PEPSI – Life

Long time no see, old friend.


A: Who is your favorite Disney princess?
B: Cinderella! She’s kindhearted and beautiful. And she went from rags to riches!


To go from rags to riches (i) – to go from poor to rich. Rags means old dirty clothing. To use it as an adjective, you can say: a rags-to-riches Famous stories: J.K. Rowling, Andrew Carnegie, Abraham Lincoln, Howard Schultz, Li Ka-shing, Sam Walton, Oprah Winfrey, John D. Rockefeller, Richard Branson, Jim Carrey.

A: Guess what? You won’t believe it.
B: What happened?
A: I was walking back home when out of the blue a really beautiful woman asked me for my number. I gave it to her and she kissed me on the cheek and gave me $100. I was so surprised.
B: No way! Get out of here. Don’t bullshit me.


Guess what? (e) – to introduce a surprising outcome, to dramatize the introduction of some story. Often the other person responds with what?
Out of the blue (i)(adv) – unexpectedly, suddenly, surprisingly.
Really? (e) – express surprise or shock. Synonym: No way! Are you kidding me? Are you serious? Get out of here.
Bullshit (s)(n)(rude) – nonsense, stupid, unfair, false. It can also be used as a verb to mean deceive, mislead, or lie. Synonym: Bull, BS, Bollocks (UK).
Don’t bullshit me (e)(s)(rude) – Don’t lie to me, I don’t believe you.

A: I was shopping yesterday when all of a sudden I bumped into my old high school friend. I hadn’t seen her in 10 years! She is on vacation right now with her family.
B: Wow! You ran into her? That’s such a coincidence. It’s a small world!
A: I’m going to meet her for lunch tomorrow.
B: Have a great time.


All of a sudden (i) – suddenly, very quickly and unexpectedly.
To bump into someone | To run into someone (pv) – to meet someone by chance, accidentally or coincidentally.
It’s a small world (e) – express surprise when meeting someone coincidentally, especially in a distant place. Or when you have mutual friends or acquaintances with someone. (Disney attraction)
Have a great time (e) – to wish someone a good time. Synonym: have a good time, have fun, have a blast, have a ball, enjoy yourself.

A: I have something to ask you but I don’t know if I should.
B: Spit it out. I don’t bite.
A: Well…I feel lost. I don’t know what to do with my life. Do you have any advice for me?
B: I can’t decide your future but continue to work hard, and don’t give up. Rome wasn’t built in a day.


Spit it out (e)(s) – tell me. Use this expression when someone is reluctant or hesitant to say something. Synonym: out with it (e).
I don’t bite (e)(s)(funny) – I won’t hurt you. Use this to tell someone that they don’t need to be afraid of doing something, used to encourage someone to do something.
To give up (pv) – to quit, to resign, to stop trying.
Rome wasn’t built in a day (p) – be patient, you cannot expect to build something great or achieve success or have all the answers in a short time. To learn any skill takes a long time.

A: How do you see yourself in 10 years?
B: I will be having the time of my life. I will be super rich. I’ll work at my dream job. I’ll have a perfect marriage. My life will be awesome!
A: In your dreams!


To have the time of one’s life (i) to have the best, most exciting time. To enjoy yourself more than ever before.
Awesome (s)(adj) cool, great, super amazing, extremely impressive.
In your dreams (e)(s) – it’s not going to happen, you’re dreaming. It’s impossible. Synonym: You wish.

PEPSI Discussion Questions

  1. Do you have any role models? What do you admire about them?
  2. Do you know anyone who went from rags to riches? Have you watched or read any rags-to-riches movies, tv shows or books?
  3. Tell me about an unexpected or surprising situation that happened to you recently (use out of the blue or all of a sudden). 
  4. In which situations do people often bullshit (job interview, first date, first meeting…)? What kind of things do they bullshit about in those situations?
  5. Have you ever ran into someone you know in a different city or country? Is there anyone that you frequently bump into?
  6. Do you agree that we live in a small world?
  7. If you could choose to master any 3 skills, which skills would you choose? (singing, cooking, dancing, drawing, learning, speaking a language, networking…) 
  8. Tell me about a trip where you had the time of your life.
  9. Tell me about an awesome person, place, restaurant, movie, and book.
  10. How do you see yourself in 10 years?

