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Are you learning English phrases? Here are 15 phrases that you can use right away. They’re all about how to say “I’m busy”!
Hey guys! I wanted to make you a video today but I’m just too busy. I’m absolutely swamped. I’m overwhelmed. I’m up to my ears in errands, and kids. Up to my ears. What? Exactly. I’m just very busy today running errands. Isn’t that funny? We use the verb ‘running’ for errands but we’re almost never actually running. We’re usually either driving or walking. Driving as I am today. But I’m so busy that I don’t really have time to sit at my desk today to make a video. So instead, we’re gonna make the video while we’re driving, and this video is on being busy. Fifteen ways to say you’re busy.
There are a lot of fun idioms that we’ll learn here and it’s just nice to know more than one phrase to use for a given situation. First, a quick note on the word ‘busy’. It’s spelled with the U but that’s actually the IH as in sit vowel in the stressed syllable. Some of my students make that tighter, they make it more of a EE. Busy– bee– bee– but it’s bih– busy. A little bit more relaxed. Busy.
Another way to say ‘I’m busy’ is to say: I’m buried. No, I don’t actually mean I’m dead buried covered with Earth, but I mean, I’m covered with things to do. I’m absolutely buried. I can’t do anything else. Now, depending on where you are in the US, this word will be pronounced differently. The most common pronunciation is the EH as in bed vowel like in the word ‘bear’, or in the word ‘air’. Bear. Buried. I’m absolutely buried.
We’ve got a very tight fit here, folks. Going to have to put a pause on the video while I focus on it, just exactly how wide is the car that I’m driving. Because I’m going to be honest with you, I am NOT a confident driver, and here’s a guy with his door out ahead of me so I’m just gonna have to give my horn a little honk so he’ll pull it in. And he did, thank you. This is not my best work.
Okay I was partially on the curb there, I am no longer on the curb, that is a bonus. That guy really helped me out. I think it just blew out a tire. Let’s see.
You can also say I’m swamped or I’m slammed. Oh, I’m exhausted. I was so slammed at work today. Or: I’m just so swamped at work right now. I’m working late every night. This is actually an interesting time to think about ED ending words. Now with swamped, the ED ending is a T sound because the sound before was unvoiced. That is the P sound. Ptt– Swamped. But with slammed, the ED ending is a D sound because the sound before was voiced, the M sound, slammed. So I have a video on how to pronounce ED endings, those rules, you can check it out by the link in the video description below.
You could also say: I have a lot on my plate. Now, this phrase has a literal meaning. I’ve got a lot on my plate. I literally shot that clip three years ago, and I’ve just been waiting for the chance to use it. I actually use this phrase quite a bit. I used it last week in an email, just to say that I’m very busy in my life with a lot of different things. I’ve got a lot on my plate right now. You could also use this as an excuse not to do something. You could say: I have too much on my plate right now.
Hey guys! I’m working on editing this video right now, and actually, one thing that I thought about was I’ve been using the phrase, related to the phrase, ‘a lot on my plate’, quite a bit lately. Here’s the deal, a lot of you guys know Tom, he’s been on this youtube channel before, he’s a great teacher in Rachel’s English Academy. Well, he recently started working full time for Rachel’s English. And one thing I’ve been saying about that as I talk about that, is I’ll say: he’s taking some things off my plate. Now, if you didn’t know this idiom, you might think: Why is this man stealing Rachel’s food? But of course, that’s not what it means. It means he’s taking on some tasks that I used to do, and that’s wonderful. So you may find yourself thinking: Hmm… I’m really busy. I wish I could hire an assistant to take some things off my plate.
You could also say: I’ve got a lot going on. Or: I’ve got too much going on. I’m so stressed. I’ve got too much going on.
You can also say: I’m juggling a lot right now. What does it mean? Again, it’s just another way to say: I’m busy. I’m juggling a lot right now, between work and the kids, and we have guests in town.
At the beginning of the video, I said: I’m up to my ears. Now this is a phrase that we usually use with ‘in’. I’m up to my ears in dirty diapers. Now, that feels very true because I have a nine month old baby. So I am very busy caring for my baby.
Yes, that was a blacksmith. We also have another idiom for being busy that comes from blacksmiths. And that is ‘to have a lot of irons in the fire’. I’m so sorry I can’t pick up another consulting job I have a lot of irons in the fire right now.
Now, we have two that begin with ‘over’. We have overwhelmed and overloaded. Again, they both just mean ‘too busy’. Let’s use a sentence. The employees are overloaded, I think we need to hire more staff. I’m overwhelmed by my workload. I’m overwhelmed by having two kids. Now, overwhelmed means not just really busy, but it’s too much, it’s stressing you out, it’s taking an emotional toll. What about when you’re busy, and you don’t just mean in general, but you mean at a specific time. For example, Rachel do you want to go get a drink tonight? I can’t, I’m busy. You could also say: Sorry, I’m unavailable. Hey, do you want to go out to dinner tonight? Sorry, my schedule’s full. Or: I can’t, I already have plans. You could also say: I’m tied up with other things. Tied up. You could also simply say: I just don’t have the time. Hey, Rachel can you work on this project with me? Sorry I don’t have the bandwidth. Bandwidth. Now this is a word that we sometimes use with electronics, but we can also use it for ourselves, to mean we don’t have the energy, we don’t have the mental capacity to take on more tasks because we’ve already got so much going on, we’re already overloaded, we do not have the bandwidth. You know, as I think about it, all of these phrases can be related to saying ‘no’.
Often when we say ‘no’ to something, we also want to say that we’re busy, we want to say why we’re saying ‘no’. And there are a lot of ways to say ‘no’ and I’m thinking this would make a really interesting video. As you know, I’m very busy, too busy to make a regular video for you today, but you know what? I think that video is important enough that I’m going to clear my schedule. I’m gonna prioritize it. I’m gonna make time to make that video. Okay, now we’re getting into phrases that we use when we are busy, but we’re gonna make ourselves not busy. I’m gonna prioritize that. I’m going to clear my schedule. I’m going to make room in my schedule for that.
So please join me here next week, let’s make time, let’s clear our schedules, and do this together. We’ll watch the video on how to say ‘no’. The next video I think you might want to watch is this video, it’s a phrase video that I made in my kitchen where I go over lots of ways to describe where something is. Now, I know that you’re busy and that you’ve prioritized watching this video, thank you for that. Thank you for your time. Thank you for studying with me. That’s it guys and thanks so much for using Rachel’s English.