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Practice English Speaking&Listening with: 15 English Expressions & Idioms using 'ALL'

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So, E, I'm going to read this passage to you and...

"I'm all ears"?

Hi. James from engVid.

Today I'm going to use "all" in phrases and idioms, and teach you how you can use them

in common speech.

And I'm going to try and put them into sections that you will find most useful to help you


E writes...

Is saying right now: "He's all ears", and I bet you want to know what that means.

I'll explain that to you, and I have another seven other idioms.

Let's go to the board.

So, E's all ears.

Before we even start, let's talk about: What is "all"?

What does it mean?

Well, generally, it means as much as possible, or it can mean complete or whole.

The whole thing; all thing; complete.

Excuse me.

Or the parts of it.

Now, we understand that, what does an "idiom" mean?

An "idiom" is basically...

It could be a phrase or a clause, but it's a bunch of words that are together that when

you hear them, they don't actually make sense by themselves; but if you have the history

behind it, you get it.

One of my favourite ones to tell people is: "It's raining cats and dogs."

Clearly, dogs and cats don't fall from the sky, so you have to say: "What does that mean?"

Well, it means it's a lot of rain.


So, there's a lot of rain coming down.

Now, it has an ancient...

Not ancient roots.

From, like 1600/1700s that there would be so much water coming down that dogs and cats

might, like, float away or, you know, be swimming down the streets, so that's: "It's raining

cats and dogs."

What does that have to do with what we're doing now?

Well, today, we want to look at "all" and how "all" can be used in different idioms

to have different meanings.

You probably won't know what they mean right away; but by the time I'm done, it shouldn't

be a problem.

So, let's look at the number one, the first one: I want to talk about emotional states.

So, it's a mental state or an emotional state; how you think or feel.

So, number one is: "It's all in your head."

That means imaginary; it's not real.

If something's all in your head, you go: "Oh, I think I have, like", I don't know.


I don't want to say it because I don't want to give myself a disease.

People might say: "Oh, I think I'm growing four heads."

It's like: "It's all in your head.

It's your imagination.

It's not real.

It's not happening.

It's not going to happen."


Or: "I think...

Oh, I think Beyoncé is going to leave her husband and meet me, because she was on a

TV program and she winked twice.

That was her code that she wants me."

It's in my head; it's not going to happen.


Your friends will say: "You're crazy.

It's not happening."

What's another one?

We'll go down to number two.

Oh, sorry.

Before we go here, we'll go here: "All shook up".

Oh, yeah, yeah, I'm all shook up.

Those of you who like Elvis, that's an Elvis song: "All Shook Up".

What does "all shook up" mean?

Well, it's to shake...

"Shake" means to...

To disturb something.

In this case, to make it extremely excited.

You could be extremely excited if you win the lottery.

If I won 20 million dollars, I'd be all shook up, I'd be like: "What am I going to do?





How do I get...?"

I'm excited.

I can also be very worried or disturbed when I'm all shook up.

If you get very bad news...

My baseball team, the Boston Red Sox, they lost again - I'm all shook up; I'm emotionally



And you can be worried as well.

So that's emotional state with "all".

"All in your head".

Remember we said completely?

It's completely in your head.

"You're all shook up", it means as much as possible you've been disturbed.

Let's look to the other ones.

So, we talked about mental state, your emotional state; let's look at knowledge - how much

you can know.

All right?

So, if "somebody's not all there", you're not all there, it means it's not working properly.

Imagine if you had a car with four wheels, but only three tires.

They're not all there; something's missing.

You need one more tire to make four tires, four wheels.

Makes sense.

When somebody's not all there, something's wrong in the cabeza.

In the head, there's something missing.

Maybe half a brain.

You know?

You got to be careful.

If somebody goes: "Hey, watch out for E. He's not all there", it means he could be crazy.


He could be not focused on the work.

And the other one, sometimes people say it, like: "That guy's not all there."

You stupid, you's very stupid.


Because you only have half a brain so you can't think like other people.

Sorry, that just seems mean, but in case people say it, that's what they mean.

Now, the next thing about knowledge we're going to talk about is this one.


