good friend, I offered to help out.

Do you need a hand?

It’s a little more formal or more polite to say: Can I give you a hand?

But Sim’s an old friend of mine so I’m speaking informally. So this idiom is a really common way of offering to help someone, offering to give someone a hand is a nice way of saying ‘How can I help you?‘ or ‘Please let me help with that!

It’s a nice thing to say if you hear someone saying that they’ve got a lot of work to do or they’re stressed out or they’re struggling to do something. And you can also use it to casually ask for help yourself by making it a question.

Can you give me a hand?

Now just like in the last question, we have the auxiliary verb ‘do’ and the pronoun ‘you’. Both are unstressed so when they reduce, it sounds like. Or again you might hear that sound.

When I ask that question, Sim says that most of their stuff had already been moved in, right? She’s politely letting me know that she doesn’t need my help but if she did want to accept my offer, she could say..

Would you mind?

Would you mind?‘ can follow an offer for help. Now, technically we already know that the person doesn’t mind because they offered in the first place right? But this is a nice, polite way to accept their help. You know how painfully polite we can be in English, right?

Can I help you?
Would you mind?
Not at all, what can I do?

Right? Very polite. You can also use ‘Would you mind?‘ to ask someone for their help before they’ve offered. Right? You can say:

Would you mind helping me with these boxes?
Would you mind subscribing to the mmmEnglish channel? That would be so nice of you!

Notice that the main verb following this expression is always using the -ing form, not the to-infinitive form. Right? It’s incorrect to say “Would you mind to subscribe to my channel?”

Instead, make sure you’re using ‘subscribing’ – Would you mind subscribing to my channel?

So to sound natural, very cool and relaxed when you use this expression, you need to link ‘would’ and ‘you’ together. So when ‘would’ and ‘you’ are linked, again, we hear this sound come in.

Okay? ‘Would’ and ‘you’ sounds like.. Can you hear that schwa sound at the end as well? Because ‘you’ is the unstressed word.,  we reduce it down to the schwa.

So now I want you to practise a little. Try using some of the expressions that you learned during this lesson. Write some sentences in the comments so that I can check them for you and give you some feedback. Now I have to admit that after each video here at mmmEnglish has been up for about a week, it starts to get a bit tricky for me to give feedback on every comment so if you want to practise and you want me to review your sentences then write them now. I’ll definitely have time. Feel free to watch this video again or many times, the more that you listen to these expressions spoken naturally, the easier it will become to recognise them and to use them naturally yourself.

Hey do you need a hand with any other English expressions? If you do, add them to the comments and I will try and make a new lesson about them soon. Who knows? You could even see your suggestion here in a future video. That would be awesome!

Please subscribe to show your support for the channel and then check out one of these lessons here. We’ll keep practising pronunciation and natural English expression in both of these lessons. See you there!

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