Follow US:

Practice English Speaking&Listening with: 5 Common Direction Phrases in English: UPSIDE DOWN, INSIDE OUT...

Difficulty: 0

I'm having a hard time reading this book, E. It's all upside down.

Oh, you're having the same problem.

Hi. James from engVid.

E and I are having a problem because he's looking at himself in the mirror, and his

head is in the wrong place.

His head should be here, but it's on the bottom.

And I'm reading this book and I don't understand the words, because the words are in the wrong

place; they're all upside down.

You know what?

That's probably one of the phrases that we use in English that confuses many people who

are learning the language, because the words are all, well, kind of topsy-turvy.

You know?

Don't make sense.

Today's lesson, I'm going to show you five common things that we say, and they are direction

related, which they do give us an idea of what direction things are going in, except

we often say it without thinking that you won't understand because we use them only

in this manner, in a certain way.

Let's go to the board and take a look.

E's having problems because his picture or his mirror is upside down.

My book was upside down.

What does that mean, exactly?

Let's start with the first thing.

I've got one "inside-out".

Here's my shirt.

I was going to wear it, but you can see it.

This is the right way to wear the shirt.

When it's inside-out, you will notice...

There we go.

Now it's the wrong way because you can see the label.

Have you ever worn your shirt inside-out by accident, and someone has to go: "Ahem.

Your shirt's inside-out"?

You're like: "Oh god!

It is!

It's terrible!

I never thought about it!" it means the in part is on the outside.

Funny enough, this is usually when people wear their clothes incorrectly, but we have

another way of using it.

When you say: "I know something inside-out", it means: I know everything about it because

I know every small part, from the inner part - the smallest part to the bigger part.

So, I say: "I know this book inside-out."

I know everything about this book.

So, listen for context, because if they: "Hey, son.

Your underwear is inside-out", it doesn't mean: You know everything about underwear;

it means you should take it off and put it on properly.


But if you know a book inside-out...

You see this?

This is the outside of the book; this is the inside of the book.

So, when saying: "I know this book inside-out", it means I know all of the information on

the inside, right to the outside.

Cool, huh?

One thing and you've learned two things.

Let's see what else we can learn.

So, listen for that when English people speak.

They go...

If they say to you: "I know everything about this company inside-out; I know everything

about this company, from the floor, who cleans it, how they make the money - I know everything."

But if my shirt is inside-out, I need to go home and change.

I like that one.

Let's look at number two.

Round and round you're calling me, doo-doo-doo-doo-doo-doo-doo.



Yeah, it's an old song.


Anyway, that's a song.

"Round and round", it means to go in a circle, moving in a circle.

If you say: "We've had this conversation for, like, 20 minutes, and we're just going round

and round the same things", it means the conversation isn't getting any...

Nothing new is coming; we're just talking about the same things again, and again, and


Like a CD.

Hopefully you know what a CD is, because everyone streams now.

Or a DVD, it goes around and around.

So, a lot of times, in English, people go: "We've been through this before; we just go

round and round the same conversation."

It means: Nothing is new; we just move in a circle, like my poor dogs who are confused

and going in different directions.

And they're like: "Round and round.

No, that's not round; it's the..."


You got it.


Number two.

So, things, when you hear a Canadian or a Canadian English person...

English speaker go: "Why are we going around and around the same thing?"

They should say "round in a circle".

They won't say "circle", usually; they'll just say "round".

Another variance or another one of these is "around".

They go: "We go around and around" Same thing.

Around and round, because they're both talking about circles.


All right.

Number three: "tip top", "tip-top".

Used by British people more, I would say, from England, but people know what it means

when someone says: "something's in tip-top shape".

The "tip" is right here.

Or to make it even easier, if you go: "What is that, James?"

When you look at a pen, that end on the pen, this very thing here is the tip of the pen,

so it's the end - the tip.

Or: "tip of my tongue".

Tip - the end.

So, this is the tip of the arrow.

Next is the "top".

Think the pyramids.

You know.


The top of the pyramid.

So, "tip and top", if you notice, it's the very end of something.

So, in this case, we mean the very best, because the best is up here and the best is here.

So, when someone says to you: "This room is in tip-top shape", it is in excellent shape.

