Have you ever been in this situation:
You’re speaking to someone, and you hear yourself saying the same thing again and again?
Like when someone’s showing you their new flat, and all you can say is “That’s great!” again and again and again …
Or you’re in a conversation about films, and you hear yourself saying “I like that film,” “I like that one,” “I like it,” “I like …”
Talking about what you like, what you don’t like, what you think and what you want is something you do all the time as a human.
We need lots of different ways to talk about these things so we don’t repeat ourselves all the time — and so that we don’t sound like zombie robots.
Because no one likes zombie robots, right?
So today, let’s check out:
- Different ways to say “I want”
- Different ways to say “I like”
- Different ways to say “I don’t like”
- Different ways to say “I think”
- Different ways to say “That’s not good”
- Different ways to say “That’s good”
1. Different ways to say “I want”
We all know from school that “I want” can be a little too direct and impolite in some situations, and that “I’d like…” or “Could I have …” might be better.
As my mum used to tell us when we were kids: “‘I want’ never gets.”
She also used to say “hot burn hurt” to stop us touching hot kitchen stuff. I still kind of like that phrase.
Anyway — there are lots of different phrases for talking about what we want:
I could really do with …
This phrase is almost like “I need.”
It’s like saying “I know what could really fix this situation!”
So you could say things like:
“I could really do with a coffee right now.”
“We can’t get there in time just by walking. We could really do with a bike or something.”
We can also use it when we think something needs some work:
“Those trousers could really do with a wash! Weren’t they white before?”
I feel like …
When I was learning Turkish, I discovered the phrase “canım istiyor,” which can translate as “my soul wants it.”
That’s exactly what this phrase means — a spontaneous desire for something.
“I feel like a nap.”
“I feel like going to the beach today.”
I’m in the mood for …
This one is more light and fun.
You know those situations when you’re with lots of people, and you’re all trying to decide what to do this evening, and everyone has different ideas.
You could say something like:
“I’m in the mood for bowling.”
You’re explaining what you want to do but without too much pressure.
So you can be in the mood for either a thing:
“I’m in the mood for a sandwich.”
Or an action:
“I’m in the mood for dancing.”
Like in this song.
I really fancy …
This is similar to “I feel like,” but this phrase is mostly used in the UK.
It’s not particularly strong. It’s like saying “Yeah — I definitely want this, but it’s fine if I don’t get it. But if I do get it, that would be really, really awesome!”
“I really fancy a good book and a cup of tea about now.”
I’d kill for …
If “I could really do with …” means “I need,” then “I’d kill for …” means “I really, really, really need this, and I must have it under any circumstances!”
“I’m starving. I’d kill for a plate of sushi.”
I’m dying for …
This one is pretty much the same as “I’d kill for…” It’s pretty desperate.
I mean, of course it’s desperate — there’s death in it!
You often hear people using both these phrases for things they’re addicted to:
“I’m dying for a coffee right now.”
I’m up for …
This one is very light. It basically means “Yeah — if we decide to do that, I’d be perfectly happy.”
It’s a good way of showing that you’re open to something, without committing to it.
You can be “up for” a thing:
“I’m up for a game of chess. You?”
Or an action:
“I’m up for going paintballing again this weekend. What do you think?”
2. Different ways to say “I like”
Sometimes we need to talk about how we like something, but we don’t just want to keep saying “I like it,” “I like it,” “I like it.”
And what about when there’s something you really like? It gets a bit boring to say “I really, really like it” all the time.
I’m really into …
This is a little informal. It also shows dedication.
So you can say:
“I’m really into 1970s Japanese underground noise music.”
… because that takes a lot of dedication.
But it’s a little strange to say something like “
I’m really into this vegetable curry. It’s delicious.”
You can also be into an action:
“He’s weird. Recently he’s been into hiding behind doors and jumping out at people to surprise them.”
I’m a big fan of …
Like “I’m into,” use this one to talk about something you’ve liked for a period of time. It can range from something big, like Star Wars, to something more everyday, like using a shaving brush to clean your laptop.
You can be a big fan of a person or thing:
“I’m a big fan of David Crystal.”
