front-page-logo

How to Learn 14+ Casual English Phrases from a Unique Travel Blog You’ll Love

Do you like to laugh?

Do you want to travel the world?

And would you love to learn casual English, so you don’t sound like a textbook?

If you said “yes” to those questions, then I have just the treat for you.

It is a fantastic website that has all three elements—humor, travel and casual English—and it is called The Everywhereist.
 


 
Learn a foreign language with videos

What Is The Everywhereist?

Photo credit: Geraldine DeRuiter

Photo credit: Geraldine DeRuiter

The Everywhereist is a travel blog by Geraldine DeRuiter, created in 2009. And it is an incredible blog you will want to know.

Before we get to Geraldine’s story, let’s take a closer look at the blog’s name: The Everywhereist.

Many English words that end in -ist are nouns for people with a certain profession (job). For example:

  • artist — someone who makes art
  • physicist — someone who studies physics
  • hair stylist — someone who styles hair
  • botanist  someone who studies botany (plants).

So, “everywhereist” is a made-up word for someone who goes everywhere, or travels often.

Geraldine was laid off (fired) from her copywriting job in 2008. It was really bad news, but now she thinks it was probably one of the best things to happen to her.

Geraldine’s husband Rand Fishkin, founder and former CEO of Moz, travels often for work. After Geraldine lost her job, he invited her to come along and travel with him when he had business trips. Eventually, Geraldine created a blog in 2009 to write about her travels with Rand, so they would both remember the trips.

In 2011, after two years and nearly 500 blog posts, The Everywhereist was named one of TIME‘s 25 Best Blogs of 2011. This brought lots of attention and new visitors to the site.

But The Everywhereist is not a normal travel blog. It is pretty special.

In addition to being read by hundreds of thousands of people every month for enjoyment, Geraldine’s blog is also a perfect place to learn casual English. Let me explain why!

Why The Everywhereist Is Perfect for Learning Casual English

  • Casual tone. Geraldine writes as if she were talking to a good friend. In fact, she often writes posts as if they were for her husband Rand. This means they use plenty of slang and casual, spoken phrases.
  • Great grammar. Even though the tone of her writing is informal, Geraldine is an excellent writer with really great grammar. That means that her spelling, punctuation and overall grammar are almost always correct.
  • Pictures. While they are not always gorgeous pictures like you would find on the cover of National Geographic (I told you her travel blog is different!), Geraldine often uses pictures and images in her posts to tell stories. This is really helpful, because it will give you extra context to better understand the situation, and it makes everything even more entertaining.
  • Travel. Since Geraldine does still travel often, you can visit the world just by reading her blog posts!

The Everywhereist is obviously a valuable resource to English learners, but how can you best use it?

How to Use The Everywhereist Blog Posts to Learn Casual English

Before we get started, remember that you can use this blog in a way that is best for your English level.

You do not need to understand every word that is written here.

If you have a lower level of English, try to understand the pictures and captions (words under pictures) or post titles.

If you have a higher level of English, try the more advanced suggestions in this list.

