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Miniphrase

A Basic or First List of Idioms and  Expressions for Beginners in a New Language

 

Erik V. Gunnemark
(
ed. Amorey Gethin)

 

What follows is a list of the idioms or expressions that are the most useful to know in any new language that you are starting to learn. The list is based on many years of research, but any such list is bound to be subjective to some extent. This particular version of the list was made with translation into Italian in mind; the list will vary slightly according to the language it is intended to be translated into.

 

Alternatives are separated by /.

 

At the very beginning, the only practical way to learn quickly is to translate. But as soon as possible you should try to forget your own language, and connect the expressions in the new language directly to situations in real life. Your own language should disappear from your mind. Avoid the translation mentality at all costs!

 

You may find it useful to study this list in combination with the page on learning vocabulary at www.lingua.org.uk/voc.html , particularly section II, First Steps.

 

ACCIDENT

          There's been a (bad) accident.                 

          Bruno's had a (bad) accident.                   

          It's not serious.                                      

 

AFRAID

          I'm afraid  not/I can't.                             

          Don't be afraid or frightened.                   

 

AGE - See OLD

 

ALL RIGHT

          All right, or O.K.,  I'll come.                    

          That's all right. or That's O.K.

          (after "Sorry!")                                      

          That's all right.

          (= It doesn't matter, don't worry              

           about it.)                                              

          Is that all right? or Is that O.K.?

          (= Is that agreed?)                                  

                    Fine!                                           

          O.K. See you tomorrow.                         

          Are you all right?                                    

 

BED

          I'm sleepy. I'm going to bed.                   

 

BIRTHDAY

          Happy birthday!                                     

                                                                      

 

BOTHER

          (Please) Don't bother.                             

                    It's no bother.                                        

          (I'm) Sorry to bother you (but I

           wonder if you could help me).                

                                                                      

                                                                      

 

BY - See TRANSPORT

 

CALL - See NAME, SAY

 

CALM

          Keep calm!                                            

          Calm down! or Take it easy!                   

 

CAN, COULD - See also MAY, PLEASE, HAVE, HELP & HOW

          Could or Can  I have another cup of

           coffee?                                                 

          Certainly. or Of course. or Sure.              

          Could I have my key please?                    

           Number 22.                                         

          Could you bring me another knife?           

           This one's dirty.                                   

          Can I have five kilos of potatoes              

          Can I smoke here?                                  

                    No, it's not allowed.                      

                    Yes, that's all right.                       

          Can you drive?                                       

                    Yes, I can.                                   

                    No, I can't.                                  

 

CARE - See also LOOK

          Take care of yourself/selves.                   

                                                                      

          I don't care.                                           

 

CAREFUL

          (Be) Careful!                                          

 

CHANGE

          I've changed my mind.                            

          I must change (my clothes).                    

          I'd like to change my room.                     

 

CHEERS

          Cheers! (= toast)                                    

 

CHRISTMAS

          Merry Christmas!                                   

 

CLOCK - See TIME

 

COLD

          I'm cold.                                               

          It's cold. (= weather)                                        

 

COME

          Come here.                                            

          I'm coming!                                           

          Come in.                                               

          Do come in.                                           

          Where do you come from?                      

                    I'm from England. I'm English.      

 

COMPASS, POINTS OF

          It's in  north/south/east/west Italy.           

          They live about 30 kilometres north          

           of Milan.                                              

          We must go south.                                 

 

CONGRATULATIONS

          Congratulations!                                     

 

COST

          What does this cost? or How much is

           this?                                                     

 

COULD - see CAN

 

COURSE, OF

          Yes, of course.                                      

 

DATES

          What's the date (today)?                          

          (on) 1st/2nd/30th January 1999               

                                                                      

                                                                      

          What day will you arrive?                        

                    The eighteenth.                            

          in 1848/2000                                          

                                                                      

          in the nineteen sixties                              

 

DAY - see DATES

 

DEAR

          Dear  Nina/Bruno,...                               

          Dear  Mrs/Miss/Mr  Rossi,...                   

                                                                      

 

DIRECTION - see WAY

 

DISTURB - See BOTHER

 

DO - See also HELP, STOP, & WORK

          Can I do something (for you)?                 

          Don't do that!                                                  

 

EASY - see CALM, SLOWLY

 

ENJOY - See GOOD

 

ENOUGH

          That's enough.                                       

 

EXACTLY

          Exactly!                                                

 

EXCUSE

          Excuse me.

          (= apology or preliminary to request)        

          Excuse me.

          (= request for permission to pass

           or enter - "May I come in?")                   

