American phrase words - letter I
American phrase words starting with letter I

Expressions Beginning with I

In this lesson, we cover essential American phrases and expressions that start with letter I with examples. You can use them in your daily conversations. Just follow examples and write them down a few times to learn them very well.

Expression Recap

In our previous lesson, we covered American Phrases Beginning with H.


Word of the Day: I


I beg your pardon: excuse me.

A: Would you two stop making so much noise please? We can’t hear the movie.

B: I beg your pardon. We didn’t realize we were so loud.


If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it: if something is working, don’t try to improve it, no matter how old it might be. (the English grammar in this expression is not correct: ain’t broke)

A: Wow, this machine needs some new parts.

B: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.


If worst comes to worst: if a situation gets really bad, there’s a solution or something else that can be done.

Brandon is a terrible cook, but he wants to make breakfast. If worst comes to worst, they can always go out for breakfast at a restaurant.


If you can’t beat them, join them: if you can’t prevent people from doing something you don’t like, be a part of the group.

Tom was angry that everyone was partying on company time, but then he said to himself, “If you can’t beat them, join them.”


If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen: if you don’t like the situation you’re in, then get out of it.

A: I’m tired of being a supervisor. There’s too much stress involve.

B: If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.


Ignorance is bliss: not knowing something is true can sometimes be a good thing. If you don’t know the truth or the facts, you won’t get in trouble.


in a pinch: in an emergency; at a time when necessary action must be taken.

Tom can’t always rely on his car to get to work because it breaks down a lot, so in a pinch sometimes he rides his bike.


in good condition / in good shape:

This old car is in very good condition.


in good spirits: happy; cheerful.

She’s in very good spirits today because it’s Friday and she doesn’t work on the weekend.


in no time at all: very fast; quick.

Just wait. The train will be here in no time at all.


in one’s own best interest: something is good for you even if you don’t like it.

Eating all of her broccoli is in her own best interest, but she hates it.


in one’s own world: alone in one’s thoughts; separate from other people.

He’s such a deep thinker that he gets lost in his own world.


in one’s pocket: to control another person, usually through love, power, or money.

He’s so in love with her, she has him in her pocket.


in one’s shoes: to see the world from another person’s position.

It’s not fair to criticize her unless you’re able to stand in her shoes.


in over one’s head: to do something that beyond a person’s experience or abilities.

He’s training for a fight with another martial arts expert, but everyone thinks he’s in way over his head.


in the ballpark: a good guess; an close estimate.

We didn’t pay full price for the house but your guess of just under $300,000 is in the ballpark.


in the blink of an eye: very fast.

The shot given by the nurse will hurt a little, but it will be over in the blink of an eye.


in the driver’s seat: in control of a situation.

He’s never comfortable unless he’s in the driver’s seat.


in the lap of luxury: very rich; to be surrounded by wealth.

After making millions of dollars in real estate, he’s living in the lap of luxury.


in the long run: over a long period of time.

They have had many disagreements during their 40-year marriage, but in the long run they’ve been able to get along very well together.


in the running: in competition with others; a candidate for a position.

She’s in the running for a top managerial position within the company.


in the same league: in the same position; to be as skilled as others.

He’s not in the same league as ordinary supervisors. He’s very, very good at managing his workers.


in this day and age: now; in modern times.

In this day and age, many downtown plazas display art and sculpture.


I guess so: to say “yes,” however not willingly; to agree to something after some consideration.

A: Can I borrow your car?

B: Well….. I guess so.


It ain’t over ’till the fat lady sings: something isn’t finished although the event is coming to a conclusion.

A: It looks like Brazil is going to lose the soccer match.

B: It ain’t over ’till the fat lady sings.


it stands to reason: that makes sense; that’s reasonable.

It stands to reason that walking around outside in the cold rain without a coat, a hat, or an umbrella might make you sick.


it takes some getting used to: you have to do something again and again before you like it or understand it.

Fly fishing isn’t as easy as fishing with worms. It takes some getting used to.


It takes one to know one: if you say something negative about a person, you yourself might have that same negative quality; it’s easier to recognize faults in other people if you have those same faults.

A: You’re a thoughtless, selfish person.

B: Oh yeah? Well, it takes one to know one.


it’s no use: There’s no way to fix this problem. I can’t do anything about this. This is impossible.

“It’s no use! I can’t get this remote control to work.”


Next Expression Lesson

In our next lesson, we will cover American Phrases Beginning with J.

Related Expression Lessons


English Expression Outline

If you wish to see all HiCafe lessons related to English expressions and phrases, you can visit the Popular and Practical American Phrases page.