If somebody says: "For all I know", it means: "For the knowledge that I have currently,

right now at this moment, all the information I have, this is what I believe will happen."

So I'm talking about knowledge, and it's like...

It's, like, my opinion on something that might happen.

So: "For all I know, that girl's going to get married to somebody else because she left me."

What do I know?

She left me, so then I'm guessing: "For all I know, based on my information of she left

me, she might get married."

Doesn't mean it's true; it's kind of my opinion based on what I know now.

"For all I know, this might be a great opportunity."

It means: All the information I have says it, but it doesn't necessarily mean it's true.

Usually when people say: "For all I know", it's used in a negative sense.

People don't go: "For all I know I could be rich."

Not usually.

It's usually negative.

"For all I know, that guy should be killed."


Or will be killed.


Hmm, that seems pretty good, right?

You're a know-it-all.

Actually, no.

A "know-it-all", and I did the short version, but I'll give you the long version to know

what a know-it-all is.

A "know-it-all" is someone who seems to have a lot of knowledge, tells everybody that they

have all the knowledge, and it irritates everybody that they have so much knowledge because not

everybody thinks they have all the knowledge that they have.

Do you want me to repeat that?

I'm not going to because I don't know how to say all of that again.

That is what a know-it-all is.

It's somebody who thinks they know all the answers, and they make sure they let everybody

else know this, but not everybody agrees.

So, if someone calls you a "know-it-all", it's not a compliment.

So, if you're like...

I go: "Hey, you're a know-it-all", you go: "Yes, it's true; I know everything.

That's what all the people say to me, I'm a know-it-all because I know all" - they're

insulting you.

It's something we don't like.


So, we've gone from mental state, emotionally, imagining things, and being, you know, excited

or worried about something, to amount of knowledge you have.

And let's see how this would play into work as we shift over her, and we talk about work

and "all".


Now, when "somebody pulls an all-nighter", it means to go from the evening, say about

5 o'clock, all the way through the night to the next day.

It means to continually work through the night; not to stop.

Usually you do this in high-...

Not high school.

Yeah, high school and university.

You've got an essay to do, it's due the next day, you're like: "I'm never going to get

this done.

I've got to pull an all-nighter."

That's when you get a Red Bull or a coffee, you drink it, and you work all night to the

next day.


Now, if something was an "all-nighter", it means it took all night.

So if you went to a party that was an all-nighter, the party didn't end at 2 o'clock in the morning;

it went from 5, 6, 7, it went on into the next day into the morning; it was an all-nighter.


So, it's all night.

So, we've got "night".

Let's go to the opposite of "night", which is "day".


"It's all in a day's work".

What does it mean: "It's all in a day's work"?

I heard one person say: "'All in a day's work' means easy."

That's not quite correct.

So, if you ever see that person, you should think carefully what they're saying.

It means that there's a job that's a usual job in my work which is actually quite difficult

or unpleasant.

I don't...

You know, so anybody else would go: "Ugh".

So, when you're a garbageman, okay?

You pick up garbage - sometimes it has dirty nappies.

It means little babies have went poo-poo and pee-pee in this, and you got to pick it up

and throw it in the truck.

And I go: "Oh, geez, oh, god, man.


I'd kill myself if I had to do that."

You go: "Hey, dude.

It's all in a day's work.

It's just what I do."

It doesn't mean it's easy; it means it's a regular task or a regular thing I got to do

every day.

It's just in my day.


Sometimes you have a stupid boss.

Yeah, you got a stupid boss and you got to look at the boss every day, and you go: "[Laughs]

It's all in a day's work.

It's all in a day's work."

It's an unpleasant task or an unpleasant thing to do.

By the way, the word "task" means job.

It means something that you have to do.


It's not: "I have a task" meaning I'm working for somebody, they're paying me.

"I have a task", it means I have some work that I must do.

Like, cleaning your dishes is a task.


It's not a job; it's a task.

You don't get paid to do it.

All right?

Cleaning your toilet is a task you have to do.

Well, we've got that out of the way.

I have one over here.