  • Print the post and write on it. Choose a blog post and print it out. Then grab a pen, and write all over it! What should you write? That depends on what you want to practice or learn! You can underline or highlight new words to learn vocabulary. You can label the parts of speech in a sentence or write verb tenses for grammar practice. You can write “lol” (laugh out loud) when you laugh, “?” when you are confused and “+” when you understand clearly—to record your reactions.
  • Make a timeline. Go through the archives (all old posts, organized by month) and the about page to try to make a timeline of main events that have happened in Geraldine’s life. You could also just choose just one year, month or week to draw out, since she has written so much. For beginners, choose a time period and make a timeline of her location (i.e. Where was Geraldine from April to August, 2012?). For more advanced learners, write a short sentence about each event on your timeline.
  • Draw a family tree. Use these family posts to try and draw Geraldine’s family tree. Once you have the names written in the family tree, add any facts you know about each member (Where do they live? How old are they? etc.). Try using different search terms in the site’s search field to find more family posts (i.e. “brother,” “mom,” etc.).
  • Use Google’s site search. If you are learning a new casual phrase, or see one and are not sure what it means, use this trick to see it used in multiple, real-life contexts. Type “site:www.everywhereist.com [phrase here]” into Google and hit search (like this, for the phrase “are you kidding me?” You will get a list of other posts on The Everywhereist that use the same phrase. See if you can understand its meaning based on the various contexts.
  • Find the kissing photos. Geraldine takes tons (lots) of selfies (photos you take of yourself) of herself and Rand kissing (like here and here). Set a timer for 6 minutes, and look for as many kissing photos on her blog as possible. Use the post titles and skim each post to guess if it will have a kissing photo or not. Race a friend if you like competition! When the time is up, go back and read the captions or the sentences before and after each photo that you found.
  • Read a conversation aloud. Since she writes so casually, Geraldine’s posts are perfect speaking practice. Try reading one of her posts out loud a few times by yourself, and then work with a language exchange partner to get the tone and pronunciation just right.
  • Read the comments. With so many blog readers, lots of people leave comments on Geraldine’s posts every day. So after reading a post, scroll down and start reading the comments. These are written by everyday people, so language is usually very casual. There will probably be typos and incorrect grammar, so if you want a challenge, try to find mistakes in the comments!
  • Write a comment. After reading a post and reading some comments, write your own comment on a post. It does not have to be long, but try using a new casual phrase for practice. If you use social media, tweet at @everywhereist and comment on her Facebook posts. Those two sources will give you plenty more casual English to read, as well.

Now that you know how to use the blog on your own, we will get you started with several common, casual English phrases that you will also find on The Everywhereist. Keep in mind that these are all very informal phrases, so be careful not to use them in professional or formal settings.

14 Casual English Phrases You Can Learn from The Everywhereist

1. The most amazing [thing] ever

Example: “When we were last in South Africa, I used the most amazing toilet ever…”
From post: 
“Someone Got Drunk and Then Designed This Bathroom”

To emphasize (point out) that you think something is really, really amazing, you can say, “It’s the most amazing [item] ever.”

You can use this same structure to describe different situations by replacing “most amazing” with any other superlative adjective.

Superlative adjectives usually end in est (i.e. nicest, strangest, loudest).

Adjectives with two or three syllables usually use the words “most” or “least” in the superlative form—just like “amazing” did (i.e. most beautiful, least expensive, most interesting). So here’s the structure:

the + [superlative adjective] + [thing] + ever

You might notice that in the same post, just a few lines down, Geraldine uses a similar structure (but not 100% the same):

“I also used one of the weirdest toilets ever.”

It still means the same thing, that she used a really weird toilet—one of the weirdest toilets she has ever used in her life—instead of a really amazing one. (Have you looked at the toilets yet? Check out the pictures!)

Okay, we will move away from toilet talk now.

2. Honestly, it’s a miracle we…[situation]

Example: “Honestly, it’s a miracle we have any teeth left.
From post: “WTF Weds: Pop Tarts in France”

A “miracle” is a rare and unlikely event that cannot be explained by science, and so they are said to be caused by a supernatural power (a divine god). For example, in Christianity the virgin birth of Jesus is called a miracle. But that is not the meaning used in this phrase.

The other meaning of “miracle” is an extraordinary (amazing) event, thing or accomplishment.

So “it’s a miracle we have any teeth left” means that it is amazing that they still have teeth remaining, after eating so much sugar as children. She can hardly believe it. She is exaggerating (making it seem more important than it actually is) a bit to make it funnier.

In this post, when Geraldine talks about how often they get lost, she says:

“Honestly, if I think about it, it’s a miracle Rand and I end up anywhere. Because so many of our outings are just disastrous.”

So use this phrase to express disbelief, while adding a bit of humor.

3. Utterly blows my mind

Example: “A nine euro box of Apple Jacks, which utterly blows my mind, because I can’t think of a single person I know who buys these in America.”
From post: “WTF Weds: Pop Tarts in France”

We have two great parts to this phrase: “utterly” and “blows my mind.”

If something blows your mind, that means it amazes or shocks you. In this example, the high price (9 euros) of Apple Jacks (an American breakfast cereal) is very shocking to Geraldine, since it is not very popular and costs about $3 in the USA.

