Conversational English and other unusual words

Here are some expressions that I have heard in conversation today, said by English people – and which could be difficult to understand if you are not from the UK and are not familiar with the Western culture.

That was a curve ball!

A “curve ball” is something that you did not expect – something that took you by surprise and which you weren’t ready for – you weren’t prepared for it. For example, if your lecturer suddenly asks you a very difficult question that you can’t answer, you can say, “He threw in a curve ball”, or, “that last question was a bit of a curve ball – I didn’t know how to answer it”.

Can you bring me up to speed?

Maybe you have missed the first part of a meeting with your class mates, and they have already talked about some of the discussion topics, and you want them to tell you the things that you missed, you can say, “Sorry I’m late. Can you bring me up to speed with where we are at now?” This means, I am behind, please help me catch up with where you are now in the conversation. 

The anti-christ

This is a term from the bible, and it is talking about an evil person who will be against God and against Jesus Christ. From time to time you might hear the phrase anti-christ on TV, or someone might say it to mean an evil person. 

Nun

A woman who lives in a church all of the time and lives a quiet life separate from other people (there can be many nuns doing this together – but it is not very common nowadays.)

Fillers: words that appear to fill the time while the speaker is thinking about what to say next

Kind of

Kind of will appear in sentences without the speaker thinking (just naturally and automatically), and kind of often doesn’t mean anything – the speaker is just thinking about what to say next. But it can also make the sentence a bit softer and a bit less certain:

I was… kind of… happy he came… but… kind of… annoyed… because he came round to my house and made a mess and then I had to kind of  tidy everything up afterwards.

He’s kind of crazy… I was kind of scared when he wanted to talk to me.. I was kind of like “go away – leave me alone”.

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