I couldn't fit it in-sorry-but it's up here: "Pull out all the stops".

Notice with an "all-nighter" we had to stay up all night to do the work.

"All in a day's work", it means: "Hey, this may not be a good thing or it may be difficult,

but it's part of the job; you just got to do it."

All right?

All is done in the day.

When "you pull out all the stops", this means to put your heart and your mind, everything

into something - everything.

You want to put everything in there to get a result.


So: "I want to meet a pretty girl."

You know, she's like walking down the street, she's really cute and I want to meet her,

and I go: "Pull out all the stops, man.

I'm going to get my car clean.

My car.

Get my hair cut.

Get some new shoes.

Get some pants, got a shirt.

I'm going to pull out all the stops.

Got the tie on.

Okay, I'm ready.

I'm pulling out all the stops.

She's getting the good stuff.

I even got the suspenders.

Look, got suspenders.


Pulling all the stops out."

You're like: "Whoa."

I'd be like: "I have to do everything."

You will do everything you can to get this person.


So, you pull out all the stops.

At a job interview, you're like: "I went to the best schools.

I know the best people.

I know the best people.

I know the most terrific people."


Pulling out all the stops at all times.

You shouldn't do it all time.

If it's once in a while, it's okay; but otherwise, it's hard to, you know, take and understand


Next, the last one.

Now we've done mental state-dah-dah-dah-I want to work out to chaos; when things go


Remember when it says: "complete" or "whole"?

That means the whole thing; all of it.


A "free-for-all".

Some of you right now are going: "Free, like the lesson you're teaching."

I go: Yes, this lesson is free for all, but this is not "free-for-all".

A "free-for-all" is, like, a fight.

It means there is no rules; it just goes crazy.


In Canada we have...

What's it called again?

It's Boxing Day sales.

Oh, no, no, no.

Let's talk about America - they have Black Friday sales.

Once you're done this video, go watch Black Friday sales in America; happens in November.

Then what I want you to do is come back, and I want you to watch our video or my video

here, and when you watch it, I want you to look at what a free-for-all looks like.

You'll see people grabbing, hitting each other - all to buy a pair of shoes.

It's a free-for-all.

There are no rules; it's crazy.


So, it may be free for all, but it's not a free-for-all, here.

There are rules, and there are hyphens, so I'm going to put them in there.


So, when it's...

When there's crazy and it's just madness, you go: "It's a free-for-all in here."

No rules.

Now, the next one is: "all hell broke loose".

And you might go: "Well, aren't they the same?"

Because it says: "suddenly".

But when all hell broke loose...

A "free-for-all" means, like, you could probably see this happening.

When "all hell breaks loose", it's sudden; it just: "Boom!" from nowhere.

And, you know, and people are talking and everything is going on, and then the bomb

went off, and all hell broke loose.

It was sudden change of craziness or madness.

So, they're similar but not exactly the same.

When you say: "all hell broke loose", completely everything changed but it happened in an instant;

when it was a "free-for-all", maybe there was a slow fight, like one person punched

another one.

Because usually, honestly, we use "free-for-all" for fighting, but if there was a "free-for-all"

in the bar, the drinks were not free for everybody.

All of a sudden people in the bar started fighting; one person hit one person, that

person got hit, and went: "What?"

Hit that person, and then all of a sudden the whole bar is fighting and kicking.

It was a free-for-all.

So, you might say: "All hell broke loose, and there was a free-for-all."


You can put them together: Suddenly it went crazy and there were no rules; people were




That's what you get when you learn English properly; it's what natives would say.

So, we've taken the idea of as much as possible, or complete or whole, and I've shown you how

in each case this is true.

Complete, like an "all-nighter"; it took the whole night, the complete night.


"All in a day's work", when you take the whole day, that's what has to be done in the day.


"Pull out all the stops" - as much as possible, you do everything you can.

"All hell broke loose", right?

Complete chaos or madness.

And a "free-for-all", the same thing.

So we notice how "all" and its meaning can be used in these idioms, and it changes the...


The structure so that you can get a fuller meaning.


You like that?

I do, too.

But, of course, you know what we have to do, right?

