Advanced English Expressions With Work

Learn English expressions with work and boost your advanced English vocabulary. 

Easy way to study advanced English. Listen to the podcast Speak Better English with Harry or watch it on YouTube at Learn English with Harry.

Speak better English with Harry - Episode 297

List of English expressions with work

English expressions with work

Advanced English expressions with work. Advanced English learning. Online English lessons on Zoom. Study advanced English at #learnenglish #englishlessons #EnglishTeacher #vocabulary #ingles #อังกฤษ #английский #aprenderingles #english #cursodeingles #учианглийский

Hi there and welcome back to my podcast. This is Harry and I try to help you with your understanding of the English language. To try and improve conversational English, Business English, all aspects of English. Learning grammar, phrasal verbs, expressions, idiomatic phrases, vocabulary, pronunciation, everything. 

So what have I got for you today in this episode? 

In this particular podcast, we’re going to look at work. And, in particular, we’re going to look at some English expressions with the word ‘work’. And as always, I’ll give you a list of those, and then I’ll try to explain them to you one by one with some examples. Working examples as we’re talking about work.

So what have I got for you? 

  • work for someone 
  • works like magic
  • work the system
  • work a treat
  • work your butt (your socks) off
  • work your way through 
  • work your fingers to the bone
  • work your way up

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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.

Okay, so let’s give you some examples of those. 

work for someone

Well, that’s very simple. 

👩🏼‍🦱 What do you do? 

👨🏼‍🦰 I work for someone in the city. 

👨🏼‍🦰 What do you do for a living? 

👩🏼‍🦱 I work for someone who my father knows. 

So when we’re working for someone, we can work for someone we know or family knows. 

Or you could work for yourself. So when you work for yourself, you are self-employed or an entrepreneur. You set up a little business, like me, teaching. Or you work as a carpenter, or a painter, or an architect. You work for yourself. So you’re working for someone. 

A lot of us consider that we’re actually working for the taxman. So that’s always a problem where we end up working to pay tax. 


works like magic

Well, what works like magic except magic? Magic does work. But when we work, or something works like magic, it means it’s fixed, or it’s excellent.

So you get a new piece of technology, and somebody says, 

👩🏽‍🦱 Oh, how’s that new computer?

👨🏾‍🦱 Works like magic. It is wonderful. I should have got it years ago. 

Or if you get some new gadget for the kitchen, 

🧕🏼 How’s that new food processor?

🧕🏾 Works like magic. It can do everything. You can do everything but cook, so it works like magic. 

Or if you’ve got some problem, you’ve spilt some wine, and there’s a stain on the carpet. So you go to the local DIY shop and you ask them,

👩🏼‍🦱  Have you got anything that can really remove stains from a carpet?

🧓🏼 Yes, try this. Just sprinkle it on, leave it for an hour, come back, brush it off, and it will be gone. It works like magic. 

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work the system 

Well, when people work the system, it means they know how the system works, and they know how to get the most out of it. 

So for example, in a country where there’s a very attractive and healthy social welfare system, like here in Ireland, or even in the UK, some people know how the system works so well, that they can get every possible penny and euro that you could possibly think of.

They know how to work the system to their advantage so they maximise legitimately what they are entitled to get. 

Somebody who’s been working in an organisation for a long, long time, knows how to work the system, how to get the best out of something. Somebody working in the civil service, somebody working in the bank, somebody working in the Department of Education, they all know how to work the system.


work a treat

Well, we mentioned ‘works like magic’ and to work a treat is almost the same. 

You can use this expression if something does more than you had anticipated, everything that you asked for. 

So it could be something simple, like something to keep the children happy. So it’s a lockdown and because of all these terrible COVID issues, and people are wondering how they’re going to keep the children occupied. 

So somebody mentioned to them about old fashioned board games that we’ve forgotten how to play. Your children are fed up looking at computer games, fed up with having lessons online. So somebody suggests to get out the old board games, do a bit of variation, make some popcorn, get a few fizzy drinks. It works a treat, the kids are happy, you all enjoy it, it’s a bit of fun.

So when we want to work a treat, it means we want to get something that will help lift the spirits, which will do just the job. It was, as we might say in English, just what the doctor ordered. 

English expressions with work

Advanced English expressions with work. Advanced English learning. Online English lessons on Zoom. Study advanced English at #learnenglish #englishlessons #EnglishTeacher #vocabulary #ingles #อังกฤษ #английский #aprenderingles #english #cursodeingles #учианглийский

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English expressions with work

We all know what it’s like to work really, really hard. So we’ve got two expressions: 

work your socks off

Literally, work your socks off means you’re really, really working long, long hours, long days, long, weeks, long months, everything.

Or slightly less polite 

work your butt off

👨‍🦱 How’s it going?

🧔🏼 Oh, I’m working my butt off, I’ve been working my butt off all year. And what thanks do you get for it? Some lousy little bonus that the taxman is going to take.

To work your butt off or to work your socks off means to work really, really hard at whatever you’re doing. 

Now, it could be just studying for exams. So you work your butt off for a few months before the big exam.

Or you work your socks off coming up to your final exams.

Or before you prepare your thesis and you’re just waiting to get it finished so that you can sit back and relax. So you work your butt or you work your socks off. 

You can 

work your way through something 

So you get a pile of documents landed on your desk, and you work your way through them slowly.  Start at the top. Take them one at a time, going through them diligently and making sure you read all the relevant notes.

Or perhaps they come in as an attachment and you open a particular file on your computer. You’ve got page after page that you have to work your way through slowly so that you eventually get to the end, and you have an understanding of what this is all about. 

So work your way through the documents. 

English expressions with work

We can also 

work your way up 

So you join the organisation at the ground level, you come into the mailing room, and then gradually over the years and years, you work your way up. You get promoted, become an assistant manager. You move into a different department, you become a manager. You come into a different department. And then you get as high as you can in the organisation. 

Somebody says,

See that guy there, he started from nothing, and he worked his way up. 

And then finally, 

work your fingers to the bone

When you work your fingers to the bone, it means you’re literally writing and writing and writing. 

If you’ve got a pen in your hand, and you write for a long time, your finger gets very sore. If you keep writing and writing, you’ll end up with no skin on your finger. That’s what it means to work your fingers to the bone. 

Of course, we don’t mean that literally. Working your fingers to the bone means working very, very hard, very, very diligently. Something similar to what we said to work your butt off or work your socks off. 

Work your fingers to the bone is to work really, really hard. 

Okay, so here are English expressions with work. Let me give them to you one more time:

  • work for someone 
  • works like magic
  • work the system
  • work a treat
  • work your butt or your socks off
  • work your way through
  • work your way up 
  • work your fingers to the bone

As I said, if anybody wants to contact me well then they can do so on

I’m always happy to hear from you’re always willing to include some suggestions that you have in future podcasts. 

As always, thanks for listening. Join me again soon.

More information

For more information on English grammar rules, English collocations and English idioms, check out the links below:

Different ways to say EASY in English

10 Other ways to say GO AWAY in English

You can always study English advanced level at Learning English with the BBC.

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