PEPSI – Movies

Take out the Popcorn!

PEPSI Movies (PDF)
Discussion Questions (PDF)

A: I’m playing the main character in ‘Les Misérables’ on Broadway!
B: That’s awesome! Break a leg! Good luck! I’m sure you will steal the show!
A: Thanks a million! I appreciate it.


Awesome (s)(adj) – amazing, fantastic.
Break a leg! (e) – good luck!
Thanks a million! (e) | I appreciate it (e) – thanks a lot.
To steal the show (i) – to get all the attention and praise at an event or performance.

Movie Vocabulary

Broadway (n) – refers to Broadway street in the Theatre District, in Manhattan, New York. Most shows on Broadway are musicals, such as The Lion King, or Aladdin. It’s an extremely popular tourist attraction in New York City.

A: I’m sorry I’m late!!! Subway delays as always.
B: Better late than never. But the movie theater today is packed! There are so many people.
A: What movie are we going to watch? It’s up to you.
B: How about ‘Avatar‘? I heard the special effects are mind-blowing! Let’s check it out.


Better late than never (p)(e) it is better that you are late, than that you never come. Say this after someone says they are late.
Packed (s)(adj) – full of people.
Up to you (e) it’s your decision.
Mindblowing (s)(adj) really amazing or impressive
To blow one’s mind (i) – something that is really impressive, surprising or eye-opening.
To check (someone/something) out (pv)(s) to look at, to see, to watch, to try.
Check it out! (e)(s) /checkitout/ to try, to see, to experience or to examine something.

Movie Vocabulary

A theater (n) – a building where plays, shows are performed or where movies are show. Spelling: Theatre (UK).
Special effects (n) – image or sound created in movies to represent something real or imaginary.

A: Did you watch that movie ‘The Lone Ranger’ starring Johnny Depp?
B: No, I didn’t. I heard it was a flop.
A: Yeah, it was so disappointing. The acting was so terrible. It didn’t live up to my expectations. The story was so cliché, an unoriginal western.


A flop (s)(n) – a disappointment or a total failure.
To live up to something (pv) – to fulfill, to reach or to satisfy something.

Movie Vocabulary

To star (v) – to play the most important role in a movie, play, or TV show.
Cliché (adj)(French) /’cli-shai/ – unoriginal and predictable.

A: Do you want to watch an episode of ‘Gossip Girls’ together tonight?
B: Thanks, but no thanks. It’s a chick flick. I don’t watch girly shows like that.
A: Suit yourself!


Thanks, but no thanks (e) – thank you for asking, but I refuse or I’m not interested (a polite way of turning down or refusing something).
A chick flick (s) – a movie/TV shows that appeals mainly to women.
A chick (s)(n) – a girl, a young woman. A flick (s)(n) – motion picture movie.
Girly (s)(adj) – characteristics of a stereotypical girl, young woman. Synonym: feminine, girlish.
Suit yourself (e) – do what you want. Have it your way. (Angry)

A: Have you watched ‘Inception’ directed by Christopher Nolan?
B: No, I haven’t. I heard it’s a big-budget summer blockbuster.
A: The movie was epic! It’s a masterpiece. The ending was a real cliffhanger, very unexpected and suspenseful. I really hope they make a sequel.
B: That’s enough. Don’t spoil the plot for me. I’m going to watch it this weekend.


Epic (s)(adj)(adv) /’ep-ik/spectacular, impressive, awesome, or powerful.

