Learn English Phrases for Acknowledging Mistakes

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Everyday English Speaking Courses


Hi students, it’s Shayna, your teacher from EspressoEnglish.net. Today I want to talk to you about mistakes. I know that a lot of English learners are afraid of making mistakes or embarrassed by the mistakes they make in English.

I would encourage you to remember that mistakes are a normal and natural part of the learning process, they’re part of the process of learning any new skill. When you learn something new, you’re going to make mistakes.

Please try to see mistakes not as something to be afraid of or something to be very embarrassed by, mistakes are not disasters, they are learning opportunities where you can learn something new and improve your English.

In today’s lesson, I want to teach you some phrases that native English speakers use when talking about making mistakes. Because you don’t just want to say, “I made a mistake. I made a mistake. I made a mistake” over and over, it gets boring and repetitive, so here are some different phrases you can use.

The first one is I blew it. We use this for making major mistakes. Let’s say you have a boyfriend and girlfriend who have been dating for a long time, and the boyfriend forgets his girlfriend’s birthday. So he doesn’t plan a party, he doesn’t give her any gifts, and he doesn’t even wish her happy birthday. Of course, she gets really angry about this. Well, he could apologize and acknowledge his mistake by saying, “I’m so sorry, I blew it” or “I really blew it” to give it even more emphasis. It’s just an informal phrase to say I made a big mistake.

Another phrase you can use is I messed up. You can use this for both larger mistakes or smaller mistakes. Let’s say you’re organizing an event or a party and you send out a lot of invitations to all of you friends and family and acquaintances, but you realized that the invitations have the wrong date, it’s got misinformation on the invitation. You could say, “Oh no, I messed up, I sent out invitations with the wrong date.”

A slightly stronger version of that is I screwed up. It means the same thing, I made a mistake, but it’s just a little bit stronger. I would suggest using this one only more with friends and in informal situations. In a work context with your coworkers you can say, “I blew it”, you can say, “I messed up”, but I wouldn’t say, “I screwed up”, it’s a little stronger, it’s slightly more vulgar, and so I would use that only among friends.

These are usually used for fairly significant size mistakes. What if you only make a tiny mistake? Let’s say you’re talking with a native English speaking friend, and you used the wrong word in a sentence, and your friend correct you, you don’t want to say, “I blew it” or “I screwed up” because it’s really not a big mistake, it’s just a small one. In that case, you can use the expression, “My bad.” This is just kind of a slang expression, it’s a really informal, casual way to acknowledge a very small mistake.

Your friend corrected your use of the English language, you could just say, “Oh, my bad”, and then just continue, keep going with the conversation, there’s no need to keep talking about that mistake or feel bad because it was such a small one.

I hope that you’ve learned some new phrases you can use in today’s lesson! If you want to get feedback on your spoken English, one of the best ways to do that is to join my Everyday English Speaking Courses, because these have speaking tasks which are opportunities for you to record your speaking and send it to me for evaluation. I will correct your mistakes, I will teach you if there’s anything that you can improve, I will tell you what you’re doing well. It’s a really valuable part of the course.

If you’re interested in getting my feedback and comments on your spoken English, come on over to the Everyday English Speaking Course, sign up and do the speaking tasks.

Bye for now!

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