3 American Phrases My Czech Partner Doesn’t Understand

Sure, Ondra’s done his fair share of acclimation since we started dating. He loves baseball, he’s eaten a whole rack of ribs at a barbeque, he’s survived peanut butter indoctrination, he has come along on my family’s crazy diner-hopping trail.

But there are some phrases – and I get it – that continue to puzzle you after you’ve become fluent in a language. They just don’t seem to make sense, or are so foreign from how you’d say it in your native tongue that you can’t get used to it.

Here are three that get regular hesitation in our relationship.

“I’m good.”

I remember this really confusing Ondra when we first got to know each other.

“Do you want any more fries?” “I’m good.”

“It’s pretty cold, don’t you need a jacket?” “Nah, I’m good.”

“Here’s some pasta with poppy seeds and sugar. Want to try some?” “Um, no. I’m good.”

It made him shake his head in confusion. What does it mean to be good? Good like a dog? Good like a moral person? Who in their right Czech mind would refuse pasta with poppy seeds?!?!

Such a simple phrase! And it only means, “No thanks, I don’t want that thing.”

How, HOW do they let this be a dish? (Credit to Albert)

“Do you want to…”

Funny how we as Americans talk around things to be polite. I always notice it when I’m in the States, or especially emailing an American. “If you wouldn’t mind…” “When you get the chance…” “It would be great if you…” “…that would be so awesome.”

For a people that have been said to be somewhat uncomfortably direct (definitely in a different way than Czechs though – they will actually tell you what they think), we can be really indirect when making requests of others. Perhaps, in a way I’ve never thought about, this can even border on rude.

“Hey Ondra, do you want to get me my phone from the kitchen?”

“Is that just another way of telling me to do it without saying please?”

“Oh… probably… yeah. Haha, us Americans.”

*we both go back to doing what we were before*

“So, about that phone, do you want to–?”

can't reach
Can’t…reach… (Credit to Getty Images)


I am not going to sit here and pretend to you that I, like many Americans, am not prone to exaggeration. I definitely, definitely am, despite being a self-professed word nerd. I throw all meaning out the window when it comes to this word because my enthusiasm usually cannot be contained in language alone. It must be GRAPHICALLY illustrated.

“Oh my god she was going to literally blow up.”

“Ondra. ONDRA! I am literally about to die.”

“I’m telling you that I literally peed my pants laughing.”

Ondra is that person who sits there listening, tapping his pencil on the table and then squeezing it so hard he nearly breaks it in half, grinding his teeth and saying, “Figuratively. YOU MEAN FIGURATIVELY.” He literally is.

He loves the YouTube comedy troupe Studio C, who have a great sketch about this very mix-up!

What (American) English phrases do you find hard to understand?

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