Or an action:
“Toby? Yeah … he’s OK. He’s a big fan of skateboarding. Is that a good thing?”
I’m fond of …
This means “I like” but with a little extra emotion.
Does something have a special place in your heart? Then this is the phrase to use!
We’re often fond of people:
“Cool! Toby’s coming! I’m quite fond of him!”
But we can be fond of things, too:
“I didn’t like it at first, but I’m fond of hot yoga now.”
And we can be fond of actions:
“He’s quite fond of waking up early and meditating for an hour.”
Notice that we often use “quite” with this phrase — at least I do.
I’m big on …
Similar to “I’m into” and “I’m a fan of”: use it for something you’ve got experience with.
You can be big on a thing:
“Japanese underground noise music? Oh yeah — I’m big on that.”
Or an action:
“As a company, they’re really big on putting small family shops out of business.”
3. Different ways to say “I don’t like”
While I was researching this post, I discovered that there are a lot more ways to talk about negative things than positive things.
This makes sense, right?
I mean, it’s fine to be direct if you’re being positive, but you might want to be more indirect (and more polite) when you’re talking about negative things — like when you don’t like something.
I’m not fond of …
No special place in your heart for this!
Like with “I’m fond of,” we can use this for people, things or actions.
“Don’t invite Clancy. Jasmine’s not very fond of him.”
I’m not a big fan of …
This sounds quite soft, right? I mean, there are lots of things we’re not big fans of. In fact — almost everything.
However, when people use this phrase, what they often mean is “I hate this. Please don’t make me do this.”
“I’m not a big fan of Star Trek.”
“I’m not such a big fan of playing Tetris.”
I’m not really into …
This is the same as “I’m not a big fan of.” Use it to reject something politely.
“Let’s go somewhere else. Most of the kids aren’t really into this.”
I’m not big on …
Again — you can use this phrase to soften your rejection of something.
“Sorry — I’m not really big on insect museums. Can we do something else?”
I’m not crazy about …
You’re not crazy about it? Great! Then let’s stop!
“Sorry. I’m not crazy about this idea. What about chess instead?”
“Then she told me that she wasn’t crazy about hippo wrestling! I mean — what’s wrong with hippo wrestling?”
It’s not for me.
I like this one.
If you want to tell your excitable cousin that the swimming-with-sharks holiday in Florida is a terrible idea, you can say this.
It puts the focus on you, not on the terrible idea, so she won’t be offended.
Although that might not matter too much if she really does decide to take that holiday. She’ll have other things to worry about.
“Sorry. I’m going to pass on your offer — mountain trekking holidays are just not for me.”
I’m not much of a … person.
This is the same as “It’s not for me.”
We often use it with the word “people” to describe shy people:
“Yeah — you won’t see him out much. He’s not much of a people person.“
But we can use it with almost any kind of activity:
“Me? No, I’m not really much of a cinema person.”
“Mike won’t want to come. He’s not much of a camping person — not since what happened at Beanfield.”
It’s not my thing.
This is like “It’s not for me.”
You can also make it even softer by saying “It’s not really my thing.”
It can be used with “it” if the context is clear:
“Wanna come to the reggae gig?”
“Nah — it’s not really my thing.”
Or just change the subject if the context isn’t that clear:
“These ideas are all great. But doing anything outside isn’t my thing.”
I can’t stand …
But sometimes you just want to be direct, right?
So use this one!
It basically means “I hate it!”
You can use it with things:
“I can’t stand his laugh.”
“Ha ha! Yeah, I’m not surprised she said that! She can’t stand dancing with people!”
4. Different ways to say “I think”
We all love expressing our ideas!
But of course we need to respect other people’s ideas, and it’s probably smart to avoid seeming aggressive. Especially if you’re talking to Henry.
I reckon …
This is a relaxed, informal way of saying “I think.”
We use it in the same way as “I think.”
So it’s usually at the beginning of a sentence:
“I reckon if we go that way, we’ll get lost.”
Or as an afterthought.
“He’s not going to like this surprise birthday thing, I reckon.”
