How Do You Say… in English?

Are you someone who regularly asks “How do you say…?” when you are speaking English? Well, you are not alone. When you learn another language, it is natural to start by mentally translating from your own language. We often know what to call something, but we need to recognize that in each language the expressions and words change according to the context. In English, there are various ways of referring to the same thing and different expressions to indicate the same event. Knowing more ways of expressing the same concept enriches the language and makes it more colourful and expressive.

That is why today we are taking you on a trip to London to answer your question “How do you say…?” in different moments and situations.

Could you say that again?

You have gotten up very early. Today you are going to the National Gallery with Judy, a friend from London. You cannot wait to admire the masterpieces that are on display this month and, as your friend teaches art, you want to take advantage of her knowledge. As you walk through the gallery between one masterpiece and another, Judy tells you anecdotes and stories related to the paintings and the artists who created them. And here you find that you have had to ask her to repeat what she has said several times. So, to avoid using the same phrase every time, try to use a different expression each time you have a difficult time understanding.

Could you say that again?



Between a Titian and a Tintoretto, Judy fills your ears with her stories about painters. It is as if you could relive those moments. You find yourself imagining that you are there, admiring the artist giving life to their canvases. Judy knows how to use different synonyms in her explanations and never uses the same word too many time. For example, when she wants to use the verb “to say,” she often resorts to other more specific terms.

As Vasari commented, “There has been scarce a single lord of great name, or prince, or great lady, who has not been portrayed by Titian.”

Judy is excellent at explaining and you are learning a lot about art. But, you do not want the visit to become a monologue, so you ask yourself “How do I say ‘I understand what you are saying’ without being repetitive?”

Of course, knowing more about the artist helps you understand his work.

Can I help you?

Judy confesses that she is a little anxious because soon she will soon have a job interview in Spanish to be an art history professor. She has been practicing alone as she has not found a Spanish native speaker to interact with her in a work context. Would you like to help her? There are many appropriate expressions that you can use to offer her help in preparing for her interview.

May I offer you my help for practicing Spanish?

Good luck!

You want to tell Judy that you believe in her and that you think she will do well in her interview. Tell her that you will have your fingers crossed on the day of the interview. How else can you wish her good luck?

I know you can do it! Break a leg!

I’m hungry…

After spending all morning in the museum, it is natural for you to feel a bit hungry or a bit weak. How do you say so in English?

Oops, I feel a bit peckish!

Of course, if you express yourself this way, you will not go to a restaurant but will stop somewhere for a quick snack instead.

Thank you!

Finally, you decide to go to a simple bar. In addition to coffee, you order a sandwich. It occurs to you that you also want some fries on the side. That museum whet your appetite!

Once you have finished enjoying your snack, it is time to say goodbye. Of course, after all that you have learned, you want to thank Judy for having accompanied you.

The visit to the museum was amazing, I really appreciated it.

Sorry for being late.

After thanking Judy, you run to help your neighbour, but you are late!

I am so sorry for keeping you waiting!

While packing, you want to thank your neighbour for always being on time and being reliable. In addition, you realize that you have many things in common while you chat and pack. How can you call them a good friend in English?

Thank you so much, mate! I know I can always count on you to help me out.


On your way home, you bought a card to send to one of your college friends. You do not want to write a common “Farewell” so you opt for an original message. You are a bit hesitant among the many possible expressions.

It was great seeing you! I had fun!

As you write the card, you remember that a couple of days ago it was your parents’ anniversary and you forgot to congratulate them. You immediately use your phone to send a congratulatory message and to also say sorry for forgetting.

Well, today was a good day! Your English is very good! What do you think about taking the ABA English online course? We offer 144 free video lessons and the same number of short films that will help you learn not only grammar but many English expressions as well.

Yes, I want to see a short film!
Yes, I want to see a video class!

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