How to Speak English Tips

Many of our clients at Accent Pros, who are interested in learning how to speak English with an American accent, have advanced degrees and have excellent command of the English language.Given the evolving state of the English language; however, they may not understand informal slang and phrases that are regularly used in the workplace, and on various popular social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. Occasionally our clients will understand the meaning of an idiom, but use it in an improper context, which could potentially have embarrassing consequences when learning how to speak English. In our continuing efforts to feature only the most relevant and practical terms when helping you on your accent reduction goals, here are three commonly used American name phrases that have become standard shorthand in the workplace.

How to Speak English Name Phrase 1 – Jack of All Trades

how to speak EnglishDefinition: A man who has the ability to do many things.

Example: Alex isn’t just a good carpenter; he also works on plumbing and electricity. That’s why we go for him for help because he’s a jack of all trades.

Origin: “Jack” isn’t used to refer to a particular person in this case but is used as a reference to how a lot of trades had “Jacks” in them like steeplejacks and lumberjacks. Medieval definitions of “Jack” also mean being a man of the common people, hence the references to someone having many different skills and trades.


How to Speak English Name Phrase 2 – For Pete’s Sake

Definition: Being annoyed, surprised, or frustrated over something.

Example: Oh for Pete’s sake! How much more clothes do you need before you get tired and stop shopping?!

Origin: This idiom has biblical origins, and is a more polite version of “for Christ’s sake.” This kind of phrase is called a “minced oath” where a less offensive word is substituted for another one—in this case it is “Christ” since there are those who do not like using Christ’s name for such exclamations. how to speak English



How to Speak English Name Phrase 3 – Keeping up with the Johnsons/Keeping up with the Joneses

Definition: Striving to match your neighbor’s social standing or ability to spend on things.

Example: My sister hates how our brother is always keeping up with the Joneses’ son especially when it comes to clothes and game accessories!

how to speak EnglishOrigin: This is a 20th century American phrase which was born in the Keep Up With The Joneses comic strip published on the New York Globe. The phrase “the Joneses” or at other times “the Johnsons” does not refer to any family in particular and is used as a generic term used to refer to “the neighbors” who a person is striving hard to compete with.


How to Speak English name phrases series

Accent Pros has a continuing series on how to speak English tips, including common English phrases and American idioms.  Be sure to check out other blog posts to find your favorites.  Ready for a complimentary accent reduction tutorial or a free accent screening?  Check out our on-line accent reduction courses  available to students with accent reduction goals all over the world. For consistent access to our idioms series and other how to speak English tips Like us on Facebook or Follow us on Twitter