 

FAR - see HOW FAR

 

FINE - See ALL RIGHT and HOW ARE

 

FUN - See also GOOD

          We had great fun.                                   

 

GIVING something to somebody - see THERE

 

GLAD - See also WELCOME

          I'm glad to hear that.                               

          I'll be glad to (do it).                               

 

GOOD

          Good  morning/day.                                

          Good  afternoon/evening.                        

          Good night.                                           

          Good!                                                   

          Have a good time. or Enjoy yourself.        

          Have a good trip or journey.                    

          Good luck!                                            

 

GOODBYE

          Goodbye.                                              

          Bye-bye. or Cheerio.                               

          All the best.                                           

 

GREETINGS - See HOW DO, HULLO, MEET, REGARDS, W

 

HALF - see TIME

 

HAVE

          Can I have four of  those apples/them?

           or I'll take four of those apples/them.       

                                                                      

 

HAVE DONE

          Where can I have  my bicycle/this

           part  repaired?                                       

                                                                      

 

HEALTH - See HOW ARE

 

HELLO - See also TELEPHONE

          Hullo! or Hi!                                          

 

HEAR

          Sorry, I didn't hear what you said.           

                                                                      

 

HELP

          Help!                                                     

          Could you help me?                                

                    Certainly. or Sure.                        

          Can I help you?                                      

                                                                      

                                                                      

                                                                      

                                                                      

          It can't be helped. or

           There's nothing we can do.                    

 

HERE - see also THERE

          Here  he is/I am!                                    

 

HI!

          Hi!

 

HOME

          Is  he/she  at home?                                

          Let's go home.                                       

 

HOPE

          I hope so./Let's hope so.                         

          I hope not.                                             

 

HOT

          I'm hot.                                                 

          It's hot. (= weather)                               

 

HOW

          (Can you show me) how to do it? or How

           does one do it?                                      

                                                                      

 

HOW ARE

          How are you?                                                  

                    Very well, thank you. And you?     

                                                                      

                    I've got a cold.                             

                    I've got a  headache/sore throat/

                     stomach-ache.                            

                    Not too bad.                                

          I don't feel well.                                     

          He/She  became ill yesterday.                   

 

HOW ARE THINGS

          How are things (going)? or How are

           you getting on?                                     

 

HOW DO

          How do you do. or Pleased to meet you. 

           my name's Tom Scott.                           

                    How do you do. or Pleased to meet

                     you. I'm Luca Rossi.                   

 

HOW FAR

          How far is it to Mantua (from here)?        

 

HOW LONG

          How long does it take (by train)?              

          How long have you been here?                 

                    I've/We've  been here (for) a week.

                                                                      

          How long are you staying here?               

                                                                      

                    Till Monday.                                

 

HOW MUCH - See COST

 

HOW...SAY - See SAY

 

HULLO - See HELLO & TELEPHONE

 

HUNGRY

          Are you  hungry/thirsty.?                        

 

HURRY

          I'm in a hurry.                                                  

          There's no hurry.                                   

          Hurry up!                                              

                                                                      

 

HURT

          It/That  hurts (here).                               

          Have you hurt yourself?                          

                                                                      

          My feet hurt.                                         

 

IDEA

          That's a good idea.                                 

 

ILL - See HOW ARE

 

ISN'T IT?, AREN'T YOU?, HAVEN'T THEY?, etc.

                                                                      

 

JOB See WORK

 

JOURNEY - See GOOD

 

KIND

          That's very kind of you.                          

                                                                      

 

KNOW

          I (don't) know.                                      

          I didn't know that.                                  

 

LATE

          I'm sorry I'm late.                                  

 

LAVATORY - see TOILET

 

LEFT - See also WAY

          Is there any wine left?                             

          There's  nothing/no bread  left.                

 

LET

          Let's  go/have something to eat? or

           Shall we  go/have something  to eat?       

                                                                      

          Let him go. (2nd pers. sing. & plur.)        

          Let go!                                                  

          Let me know when you're ready.             

                                                                      

          Let's see.                                               

 

LIKE - See also CAN, LOVE, WEATHER

          Do you like coffee?                                

                    Yes, I do, but I prefer tea.             

                                                                      

          We don't like it.                                      

          I like you very much.                              

          I'd like a room facing south.                    

                                                                      

          Would you like  some coffee/a beer?        

                                                                      

                    Yes, I'd love  some coffee/a beer.  

                                                                      

          Have you had enough or would you like

           some more?                                         

                                                                      

          Would you like to go for a walk?              

