I got the inspiration to write this English phrase compilation from a guy called Guillermo, and here’s the comment he left on my blog a while back:
So basically he wants to learn useful English phrases to be used around the house describing common everyday concepts such as eating, playing, tidying up, going to bed and others.
And come to think of it, pretty much all English phrases I’ve published on this blog focus either on your social life such as the small talk phrases or your professional life such as these industry specific phrases.
That’s why I decided to compile a bunch of useful English phrases you can use at home when speaking with your own kinds in order to improve your English – just like Guillermo does – or when there’s other English speaking kids around.
Speaking of which, I can tell you based on my own experience that your English may be quite advanced, but you may still find yourself struggling to speak with little children using simple language ❗
I clearly remember how I came to Ireland all those years ago and my daughters started attending the local school.
I was in the same situation when I had to help them with their homework or speak with other kids at birthday parties, for example, and I realized that my English was lacking simple phraseology that native speakers use in daily situations at home!
So, without further ado, let’s start listing commonly used simple English expressions you’ll be able to use at home! 😉
Put out the bins (British); take out the trash (American) – this is how you tell your child (or your partner) to take out the trash can (American) or a waste bin (British) and leave it on the street for collection the next day: “Can you take out the trash tonight?”
Can you please do the dishes? – want to ask someone to wash the dirty dishes and cutlery? This is the right expression to use in such a situation!
Do the laundry – this is an English expression describing the process of putting dirty clothing into the washing machine: “Can you do the laundry please? I’ll do the dishes tonight!”
Tidy up you room – if you want your child to organize their room, this is how you say it: “Could you tidy up your room, please?”
Clean it up – quite a self-explanatory phrase, but still a lot of foreigners might get it wrong! So basically when you’re referring to getting something cleaned up – especially if there’s a spillage of water or some other liquid – this is how you put it: “Jonny, your little sister just spilled her drink, can you clean it up?”
Make the bed – this expression will come in handy for you when asking your kid to make their bed presentable by straightening the blanket and covering it with a bed-cover: “Sweetie, can you make your bed before we leave?”
Get dressed – another very simple yet useful English phrase to be used around the house quite often: “Honey, I think it’s time to get dressed – we have to go in an hour!”
Walk the dog – did you get a puppy for your kid? Well, I guess you’ll have to remind them of walking him every day by saying something along the lines of: “Did you walk the dog yet? It’s getting late!”
Did you lock the door? – this is a really self-explanatory phrase but as you may already know, many of us, foreigners, find it hard to say the simplest things in English because of various fluency issues!
When’s your homework due? – this is something you’d ask your child in order to check on the deadline for a specific homework. Obviously, if they respond with something like: “Well, it’s due tomorrow…”, you’d be telling them to start doing it immediately!
You have to be ready for school in… minutes! – another simple phrase, but I know only too well that sometimes we may be struggling to say very simple things. Specifically, it’s the “to be ready for” part that you should pay the greatest attention to, so make sure to repeat it and memorize it well!
You’re off school for a week – the collocation “off school” might be another problem area for you as a foreign English speaker, so make sure to memorize it. And here’s a practical application of this phrase: “Isn’t it great Jenny you don’t have to get up early in the morning? You’re off school for a week!”
What’s for dinner? – this is how you ask the question. You see, the thing is that in real life we sometimes tend to overthink such simple matters and eventually we may get it wrong: “What did you make… eh… cook… as a dinner… eh… for dinner…” So, make sure to memorize the simple phrase “What’s for dinner?” and you’ll never have those awkward moments again!
Who’s cooking tonight? – if you and your spouse are sharing the cooking task, this is the question you put to your better half to find out who’s cooking tonight.
Put the kettle on! – let me remind you once more that as a foreigner, you may have the tendency to overthink very simple matters, and the simple question of putting the kettle on (either an actual metal kettle or the electric one – it describes both types!) might pose certain difficulties because you probably want to describe the entire process: “Please can you pour water into the kettle and turn it on?” Needless to say, the more words you’re saying, the bigger the risk you’re going to get something wrong, so memorize the simple phrase “Put the kettle on!” and use it!
