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Common English Phrases

A list of the most common English phrases ordered by their frequency of use. Normally these phrases have meanings that are more than the sum of their parts, more than their component words would indicate, so they are good to learn even if you know their individual words.

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1 have to
          1. v. Must; need to; to be required to. Indicates obligation.
                I just have to have that shirt;  you have to wear a seat belt
          2. v. (with be) Must (logical conclusion).
                that has to be the postman;  it has to be an electrical fault
2 out of
          1. prep. From the inside to the outside of; having emerged from.
                The audience came out of the theater.
                The cat is out of the bag
          2. prep. Not part of.
                This is out of my area of expertise.
3 a little
          1. adv. To a small extent or degree.
                The door was opened a little.
          2. det. A small amount.
                A little water has spilled.
4 kind of
          1. adv. (idiomatic, colloquial) Slightly; somewhat; sort of.
                I'm getting kind of tired. Could we finish tomorrow?
                That's the right answer, kind of.
5 a lot
          1. n. A large amount.
                I have a lot of things to say.
          2. n. Many things, much.
                A lot depends on whether your parents agree.
          3. adv. (informal) very much; a great deal; to a large extent.
6 a few
          1. det. A small number of; More than two.
          2. pron. A small number of things.
                Regrets, I've had a few, but then again too few to mention.
7 had to
          1. v. simple past tense and past participle of have to
8 a lot of
9 at least
          1. prep. (focus) At the least; at a minimum or lower limit.
                I couldn't count them all, but I think there must have been at least 500 people in attendance.
          2. prep. In any event; anyway.
10 of course
                This type of course does not suit me because the course is too expensive.
          1. adv. Indicates enthusiastic agreement.
                Of course I'll go with you.
          2. adv. Acknowledges the validity of the associated phrase.
                Of course, there will be a few problems along the way.
11 look at
          1. v. To observe or watch (something).
          2. v. To study (something) visually.
          3. v. To consider.
                I looked at the possibility of buying a new car, but my current one still runs great and it's paid off.
12 as if
          1. conj. As though; in a manner suggesting.
                The old man stumbled, as if he were about to fall.
          2. conj. In mimicry of.
                When the teacher's back was turned, the class clown would hold his stomach as if he were ill.
          3. interj. Refers to something that the speaker deems highly unlikely.
13 got to
          1. v. simple past tense of get to
          2. v. (UK) past participle of get to
          3. v. (informal) have to; must
                Sorry, but I got to go.
14 so much
          1. n. A particular amount, often a large or excessive amount.
                How could you eat so much?
                There is only so much you can remember.
          2. n. A demonstrated amount.
                "So much", he replied, sprinkling a small pile of the powder on the table.
15 do it
                You did it! And in record time! Congratulations!
          1. v. (colloquial) To be appealing.
                A green shirt with orange slacks really doesn’t do it for me, I’m afraid.
          2. v. (slang) To have sex.
                He was upstairs doing it with her.
16 no one
          1. pron. Not one person, nobody.
          2. pron. The logical negation of someone.
17 at all
          1. prep. Indicating degree, quantity or frequency greater than zero: to the slightest degree, in any way, somewhat, rather.
18 each other
          1. pron. (reciprocal pronoun) To one another; one to the other; signifies that a verb applies to two or more entities both as subjects and as direct objects:
                Maria and Robert loved each other.
19 most of
20 as well
          1. adv. In addition; also.
                Wearing his hat and coat, he looked outside and decided he should take an umbrella, as well.
          2. adv. To the same effect
                They might as well walk as drive in this traffic.
          3. adv. (South Africa) me too
21 has to
          1. v. third-person singular present indicative of have to
22 and all
          1. Phrase. Including every object, attribute, or process associated with preceding item or series of items.
                He ate the whole fish, bones and all.
          2. Phrase. (idiomatic, informal) Used to suggest certain unstated relevant implications or what has been stated.
                What with you saying he was sick and all, I figured neither of you were coming.
          3. Phrase. (Northern England, Scotland) Used to add emphasis.
23 sort of
          1. adv. (idiomatic, colloquial)  Approximately; in a way; partially; not quite; somewhat.
                It sort of makes sense the way he explains it, but I still don't really understand.
24 get to
          1. v. To reach, arrive at.
                I’ll call you when I get to the railway station.
          2. v. To have an opportunity to or be allowed to (do something desirable or do something that is ironically implied to be desirable).
                How come he gets to be hall monitor? No fair!  On New Year’s Eve I got to stay up late to watch the ball drop on Times Square. I get to clean the toilets today.
          3. v. To affect adversely; to upset or annoy.
25 because of
          1. prep. On account of; due to, for the purpose of
26 how many
          1. det. translation only
                How many times have I told you not to slam the door?
                How many keys we have lost!
                I told him how many days the principal said he skipped school.
          2. pron. unspecified number
27 be able to
          1. v. Can, to have the ability to.
28 see you
          1. Phrase. (informal) see you later
          2. Phrase. Used as a farewell, stating the next time the speaker and interlocutor(s) will see each other
                See you at the weekend!
          3. Phrase. &oth, see, you
29 likely to
30 after all
          1. prep. Anyway, in any case; indicates a statement is true regardless of other considerations; used to reinforce or explain a point.
                After all, they never come home for Christmas.
                Of course he won't give you credit. After all, his first and last concern is his company's profit margin.
          2. prep. In the end, however; used in referring to something that was believed to be the case, but is not; or to an outcome that is not what was expected or predicted.
                They won't be coming home for Christmas after all.
Dictionary entries from Wiktionary