                                                                      

 

LISTEN

          Listen!                                                            

 

LOOK

          You look  well.                                       

          It looks good.                                                  

          He looks tired.                                        

          Look out!                                              

          I'll look after/take care of that. or

           I'll attend to it.                                       

 

LOOK FORWARD

          We're looking forward to seeing

           you.                                                     

          I was so looking forward to her visit.       

                                                                      

 

LOVE

          We'd/I'd  love to come.                           

          Give our love to Nina.                             

          She's/He's  in love (with  Bruno/Nina).      

          make love                                              

 

LUCK

          Good luck!                                            

          What luck!                                            

          What bad luck!                                      

 

MARRIED

          I'm/He's, She's  married (to  Nina/

           Bruno).                                                

 

MATTER

          What's the matter?                                  

                    Oh, nothing to worry about.          

          It doesn't matter.                                    

 

MAY - See also CAN, COULD, EXCUSE, MIND

          May I (put the television on)?                  

                    Of course (please do).                  

                    I'd rather you didn't, if you

                     don't mind.                                 

                                                                      

          May I  come in/come by or pass?            

 

MEAN

          What does  this word/"caldo"  mean?        

                                                                      

          What do you mean (by that)?                   

 

MEET - See also HOW DO, WELCOME

          It was nice meeting you.                         

          When shall we meet?                              

          I'll meet you at the airport.                       

 

MIND - See also BOTHER, MATTER, WORRY

          Never mind. (= Don't bother).                 

          Never mind. (= You'll have forgotten

           all about it tomorrow).                           

          Do you mind  if I smoke/me smoking?     

                    No, not at all. or No, that's

                     all right. Go ahead.                      

 

MISTAKE

          I'm afraid I've made a mistake.                

          I think there's a mistake  here/in               

                                                                      

 

MOMENT - See WAIT

 

MUCH - See COST and Minilex

 

NAME - See also TELEPHONE

          What's your name?                                 

          Could I have your name please?               

          first name/Christian name                        

          surname/family name                              

          My name is Tom Scott.                          

 

NEW YEAR

          Happy New Year!                                   

                                                                      

                                                                      

 

NO - See THANK YOU

 

NOT AT ALL - See also THANK YOU

          Not at all. (= Not in the least.)                  

 

NOTE

          Let me make a note of it.                         

 

NOTHING - see HELP

 

OCCUPIED - see TAKEN

 

O.K. - See ALL RIGHT

 

OLD

          How old is  she/he?                                

                    She's/He's  twenty-five.                

          How old is  she/he/it? (= babies,

           small animals)                                       

 

PAIN - See HOW ARE, HURT

 

PARDON - See HEAR, SORRY

 

PITY

          What a pity!                                           

 

PLEASE - See also CAN, COULD

          Please.                                                            

          Yes please.                                            

 

PLEASED - See HOW DO, MEET, WELCOME

 

POINT _ see WORTH

 

QUICK(LY)! - See also HURRY                         

 

QUIET

          Be quiet!                                                

 

RADIO - See TELEVISION

 

REALLY

          (Oh), really?                                          

 

REGARDS

          Give my regards to  your husband /

           your wife / your parents / Nina.              

                                                                      

                                                                      

 

REMEMBER

          I don't remember (it or that).                   

 

RIGHT - See also WAY

          You are right.                                         

          Is this  right? (= correct)                         

 

SAME

          (Thank you.) The same to you.                

 

SAY - see also SORRY

          Could you please say that again?              

          How do you say "hot" in Italian?              

          What do you call that in Italian?               

          What should I say?                                 

 

SEE

          See you  this evening/tomorrow/soon.      

          It was  nice/good  to see you.                  

          When can I see you again?                      

          I see.                                                    

 

SERIOUS - See ACCIDENT

 

SHALL

          What shall I do?                                     

          Shall I give you a ring?                            

          Shall I open the window?                        

 

SHOW - See also HOW                                    

          Will you show me your photos?               

          Can you show me where it is on my map?

                                                                      

 

SIT

          Please sit down.                                     

 

SLEEP

          Sleep well!                                             

          Did you sleep well?                                 

 

SLOWLY

          Slowly! or Easy!                                    

 

SORRY - See also ALL RIGHT, HEAR

          I'm sorry.                                              

          I'm  so terribly or really very  sorry.         

                    That's all right.                             

          I'm sorry to hear that.                             

          Sorry I'm late.                                                  

          I beg your pardon. (= Sorry)                   

          Sorry? What did you say? or Pardon? or

           I beg your pardon?                                

 

SOUND

          That sounds interesting.                          

          She/He  sounded happy.                          