Take a few more bites! – this is something you’d tell your child if they’ve had very little to eat: “Please Harry, just take a few more bites and then you’re free to go!”
Close your eyes and count till ten! – this is what you tell your kids when you’re playing “hide and seek” with them.
Want a piggyback ride? – let’s say, for argument’s sake, your daughter loves when you’re running around the house with her up on your back. Well, guess what? It’s called “piggyback” in English, and here’s how you propose the activity to your child: “Want a piggyback ride?”
Go easy on him (her) – imagine two children playing and one of them getting a bit physical with the other. It’s not really a fight situation but you’re still a bit concerned that someone might get hurt – so this is how you tell the child to calm down a bit and not be so aggressive.
That’s my boy (girl)! – this is how you praise your child for having done a great job or having shown good results in some sports game.
Common, you can do it! – are you not so sure how to encourage your child during a competition? Well, learn this phrase and use it!
You beat me again! – and this is what you’d say when your child has beaten you in some game. Well, we all know only too well that sometimes we allow our kids to beat us in order to make them feel good about themselves, so this phrase will definitely come in handy for you in such situations.
Gotcha! – are you chasing your kids around pretending to be the Big Bad Wolf? Or maybe you’re just playing “hide and seek”? Then this is the typical exclamation you can use when catch or find someone.
It’s time to brush your teeth! – is it getting too late and it’s time for the kids to get ready for the bed? This phrase is typically used to tell them to go to the bathroom and start brushing their teeth.
Let me tuck you in! – “tucking in” is the process of putting the blanket edges in between the child’s body and the bed thus “wrapping” them tightly and making sure they feel safe and sound. And this is how you tell your child you’re going to do it: “Let me tuck you in!”
Sleep tight! – just another version of “Sleep well!”
Sleep in – “sleeping in” means sleeping longer than usually, typically it’s understood you sleep till you wake up without an alarm. Let’s say, your kid doesn’t have to get up early the following morning, so this is what you might say: “Honey, you can sleep in tomorrow, the school is off for a few days because of the bad weather!”
Time to get up! – your daughter or son will hate you for saying this, but what other option have you got? If they have to get up for school or a trip, it just has to be said!
Rise and shine! – this is an English idiomatic expression, and you use it when waking up someone in the morning. The meaning of this phrase is “wake up and feel great!”
Sleep well? – and this is how you ask the question “Did you sleep well?” in conversational English. Basically you just drop the first two words and make it shorter.
Are you warm enough? – this is what my granny always used to ask me, and it’s something you can also ask your child when you’re a bit worried if they’re dressed appropriately.
Are you hurt? – if your child, or anyone else for that matter, seems in distress and you want to make sure they haven’t gotten themselves injured, this is the right question to ask.
Where are you hurt? – this question means “Which body part is hurting?”
Where did you get hurt? – and this question means “Where were you when you got hurt?”
Be nice to your (mom, sister, etc.) – if you’re witnessing a child behaving a bit inappropriately towards someone, this is the remark you may want to use.
Where are your manners? – imagine your teenage son burping or indeed – farting – at the dinner table, for example. Now, this kind of behavior would merit a response such as: “Where are your manners?”
Don’t do that, it’s not nice! – this is what’s typically said to small children when you don’t want them to do something that’s not socially acceptable.
How dare you speak to me like that?! – if your child is verbally abusive towards you, you may be left with no other option but to say such a thing. Yes, we should stay calm on all occasions, but sometimes we also lose our cool, so this phrase will come in handy in such situations.
Hurry up! – this is a very simple way of telling someone to make it quicker.
Get ready! – “get ready” is a typical English collocation and is used to prompt the other person to ready themselves for something. It’s simple enough, but still worth learning because some of us may find it hard to use the right verb with the word “ready.”
Although you should not exaggerate with compliments, some compliment in the right occasion is fine.
Good job! – you can tell this to your child when he gets a good grade or made something go.
You’re doing this well! – while your child is performing a new task.
Wow! That’s a huge leap forward! – when your child improved a lot in a class or in a task
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Now, obviously this just barely scratches the surface when it comes to English used around the house and with kids, but I hope you’ll find this phrase-list handy!
P.S. Are you serious about your spoken English improvement? Check out my English Harmony System HERE!