Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"

What is the one topic that brings together all New Yorkers?

It’s talking about and complaining about transportation around the city.

In today’s episode, we interview Michael from Happy English.

He shares the key vocabulary that you need to make connections the next time you’re in the city.

Michael of Happy English

Michael has been friends with Lindsay for several years.

He has a podcast called “The Happy English” podcast.

He shares little bite-sized English lessons.

He talks about idioms, phrasal verbs, English grammar, and pronunciation.

He also discusses a variety of things that can help you improve your language skills.

Michael was born and raised in New York City.

He is a passionate English instructor with more than 30 years of experience.

He helps hundreds of people improve their English.

He started his professional English career in Japan.

In 2010, he started his podcast to further help more people with their English language.

New York City

Lindsay and Michael met in New York.

Lindsay shares that New Yorkers are very distinct.

One thing she points out is that they commonly complain about their public transportation.

Michael agrees with this and he says this is a common subject for small talk.

Most people use the weather for small talk.

For New Yorkers, they often bond about what they are annoyed by.

Most of the time, they are frustrated by the subway system.

It’s a funny way New Yorkers connect with each other.

Connect like a New Yorker

In today’s episode, Michael shares how you can connect like a New Yorker.

He shares some vocabulary and expressions you can use on your next trip to New York:

#1: The city

New York has five sections called boroughs.

They include Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, and the Bronx.

Manhattan is referred to by New Yorkers as ‘the city.’

If you want to sound more like a New Yorker, don’t say ‘Manhattan.’

Instead, refer to it as ‘the city.’

#2: Get on and get off

You can use either the subway, a taxi, or a bus to get around New York City.

When you try to board a subway, you say ‘get on the subway.’

When you exit the subway, you say ‘get off the subway.’

This is the same with every public transportation where you can stand up.

Michael suggests thinking of a stage you get on and off to help remember this.

#3: Using numbers and letters to refer to trains or buses

There is a certain way New Yorkers talk about the subways and buses.

Numbers and letters are used to name the routes of buses and trains.

You would hear a native New Yorker say, “To get to Harlem you take the A.”

This is very specific to New York.

You would notice they don’t say, “To get to Harlem, take the letter A train.”

They shorten it by just saying the letter.

#4: Schlep and hoof it

It’s very easy to get around the city and most of the time you can rely on your two feet.

There are a couple of vocabulary words that New Yorkers use to talk about walking.

The first one is ‘schlep.’

Schlep means to work somewhere that is kind of a pain in the neck.

It means you walked somewhere bringing a lot of stuff.

Another is ‘hoof it.’

Hoof it means to walk somewhere.

A hoof is literally what you call the foot of a cow or horse.

In this case, ‘hoof it’ is used as an idiom to talk about walking to a destination.


New York is a great place to explore and walk around to experience American history and culture.

Today’s episode shares vocabulary that can help you connect with New Yorkers on your next trip.

You can get more resources from Michael by checking out

Everything is there, including courses and podcast episodes.

Be adventurous and take your English to the next level by striving to blend with native English speakers.

Take today’s lesson and practice talking like a New Yorker.

What are other things about New York City you want to learn more about?

Share it in the comment below!

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