“Utterly” is an adverb that means absolutely or completely, and it makes the statement stronger, which also makes it a bit funnier.

4. [Opinion], don’t you think?

Example: “But the skirt is cute, don’t you think?
From post: “WTF Weds: I Just Want a Chicken Suit. Is That So Complicated?”

To casually ask if someone agrees with you, add “don’t you think?” to the end of your phrase. In this example, Geraldine thinks the skirt is cute, and then asks if you think the skirt is cute, too.

You might also hear this phrase with the word “so” at the end, and it means the same thing (i.e. “Don’t you think so?”).

It is a handy phrase, don’t you think?

5. Because + [noun]

Example: “I attempt to be fashionable. Because Milan.
From post: “I Attempt to Be Fashionable. Because Milan.”

This phrase started to be used in casual English on the internet in 2011. You certainly will not find it in your grammar books, because this phrase is grammatically incorrect.

Normally, “because” is followed by an independent clause (a complete phrase with a subject and a verb), like in these examples:

I read The Everywhereist because it’s a funny blog.

Because she’s an excellent writer, I read Geraldine’s blog regularly.

But in this new phrase, you only use a noun after “because.” It is not grammatically correct, but it is funny.

I have to watch “Cosmos” all day. Because science.

My cousin just got an adorable new puppy. Because puppies.

Once again, this is used to be funny, often when the reasoning behind something is very obvious.

In the case of the example from the blog above, it is very well known that people dress really well in Milan. That is why Geraldine tried to be fashionable. Instead of explaining that in complete sentences, she said “Because Milan.”

6. Kinda

Example: “I’m kinda hungry”
From post: “A Conversation with Myself, Regarding Cherries”

“Kinda” is the informal way to write and say “kind of,” which is an already informal way to say “sort of,” “somewhat” or “rather.”

In the example above, Geraldine is not completely hungry, just somewhat hungry: kinda hungry.

Similarly, “sort of” is shortened to “sorta” in casual conversation. (Be careful with word order when you get to #12 and #13!)

7. Kill me now

Example: “’Baby, you okay?’ Rand asked from the doorway of the bathroom. ‘Kill me,’ I whispered. ‘Kill me now.’
From post: “The Revenge of Date Night”

Geraldine does not actually want Rand (or anyone!) to kill her when she says “kill me now.” It is an expression used when you feel really terrible (she was very sick), or are very embarrassed. So when you are in a very unwanted situation that you would like to escape from, you might say this phrase.

8. The cutest person on the face of the planet

Example: “I spent the weekend in Los Angeles, visiting my wee little nephew, who is, for those of you playing along at home, the cutest person on the face of the planet…”
From post: “Dayquil Induced Ramblngs”

Geraldine uses this phrase to describe her little nephew, saying that he’s extremely cute. To be the cutest person “on the face of the planet” means you are the cutest person in the world. The cutest person ever! You could also say “the cutest person on the face of the earth.”

And just like in #1, you can replace “cutest” with any superlative adjective. For example:

My puppy is the happiest dog on the face of the planet.

This hamburger is the best hamburger on the face of the planet.

9. Note to self:

Example: “…biker luau. (Note to self: make this the theme for Rand’s next b-day party. Forget to inform him about it beforehand.)”
From post: “WTF Weds: I Just Want a Chicken Suit. Is That So Complicated?”

This phrase is used for humor, and is followed by a colon (:) and then something you want to tell yourself or remember. It is usually not serious, and is used to make fun of yourself or something else.

In the example above, Geraldine is not actually going to throw a party for Rand’s next birthday with a biker luau theme. (A “luau” is a Hawaiian party with grass skirts and “leis,” Hawaiian flower necklaces. “Biker” is referring to people who ride motorcycles and wear black leather.) As you can imagine, this would be a weird and crazy theme for a party!

So, she says it to make fun of the ridiculous skirts shown just above in the post, which remind her of how bizarre it is to combine biker and luau together.

Here are several more examples of “note to self.”