Movie Vocabulary

A cliffhanger (n) – when reading, watching a movie or TV drama you reach a very suspenseful part, and can’t wait to see what happens next; usually the ending (“To be continued...” or “The End?”).
Suspenseful (adj) – a feeling of nervousness or excitement caused by thinking about what will happen next.
Big-budget (adj) | low-budget (adj) – used to talk about how much money has been spend on producing a movie. Big-budget (a lot of money), low-budget (less money).
A blockbuster (n) – a successful popular movie or book.
A masterpiece (n) – (1) a highly impressive piece of work, or art. (2) an artist’s best work.
A sequel (n) – a film, game, novel, or TV show that continues the story of a previous work. E.g. The Lord of the Rings 2.
A prequel (n) – a story or movie that contains events before a piece of work. E.g. The Hobbit. 
To spoil something (v) | a spoiler (n) – to reveal parts of the story to someone who doesn’t know the story.
A plot (n) – a story, storyline.

Homer Simpson is a couch potato, he doesn’t do anything all day except binge-watch his favorite TV shows.


A couch potato (i)(n) – a lazy person who spends his/her time watching television or movies. Usually that person doesn’t exercise much.
To bingewatch (v)(s) –watching television for a long time, usually more than 2-3 episodes in one sitting.


To binge (v)(s) | A binge (n)(s) – when you eat, drink or spend too much money in a short period of time, without controlling yourself. E.g. binge drinking, binge eating, binge spending.

PEPSI Discussion Questions 

  1. Have you read any awesome movies recently?
  2. Describe a place that is usually packed.
  3. Have you seen any mind-blowing movies or TV shows?
  4. Have you ever watched a flop? Any recent movie that didn’t live up to your expectations?
  5. Describe a cliché movie, TV show, or story.
  6. Do you like chick flicks? Have you watched any?
  7. What would you describe as girly?
  8. Which movies do you think are masterpieces? Why?
  9. What’s a big-budget blockbuster coming out this year that you want to watch?
  10. Tell me an epic moment you’ve had.
  11. Do you think that in general, sequels are better than the first movie?
  12. Have you watched any prequels?
  13. What’s a movie or TV show with great cliffhangers?
  14. Are you a couch potato? What do you eat or drink when watching movies?
  15. Have you ever binge-watched any TV shows? Which ones?

PEPSI – Body 1

Vitruvian Man

PEPSI Body 1 (PDF)

A: I’m fed up with housework. I spend all day cleaning and cooking. I’m so sick and tired of it.
B: So am I! My children never leave me alone. It’s a pain in the ass.


To be fed up with (someone/something) (pv) to be annoyed, sick, tired, bored or disappointed with something or someone. When you’ve had enough of something or someone, it’s annoying or irritating you and you want it to finish. Synonyms: sick of, tired of, had enough of.
To be a pain in the ass (i)(s)(offensive)something or someone is very annoying, irritating or frustrating. Synonyms: a pain in the neck, a pain in the butt, a pain in the arse (UK).

A: You seem like a smart guy and knowledgeable about web design. I would love to talk to you about starting a website. Can I pick your brain sometime?
B: Yeah sure, anytime. Ask me any questions you have.


To pick someone’s brain (i)(s) – to get information or learn more about a specific topic by asking an expert or someone who has more knowledge about that subject. The idea is to borrow someone’s brain to get more ideas.

A: I need to get something off my chest.
B: What’s wrong? What’s troubling you?
A: Your friend Jessica, she has a really big mouth. She told your secret to all of her friends. She’s also been badmouthing you behind your back.
B: I can’t believe it. Why would she do that?
A: Dunno. I couldn’t hold it in anymore. I needed to tell you.


To get something off one’s chest (i) – to tell someone about something that has been bothering or worrying you, and that you’ve wanted to say for some time.
To have a big mouth (s) a person who can’t keep secrets and enjoys spreading gossip.
To badmouth someone (s)(v) – to insult or criticize someone, usually behind his or her back.
To do something behind someone’s back (i) – to do something without letting that person know about it, without their knowledge, secretly.
Dunno (e)(s)(contraction)I don’t know. Synonyms: Beats me, I have no idea/clue, How would I know?, don’t ask me, who knows?
To hold something in (pv) – to keep one’s emotions hidden inside. Synonym: to keep something in.