 

SPEAK

          Do you speak English?                            

                    Only/Yes,  a little.                         

                    I'm afraid not.                                        

          Is there anyone here who speaks

           English?                                               

          Could you speak a bit more slowly?          

                                                                      

          Could I talk  to you/to Nina  for               

           a moment?                                            

                                                                      

 

SPELL

          How do you spell it?                               

 

STOP

          Stop!                                                    

          Stop it!                                                  

 

STUFF

          These are all my things. or This is all

           my stuff.                                              

 

TAKE - see HAVE, HOW LONG

 

TAKEN

          Is this place taken? or Is this seat

           occupied?                                             

                    No, it's free.                                


 

TELEPHONE - see also SHALL

          Hello!                                                    

          Could I speak to  Bruno/Mr. Masi?           

                                                                      

          Who am I speaking to?                           

          This is Bruno Scott speaking.                  

 

TELEVISION & RADIO - See also MAY

          I  saw/heard  it on television/the               

           radio.                                                  

 

THANK YOU

          Thank you (very much).                         

          Thank you very much for your  trouble/

           help.                                                    

                                                                      

                    Not at all. or That's O.K. or

                     Don't mention it.                         

                    You're welcome.                          

          No thank you.                                                  

 

THERE

          There you go. or Here you are.                

                                                                      

 

THERE IS

          Is there a telephone near here?                 

                    Yes, there's one in front of the

                     post office.                                 

                                                                      

 

THINK

          I think so.                                              

          I don't think so.                                      

          What do you think (of it)?                       

 

THIRSTY - see HUNGRY

 

TIME

          What's the time?                                     

                    (It's) six o'clock.                          

          (At) What time  is she coming?/does the

           bus for Milan leave?                               

                                                                      

                     (At) five (o'clock).                      

          It begins at twelve (o'clock).                   

          quarter of an hour                                  

          half an hour                                           

          (at)  a quarter/twenty  to four                  

          (at)  a quarter/seventeen minutes

           past four                                              

                                                                      

          (at) half past four (in the  morning/

           evening).                                              

                                                                      

          It's time  for us to go/we went/

           he went.                                               

          I fear we haven't got time.                       

 

TOILET

          Excuse me, where is the  toilet/

           lavatory?                                             

 

TRANSPORT

          How are you going?                                

                    We're  flying/cycling.                    

          They're coming  by air/by bus/by car/

           by sea/by train/on foot.                          

                                                                      

 

UNDERSTAND

          Do you understand English?                    

                    Yes,/only  a little.                          

                    I'm afraid not.                                        

          I'm sorry, I don't understand (French).     

                                                                      

          Do you understand?                                

          I understand.                                         

 

URGENT

          It's urgent.                                             

 

USE

          That's no use. or It's  no use

           (waiting).                                             

 

WAIT

          Could you wait a moment. or One moment

           please.                                                  

          Let's wait.                                             

 

WAY - See also HOW

          Excuse me, can you tell me the way to

           the station?                                           

                                                                      

                    Straight on.                                  

                    Go down here, and first to the

                     left then second to the right.

                     The station is immediately on

                     your right.                                  

                                                                      

                                                                      

          Which way (should I go)?                       

          Go  that/this  way.                                  

                                                                      

 

          Your suitcase is in the way.                     

 

WEATHER - See also COLD, HOT, WHAT

          What's the weather like?                          

          The weather's bad.                                 

          The weather's good.                               

          It's raining (hard).                                  

          The sun's out or shining.                         

 

WELCOME - See also THANK YOU, THERE

          Welcome (to London)!                            

 

WELL - See HOW ARE

 

WHAT - See also FUN, SAY

          What weather!                                       

          What a wonderful or lovely

           or beautiful day!                                    

          What a waste of time!                             

 

WHERE - See COME

 

WISH

          I wish  she/he  was here.                        

          I wish you would tell me.                        

          I wish I was younger.                             

          I wish I had a car.                                  

          I wish I could go too.                                       

 

WORK expressions - See also WRONG

          What do you do? (= What sort of work

           do you do? What's your job?)                 

          What are you doing now or at

           the moment?                                         

 

WORRY

          Don't worry.                                          

                                                                      

          Don't worry about that.                           

                                                                      

          I'm worried (about my son).                    

 

WORTH

          It's not worth it. or There's

          no point (in doing that).                           

 

WOULD - See LIKE

 

WRONG

          It's wrong.                                            

          He/She is wrong.                                    

          There's something wrong with the

           engine.                                                 

 

YES - See COURSE, PLEASE

 

 

 

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