10 Ways to Say I’m Busy in English

Here you will learn 10 different ways to say I’m busy in English.

You won’t be surprised to hear that there are so many better ways to say I’m busy
in English.
And it’s one of those phrases that you’ll hear a lot in modern life. There is something about the way we live today that trains us to believe that we have to busy all the time.
So what alternatives ways you can use to say I’m busy in English?

Welcome to our English courses and today I’m going to talk to you about different ways to say I’m busy in English.

But before I get started, I just like to remind you about our Easy Peasy Club.

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Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

INSANITY: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

So let’s talk about I’m busy. There are many ways in which we can say it when we talk about busy.  Busy means I haven’t got time for something else or somebody else.

– Could you help me with the housework?

– No, I’m busy.

– Could you do some extra work?

– No, I’m sorry, I’m busy.

– Could you help me with my homework, Dad?

– No, I’m busy.

How many other ways can we say it?

Well, there are many ways that are connected with parts of the body.

For example, I’M UP TO MY EYES.

Meaning up here. I’m up to my eyes.

Another way a lot of people say I’M UP TO MY NECK in it. I’m really really busy. I have lots of work.


So these are all parts of the body.

Ways to Say I'm Busy in English

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Or indeed even I’ve heard somebody say UP TO MY EARS this week.

  • up to my eyes
  • up to my ears
  • up to my neck
  • over my head

in work all meaning the exact same thing, meaning that I’m very busy.

And usually it’s referring to paperwork.

Okay, a lot of our work these days is done over the internet but this means exactly the same. So lots of paperwork to do and lots of paperwork to complete.

So what other ways are there to say I’m busy?

Well, we can say I’M SWAMPED.

Like a swamp where you sink so you can feel yourself sinking under the weight of the work that you have to do.

I’m swamped this week, I really can’t do any more. Let’s put up that meeting until next week.

Or you can say I’M SNOWED UNDER or SNOWED IN

Like the snow that falls in the sky. As the snow falls, it gets higher and higher. So when you’re snowed under, you’ve got the snow up to here and you can’t seem to move.

So when you’re really busy I’m snowed under.

Look, I’m snowed under for the next two weeks, my boss is away. So I really don’t have any time, I’m working late every night. Let’s put off our meeting for a little while.

We can just simply say I’M TIED UP

To tie something means to tie a knot. When you’re tied up, you can’t move, you have to stay at the desk or do what you’re doing.

I’m tied up all this week. I’ve got meetings back to back.

This means that you’re really busy and you don’t have time for anything else.

You can say I’M ENGAGED

Engaged can have a lots of different meanings but when somebody means you’re engaged it means you’re busy.

Often that is used when somebody phones for you. They phone through and they get a secretary or somebody else in the office and they say:

– Hello, can I speak to Harry please?

– I’m sorry, he’s engaged at the moment.

meaning he’s busy, he’s on another phone line. You can leave a message and I’ll tell him to call you.

I’m engaged or he’s engaged or he’s been engaged on another telephone call for quite a bit of time.

If you go past an office in the building you might see a notice on the door engaged, don’t enter meaning whoever’s inside is busy.

Other Ways to Say I'm Busy in English

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So other ways when we can say that we’re busy, something a little bit more formal I HAVE A LOT TO DO or I’VE LOTS TO DO.

It means lots of things – lots of meetings, lots of work, lots of emails, lots of housework. Whatever it might be.

Don’t bother me now, I’ve lots to do.

I have a lot to do tomorrow so I’m not going to be able to call you, why don’t you talk to me on Thursday or Friday?

We all like talking about food these days, and we can use MY PLATE IS FULL to say I’m busy.

It doesn’t mean that you’ve got too much food on your plate, it means your work plate, or whatever you’ve got to do, it’s full.  You’ve more than enough than you can handle or deal with. And you know you can’t really take any anything else or anymore.

There’s lots and lots of expressions that we can use to say that I’m busy.  We can say say:

  • up to my eyes
  • up to my neck
  • up to my ears
  • over my head

in work so all references to part of parts of the body.

  • I’m swamped (like sinking under the weight of the work that I have to do)
  • I’m snowed in or snowed under (you’re disappearing under the weight of the work)
  • I’m over my head
  • I’m tied up
  • I’m engaged
  • I have too much work to do
  • I’ve lots to do/a lot of work to do
  • My plate is full

so lots of nice expressions in which you can say that I’m busy and remember to subscribe to my channel and as always join us on our web page www.englishlessonviaskype.com.

More Information

For more information on English phrasal verbs, English collocations and English idioms, check out the following links:

20 Collocations with PROBLEM

16 Phrasal Verbs with OUT

My own vs on my own

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