A: Excuse me. I need to go to the restroom. Could you keep an eye on my stuff?
B: Yeah, no problem.


To keep an eye on something or someone (i) – to watch something or someone.

A: Your wedding is tomorrow! How are you feeling?
B: I’m getting cold feet. I feel so nervous and I don’t think I want to marry her.
A: Are you serious?
B: Face it. Our relationship has never been great. I won’t be happy with her.


To get cold feet (i) – to feel nervous and change one’s mind, especially when you planned to do something very important (e.g. marriage, giving a speech).
Are you serious? (e) – a question you ask when you can’t believe what the other person said. Synonyms: Are you being serious? Seriously? Really? No Way! Are you kidding me?
(Let’s) face it (e) – to accept the truth or reality.

A: Do you think it’s better to be single or married?
B: That’s a difficult question. On the one hand, when you’re single you have a lot of freedom and time to do what you want to do. On the other hand, when you’re married you can share your life with someone and support each other.


On the one hand | On the other hand (i) – used to describe two contrasting ideas, options, or opinions. Use on the one hand to describe one idea, and on the other hand, to describe the opposite idea.

PEPSI Discussion Questions 

  1. Are you fed up with anything or anyone recently?
  2. What or who is a pain in the ass for you?
  3. If you could ask anyone in the world (dead or alive) to pick his or her brain, who would you choose, and why?
  4. Is there anything you want to get off your chest?
  5. Do you know anyone with a big mouth?
  6. Has anyone ever badmouthed you? What did you do?
  7. Has anyone ever spread false rumors or gossip about you behind your back? What did you do?
  8. Do you usually hold your emotions in, or express them?
  9. Have you ever gotten cold feet? Or know someone who got cold feet before doing something really important?
  10. Debate the following topics (use on the one hand, on the other hand to express contrasting ideas):
    • Abortion: legal or illegal?
    • Same sex marriage: legal or illegal?
    • Death penalty: legal or illegal?
    • Animal testing: legal or illegal?

PEPSI – Animals 2



Image: Happy Family

PEPSI Animals 2 (PDF)

A: Do you work better in the morning or at night?
B: I’m an early bird so I have a lot of energy in the morning.
A: Really? I’m the opposite. I’m a night owl.
B: My mother always told me, “An early bird catches the worm.”
A: I think that’s good advice. I sleep too late every day.


An early bird (i)(n) – a person who wakes up early, likes to work in the morning.
A night owl (i)(n) –a person who sleeps late, prefers to work at night.
An early bird catches the worm (p) – if you wake up and get work early, you will succeed.

A: I hate the corruption that’s happening in the business world.
B: Exactly! Fat cats are earning such high salaries and bonuses. The rich get richer, and the poor get poorer. Everything is driven by greed.
A: Normal folks like us are just stuck in the rat race. Everyday we work hard and compete with others to pay our bills and provide for our families.


A fat cat (s)(n)(offensive)an important, wealthy, or powerful person.
The rat race (i)(n) – the competitive and stressful world of work and business. The busy lifestyle of going to work every day to earn money and compete with others.
Folk (s)(n) – 1) people in general 2) friendly way to address people. E.g. hi folks! 3)(US) parents.
To provide (something) for someone (pv) – to take care of someone by making money so that the person can buy the things he or she needs. e.g. to provide food and care for children.

A: What’s up, dog?
B: Man, bad news.
A: What happened? It sounds serious.
B: James let the cat out of the bag. He accidentally told Maria about her surprise birthday party tomorrow.
A: Seriously? What a disaster!


What’s up (e)(s) – informal expression used to greet someone. Synonyms: How are you? How are you doing? What’s going on? What’s new? What up? Sup? What’s good? 
Dog (dawg) = Man (s)(n) – friend, buddy, brother, boy, bro, dude, chief, boss, mate (UK).
To let the cat out of the bag (i) – to tell someone a secret, usually accidentally.