In my honest opinion …
This is very formal but also very respectful.
I know that in some cultures, saying that you’re being honest can be rude (implying that you’re not usually honest).
This is a good point! But it’s perfectly fine in English.
“In my honest opinion, we shouldn’t be selling these toy knives to kids. Just feels wrong, you know?”
I’d say that …
This is also slightly formal.
It’s a great way to express your opinion without secretly saying “I think I’m right and you’re wrong.”
“I’d say that it’ll only take a few days to build this. Then we can go home!”
The way I see it …
Again — a soft, polite way of expressing your opinion. You don’t want to annoy Henry, right?
You can use it at the beginning of a sentence followed by a comma:
“The way I see it, those guys are doing their job well.”
Or you can connect it with “is that”:
“The way I see it is that you’ve got to spend money to make money. Am I right?”
If you ask me …
Still keeping Henry happy …
“If you ask me, you need to throw a few more eggs at the building. It’s not quite covered.”
It seems to me that …
… happy Henry …
“It seems to me that he’s a little too — how shall I say it — drunk to be Santa Claus.”
As far as I can tell …
OK. Nice talking to you Henry! I’m glad we could have this conversation without offending each other!
“As far as I can tell, we were wrong. We were all wrong! Sorry about that.”
5. Different ways to say “That’s not good”
There’s no avoiding it. Sometimes we just have to say it: “This is bad.”
And sure — sometimes it’s possible just to say those exact words: “This is bad.”
But there are more indirect ways we can deal with this.
It leaves a lot to be desired.
The Brits have a reputation for being too polite and indirect — for saying something that sounds quite polite but actually meaning something quite harsh.
This phrase is a good example of that. If someone says “This leaves a lot to be desired,” it sometimes means “This is truly the worst thing I have ever seen.”
But it’s polite, and that’s the most important thing … they say.
“This report leaves a lot to be desired.”
“I gave the hotel a one-star review. It left a lot to be desired.”
It could be better.
This phrase is a bit more positive and encouraging.
It’s like saying “Hey, it didn’t work out this time, but try again — you’ll do it better!”
“OK. This lasagna could be better, but it’s not bad for a first try.”
It’s not up to scratch.
We usually use this one when we’re talking about the quality of someone’s work.
It’s about meeting a target or expectation.
So you can say:
“The report’s not up to scratch. Do it again. And bring me tea!”
It just won’t do!
This is similar to “not up to scratch.”
“You’re late again! It just won’t do!”
That’s not OK.
You know that feeling when someone crosses the line — when they do something unfair or something that makes you feel uncomfortable?
Maybe it was something boring and work-related, like when the boss decided not to give anyone any bonuses, even though the company did really well this year.
Or when your friend’s new colleague starts talking about nonsense racist theories and has clearly been spending too much time in the parts of the internet full of mad people.
Then you can definitely say “That’s not OK.”
It’s a way of standing up for a moral position.
We usually just say it as a complete phrase:
“Yeah. I saw what she did. That’s not OK.”
Yep. It sucks that you can’t go to the festival because you promised to look after your neighbours’ 12 children. Bad luck!
Definitely don’t use this in formal situations — it’s very casual.
“You lost your job? That really sucks. I’m so sorry.”
Be careful with this one: it’s rude, direct and very informal — but fine to use with friends.
“What did you think of the film?”
“Umm … It was crap, to be honest!”
6. Different ways to say “That’s good”
So there are lots of different ways we can talk about negative things.
But what about positive things?
Actually, there aren’t so many phrases for talking about positive things.
That’s because we don’t need to be indirect when we’re being positive — in fact, if we’re being positive about something, being direct is the best!
For example, if you want to tell your colleague that his new suit is great, you wouldn’t say “That suit is not terrible,” right?
So when we want to say “That’s good,” we often just say “That’s good.”
Or we replace “good” with one of the many, many, many words we have that also means “good”:
I told you there were a lot!
OK. There we have it: 33 different ways to say everyday phrases in English.
Do you know any other phrases for talking about what you like, don’t like, think and want? Let me know in the comments. I’d love to hear from you.