How to Make Plans with Friends—Australian vs. American English

Oct 17, 2018 | English Conversation

I’ll be honest, I’ve never heard ‘flat chat’ or ‘chockers’ before. Have you? In this week’s Confident English Lesson, Kelly and I talk about how we make plans with friends and we compare her Australian English with my American English. 

Find out where our language overlaps and discover some major differences!

Now for many in our Confident English Community, Kelly may be a new face to you. But she’s actually been with us for awhile now.

Back in March, Kelly joined the Speak Confident English Team. She works with me in Fluency School and our Advanced Conversation courses. A little fun fact about Kelly: she speaks Chinese and Italian! So we’ve got English, French, German, Chinese, Italian, Ukrainian, and Russian speakers here. Pretty cool! 😎But… we only use English in our classes and in our communication because our goal is to help you be successful with your English.

Back to today’s lesson, it’s a little longer than usual but Kelly and I were having so much fun. This week we focus on three things:

  • What we say to make plans with a friend
  • How we agree to a plan
  • And what we say if we’re too busy or tired

You’ll get our causal, slang English, plus discover some major differences between Australian and American English!

Learn some useful Australian and American slang.

Lesson by Annemarie

How We Make Plans with Friends—Australian vs. American English

In today’s Confident English Lesson, Kelly and I focus on three speaking topics:

  • How we make plans with friends
  • What we say when we want to agree with some plans
  • What we say when we’re too tired, busy, or just don’t want to do something

And both of us were quite surprised by some of the differences between Australian slang and American slang. Plus, we used several English phrasal verbs and idioms.

Here’s a highlight of what you heard in the lesson.

How We Make Plans with Friends

Here are some phrases, slang, idioms, and phrasal verbs you heard in the lesson:

to catch up

To catch up is a phrasal verb that means to exchange information or get up-to-date with someone or one something. For example, “Let’s get coffee next week and catch up!”

a catch up (Australian only)

Here’s how Kelly used it: “We’re overdue for a catch up.”

What are you up to?

This is a question we use to see what someone’s plans are or to ask what someone is doing. Here’s the example Annemarie use: “What are you up to this weekend?”

To put the ball in someone else’s court (idiom)

To give someone else the control or responsibility for something. Kelly said that when making plans she often puts the ball in her friend’s court.

How We Agree to a Plan

Here are several ways Kelly and I agree to plans we’ve made with friends:

  • Sounds good
  • I’m game*
  • I’m up for that
  • I’m down (American)
  • I’m in (or count me in)

*I’m game is often used when the proposal or plan is a bit unusual.

How We Say We’re Too Tired or Too Busy

Here’s where Kelly and I had some big differences in what we say! Depending on where you live, here are great ways to tell your Australian or American friends you’re just too busy.

  • I’m flat chat (Australian only) — I’m too busy.
  • I’m flat out (Australian) — I’m busy.
  • I’m worn out — I’m tired.
  • I’m wrecked (American) — I’m too tired or too busy.
  • I’m swamped (American) — I’m too busy.
  • This weekend is chockers (Australian only) — This weekend is full.
  • My plate is full (or I’ve got a lot on my plate) — I’m busy.
  • I’ve got too much going on — I’m too busy.
  • My plans are up in the air — I’m not sure if I can make plans yet.


Just for Fun—More Differences Between Australian vs. American English

At the end of the lesson, Kelly and I compared a few other differences we found quite funny.

1. When you want to confirm plans with a friend.

Australian English

  • It’s in the diary.

American English

  • It’s on the calendar.
  • I’ve got it down.
  • I’ve noted it down.


2. Making plans in the afternoon

In Australia, it’s common to hear “arvo” as a short form of afternoon. This is used in spoken English and in texts or emails. For example, “Are you free this arvo?”

Americans don’t have a similar shortened form. In a text message, we might say, “in the p.m.”


3. Asking someone to reach you by telephone

Australian English

  • Give us a bell*

American English

  • Give me a ring
  • Give me a call

*Note the use of “us” here, even though it’s singular.


4. Asking someone to join you for a cup of coffee or tea

Australian English

  • Come around for a cuppa
  • Pop over for a cuppa

American English

  • Let’s get some coffee
  • Wanna come over for coffee

After you’ve watched the video and I’ve got some real challenge questions for you!

  1. Kelly said that Australians shorten the word “afternoon” to “arvo” but I couldn’t think of a similar example in American English. Do you know of one? If so, tell me about it in the comments.
  2. What’s the funniest or most interesting expression you’ve learned in Australian or American English? Tell us about it. We’d love to hear it.
  3. What was your favorite phrase or expression from today’s lesson on how to make plans with friends? Try using it in your own example and share it in the comments below. It’s a great opportunity to practice something new.

Have a fantastic Confident English Wednesday!

~ Annemarie & Kelly

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