Have you been learning English well, and as soon as you think you have it down, you here a phrase that you can’t figure out? This most likely is called a colloquialism. A colloquialism is an informal expression that is more often used in casual conversation than in formal speech or writing. Although the word “colloquialism”t is more complicated than the idea itself, you need to realize that the definitions of the words used in a phrase like these do not actually mean what they sound like. Sometimes they have the feeling of an idiom, but not as colorful.
You could say that a colloquialism for the word colloquialism is an “Americanism”, however, that is similar to saying that we don’t speak English, we speak American. In any case, colloquialisms are a good way to transform your classroom learned English into that of a native-speaker.
Classroom teachings are a very important step in the learning process of English. But to truly step into the next level of speaking like an American, you need to learn and understand our colloquialisms.
”Over the last generation or so writing has become more informal than it ever was before. The area of highly formal writing has shrunk considerably; it is now confined to state papers, articles in learned publications, commencement addresses (and by no means all of those), legal documents, court decisions, and prefaces to dictionaries. Other writing has become quite hospitable to so-called colloquialisms; it has become more informal, more relaxed, more familiar, more casual.”
(Theodore Bernstein, The Careful Writer, Simon & Schuster, 1995)
Needless to say, Americanisms are basically slang words. I could go on all day about all the slang words but that just might be an impossible task. So here is a decent American slang site with a good list and a fun way to learn.
Here are a few examples:
- “Give a ring” means To call someone on the telephone.
- “For Real” means A proclamation of honesty.
- “Hang out” means To casually gather together or spend time with someone in a social manner.
- “Going Dutch” means When each person, usually in a dating scenario, pays for his/her own meal.
- “The cold shoulder” means A metaphor for deliberately ignoring someone.
- “Hyped” means A very excited state.
- “Jack up” means An abrupt increase, typically in the price of something.