Learn English Phrases with “Kidding”

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Today’s lesson is going to focus on a few different phrases all using the word ‘kidding,’ like ‘I’m just kidding,’ or, ‘no kidding,’ or, ‘are you kidding me?’ You’re going to learn how to use each of these in conversational English today.

I’m just kidding

‘Kidding’ is another word for ‘joking.’ It usually means like kind of a small, minor joke. Not like when you tell a joke that has a whole story and a structure, more like when you say something that’s not true just to surprise or shock someone.

Then, you can say, “Oh, I’m just kidding,” to tell them that it was a joke and you weren’t speaking seriously. That’s our first phrase, ‘I’m just kidding.’ After you’ve made a joke or said something that’s not true, or that’s a little bit exaggerated. The other person maybe reacts to it, and then you can say, “I’m just kidding,” meaning ‘I wasn’t being serious. I was only joking.’

No kidding

We also have the phrase ‘no kidding.’ That can be actually be used in two different ways.

‘No kidding,’ we use this in response often times to say something like ‘Really?’ Or, ‘I’m a little bit surprised.’

If let’s say someone tells you about how they went to another city and they happened to encounter their coworker there just by chance, by coincidence, you could say, “Oh, no kidding,” meaning it’s a little bit of a surprise.

It’s really just something to kind of keep the conversation flowing. You could also say, “Really,” in order to encourage them to keep talking and show them that you’re engaged in the conversation.

The other way to use ‘no kidding’ is sarcastically, to say that something is very obvious.

Let’s say my husband and I are stuck in traffic and we’ve been sitting in traffic for the past three hours; and I say, “Wow, this is traffic is really bad.” He could say, “No kidding,” meaning he’s not surprised by it, he’s using it sarcastically to say, ‘Yeah, that’s really obvious,’ or, ‘That’s definitely true.’

The difference in how you use these is really in the tone of voice:

  • Higher tone of voice for “no kidding” = mild surprise
  • Lower tone of voice for “no kidding” = that’s obvious

You’re kidding

The next expression is ‘You’re kidding.’ This is also used for surprise. It’s a little stronger than ‘no kidding,’ in that maybe you’re a little bit more surprised.

If you recommend to your friend that he or she sign up for an English course at the same school where you’re studying. Your friend tries to sign up but there are no more openings. He has to go on the wait list.

You might say, “You’re kidding,” because you’re surprised. You thought there were open spaces in the English school, but it turns out you’re surprised by the fact that there weren’t any open spaces.

‘You’re kidding,’ is again, a reaction to what someone else says in conversation, and your indicating surprise, showing that something is hard for you to believe. You’re surprised by it.

Are you kidding me? You’ve got to be kidding

Our final two phrases are ‘Are you kidding me?’ and ‘You’ve got to be kidding.’ These express very strong surprise when the other person says something you find extremely hard to believe. We tend to use a very surprised tone of voice when asking them.

Let’s say you have a friend who’s trying to get a job. You think she’s a really great candidate for this job. She goes on a few interviews, but then it turns out she doesn’t get the job and they tell her it’s because she’s a woman.

You would say, “Are you kidding me? That’s not a good reason not to give you a job. In fact, that’s probably illegal to discriminate based on you being a woman.” Again, it’s in reaction to something that is extremely surprising, extremely hard to believe, and you’re rather shocked by what the other person said.

Review: Phrases with KIDDING

All right, so a few different phrases with ‘kidding’:

  • ‘I’m just kidding,’ to show that you are only joking about what you just said a moment ago.
  • ‘No kidding,’ which can be used to express mild surprise; just like the expression, ‘really?’ Or, it can be used sarcastically to say, ‘That’s obvious,’ or definitely true.
  • ‘You’re kidding,’ to express slightly stronger surprise.
  • ‘You’ve got to be kidding me,’ or ‘Are you kidding me,’ to express very strong surprise and shock.

If you’d like to learn more conversational English, check out my Everyday English Speaking Courses!

If you’re not living in an English-speaking country, it can be hard to learn these more conversational expressions, and my courses will help you do that.

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