English phrases for everyday situations

When you are late

Phrases you can use when you are late or can’t come at all.

  • Sorry I’m late. I missed the bus.
  • Sorry for the delay.
  • Sorry to keep you waiting.
  • I’m sorry, I couldn’t make it on Monday.
  • I’m sorry, I couldn’t make it on time.
  • I’m sorry, I’m a little late.

Asking someone to wait

Here are a few phrases you can use to ask someone to wait.

  • Please wait.
  • Please hold on.
  • Just wait.
  • Hang on.
  • Hold on a minute, please.
  • Wait a minute / second. I’ll be right back.
  • Just a minute / moment / second.
  • Just a minute. I’m coming.

Other useful phrases

Let me see.

This expression is used when you want some time to think before you can do something.

  • ‘Have you got any letters for me?’ ‘Let me see.
  • ‘How much are you selling it for?’ ‘Well, let me see.

Bear with me/us

This is a polite way of asking someone to wait while you do something.

  • Bear with me until I finish this report.

Asking someone to keep quiet

Phrases you can use to ask someone to keep quiet.

  • Please be quiet.
  • Will you please keep quiet? (Not very polite)
  • Shut up! (Quite rude)
  • Silence, please.

Congratulating someone

Here are a few phrases you can use to congratulate somebody.

  • Congratulations!
  • Congratulations on your new job!
  • Congratulations on the birth of your daughter!
  • You’ve received a promotion? Congratulations!

People sometimes say Congrats! instead of Congratulations!

  • You’ve got that job? Congrats!

To show that you think someone has done something very well, you can use the following expressions.

  • Good job! You’ve made us proud.
  • Well done, Rahul!
  • ‘Look. I’ve solved this puzzle.’ ‘Well done!’

Expressing sympathy

Phrases you can use to express your sympathy

The most common way to show that you are sad for someone is to use the phrase I’m sorry to hear that…

  • I’m sorry to hear that you’ve lost your job.
  • I’m sorry to hear that you mother is ill.
  • I’m sorry to hear that your car has been stolen.
  • I’m sorry to hear that you’ve failed your test.
  • I’m sorry to hear that you had an accident.
  • I’m sorry to hear that you have broken up with James.

What a pity! / What a shame!        

The expressions What a pity! and What a shame! are used to say that something is too bad.

It’s a shame…

This phrase is used to express your disappointment at something bad that has happened.

  • It’s a shame that you have lost your job.
  • It’s a shame that you  didn’t pass the test.
  • It’s a shame that we lost the match.
  • It’s shame that she failed the test.
  • It’s a shame that you can’t help me.
  • It’s a shame that she is not here today.
  • It’s a shame that you have to work three jobs in a day.
  • It’s a shame that she doesn’t know how to behave.

Making suggestions

One way of telling people what they should do is to use the phrase I think you should…

  • I think you should consult a doctor.
  • I think you should get that car repaired.
  • I think you should accept that job.
  • I think you should talk to her.

To make a more direct suggestion, you can use You should…

  • You should mend your ways.
  • You should stop smoking.

To suggest what someone else can do, use the phrase You could…

  • You could talk to him.
  • You could ask him to help you.
  • ‘What shall I do tomorrow?’ ‘Well, you could go for a drive.’
  • When you’re in Mumbai, you could go and see Malu.

If you want to do something, you can say Let’s …

  • Let’s go for a walk, shall we?
  • Let’s buy something to eat. I’m starved!
  • Let’s wait for some more time.
  • Let’s buy some flowers for her.

If you want to make a suggestion and see if other people agree with you, use Shall we…

  • Shall we buy something to eat?
  • Shall we go for a walk?
  • Shall we ask Jane if she wants to come with us?
  • Shall we buy a new car?

Another very common way of making suggestions is to use the phrase How about…?

  • How about buying something to eat?
  • How about watching a film?
  • How about taking a short break?
  • How about sending him a message?
  • How about asking his help?
  • How about going for a drive?

Note that a verb used after How about…? should be in the –ing form.

Encouraging someone

We can use the expression Hurry up! to encourage someone to do something more quickly.

  • Hurry up! They’re all waiting for us.
  • Hurry up! We’re already late.
  • Hurry up! We’ve got to be there in less than twenty minutes.

The expression Come on! is also used to encourage someone to do something.

  • Come on! We’ll be late.
  • Come on! We’re going to be late for the film.
  • Come on, Megha, take a bite.

In a very informal style, we use the expression Go for it! to encourage someone to do something.

  • ‘I’m going to try my luck in the stock market.’ ‘Go for it!’
  • ‘I’m going to apply for that job.’ ‘Go for it!’
  • I’m going to buy that flat.’ ‘Go for it!’


Hi, I am Manjusha. This is my blog where I give English grammar lessons and worksheets. You may also want to check out my other blogs IELTS Practice and NCERT Guides

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