If I say: "I feel in tip-top shape", I am feeling very healthy and very strong.


"Tip top".

Moving on to number four.

This is the problem that E had.

E said: "It's all upside down."

He's looking at himself, and he notices his head is here when it should be here; tail

is here.

I'm going to teach you a fancy word for "inverted".


Oh, I should have taught you another one; it's in the back of my head now.

"Right side up".

That's for another day.

This pen is in the correct position.

When it's inverted, the pen is this way.

Another way of saying this is: "upside down".

Now, right now, the pen is in the correct position and I'm upside down.

I'm just kidding.

I'm not.

I'm standing up.

It's just a joke.

Take your computer: "Now James is inverted; now James is back again!"


So, "to invert" something means to change its position from one position to the opposite


So, a lot of times, English people say: "Oh god, everything's just upside down", which

means it's not in the correct order.

It's, like, normally we come to work and we have coffee, then we have a meeting, and then

we go to do our jobs, and then we have another meeting.

But now we started with a meeting, we did our jobs, then a meeting, and then coffee.

It's upside down.

It's been changed to its opposite side or its opposite way.


So, if your life is upside down, it means-and this is kind of a separate meaning-everything

is in the wrong order or everything is out of order.


So, listen when people say: "It's all...


My life is upside down."

It's not in the right or correct order.


All right.

"To be inverted".

Yes, my stickmen have become acrobats.

He's flippity.

Flippity flop.

Flip flop.

"Flop" is like: "Ugh" - flop.

So, he didn't quite make it; he flopped - failed.

"Flip flop".

If you're from Brazil...

Hi, Brazilians, I love you guys.

Peace out.

You guys have these shoes.

You know?

I forgot what you call them, and you put them on your feet, and you call them flip...

We call them "flip flops".

This is a bit different.

"To flip flop", here, is you make a decision and then you change your mind.

You suddenly change your mind; you reverse the decision.

"Okay, so let's go for dinner.

I would like to have McDonald's."

Just before we get to McDonald's: -"I mean, no, no, I want chicken.

Let's go to Popeyes."



How can you flip flop?"

And you go: "No, no, no.

I want pizza."

It means to continually change your mind on a decision.

Some people flip flop all the time - it drives you crazy.

It's like: Just make a decision and stick to it.

A lot of governments flip flop, don't they?

Say: Yes.

You know what I mean.

Every country, your government says one thing and then they do another.

They flip flop.

It's like they cannot make a decision.

We, at engVid, can make decisions, and we've decided to teach you.


We don't flip flop.

All right?

So, anyway, I hope you like these five.

We're going to have a couple more; you know, there's a bonus round.

See if you can remember.

Are you wearing your shirts inside-out?

Don't do that.


I'm sure you're in tip-top shape, because you're in the hands of myself and our crew.



So, we have, as usual, our bonus - a smart...

A little quiz and some homework.

But before I get to that, I'll just say welcome back, and let's look at the first bonus word

I want to give you, or phrase: "topsy turvy".

Do you remember we talked about "upside down" means things were inverted?

These are similar.

Sometimes you'll see people use "topsy turvy" and "upside down".

They're not exactly the same.

While "upside down" means...

For instance...

Or, for example: The pen is upside down.


And that's a very common to say...

Common thing to say: The phone is upside down or the book is upside down.

No one would look at this book when it's like this and say: "It's topsy turvy."

They would say: "It's upside down."

But sometimes "topsy turvy" and "upside down" can be used...

Are interchanged; people use them.

When there's some confusion.

Remember I said: "My life is upside down"?

My life isn't actually upside down; I wasn't dead and then I was born - it doesn't change

like that, but it's confusing; it's a mess.

"Topsy turvy" means more to being mixed up or a mess; everything's messed together.

But because of that, sometimes people say: "topsy turvy" and they mean upside down, but

not in this thing.

So, when a book is upside down or a pen is upside down, you don't say "topsy turvy".

But if things are confused, or messy, or mixed up, you might see people saying: "It's topsy

turvy" or "upside down".

Or in a rollercoaster: "It's topsy turvy.

It's, like, it's all over the place."


My next one is...

Well, for some of you smokers out there, you know what Zig-Zag is.