A: Lately, there have been a lot of copycat murders on the news.
B: I heard about that. People copy criminal acts inspired by books, television shows, or news stories.


A copycat (i)(n) – someone who copies or imitates someone else’s work, style, or behavior.
A copycat crime (n)(psychology) – a criminal act inspired by a previous crime in books, new stories, movies, or TV shows. Criminals behave in a similar way and copy what they see or read somewhere else.

Police: You’re under arrest. I’m working as an undercover cop.
Gangster (Mafia): I had thought I smelled a rat. I can’t believe you ratted me out. I knew something was fishy about you. Are we not friends?
Police: I’m not friends with criminals.
Gangster: You will pay for this.


You’re under arrest (e) – expression used by the police when they arrest a criminal.
A cop (s)(n) – a police officer.
A rat (s)(n) – a disloyal, untrustworthy person. A spy.
To smell a rat (i) – to believe something is wrong, or someone is dishonest.
To rat someone out (pv) – to betray someone, to give information about someone to an enemy or to stop supporting someone.
Fishy (s)(adj) – causing doubt or suspicion, something/someone is likely to be bad, dishonest.

PEPSI Discussion Questions 

  1. Are you an early bird or a night owl? or both?
  2. Do you agree with the proverb ‘an early bird catches the worm‘?
  3. Do fat cats in your country have a lot of power? Do they control politicians for example? Do you know any fat cats?
  4. Do you feel like you are in the rat race? What should people do if they want to get out of the rat race?
  5. Did or do you have to provide for anyone?
  6. In your country, what do close friends call each other? Do you use words like ‘dog’, ‘man’ or ‘dude’?
  7. Have you ever let a cat out of the bag? Accidentally revealed a big secret to someone who wasn’t supposed to know?
  8. When you were younger, were you a copycat? Does or did anyone copy you all the time (e.g. your brother, sister, friend)?
  9. Have you heard of copycat crimes? Do you know any?
  10. Do you enjoy crime movies? Do you know any great undercover police stories? Who was the rat? Did the others think there was something fishy?

PEPSI – Animals
Animal Farm

Image: Animal Farm (1954 Movie)

PEPSI Animals (PDF)

A: What are you doing this vacation?
B: I’m going to stay home. I’m a homebody and I prefer staycations.
A: What will you do at home?
B: Maybe, read books and write in my journal. I like to be with myself, I’m a lone wolf.
A: You’re also a bookworm! Carpe Diem, man! Let’s hang out.


A homebody (s)(n) – a person who likes to stay at home.
A staycation (s)(n)
– a vacation spent in one’s home or home city, involving day trips to local attractions (stay + vacation).
A lone wolf (i)(n) – an independent person who prefers to be and do things alone.
A bookworm (i)(n) – a person who loves reading books or studies a lot.
Carpe diem (e) (Latin) /’car-pay ‘dee-um/ – seize the day, live in the present. Another expression is YOLO meaning you only live once.
Man (s)(n) – friend, buddy, brother, bro, dude, chief, boss, mate (UK).
To hang out with someone (pv)(s) – to spend time with someone, usually talking or relaxing.

A: Michael and Jane are dating!
B: I know. A little bird told me. But I can’t tell you who.


A little bird told me (i)(e) – used when you don’t want to tell the person who gave you the information. To have learned something from a mysterious unknown, secret source.

A: How come people from the same country always stay with each other? They should spend more time with people from other countries.
B: I guess because birds of a feather flock together.


Birds of a feather flock together (p) – people tend to associate with those whose values, cultures and interests are similar (express the truth).

A: Did you meet the new girl in our class? She’s so strange and odd. While the teacher is talking, she’s usually drawing animals in her notebook. She often looks at me strangely.
B: She’s the black sheep of our class.
A: Speak of the devil! There she is!


