How To Talk About MONEY 💰 English Conversation & Vocabulary

Lesson Overview

Lesson Summary 

There are LOTS of ways to talk about money in English. It’s one of those topics with quite a diverse range of vocabulary – particularly slang words that are commonly used in one country, and never heard in another!
In this lesson, we’ll go through some of the most common, universal money words – nouns, verbs and adjectives – to help you talk about money AND sound more confident and natural when you speak English!

CLICK HERE to read the full lesson transcript.

Video Transcript
Section 1
Well hey there! I’m Emma from mmmEnglish and in this lesson, we’re talking about cash! Moollah. Big ones. Bucks. Quid. Dosh. Dough. Coin. Money.

Now, most countries have their own currency – the name for their money. So..

  • dollars
  • pounds
  • euros
  • yen
  • rupee
  • dirham
  • renminhbi
  • dong

In fact, can you do me a favour and write the name of your country’s currency in the comments below this video? I’m curious to see just how many currencies we can collect down there.

But currency is not what this lesson is about. This lesson is about the nouns, the verbs, the adjectives that we use to talk about money in English and there are plenty!

The thing about money is, it’s a pretty dang important part of life really, isn’t it? So it’s no wonder at all why we have so many different words to talk about money including plenty of slang words. Plenty more than I’ve listed here. And these words are often unique to a place or to a community. They may not be understood by all native English speakers or even used by all native English speakers.

So if you’re visiting an English-speaking country, do a little research before you arrive because you’ll hear ‘quid’ and ‘skint’ in England but they’re not commonly used here in Australia. We would probably say ‘bucks’ and ‘broke’ instead, which is a little more like Americans. So when you’re in an English-speaking country, make sure you’re listening out for these words. Listen for the way that local people talk about money.

Now the noun ‘money’ is a universal word, you can use it anywhere in an English-speaking country. In Australia, you’ll hear people use any of these words to refer to money and more of them. But the most common ones are bucks, cash, coin and of course, money.

One of the trickiest things about money words in English is how they are used because dollars and bucks are countable nouns. So if you have more than one, it must be plural. Make sure you check your pronunciation on that, it’s very common for English learners to drop the plural ‘S’ and say “five dollar” which is incorrect, “five dollars”.

Now, ‘bucks’ is just an informal casual word for dollars. It’s a synonym.

Can I borrow ten bucks?

It has exactly the same meaning as “Can I borrow ten dollars?” It’s just more informal.

And often ‘bucks’ is used as a bit of a sales or marketing tool because somehow ‘bucks’ makes things sound cheaper or less expensive.

It’s only twenty bucks! Let’s get it..
What? Twenty dollars? I’m not paying that.
No.. it’s only twenty bucks. It’s nothing!

So this is exactly the same amount but using ‘bucks’ makes it sound cheaper somehow. So it’s a good sales tool.

‘Cents’ and ‘coins’ are also countable nouns relating to money.

Do you have any coins? I need them to pay for parking.
Sorry, I’ve only got fifty cents.

Now, ‘quid’ is countable but it doesn’t have a plural form.

It’ll cost you a quid.
Can you lend me twenty quid?

There is no plural sound. Now when you think about money like this, it’s easy to see how it’s countable, right? We know exactly how many dollars and cents we have in the bank. So of course money is countable, right? But actually, some English nouns that refer to money are uncountable and this has a huge impact when you’re using these words in English sentences. So to find out more about that, check out this lesson I made about uncountable nouns but right now, we’ll continue talking about uncountable nouns relating to money, okay?

‘Money’ is an uncountable noun and ‘cash’ is a synonym. It’s also an uncountable noun which means that they have only one form. There is no plural form. We would never say ‘monies’ or ‘cashes’.

Did you bring any money for the tickets?
I haven’t got enough money to pay for lunch. Sorry.

Now, this is interesting! Once an amount gets over a thousand, you’ll notice people saying ‘grand’ or ‘K’ and this just means thousand. So this is quite common across all English-speaking countries.

He earned 80K in three months.
We borrowed fifty grand from my parents to put a deposit on a house. So that’s fifty thousand dollars ($50,000).

Now some nouns in English can be countable and uncountable. ‘Coin’ is like this. Coins are countable, you can see I’ve got several of them right here. Now this is the common use of ‘coin’, right? There are several coins here but ‘coin’ can also be used informally as a synonym for money.

She must be on some good coin. They’ve just bought a new house!

