Find out what to say at Christmas time and practise these common English expressions! 🎄Improve your pronunciation and speaking skills 👉 https://www.mmmenglish.com/imitation-2/
There are many common phrases and sayings that you'll hear at this time of year, so you may as well make the most of it and learn some Christmas vocabulary! I'll show you how to pronounce these
If you've been invited to spend Christmas with native English speakers, then this lesson is a MUST-WATCH! Get ready for those Christmas conversations and brush up on these common expressions!
If you celebrate Christmas, I hope you have some wonderful celebrations planned… Merry Christmas! If you don't celebrate, time to start thinking about the new year! Do you have any plans to welcome 2019?
Note: My video lessons are created to help English learners to improve their pronunciation and speaking skills. Please note that the pronunciation of some of these words differs between English accents. I speak with an Australian English accent 🙂
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Hey there! I'm Emma from mmmEnglish! So Christmas is just around the corner and in this lesson, I'll focus on some common English expressions and vocabulary that you'll hear at this time of year. The Christmas holiday is celebrated so differently around the world. For some, it's a religious celebration. For others, it's just a cultural celebration but an important one.
Most of you know that here in Australia, we celebrate Christmas a little differently. It's not the quintessential white Christmas that you imagine. We spend days at the beach over our holidays and the food that we eat is a little less traditional. We eat prawns and salads and cold ham and all of those delicious things. All of my students in South America, Southeast Asia and even parts of Africa. I mean, we definitely do things a little differently down in the southern hemisphere, right?
If you celebrate Christmas in summer, I want to hear about your traditions in the comments. How do you and your family celebrate? What's your favourite thing to do on Christmas Day? Now for those of you who celebrate a more traditional, white Christmas, you probably can't even imagine Christmas in summer, right? A hot Christmas. It must sound completely crazy to you. And if you don't celebrate Christmas at all, you've probably got another similar holiday where you eat lots of delicious food with the people that you love and maybe you share gifts with each other so I'd love to hear about your celebrations as well. If you've got time, add a quick description into the comments, I'd love to read about it.
But back to Christmas. There are some tricky words and expressions that are used at Christmas time in English so in this lesson we'll focus on how you can say them confidently.
You'll practise how to wish someone a Merry Christmas. You'll find out what a Kris Kringle is and I'll help you to get in the Christmas spirit.
I'm sure that you've heard this greeting before, it's probably the most famous Christmas expression there is. But so often, it's mispronounced by my English students. ‘Merry' could be a little tricky for you if your native language is Thai, Vietnamese or another Asian language, because of that /r/ consonant sound.
So with the consonant, make sure that the tip of your tongue is not touching anything and that it's pushed up in the middle and pulling back from the front of your mouth. The edges of your tongue can touch the top inside teeth Now ‘Christmas' is also tricky because the T is silent. Most native speakers just simply say ‘Merry Christmas'. And the letter A here is unstressed so you'll just hear it as the schwa sound. It's flat, it's low in pitch. If you're not sure what the schwa sound is, then check out this lesson here that I made all about it.
But let's try ‘Christmas' together. Forget about that T sound in there, you need to be a little lazy with the A. Listen to the intonation there.
In most English-speaking countries, you'll hear ‘Merry Christmas' and ‘Happy Christmas'. Both are good options.
The night before Christmas is also an important day. Depending on the culture, some people actually eat their big family Christmas meal on Christmas Eve and not on Christmas Day. And some cultures open their presents on Christmas Eve. But more importantly, for many children around the world, Christmas Eve is the time when Santa Claus comes flying to their house with his sleigh and his reindeer to leave Christmas presents under the Christmas tree. It's a big night and it's also hard to pronounce.
The consonant sound at the end of ‘Christmas' links to the vowel sound at the start of ‘Eve' and the two words are usually pronounced as if they were one big word and remember, don't pronounce that T. And don't forget that final /v/ consonant at the end.
What on earth is that? Well let's start with Santa, you probably know him, right? This guy. Also known as Santa Claus. Yeah, in English that word is pronounced just like ‘claws' and ‘clause'. He's also known as Father Christmas. He's known as Saint Nicholas, Saint Nick and Kris Kringle in some countries and of all of those names, I think the hardest to pronounce is Kris Kringle.
So saying two words that begin with the /kr/ consonant cluster, it's kind of like a tongue twister. It really makes the muscles in your mouth work. And don't forget that tiny little schwa sound there in the syllabic consonant. So it's an unstressed second syllable. In some accents, it's syllabic otherwise there's a tiny little schwa sound in there. This one might take a little bit of getting used to but there's no time like the present.
Repeat after me. It's like a tongue twister. How fast can you say it without messing it up? Now for me in Australia, Kris Kringle is actually an activity played at Christmas time especially amongst big groups of friends or colleagues at work.