10. Pretty much

Example: “Um, so this is pretty much the greatest news story, ever:”
From post:
 “The Week: March 29, 2013”

“Pretty much” is a casual synonym for “basically.”

For humor, it can be used before a phrase that is not true, like above. She does not mean it is the greatest news story in the entire world, but uses that combination of words to mean that it is funny.

Here’s another example, where Geraldine talks about her nephew again:

“He’s pretty much the best human who’s ever existed in the history of the universe forever and ever and ever and he smells like vanilla. I really like him.”

He is not really the best human in the entire history of the universe (sorry, Geraldine!), so she uses “pretty much” to show she is not being serious.

The phrase can also be used to answer questions when you are not 100% sure the answer is yes, but it probably is. It is stronger than answering “more or less.” For example:

A: So you want to study abroad instead of buying a car?

B: Pretty much.

11. For the umpteenth time

Example: “It might be that last week, Rand and I zipped back to Europe, and went to Dublin for the second time in six months, and then to London for the umpteenth time since I started this blog.”
From post: “How a Flight Attendant Restored My Faith in Humanity”

“For the umpteenth time” is used when you have done something a large number of times. We can see that Rand and Geraldine had gone to Dublin for their second time in a six-month period. Then, she uses “umpteenth” to mean they have been to London a really large number of times. Many, many times.

It tells us in a funny, exaggerated way that they go to London often.

The end of “umpteenth” looks like other ordinal numbers, i.e. “thirteenth (13th), fourteenth (14th), fifteenth (15th), etc., but it does not stand for a real number.

12. Of sorts

Example: “I have a confession of sorts.”
From post: “How a Flight Attendant Restored My Faith in Humanity”

These two little words come after a noun. “Of sorts” is used to mean that the noun you are describing is not actually the noun you used—however, it is similar to the noun you used.

Let me explain that with our example above. 

It means that Geraldine does not have a real confession, but maybe something that slightly resembles a confession. Here is another example:

“Sunday was a landmark of sorts… Sunday was the four-month anniversary of my surgery.”

So, Sunday was not actually a landmark (an important date, place or event). No one usually celebrates 4 months after anything (one year after—an anniversary—is much more common), which is why she added “of sorts” to the end.

Do not confuse this phrase with “all sorts of,” which we will look at next.

13. All sorts of

Example: “It was filled with all sorts of goodies and snacks, and a note wishing us a happy anniversary.”
From post: 
“Holy Crap, We’re Lucky (Ruminations on a Care Package)” 

“All sorts of” simply means “many kinds of” or “many types of.” It means that there is a variety of something.

In our example, Rand and Geraldine received many different kinds of goodies (treats) and snacks in their gift box.

14. How on earth…?

Example: “I grabbed one of the many tissue boxes in the cabinet, intending to bring it downstairs. But I just could not bring myself to do it, because if I did, how on earth would Rand know how upset I was?”
From post: “I Torment My Husband by Eyebombing All His Stuff”

This question is used when you do not believe something happened, and you want to know how it was possible.

Asking “How on earth…?” means “How does this possibly work?” or “How can this be true?”

So, I could ask: How on earth does Geraldine keep on writing such fantastic posts?

How in the world…?” and “How the heck…?” are synonyms that also casually express the same doubt and wonder.

 

Start listening for these 14 phrases the next time you watch TV or chat with your language exchange partner. Soon you will be using them on your own, without thinking!

And do not forget that there are so many more casual phrases for you to enjoy in Geraldine’s posts, too. I’m serious! In fact, here are five more to get you exploring on your own:

  • “No, seriously.”
  • “I get that…”
  • “My life rules.”
  • “Funny thing about…”
  • “Who in their right mind…?”

Use my search trick to find examples of the phrases. I am not sure what you will enjoy more, laughing while reading Geraldine’s posts or being able to speak casually, just like natives.

Luckily, you don’t have to choose—you can enjoy them both.


Rebecca Thering is a writer, editor and English teacher who has lived abroad in Spain, South Korea and France. She helps English learners improve their language skills with a growth mindset at English with Rebe.

If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn English with real-world videos.

Experience English immersion online!

Comments are closed.