Bob’s Your Uncle? Not in the US!

Many years ago, a client wanted me to teach him some English idioms before his business trip to the United States.

I shared two of my favourites:

  • “Not every Tom, Dick or Harry*”—This means not everyone.
    For example, you could say: “My new programme isn’t for every Tom, Dick or Harry; it takes a lot of effort.
    • “And Bob’s your uncle!*” —This means “there you go!” or “there you have it”.
      For example, you could say: “Having trouble opening a jar? No problem! Grip the lid with a cloth, twist it to the left (counter-clockwise), and Bob’s your uncle—the jar is open!

      Perhaps you can imagine … my client came back unhappy. No one understood his wonderful British phrases!

      (What I didn’t think about at the time … Americans might not understand a lot of our British expressions.)

      Every language has some expressions that don’t translate well.  British English has a lot of these!

      So next time you want to impress someone with a new expression, be careful! It might not be understood.

      My tip: Clear and simple language is always best. Especially in business!

      Has anything similar happened to you?


      * nicht jeder x-Beliebige
      * schwuppdiwupp, … und schon haben wir’s!


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      Foto Christine Sparks

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