I have to test to make sure you really got it, so we'll do our test.

I'll give you a bonus and some homework.

And yeah, we'll do it right now.

Are you ready?

[Snaps] Okay.

So, once again, it is our time to do our little test to make sure you understand all that

I have taught you.


I used "all".

Okay, so let's go to the board and look.

"Chan was very worried and disturbed when he woke up.

He believed there had been a big earthquake in China where his best friend Mr. E was staying.

Chan thought: 'Based on what I know, Mr. E could be seriously hurt.'

He knew that there would be a sudden...

There would be sudden chaos if the earthquake were bad enough.

He did everything possible to contact Mr. E. Then he suddenly woke up and realized it

was only his imagination."

It's not a bad story, but we can do better.

And the first thing we can do to do better is to underline or outline what needs to be

changed, and what idioms... "all" idioms or idioms with "all" we can use to change it.

So, what I want you to do is...

I'm going to wait a second.

Those of you guys who, you know, you think you pretty well got it, I want you to underline

quickly the points that you think should be changed.

And by the time I'm done speaking, you should be able...

You'll be done, and then we can check to see how well you did it.


Give you a second or two.

Now, you can always fast-forward this video to the next part if you've already done this,

because I'm about to start now.

Okay, good.

So: "Chan was very worried and disturbed"-I'm going to say right here we learned an "all"

idiom for that one-"when he woke up.

He believed there had been a big earthquake in China".

That's okay. "...where his best friend Mr E. was staying.

Chan thought: 'Based on what I know'", okay, there.

"Mr. E could be seriously hurt.

He knew there would be sudden chaos if the earthquake were bad enough.

He did everything possible to contact Mr. E." Okay.

"And then he suddenly woke up and realized it was just his imagination."


So, we've got one, two, three, four, and five things to look at.


Now, "worried and disturbed", we...

We have an idiom for that.

We have one for: "based on what I know", "sudden chaos", "did everything possible to contact

Mr. E", and "his imagination".

I'm going to give you a couple of seconds to figure out or think.

Go over your list.

You can rewind the video right now, go back to the first screen and you'll see all the

ones I point out or indicated which would be appropriate substitutions for what's on

the board.

Now, there might be a word "chaos" - if you don't know what "chaos" means, it means when

things are not organized; it's just crazy.

It could be madness.


All right.

Good job.

So, let's take a look at the board and see what we're going to do here.

Let's do the first one: "He was very worried and disturbed".

I'm going to erase that because we don't need this at all.

And you might remember something.

I did an Elvis impersonation, if you know what Elvis is - a singer from America.

"Oh, thank you.

Thank you very much.


I'm Elvis.

I'm all shook up.

Yeah, baby.

I'm all shook up."

It goes...

You're going to go on YouTube and go: "Elvis Presley.

He doesn't look anything like James."

He doesn't, okay?

So: "...was all shook up".

"Chan was all shook up when he woke up."


He was disturbed.

He was like: "Ah!"

It was like he had a nightmare.

"He believed there had been a big earthquake in China"-Chan's from China-"where his best

friend Mr. E was staying.

Chan thought: 'Based on what I know...'"

What's another word...?

Way of saying: "Based on what I know"?

"For all I know".


"For all I know", and that means based on the information I have, I think this might


This could be true.


"For all I know this could be true", so we've got that one.

Next one: "For all I know Mr. E could be seriously hurt."


"He knew there would be sudden chaos".

"Sudden chaos", what's another way of saying there?

"He knew that", look at all these words we have to get rid of.


So many go.

"...that all hell would break loose".

"He knew that all hell would break loose if the earthquake were bad enough."

Do you remember what we talked about "all hell breaking loose"?

It's sudden, and there's craziness; no organization, no rules.

Just: Boom - madness.

So, then he thought that would happen if it was bad enough.

Now, what's the next one we have?

"He did everything possible to contact Mr. E." Well, we're going to look at that one.


So we're going to put something back there.

"But he"...


I put "spot", and I meant "stop".

I didn't need to put this part out; I'll put the "contact".

