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Student Information


The ABC’s of Canadian Expressions

Vern Eaton, our Director of Studies at St Giles Vancouver has come up with a list of common expressions used in Canada. They are easy to remember, just follow your ABCs! 

A little bird told me

When you know a secret, but don’t want to say who told you that secret, you can say “a little bird told me.”

“A little bird told me that today is your birthday!”

Back to square one

Other options have failed you, and you need to take a new approach, you can say that you’re “back to square one” where you’ll start all over again from the beginning.

“Our vacation plans have not worked out. I guess we are back to square one and will have to make new plans.”


Unlike in the United States, where distance is measured in miles, Canadians use kilometres, which they casually call “clicks.”

“It’s 10 clicks to drive to my mother’s house.”


We have a unique way to order a coffee with 2 creams and 2 sugar. We ask for a “double-double, please!”

Egg on

This phrase has nothing to do with eggs. It actually means to urge people to perform an action. If your friend is usually bothering you to exercise, for example, then it means she is “egging you on” to get into shape.

“Her friends were egging her on to meet a new guy.”

Flea market

At a “flea market” or outdoor shopping bazaar, you can find plenty of cheap articles, antiques and second-hand goods being sold by individual vendors.

Grab a bite

If someone asks you to “grab a bite,” they’re asking you to go out to a restaurant for something to eat.

“Let’s grab a bite to eat at the new Greek restaurant.”

Head honcho

The boss, the leader, the supervisor, the teacher. Whoever is in charge is the “head honcho.”

I’m stuffed

When you’ve had a lot to eat and are too full to eat any more, you might say “I’m stuffed.”

Keep your shirt on

When men used to wear t-shirts under their dress shirts, they would take off the first shirt before getting into a fight. So, when you are told to “keep your shirt on,” you’re meant to remain calm.

Can you think of any more?

Find more English Language tips from St Giles Vancouver!