So it's a gift-swapping game. It's quite popular. You write everybody's name on a small piece of paper and put it into a hat or a bucket. Then you choose one of the pieces of paper without looking and the person on this piece of paper is the one that you have to buy a Christmas present for.
So you can't tell anyone who you're buying your present for and there's usually an amount of money that everyone agrees to spend so the presents are all of the same value. And there's actually a lot of different variations on this game depending on where you are in the English-speaking world. It might also be called Secret Santa. If you're in America, I think it's called Yankee Swap or White Elephant, so there are lots of games where everyone brings a present to a party and then you know it's a bit of fun sharing those presents around.
But sometimes there's slightly different rules, so if you do ever get invited to one of these games at Christmas, then make sure you just double-check the rules.
Christmas wish list
Now that we're on the topic of presents and gifts, do you have anything special on your Christmas wish list this year? We usually exchange gifts at Christmas time and your wish list is a list of all of the things that you hope to receive. Now most commonly this is done by children, particularly because they write their list of gifts they want to receive from Santa.
Now I'm wondering if you have a Christmas wish list. If you do, what's on it? For me, I would really like a pretty beach umbrella and some new beach chairs, that's what's on my Christmas list. Fingers crossed that Santa sees that this year.
So this is a pronunciation nightmare if you have trouble with the and sounds. For such a short phrase it's actually pretty tough to say, especially at the ends of these words. So for the sound, your lips need to flare outwards. And your tongue is pulling a little back but your teeth are not quite touching and of course, it's an unvoiced sound so the air is pushing through your mouth.
The -st consonants at the end of ‘list' might also be tricky for you because it's a cluster of consonants.
So the /s/ the /t/ sounds need to come together, right? So you can probably make those sounds separately but what about if you push them together? Make sure that I can hear that T, please. I want to hear that air stop. Okay now put it all together.
That's another tongue twister for you to practise this week Christmas! Challenge yourself to say that as many times as possible without messing that up!
Now you might also hear people saying that they are in the Christmas spirit. Someone who is in the Christmas spirit is feeling excited and really happy about the holidays, excited about seeing friends and family and decorating the house and planning celebrations. So you can use this expression when someone is doing an action that's particularly generous or giving like if a colleague brought some mince pies to share with everyone at work to celebrate Christmas. What a generous gesture!
You could say “You're in the Christmas spirit!“
If you don't know what mince pies are, I made a video about it here a couple of Christmases ago. Now since Christmas ends in the /s/ consonant, the same sound that ‘spirit' starts with, then you can link those two sounds together so the whole phrase sounds more like one word.
This sounds like Christmas spirit.
So those two consonant sounds, because they're the same, we don't need to pronounce them twice. They just pull together.
But what if you're not in the Christmas spirit? I'm sure some of you might know someone who can be quite grumpy at Christmas. They don't really like that time of year. They don't like Christmas and we call those people Scrooges in an affectionate way. A Scrooge.
So the word ‘Scrooge' is actually the name of a really grumpy man in a famous Christmas story called A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. In the story, the main character, Scrooge, hates everything about Christmas and he does his best to avoid all of the celebrating, all of the happiness of the holidays.
Now over time, it's become really common to call anyone who is anti-Christmas, who doesn't really like Christmas, a Scrooge.
Are you a Christmas Scrooge? It's okay, you can admit it! Sometimes I'm a bit of a Scrooge.
So to say this word is a little challenging. It's an invented name so it's a bit of a strange word but you'll hear it all the time at this time of year. Make sure you practise the /sk/ consonant cluster on its own before you even think about adding the rest of it. So hear that sound tapping at the back of my mouth playing with that air as it's coming through. So there's that sound. Everything's pretty tight in my mouth there. So we end up with that shape from the vowel sound. So then you need to add the consonant sound like in ‘jam'.
Now that you can say the name, you can tell someone “Come on! Don't be such a Scrooge!”
Remember, it's usually meant as an affectionate insult, if that's possible. It's not really meant to be rude. Usually, people who are Scrooges are completely okay about it, they accept it. So do you know anyone who's a Christmas Scrooge? Maybe don't name them in the comments but share your stories about them if you want.
The more the merrier!
We already know that ‘merry' is a synonym for happy so it can also mean lively, cheerful and even a little bit drunk. You're happily drunk. So when it comes to Christmas parties and celebrations usually the more the merrier. The more people that come, the happier and the more fun the event will be.
You can use this expression to say everyone's welcome and although this expression is a way to invite people to a Christmas party, especially to say, you know, bring your friends and family too but this expression is common not only at Christmas. You can use it at any time when you're inviting people to join in an activity.
