Speaking English: Expressions about thoughts and beliefs

Everyday English Speaking Course

In our final round of “Speaking September,” let’s try to use these seven English expressions related to thoughts and beliefs. Try to answer the questions in red by speaking and using the new phrase!

#1 – contrary to popular belief

Use this phrase to introduce a fact that is different from what most people believe.

Contrary to popular belief,it’s not actually necessary to drink 8 glasses of water a day.”

Say something that is true but different from general opinion, using the phrase “contrary to popular belief.”

#2 – it boggles my mind

If something boggles your mind, it means it is really amazing and overwhelming. Depending on how it is used, it can also mean “confusing.” Another way to express this is to say something is mind-boggling.

“When I think about the fact that 3 million people have visited my website, it boggles my mind.”

“There’s a mind-boggling number of different programs and prices; I have no idea what to choose.”

Talk about something that boggles your mind.

#3 – it’s anyone’s guess

When you say “It’s anyone’s guess” – that means nobody knows for sure. It’s impossible to know or predict with certainty.

“The trains here are pretty unreliable. Whether or not the next one will be on time is anyone’s guess.

Say one thing that is anyone’s guess.

#4 – speak your mind

To speak your mind means to say honestly what you really think, without changing or modifying your words to be more socially acceptable. If you speak your mind, you are direct and honest, even if it might upset people.

“If you want an honest opinion, ask John. He’s not afraid to speak his mind.”

Do you think it’s good or bad always to speak your mind? Are there any situations when you have done this?

#5 – resign yourself to

To resign yourself to something means to reluctantly accept and tolerate it, even though you don’t want to. This expression is often followed by the -ING form or by “the fact that”:

“It was raining, so we resigned ourselves to playing card games all afternoon.”

“I eventually resigned myself to the fact that my father was never going to change.”

Talk about a time you had to resign yourself to something.

#6 – lost in thought

Being lost in thought means you are thinking deeply or concentrating strongly on something, and as a result you are not very aware of what’s going on around you.

“I asked her a question, but she was lost in thought and didn’t reply right away.”

The last time you were lost in thought, what were you thinking about?

#7 – in hindsight / in retrospect

Use these phrases when you are looking back at something in the past, and considering that situation with the knowledge and perspective you have now. You can use in hindsight and in retrospect both to wish you’d done things differently, and to confirm that something was good.

In retrospect,quitting my job was the best decision I ever made.”
(confirming that a past action was good)

In hindsight, I should have listened to her advice.”
(wishing a past action had been different)

Use “in hindsight” and “in retrospect” to reflect on two things in your past.

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