Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"

how to use oh boy in English conversations to express surprise

Have you ever heard somebody say  something like “oh boy” and wondered what exactly that meant?

Do you ever wonder if phrases such as this are for good or bad situations?

Have you ever wondered how to express true excitement about something in English?

We’re going to look at how certain phrases such as “oh boy” are used for good or bad in English everyday.

Here’s a question from somebody just like you who thinks about the same things.

May I ask a question, Lindsay?

In the AEE episode 908, the phrases were used such as “oh jeez” and “oh boy!”

In that, you explained that those phrases are used in bad situations I think. 

However, in a DVD video of English education, a character is cheerfully saying, “oh boy, oh boy, oh boy!” He got a bunch of strawberries, which are his favorite. 

In summary, I want to ask you  is the phrase “oh, boy” used in  a happy situation also?

Thank you in advance,

Keishu Tachibana

It Can Be Used For Happy or Sad Situations

When you think of a phrase like “oh boy” it can certainly be used in happy or sad situations.

You might use it to express dismay, or that something significantly bad happened.

You might also use a phrase such as “oh boy” to show that something makes you quite happy though too.

If you were watching a child perform something for the first time and they did a great job, you might say something like “oh boy, you sure did a great job!”

Phrases such as these can be used in both bad or good situations to express significant emotions or a big reaction.

All Ears English TranscriptsMake sure you understand every word you hear on All Ears English.

Bring your English to the advanced level with new vocabulary and natural expressions.

Subscribe and get the transcripts delivered by email.

Learn to speak naturally with the American accent.

Click here to subscribe and save 50%

It’s All About Tone of Voice

Whenever you are saying something to show big emotion, good or bad, it’s all about how you say it.

The important thing is to make sure your intonation is appropriate as part of your execution.

The intonation or the way that you say it is how the message will be delivered.

This is the only way to “read” the context of this phrase.

If you say something like “oh boy” without any emotion or tone in your voice, then the message will just fall flat.

Show Your Excitement or Emotion

In order to be cheerful with your language in English, show your excitement.

You can do this in the words or phrases that you use.

You can do this through the tone in your voice.

You can also do this in the way that you deliver your message and the excitement that you actually show.

There are subtle ways to deliver your message but show that excitement.

These can make a big difference in how you say something like “oh boy” and how it is received by the listener.

Expressions of Excitement

There are plenty of words or expressions that you can use to show excitement.

Having these options available can give you something to say no matter what the message or subject is about.

Remember with any of these words or phrases it’s all about the tone of voice that you use.

  • “Wow!” This can be used for either negative or positive, but can say a lot.
    • “Wow, I can’t believe that it’s summer already and the school year is over!”
    • “Wow, you seem to be having a hard time concentrating lately. What’s wrong?”
  • “My goodness! “This or even “oh my goodness” can both be used to express something big has happened.
    • “My goodness, you sure love pasta. It must be your favorite food.”
    • “Oh my goodness, we don’t have enough people signed up to help for this event. We may have to reschedule.”
  • Are you kidding?” You might tend to think of this as only a negative reaction, but it can be used for either actually. It’s as if you are in disbelief because it’s such a big deal.
    • “You got 100% on that test–are you kidding me? That’s great!”
    • “You still haven’t heard back from the realtor–are you kidding me? That must mean that they aren’t accepting our offer.”
  • That’s great/horrible!” This is obviously more direct and can be used accordingly with the subject itself. If it’s something bad it can be “that’s terrible/bad/horrible”. If it’s something good, it can be “that’s amazing/exciting/great”.
    • “You got the lead role in the play, that’s so great!”
    • “You still didn’t get your chores done? That’s horrible because now you can’t go to the party!”


Self expression doesn’t have to use complicated words.

Sometimes it’s about very short words or even just a sound.

This is largely about intonation and expressing excitement, which can sometimes say more than words can.

There are different words and phrases that can be used for either negative or positive situations.

The way that you say it can influence the message that you deliver overall.

Showing excitement is about the words you use and the way you say it.

Mastering how to use excitement in the way you talk is how you make great connections.

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

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

  • Badges (1)
  • Badges-1 (1)
  • Badges-2 (1)
  • US_ListenOn_AmazonMusic_button_black_RGB_5X
  • App-Store-Button
  • google-play-badge
  • Badges (1)
  • Badges-1 (1)
  • Badges-2 (1)
  • US_ListenOn_AmazonMusic_button_black_RGB_5X