Mm-hmm, you make your own cigarettes and probably something else, right?


You need a good education.

You're going to need it.

"Zig zag", though, when we talk about in English, we mean to go suddenly to the left and to

the right.

So, you "zig zag" - you don't go in a straight line; you move back and forth.

You're zig-zagging, like the letter Z.

That's why we have a "z" and a "z": "to zig zag".

Left turn, right turn; left turn, right turn.


So, right now, I'm zig-zagging, as I come to the camera.


Going right and left.

Speaking of which, let's go right to the questions.

I'm sorry, it's been a long day.

Okay, anyway.

Oh, isn't that interesting?

When you look at this particular quiz, I'm going to write...

Well, I have written out what peopley...

"Peopley" like "sheepily".

What people have actually say...

Would actually have to say if they didn't use the phrases.

I gave you these phrases, like "topsy turvy" and "zig zag", because really, if you don't

use them, you have these long phrases that you have to say instead.

And we like just saying the short phrases because the meaning is understood by most

people-right?-and it's quick.

The very first one is this one: "We made sudden turns to the left and to the

right, going through the streets of Toronto."

I bet you can think of an easier way of saying that.

Yeah, we talked about "zig zag", right?

I'm sorry.

"Zig zag", "to zig zag".

So, we zigged...

You go: "We zig zagged through the streets of Toronto."

We went this way, we went that way, we went this way, and we went that way; not a straight



"Zig zag".

Let me clean that up a little bit.

To zig zag.

Or: "We zigged and we zagged.

We zigged and we zagged."

You can say: "We zigged and we zagged", but not: "We zagged and we zigged".

You can't say that.

Through the streets of Toronto.

What about this one?

"They went in circles arguing about the same things.

They went in circles arguing about the same things."

[Hums] Yeah, it's still bad, even when I'm just doing the music sound.

"They went round and round".


"They went around and around".

I know this is three words, and three words; but as you can see for the next one, they

get longer and we only need a few words.

I love this one: "She didn't realize her shirt had the inside

on the outside and the outside was on the inside."

I just want to hang myself.

I don't think I would ever say that, because in English, I know

the phrase is...

What's the phrase?

Yes: "inside-out".

So much easier.


Let's just do this.

Say: "inside-out".

"Her shirt was inside-out."



Just put a little hyphen, there.


So: "Her shirt was inside-out."

What's the next one?

"I don't trust them because they constantly change their minds on important decisions."

They constantly change their minds on important decisions.

What would that be?

Remember, if you go to Brazil you wear these?

"Flip flop".

Remember we talked about "flip flop"?

The guy was in the air, jumping, doing a flip, and then he flopped.

"They flip flop on their decisions."

And now, the last one: "I feel in excellent shape."

And I said they usually say this more in England, but they will say it in Canada and America.

"I feel in excellent shape."

What would that be?

Yeah, "tip-top shape".

A little joke for you: In Canada, we have a store called: "Tip Top" suit people, and

they are not the very best.

No offence, Tip Top, but you know you're not.

But, you know, it does mean the very best.

So, we've gone through and you've done your quiz; I'm sure you did rather well.

I do have homework for you.


Yeah, yeah, yeah, whatever.

Get over it.

You need to work.

I want you to write at least two sentences with these new phrases.

Taught you about seven phrases, so you have a choice between seven.

You know, you could say...

I use this one.

You could be romantique and say; "I zig zag through the streets of Rome with my love."

That's, like, a French accent.

Okay, well, whatever.

You get the point, okay?

Anyway, I'd like you to do the other quiz lined up for you.

And where are you going to go for that quiz?

You have to go to; eng as in English, vid as in video, and I know I said

wwww, but it's just www.


Do the quiz.

And before you go away, hit "Subscribe".

If you like this lesson, also pass it on to a friend.

I always and I should always say: Thank you for watching.

Don't forget to hit "Subscribe"; there's a button somewhere, here.

And if you see the little bell, hit that and you'll get the latest video that I have coming

out every time to either your laptop, your cellphone - wherever you want to get it.


Anyway, it's been a pleasure.

Thanks a lot.

And we'll see you soon.


The Description of 5 Common Direction Phrases in English: UPSIDE DOWN, INSIDE OUT...