Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"
Jessica Beck
"Director of IELTS Training"

Have you heard people talk about things that happen “all over the world”?

Have you ever wondered about phrases that sound similar to this?

If you listen to natives talking, you likely hear them talking about broad reaching phrases such as this in English.

We’re going to work through what similar phrases mean and how they can be used in conversation.

Here’s a related question from a teacher who listens to our podcast:

Hello! I am Miho from Japan.

Thanks for your great podcast and blog! It’s been a  super fun studying tool ?

I am working as an English teacher, and recently I have got a good question from my students, and I need some help from Native English teachers.

Please tell me the difference of these idioms.

All over the world, around the world, in the world,  or in many parts of the world.

What does these all mean and what are the differences?

Thank you!

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Breaking Down These Similar Phrases

These are really useful phrases, so it’s helpful to break down what each one means.

It’s also helpful to look at a new similar phrase that speaks to coincidences.

Let’s look at each phrase, what it means, and how you might use it in conversation. 

  • All over the world: Focus on being spread out,  or in many different places. “All over” makes it sound like the stress is on the fact that people EVERYWHERE are interested in something. This is a broad reaching phrase because it’s intended to cover a lot of area or different people.
    • “People all over the world watched the World Cup this year. It’s a huge event.”
  • Around the world: This sounds a bit more academic  in nature. It might be a little less intense than “all over the world”.  It is intended to be used in a broad way too, but it has a different context or approach. This phrase is very similar to “all over the world”, but isn’t used as much in conversation.
    • “Around the world there has been a focus on healthy eating.”
  • In the world: This can be more general. You can often add this onto other phrases. You are trying to convey a point, but it’s not as intense or far reaching as the first two phrases. It’s more of a generalization when used in conversation.
    • “Pollution has been a problem in the world for many years.”
    • You can also add this on for other phrases  and say something like “What in the world are you talking about?”
  • In many parts of the world: This is not as elaborate or extensive as  “all over the world”. It could be used to make sure you aren’t stereotyping. You may be softening a statement by using “in many parts” in a sentence.
    • “In many parts of the world, people love eating pizza.”

Similar phrases that mean slightly different things can be hard at first, but you’ll get the hang of them if you practice.

Knowing How To Use These and Add Onto Them

Basically, these phrases are VERY similar.

Some are more general, some you can use pretty much interchangeably.

It’s best to focus on listening to those around you and see how they use it.

There is one more phrase to learn that relates and can be used with these other phrases.

The phrase is “(What a) Small world!”

This phrase is used to talk about coincidences.

It may not be used quite as often, but it shows that coincidences happen often.

You might say something like “Oh I know Heather too, she was in class with me. Wow, what a small world that we both know the same person!”


These phrases are very similar, so don’t worry too much.

You can always search for examples and listen to how others use these phrases if you feel unsure.

Keep building your vocabulary with these new phrases and practice using them in conversation.

You can start to see the differences and get a feel for which one feels the most comfortable in the situation.

This is how you build your confidence and make great connections!

If you have any questions, please leave them below in the comments section.

We’ll get back to you as soon as we can. 

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