Hey, can I bring my boyfriend to the party?
Sure, the more the merrier!
Can we join you guys at the movies?
Of course, the more the merrier! Everyone's welcome.
So let's say this one a few times together. Both of these words are unstressed, so they reduce down and become the schwa sound. The other words are content words. They're stressed and we hear them really clearly.
Stress that vowel sound there. In my accent, you don't hear the consonant sound at the end.
Well hopefully this lesson helped you to get in the Christmas spirit. In English-speaking countries and in lots of other countries around the world, this is such a special time of year. So if you're celebrating I wish you a very Merry Christmas!
Now stick around for some extra practice coming up in just a moment but before we get there, make sure you subscribe to the mmmEnglish family here on YouTube, if you haven't already. The more the merrier! Click that red button right there. Now let's go practise!
Shah: What are you up to?
Emma: I am just finishing some last-minute Christmas wrapping.
Emma: Yes a few last presents to wrap before the big day.
Shah: Who are your presents for?
Emma: Mostly for friends actually, I'm not spending Christmas with my family this year so most of these presents are for my friends.
What are you up to for Christmas?
This year I'm having a pretty quiet one actually. I'm not going back to Melbourne. Normally I fly home to Melbourne where all of my family lives. This year I'm not. My family's coming over to visit me in Perth after New Year's so I'm just having a really quiet relaxed Christmas this year and not doing a lot of the crazy running around and preparing, organising everything that usually happens.
What do you normally do for Christmas?
Well, normally I am back in Melbourne and my family, I have quite a big family, all of my cousins and my aunties and uncles and my grandparents are usually there. And so we have a big lunch or a big dinner and sort of give each other presents and it's a really good opportunity to catch up because now all of my cousins have grown up, we're all adults, we don't see each other that much so it's a really great chance to catch up.
What are you up to for Christmas?
I'm actually really glad that you asked that question because it's one that comes up all the time around this time of year, particularly in English-speaking countries where everyone is celebrating Christmas or at least everyone gets time off work at that time of year.
So even if you're not celebrating Christmas or you don't really, you know, believe in Christmas and you don't sort of spend time celebrating at that time of year, it's still a time when you get days off work and you know here in Australia, at least, it's really great weather. Everyone really makes the most of that opportunity to you know, catch up, with family or friends and that kind of thing.
So when you get asked this question: “What are you doing at Christmas?” or “Have you got any plans at Christmas?” It can be asked in so many different ways. There are so many different questions that can get asked but actually, the answer to all of them is exactly the same.
So what are your plans over Christmas?
What's going on for Christmas?
Where are you going over Christmas?
Where are you guys going for Christmas?
What are you doing for Christmas this year?
What are you doing for Christmas?
What do you normally do for Christmas?
What are you up to for Christmas?
What are your plans this Christmas?
So when you get asked this question, it's not so much specifically what you're doing on Christmas Day even if, you know, you're not actually celebrating. It's talking about this period of time around the Christmas holidays so it could be you know, from anywhere around the 21st of December through to the 2nd or 3rd of January, depending on you know, when the public holidays are. This time of year, it's because everyone's got time off work, they're, you know, often going on holidays or doing special things whether they're related to Christmas or not.
So if you don't celebrate Christmas, you know, it's easy to answer this question as well. You can simply say “I don't celebrate Christmas” or “We're not really into Christmas, but we're doing this instead or we're going to visit family” or “We're taking advantage of the holidays and we're going to Italy.” Something like that.
So even if you don't celebrate Christmas, you can easily answer this question, you just need to have a couple of ideas at the ready. Some of the things you might say are where you're going, who you're doing it with, whether it's friends or family, whether it's a big celebration or not, whether it's low key or you're having a quiet one like me. And also, you know, what your plans are, what types of things you'll be doing, what activities you'll be doing, whether you're staying at home, whether you're travelling to somewhere else.
So any of these ideas are things that you can talk about when you answer that question and if you're like me this year and you're doing something a little different to what you usually do then answering this question by contrasting or comparing the way that you usually celebrate with what you're doing this year is also the perfect way to answer this question.
So for me, I usually fly home and I visit my family and we have a big Christmas celebration but this year I'm having a quiet one and my family are actually coming to visit me. So it's a little different and I can talk about the difference in that answer.
So I'm curious, what have you got planned this Christmas? What are you doing with your family over the holidays? I'm really interested to find out. I'm sure we have completely different ways of celebrating all around the world but I want you to try and answer that question using the tips and advice that I gave during this little extra bonus section of this lesson. So try and tell me what you're doing, where you're doing it, who you're doing it with, what you're eating, if you're celebrating – particularly if you're celebrating in a religious way. If you're not celebrating, tell me what you'll be doing instead or what you usually do at this time of year. I'm really interested to find out.
