10 English Phrases With the Word GIVE

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Everyday English Speaking Course

#1 “I charged my cell phone an hour ago, and the battery’s already gone dead. What gives?

The phrase What gives? is an informal way to ask What’s the problem? or What went wrong? 

It is often used when you are somewhat surprised that the problem occurred, or annoyed at a problem, for example: “You said you’d meet me at 4, but I waited until 5 and you didn’t show up. What gives?

#2 – “The director of the school gives the teachers free rein in their classes.”

To give somebody free rein means to give them complete control, complete freedom to do whatever they want. Reins are the straps used to control a horse, so if you loosen the reins you allow the horse to go wherever it wants. 

10 English Phrases With the Word GIVE Espresso English

#3 – “I’m totally exhausted. My kids were giving me a hard time all weekend.”

The expression give somebody a hard time means to make their life difficult. In this phrase, the speaker’s children were probably misbehaving or being disobedient.

Give somebody a hard time can also be used for teasing or making fun of someone. For example, if a boy is fat or has a funny-sounding name, the other kids at school will probably give him a hard time.

#4 – “I just wanted to give you a heads up that the store will be closed tomorrow – it’s a holiday.”

If you give somebody a heads up, it means you tell them some information or alert them about something that will happen in the future.

#5 – “I try to give him a wide berth when he’s in a bad mood.”

To give someone/something a wide berth means to avoid it, to stay far away from it.

#6 – “Why don’t you give me a ring this weekend and we’ll meet up to go fishing?”

To give someone a ring is an informal expression for calling the person on the telephone. We can also say give me a call.

10 English Phrases With the Word GIVE Espresso English

#7 – “Lisa gave notice last week – we need to find someone to fill her position.”

If you give notice at your job, it means you officially tell your employer that you will be leaving the job.

#8 – “Everyone on the team played terribly. The coach gave us a tongue-lashing after the game.”

Giving someone a tongue-lashing means speaking very angrily because of something they did wrong. If a teenager stayed out until 3 AM when he is supposed to be home by midnight, his parents would give him a tongue-lashing. The word “lash” comes from the movement of a whip – so it is like you are using your tongue (your words) to attack and punish the person.

10 English Phrases With the Word GIVE Espresso English

#9 – “This video game is awesome. Why don’t you give it a whirl?”

The following expressions all mean to try something:

  • give it a whirl
  • give it a go
  • give it a shot
  • give it a try

#10 – “You did a great job! Gimme five!

The expression Give me five! usually sounds like Gimme five! when spoken fast.

The person is telling you to give a high five – to slap your hand against theirs. It is a gesture of congratulations or to show joy.

10 English Phrases With the Word GIVE Espresso English

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10 English Phrases With the Word GIVE Espresso English

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Image sources: Steven Duhig