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 Phrase 1 – Johnny Come Lately

how to speak EnglishDefinition: A late starter or a newcomer to a particular activity, fad or location.

Example: It seems a bit petty that some of the workers resent a Johnny come lately who does a better job than they do.

Origin: The name “Johnny” is used as a generic term for an individual. This idiom was developed in 19th-century America but the other countries, like the UK, have their own version of the idiom such as “Johnny Newcome” and “Johnny Raw.”


How to Speak English Phrase 2 – Shrinking Violet

Definition: A person who is exaggeratedly shy or self-effacing.

Example: It’s hard to get an opinion out of her since she is a self-confessed shrinking violet.

Origin: Violets are pretty flowers with vibrant hues and look anything but shy. However, the term was coined in the UK before these violet plants were bred into the ones people know today.  In fact, the violet back then used to be a rather reclusive and understated flower that has none of the flare that it has today. The term was never associated with a specific person named Violet.  how to speak English


How to Speak English Phrase 3 – Hit the Road, Jack

how to speak EnglishDefinition: This idiom means to get ready to depart for a journey, or to leave for home.  

Example: We’ve been in this town long enough and it is time to hit the road, Jack.

Origin: This idiom can also be used as just “hit the road” and it had rather unsanitary origins. It refers way back to a time when horses were used to get around and is used to refer to the droppings they left behind. It also used to be a way to let someone know he was unwelcome and should leave at that instant.

How to Speak English name phrases series

Accent Pros has a continuing series on how to speak English , 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