Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"

Today you’ll learn native, natural English vocabulary for beginnings.

Did your day get off to a slow, rough, or flying start?

What about your current job? Did you get off to a flying start?

In today’s episode, learn how to talk about how things started in English at work or in your social life.

Talking about beginnings

Michelle mentions that the summer is off to a flying start.

She has gone on many vacations and has so much going on.

Today’s episode is also off to a flying start.

A listener sent in a question that will be answered by Lindsay and Michelle today.

You guys are amazing!

One of the best podcasts I have ever heard. Keep going great.

I want to know what is the meaning of taking something off to a flying start. Thanks a lot.

Mehran Asghari from the United States

A flying start

When you say you’re ‘off to a flying start,’ you’re having an excellent beginning.

You are trying to communicate that things are going well.

This phrase implies enthusiasm to keep going because you’ve built such good momentum at the start.

This phrase can be used about the start of whatever you’re doing or experiencing.

You can check out episode AEE 1372: How to Succeed at Game Night in English to get your game nights off to a flying start.

Formal or informal?

Using ‘a flying start’ can be used in either a formal or informal setting.

It may sound informal but you can use it at work as well.

This phrase is very conversational so it can suit any situation.

Here are some examples of how you can use ‘a flying start’ in a sentence.


  • This game is off to a flying start. The score is already 15 to 20!
  • The vacation is off to a flying start. We’ve already gone surfing and ridden all the rides on the boardwalk.
  • The meeting got off to a flying start because everyone started off by telling their favorite jokes.

Feeling or action?

Lindsay asks Michelle what she thinks about when she hears ‘a flying start.’

Is it more about feeling good about the work or the actual progress in getting work done?

Michelle says it would depend on the context in which you use it.

Overall it can be whatever positive feeling or outcome.

However, you can also use it in a sarcastic way.

For example, when things don’t go your way at the beginning.

Sarcastic use

Michelle recently used this sarcastically.

At the beginning of her recent trip to Paris, she stubbed her toe on furniture.

She said, “Oh! We’re off to a flying start on this trip.”

Be sure to use proper intonation whenever using sarcasm.

It must be clear by your voice inflection that you’re being sarcastic.

What you actually mean is something is NOT off to a good start.

Language learning

In language learning, it is valuable to be off to a flying start.

You want to start strong and keep track of your progress.

If you start really well, it will keep you going.

It will be easier to stay motivated!

It is definitely crucial when learning a new language, especially English.

However, if you don’t get off to a flying start, you can pick up the motivation anytime!

Set a goal and give yourself a restart!

Similar expressions

There are other expressions that are related or similar to ‘a flying start.’

Here are some you can add to your vocabulary repertoire:

#1: On the right foot/wrong foot

If you say something started ‘on the right foot,’ it means something started well.

If you say got off ‘on the wrong foot’ it means the opposite, that something didn’t start well.

We often use this to talk about relationships.

If you don’t get along with someone at first, you could say you ‘got off on the wrong foot.’


  • Let’s start on the right foot with a group dinner.

Rough start and slow start

Both ‘rough start’ and ‘slow start’ can be used as the opposite of ‘a flying start’.

A ‘rough start’ means you are starting something poorly.

A ‘slow start’ means you are dragging at the beginning and not really building any momentum at the start.


  • We got off to a rough start, but we recovered and are best friends now.
  • The semester got off to a slow start, but once the teacher got to know the class, things got a lot better.


Lindsay and Michelle share a roleplay using ‘a flying start’ in a conversation.

In this scenario, Lindsay and Michelle are colleagues.

Lindsay just started at the company a month ago.

Michelle: So you are really off to a flying start here! How are you liking the job?
Lindsay: Yeah it’s great! The first day I had a rough start because my apartment flooded that morning, but everyone was so warm here that I quickly felt better.
Michelle: Oh wow! Yeah I had a slow start here actually. I didn’t like it at first and there weren’t too many projects for me, but now it’s the best!
Lindsay: I’m glad we started off on the right foot though- we got along right away!
Michelle: Definitely!


Use ‘flying start’ to talk about the start of your day or new beginnings.

This can be a very good phrase to use to talk about new friendships, relationships, a new job or the beginning of a vacation.

This can also help you get in the right mindset.

Especially when learning English, make sure you have a flying start by using resources that can give you positivity and motivation.

Lindsay and Michelle gave many examples in today’s episode so use this new vocabulary in a conversation today!

What are some stories you can share when you had a flying start?

We’d love to hear your positive stories in the comments below.

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