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Practice English Speaking&Listening with: 6 UNCOMMON uses of COMMON English words

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I'm Adam.

Welcome to

In today's lesson, I want to talk to you about six words that all of you already know; they're

very common, very easy words, but I'm going to show you the uncommon uses for these words.

Now, the reason you want to know uncommon uses of words is: A) to sound more like a

native speaker who will use these words regularly, and B) they will actually help you get a better

vocabulary range; more variety to your speech, to your writing, and when you read you'll

be able to understand these better.

So, let's look at these.


We're going to start with the word "down".

Now, obviously everybody knows "down" is, you know, down there.

Up, down.

That's the preposition.

Do you know that "down" can also be a verb?

For example, you can down a drink, you can down a plane.

Now, what does that mean?

"Down a drink" basically means have a drink; finish the drink.

If you have a glass of beer, you down it before you leave the bar.

"Down a plane" means: "Pew" or-sorry-I should say like this.

Shoot down the plane and bring it down to Earth.

So, in Canada, for example, I live in Toronto and the hockey team here is...

You know, it's starting to be a little bit better now.

But if I want to go watch a hockey game, the drinks and the food at the... at the arena

are very, very expensive.

So what a lot of people do - we go to a bar, we down a few beers at the bar, and then we

head to the arena and maybe have one beer over there.

Don't drink if you're not into drinking; if you're underage, you didn't hear any of that.


Now, in a lot of countries, you know, there's wars and stuff like that, and in some countries,

there... the rebels or the local army is a little bit underequipped, and for them a big

victory is gotten simply by downing an enemy airplane.

So if they're able to down a plane from the enemy, they're very happy about it, even though

it doesn't really help that much.

So, "down", bring down, or take down a drink.


Now, the foot, you know the two things at the bottom of your body, here.

Most people know them as a noun; the two things there, but we can also use "foot" as a verb.

"To foot the bill", or "to foot the cost", or "to foot the expenses" means pay for or

cover the expenses of something.

So, if I go away on a business trip, I expect that my company will foot the expenses; hotel,

flight, food, etc.

"Foot it".

"To foot" basically means to walk.

So, if you're driving around and you...

Your car breaks down and you're in the middle of nowhere, and there's nobody to call and

there's no, you know, a bus, or a taxi, or anything - you're basically going to have

to foot it to the next town to call a tow truck to go get your car.

"To foot it" - to walk.


Now, "break" actually has many meanings.

You know "break", like break the glass, break...

Break something.

Anyways, shattered in pieces.

Or "to brake" means to slow down in the car.

I want to talk to you about other ones.

"To be broke".

Now, notice that I'm using the past tense.

I'm not using "break"; I'm using the past tense "broke", but here, this is an adjective.

What does it mean "to be broke"?

It basically means to have no money.

You open...

Pull out your pockets, and lint falls out.

No money.

So, Bill who's been out of...

Out of work for, like, a year is broke and he can't go out to have a drink with us or

to watch the hockey game because he's broke.

Now, "to break the bank"...

If something breaks the bank it means it's overly expensive.

If you actually spend the money on it or if you invest in it, you will become broke.

So, a lot of companies, they want to invest in innovative, new things for their company-equipment

or technology-but they don't want this investment to break the bank; basically cost so much

that the whole company falls apart.

But at the same time, if you invest in something properly or not, the investment in that thing

could make or break the company.

"Make or break".

"Make" means you will become very successful; "break" means you will fail miserably and

fall apart.

"Make or break", this is a common expression.


It goes together.

Something will make or break something else.


So, a lot of you are thinking that you want to go to university.

Keep in mind that you need high scores, you need a good letter, application letter, etc.

But no one piece of the application will make or break you.

Everything together will make the difference.


So don't stress out too much about any one particular thing.


So, here are three; let's look at three more.

Okay, so now we have three other words we're going to look at.

The first one is: "mum".

Now, for a lot of you, you're thinking: "Oh, like, mother, right?

Like, mom."

Well, the British say: "Mum"; the Canadians and Americans...


United States people say: "Mom".

They sound very similar, but if you pay attention, you can actually hear the difference between

"mom" and "mum".

But "mum" also means silent.

So: "Keep mum" means: "Don't say anything.

Be quiet.

Keep silent.

Don't say anything to anybody."

Or: "Mum's the word".

This is an expression, it means: "Don't tell anybody.

Keep it a secret."


So, I tell my friends something that happened to me last night, but I say: "Just keep...

Like, don't tell anybody.


I don't want anybody else to know about this", and he responds: "Mum's the word."

That's all he needs to say; I understand he won't tell anybody the story.

He's going to keep mum.



Now, a lot of you know "spot" as to, like, see something.

"Oh, I spotted the dog over there."

Or it could be, like, a stain, like there's a spot on the table - you want to clean it


But "spot" also means...

Like, when we say: "Can you spot me?"

Two meanings for "spot me".

One: "Lend me".

"Can you spot me $50 until next payday?"

It means: "Can you lend me $50?

I will pay you back on payday."

But if you're at the gym and you want to do some heavy lifting; you want to do some bench

presses, but you're worried that the bar will just fall on your chest and maybe kill you.


So, you don't want that to happen.

So, you ask your friend: "Can you spot me?"

So, he will stand over the bench, and he will have his hands just in case you can't lift

it, and he will help you lift it up.

So, that's "spot".



Now, of course, everybody knows "own", like: "I own a house.

I own a car.

I own a casino somewhere in Atlantic City."

So, "own" - possess.

But: "own to" and "own up to", these are both phrasal verbs, of course.

"Own to" basically means take responsibility for.


"Own up to" means admit.

Also means take responsibility for.

So, you "own", but you don't have to use the "to".

You can own your mistake, and you can own to the fact that you made a mistake.

So: "own" - take responsibility, say that you will fix it, and do whatever you need

to do.

"Own up to" - admit that you made the mistake, and then hopefully help everybody fix it.

Now, if you "own somebody"...

This is mostly slang.

Mostly you'll hear it in sports situations.

If we're playing basketball, and it's like 20 points for me and two points for you, then

I own you.

"I own you!"

I say it like that, right?

I have to be angry when I say it.

"To own somebody" - to dominate; to be better than; to have full control over.

So, some people think that in the elections one candidate will own the other candidate;

maybe not.

If it's close, it's a fight; if it's a bad beating, then one owns the other.

You can say about teams, you can say about individuals as well.


So, keep all these words in mind.

They're used in everyday speech by native speakers.

You will hear these all the time; you'll see them in movies, TV shows, etc.

And if you're not sure about any of them, please go to, and you can ask

me any question there you like.

There's also a quiz that you can take and practice your knowledge of these words.

And, of course, if you like this video, subscribe to my YouTube channel.

Don't forget to come back again and watch a lot more interesting videos, be more like

a native speaker, and I'll see you soon.


The Description of 6 UNCOMMON uses of COMMON English words