So: "He pulled out all the stops to contact Mr. E." Remember when you pulled out all the


It means to do as much as you possibly can.

Everything you can do to do something.


Put all your energy, your mind, and your heart, and your soul into something.

And the last one.

Another way for saying: "his imagination" is...


Now, sometimes people say "mind".

I put: "...all in his head".

I'm going to put "mind" there, because sometimes people say "mind".

It's all in your mind; it's all in your head.

So: " was all in his head".

So, now we read the story here and it changes to: "Chan was all shook up when he woke up.

He believed that there had been a big earthquake in China where his best friend Mr. E was staying.

Chan thought: 'For all I know Mr. E could be seriously hurt.'

He knew that all hell would break loose if the earthquake were bad enough.

He pulled out all the stops to contact Mr. E. Then he suddenly woke up and realized that

it was all in his head."

So, basically, he was in a dream, having a dream.

A lucid dream.

[Laughs] A lucid dream - that's another tale for another language lesson.

Maybe we could do one on dreaming and the states of dreaming.

You might like that.

Yes, you would.

Anyway, before I go, I have to do the bonus as per usual and then I want to give you your


Don't you feel like you're in school?

And then you're probably going: "Yeah, because I hate you just like I hate my real teacher."

[Laughs] Anyway.


So: "to give your all" is similar to "pull out all the stops".

It means to...

To do your best.

When you give your all, you give everything you have; you do your best.

And you remember the diagram of complete and whole, and as much as possible - that's where

that comes in.

Do you remember Mr. E said he was "all ears", and I had that thing...?

Funny thing?

Well, those are his ears.

It means: "I'm completely listening".

So, once again, completely.

"I'm all ears.

I'm focused.

I'm completely focused on you.

I'm listening."


"Don't put all your eggs in one basket".

"Don't put all your eggs in one basket" means if you put everything you have in one area,

it could be lost or destroyed, or you risk losing everything.

Now, you can imagine having a...

Say, a big glass bowl on the edge of the table-okay?-and you put all your eggs in it, and then somebody

bumps by.

Well, all those eggs are going to go on the floor, or crack and be gone forever, so it

might be better to put some eggs in one glass over here and over here, so if one gets destroyed

you still have something left.

We usually talk about this when...

In business, when businesspeople say: "Don't put all your money in one place.

You could lose all of the money."

It's better to spread it out and spread out the risk.

That's what this means: Spread out the risk.

And "risk" means to put something in a position that it could be lost and you won't get it


All right?

And: "All yours".

Ah, I like this one.


When someone says: "I'm all yours", in romantic senses, it means: "I love you.

Do with me what you will.

I'm all yours.

Completely yours."

Or in a more friendship thing, if someone says they're busy working and they get up

from the table, and go: "Okay, I'm done.

I'm all yours."

It means: Now, whatever you need, I'm here to help you with.

All right?

So, you could say: "All yours".

Or you can offer...


I did imagine this.

Somebody gets keys to a brand new Porsche, 2018, and goes: "Hey, this baby is all yours."

Throws you the keys, it belongs to you completely.

Yeah, just like I do and so does engVid - it's yours; we're here because you're here.

Anyway, before I wrap up with this, I just want to say your homework is: Write a story-this

is cool-about a big exam that you have to take at school.


I want you to include a party, I want you to include a fight, and I want you to include

working all night.

I said: "fight" and "night" because they rhymed.

Yeah, okay, it's kind hokey.

Kind of bad.

Kind of bad.

But yeah, try to do that, like: "There was a free-for-all going on, and then we had to

pull an all-nighter".

You know, all of that.

So you can just play with the language.

The beauty of language is you can play with it and make it all yours.



Anyway, so I'm going to let you go, but before I do what I want you to do is go to engVid,

do your test.


There's always a quiz there at

And don't forget to subscribe.

There's a little bell, ring my bell.

Ring it, and then any video I get comes straight to you.


And as always, thank you very much.


Your participation in this little experiment is always appreciated and valued.

You have a great night, or a great day, or a great afternoon - wherever you are, whenever


See you soon.

The Description of 15 English Expressions & Idioms using 'ALL'