So this means she must be making lots of money. “She’s on good coin” not “She’s on good coins”

Okay so let’s talk about some verbs to use when you’re talking about money in English. So when you go to work, you earn money, don’t you? Have you ever wondered how much money someone else earns? Some people are much better at saving money than others, right? Some people spend their money straightaway as soon as they get it and then they have to borrow money from their friends and family. Do you know anyone like that?

When you borrow money from a bank, you take out a loan. So the bank loans you money, when you don’t have enough. So notice here that ‘loan’ can be a verb and also a noun. But the problem is that then you owe the bank money. I hate the feeling of owing someone money. I always try to repay that money as quickly as possible. When you loan money from the bank, you have to repay the money, right? With interest. So if you don’t blow all your money as soon as you get it.

That’s just an informal way of saying “Spend all your money.” So if you don’t blow all your money as soon as you get it, you may be able to invest the money. And when someone, perhaps a relative, passes away or they die, they might leave you some of their money. And when this happens, you inherit money.

So the reality is that most things cost money, don’t they? Not everything, but most things cost money. Goodness, there are lots and lots of different verbs to use with ‘money’, aren’t there? And also they can be used with the synonyms of ‘money’, as well. Lots of collocations to try and remember.

Let’s talk about adjectives that you can use when you’re talking about money. So it’s important to know that there are different adjectives to use with things. So the things that you can buy with money and people.

So let’s start with adjectives that describe things that people can buy. So of course, you’re probably used to the adjective, ‘expensive’, when something costs a lot of money, right? And ‘cheap’, when something doesn’t cost a lot of money. But I want to introduce you to a few other words, other adjectives. I want to push your vocabulary a bit further today.

So I want you to think about a situation where you bought something in the past and you were happy with the price. It wasn’t a cheap item but you were happy to pay the price. In your opinion, the value that you get is equal to the cost. The benefit of the item is equal to the amount that you will pay for it. So then, you can say “it’s worth it.”

We paid more for the house than we wanted to, but it’s worth it. It’s in a beautiful location.

You might also say that the price was fair or reasonable but if something costs more than you think it’s worth, you could say that “it’s pricey.”

I almost bought a new sofa today but I decided it was too pricey. I’ll keep looking for one that’s a little cheaper.

Now the adjective ‘cheap’ is not always a positive one. It can suggest that something is poorly-made, that the quality is bad. So if you want to say that something is cheap but express it in a more positive way, you could use ‘affordable’ or ‘economical’.

We need more affordable housing options in the city.
Catching a bus to Thailand is more economical than flying.

That’s a positive way to express ‘cheaper’.

So how can we describe people and their money? You probably know someone who is generous with the money that they have. They share it with everyone around them. They’re generous. Now if someone has a lot of money, you could say “They’re rolling in it.” As in they’re rolling in money. They’ve got lots of it!

Another common one, “They’re loaded” or even “They’ve got heaps of coin.”

Now if someone doesn’t have much money, you might hear “They’re broke” or “They’re skint”. So ‘broke’ is common in Australia and in America, ‘skimp’ is commonly used in the UK but both being that someone doesn’t have much money or any money.

I’m completely broke.

Now if you know someone who doesn’t like to spend their money, you could say “they’re tight” or “a cheapskate”. Now these are both insults, they’re not kind words. So don’t use them to talk about your friends unless you’re joking around.

My boss is so tight, he cancelled our Christmas party because there were too many people to invite.

So if you don’t mean to insult someone and you’re suggesting that it’s a good thing that they don’t spend their money, then instead use a different adjective like ‘thrifty’ or ‘money-conscious’.

My auntie is thrifty with her money, she doesn’t earn much but she lives comfortably.

Now if someone doesn’t like to spend money, that’s not necessarily a bad thing, is it? Sometimes that’s a really positive quality.

So I’ve introduced a lot of new words throughout this lesson. Lots of words to do with money. What I suggest you do, is take a few moments to write a paragraph right now. Write about the people in your life who suit these adjectives or things you’ve done with the verbs that we talked about earlier. Do you know someone who’s loaded or someone who’s thrifty? Tell me about it in the comments.

Practise using these words in sentences. I really hope that you enjoyed this lesson. Money is something that we all talk about a lot, don’t we? So I hope that you learned some new ways to express yourself today.

Please show your love and support for the mmmEnglish channel by clicking that red subscribe button just down there. If you’re not a subscriber already, you should be! Come and join us! If you want to keep watching and keep practising with me, check out these lessons here. Otherwise, thanks for watching. I’ll see you next week. Bye for now!

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