I love teaching the real phone conversations I have with my friends because it’s the REAL English that you probably need to learn. I have many friends from different countries and most of their English is not bad, but they know it needs a lot of work too. They always tell me they improve the fastest when I teach them the stuff I say to my friends because they often have trouble understanding my phone conversations with my native speaking friends. I’ll give you a real one here and talk about the important meanings. I hope it helps and I’d love to know what you think. To give you a little bit of background information, I call my friend Darren “Dog” as a fun nickname. I’m Andrew. Ok, here we go:
Andrew: Yo, what’s going on Dog?
Darren: I just got off work. It was brutal. My boss was on my case the whole day about a bunch of stupid stuff. Anyway, I’m starving. You wanna grab something to eat?
Andrew: I would but I just finished a huge meal.
Darren: Ok, do you mind if I pop by later? I want to pick up that book I left at your place.
This was an exact conversation I had. All native speakers talk like that to each other and I want to point out some of the small details to help bring your English to a higher level.
Yo: In phone calls between close friends, we often start with “yo” instead of the more formal “hello”. In 2011, it’s actually weird for a friend to say “hello” to another friend. We only answer the phone with “hello” when we don’t know who is calling. In most cases, we know if a close friend is calling because we are using our cell phones and can see their number.
What’s going on? This is a very common way to ask a close friend something like, “what are you doing now?”
Got off work: Instead of saying “I just finished work” we usually say “I just got off work”. Both sayings are correct but “got off” is much more natural and sounds like a native speaker.
Brutal: “Brutal” is a common way of saying “really bad” or “really terrible”. A couple example sentences are:
I have a brutal headache.
I don’t want to eat at that restaurant. The food there is brutal!
On my case: If your boss is “on your case” it means that he is giving you a lot of pressure and keeps telling you what to do. You feel like you can’t relax at all if your boss is on your case.
A bunch: In spoken English, saying “a bunch” is slang for meaning, “a lot”. Here are a couple of common examples:
There are a bunch of great French restaurants in this city.
I’m really busy today. I’ve got a bunch of stuff I need to do.
I’m starving: This is a very common way of saying “I’m very hungry”.
Grab: In spoken English, we often ask someone if they want to “grab something to eat“.
“Do you want to grab something to eat?” is much more common between native speakers than “Would you like to go and eat something together?”
I would but…: If you would like to do something but you have some reason or excuse for not doing it, you can say, “I would but…” An example is:
A: Would you like to go and see that new movie this weekend?
B: I would but I already saw it last weekend with my girlfriend.
It is a polite way to say “no”.
Pop by: A slang way of saying that you are going to someone else’s house is to say you will “pop by“. Here’s an example sentence you can ask a friend:
Are you still going to pop by tonight after work?
Your place: In casual spoken English, you can refer to someone’s house or apartment as their “place“. It’s very common. Here is an example question:
I really like your new place. How much is the rent?