10 idioms and expressions to talk about your free time in English

Talking about free time is one of the first things we learn to do in a language. However, often the vocabulary we get in textbooks isn’t enough to understand native-speakers of English talking about how they spend their free time. This is because in casual conversation with friends, people often like to use expressions and idioms. Here are ten expressions and idioms that will help you explain what you do in your free time in English just like an native speaker.

Hang out at the mall

When friends hang out, it means they are relaxing and having fun together. The mall (shopping center) is the perfect place to hang out and chat with your friends. Hang out is a phrasal verb and the two words will have a different meaning if you separate them so make sure to keep them together. Put the place you are hanging out and the person you are hanging out with afterwards.

Catch some rays

Prefer the outdoors? Get outside and catch a few rays (enjoy the sunshine) at the beach. The beach or the park is the ideal place to enjoy the sun with people you know. Another similar expression is to sunbathe, which means to lie in the sun until you get a sun tan (your skin goes browner). Be careful to use sunscreen (cream to protect your skin) or you might get sunburnt!

Enjoy a cup of joe

Cafes are the perfect place to talk with your friends over a cup of joe. No – you don’t need a friend called Joe! A cup of joe is just a cup of coffee. Sometimes people call a cup of coffee a cup of Java and in the UK, people often call a cup of tea or coffee a cuppa.

Go window-shopping

This doesn’t mean that you are are shopping for windows! Window-shopping means looking through shop windows or browsing in stores without buying anything. A great way to have fun without spending money. Make sure you don’t get too tempted to buy things, though!

Shoot some hoops

The next time somebody asks you to go to the park and shoot some hoops, don’t worry, they just want to have a game of basketball with you! In the UK, where soccer is more popular than basketball, you could go for a kickaround (play soccer) with your friends.

Chow down at a fast-food joint

Chow down simply means to eat. A fast-food joint is a great place to have a pizza or a burger, and relax. We can use the word ‘joint’ to talk about other places to eat, too. If you don’t eat meat, you can go to a veggie (vegetarian) joint and if you don’t eat any animal products, you can go to a vegan joint.

Paint the town red!

It’s the weekend. Time to party! Go out with your friends and paint the town red! Red symbolizes fun and excitement. Painting the town red means to have a fun-filled night out. You might even pull an all-nighter and stay out for the whole night!

Catch a flick

If your friends ask you to the cinema to catch a flick, they are asking you to see a movie with them. You could also catch a play at the theater or catch a show downtown. Afterwards, you could catch a train, catch a bus or catch a cab to get home easily.

Keep it low-key

Planning a relaxing, quiet night at home with a small group of friends? Tell them you are having a low-key night. This is the opposite of going out and painting the town red.

Grab some munchies and hit the road

Get away on a car-trip with your friends. Don’t forget to grab some popcorn, candy, or other munchies (food, especially snacks). Once you have your snacks, it’s time to get out there and hit the road (start your journey)!

Now you have ten different free-time activities you can talk about in English, all that’s left to do is decide which one you are going to do this weekend!

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