Well, I hope that you enjoyed that lesson and that you've got a few new expressions to use this year at Christmas time. If you enjoyed this lesson then make sure you subscribe to the mmmEnglish channel by clicking that red button just down there. If you want to keep watching some more Christmas related videos, I've got a few others right here. So I'll see you in the next lesson!
mmmEnglish Video Lessons are a series of video lessons created to build confidence in English learners and focus on English in daily life. Download them and watch them anywhere! Subscribe to my YouTube Channel to be the first to get my new videos, and come and say hi on my Facebook page!!
Hi Emma, here in Reunion island, it's summer time like in Perth, people celebrates Christmas at home, it's usually a big party, with firecrackers, music, dancing, we eat carry, our national meal, lobster if we can afford it, and overall tons of litchis. The party ends very early the next morning and we spent 2 days, or more, to recover and to be in a good shape for new year's eve. This is Christmas for us, music, firecrackers, big meals and litchis.
You have a direct plane from Perth to Mauritius and then a small flight ( 40 min ) to Reunion island. Come and visit us. 😉
I do love your lessons
That sounds quite similar to how Australians celebrate Christmas!! Happy holidays to you and your family Giles! Eat lots and be merry 🙂
Dear Emma !
Christmas has a Great
Significance .I wish you
Greetings . May the New
Year 2019 bring us Prosperity & happiness .
You lucky, it's summer!! Here it's freezing and I miss summer so much!!
Hopefully you get to experience a hot Christmas in the future! 🙂
Dear Emma, Merry Christmas!
I'm from Moscow, Russia. Our winter is fantastic! White fluffy snow, many color lights, Christmas Trees on the squares, music and… millions people)) It's megapolis. I love Moscow very much!
Although Orthodox Christmas is January 7, and Old New Year is January 14, we usually celebrate New Year) There are also many Catholics and Lutherans in Russia, so people in our country start celebrating December 24 and finish eat&drink January 14). .. more precisely, they never finish))
I've liked your gift-swapping game) Usually we buy and give presents to each other, to everybody, so we spend a lot of money at first, but get a lot of presents from all friends and relatives finally)
There is a lovely tradition in my family. Me and my husbend and our adult children buy a Christmas tree, set it in a bucket of water, decorate with toys, lights and sweets and put gifts under it near the figures of Santa Claus and Snow Maiden… Happy New Year!
I am not into Christmas, but I hope peaceful Christmas for those who celebrate it.thanks Emma for your wonderful lesson.
Thanks Dahir! Even if you're not celebrating, I hope you have a great day!
Dear Emma, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! I am from Moscow like Olga, she wrote about our holidays in her comment above. Now we have a lot of snow in Moscow and most of us can not imagine the New Year without snow! Moscow is really beautiful in these days but a significant part of moscovites go to the contriside ( there is a russian word DACHA to name the countrihouse) before the New Year to see the New Year come…Now best best wishes to you! Merry Christmas!
I would love to experience a white Christmas at least once in my lifetime! Happy holidays to you and your family!
Feliz Navidad and H N Year 2019 Emmaaaaaa!!!!
Christmas here is celebrated as in USA (I'm relatively close to the border with Texas, us) here Christmas is very commercial,the streets full of people buying like crazy, last minute as always…a chaos Christmas in the street; and then the dinner, Turkey or a Mexican meal(chicken or pork tamales, among others)
Thank you again!!!
Happy holidays Armando! Eat lots and be merry 🙂
Dear Emma, thank you for your nice Christmas lesson wich gives us the right English celebration ambience. As I told you before in Switzerland we live in the middle of the Alps, so that a white Christmas is the rule above all on the mountains. It's strange to me that in your deep South, you also celebrate with Northern coniferous, instead of palms or cactus. In Switzerland there are two civilisations: the principal is German, the others are French and Italian. I live in Lugano wich is only about 7O km from Milan (Italy). Italians celebrate Christmas mostly at the 25 with a luscious dinner. On the other hand, the German part celebrate more the Eve of Christmas with a rich dinner followed by the mass in the church. The Northern part of Switzerland has more deeply rooted traditional celebrations with songs and festivities. Between Christmas and New Year we use to ski in the heights whcih gives us the right snowy atmosphere.
My best greetings and a happy New Year.
Gratefully, yours Marco
happy holidays dear, greetings from Brazil
And to you too, Marli!
I’ve tried twice transfer money for immigration technic lesson, unfortunately its not passed maybe my card is debit, so, I’ll trying it again after when the bank working by another ways.
Hi Sansern! The two payment options available for my courses are credit card or Paypal 🙂
Merry christmas and happy new year