The black sheep (i)(n) – a member of a family or group whose behaviour or character is different or strange.
Speak of the devil (and he shall appear) (e) – when a person appears after you mention his/her name.

A: What color shirt should I wear for the dinner party?
B: I don’t have time for such unimportant things. I have bigger fish to fry. I have a very important meeting coming up.


To have bigger fish to fry (i) – to have more important, or interesting things to do.
To come up (pv) (multiple meanings) – a situation or event that will happen soon, is approaching or drawing near

A: I heard you’re going skydiving with Jane this weekend.
B: Unfortunately, we had to call it off. She cancelled our plan.
A: Why? What happened?
B: She chickened out. She was scared.


To call something off (pv) (multiple meanings) – To cancel an event.
To chicken out (pv)(s) – To decide not to do something because you are scared.

PEPSI Discussion Questions 

  1. Are you a homebody?
  2. Do you prefer staycations or vacations in a different city or country?
  3. Do you know anyone who is a lone wolf? Describe him/her.
  4. Are you a bookworm? What kind of books do you read?
  5. In your country, what do close friends call each other? Do you use words like ‘man’, ‘bro’ or ‘dude’?
  6. Why do birds of a feather flock together?
  7. Who is the black sheep in your family? Why?
  8. In your country, do you have a similar expression for ‘speak of the devil‘? 
  9. Do you have any event coming up soon?
  10. Have you ever chickened out? What happened? How did you feel?

Why study PEPSI?

PEPSI stands for Phrasal Verb, Expression, Proverb, Slang and Idiom.

Many textbooks have a lot of grammar exercises, listening practices, writing activities and vocabulary sections. However, very few textbooks teach language used outside of the classroom. Studying language only from textbooks is simply not enough. Students can do very well in the classroom, get high scores on tests, have fluent conversation with their classmates but struggle when they enter the real world. They have trouble interacting with native speakers, trouble understanding dialogue in movies or TV shows, and trouble reading newspapers or social media messages. They grow increasingly frustrated because taking traditional English classes does not help them improve. PEPSIs grew out of this frustration, it is a way to learn language that is used on a daily basis by native speakers, both in speaking and writing.

Each student will study PEPSIs differently. Students who want to focus on improving their fluency when speaking to native speakers casually should focus on phrasal verbs, expressions, and slang. Students who want to write more colorfully when they express their emotions and ideas should focus on idioms. Students who want to get a high score on the TOEFL or TOEIC speaking section should focus on phrasal verbs and idioms. Students who are interested in culture should study proverbs. Each part of PEPSI has its different uses:

Phrasal Verbs are extremely common in both speaking and writing. It is often difficult to guess the meaning of a phrasal verb, and many phrasal verbs can have multiple meanings and can be used in different ways. Another issue is that some phrasal verbs require an object (transitive), and others do not (intransitive). Some transitive phrasal verbs are separable, others are not. For instance,

Take off (pv):
1. “I want to take off my jacket, it’s so hot inside.” (meaning: remove a piece of clothing)
2. “It’s getting late, I need to take off.” (meaning: to leave, to go)
3. “I took some time off to focus on myself and my family.” (meaning: not work)
4. “The airplane took off on time.” (meaning: (of an airplane) to fly)
5. “She took 10 percent off my bill because I paid cash.”  (meaning: to discount)
6. “My new business has really taken off.” (meaning: to become successful quickly)

The simple phrasal verb take off has many meanings, and depending on the meaning it is transitive (1, 3, 5) or intransitive (2, 4, 6). Phrasal verbs are very complicated and highly contextual (depends on the situation). In addition, some phrasal verbs have two prepositions (e.g. to catch up with someone), others only have one preposition or adverb.

Expressions are formal or informal phrases often used in conversation. There are many different expressions in the English language, some are easy to guess because there is a lot of context, others are very hard to guess. Using expressions fluently in the correct situation, using the right intonation and even facial expression will help students sound more natural. If you have lived in NYC for only two months, but can use various expressions effortlessly, it will appear to other native speakers that you have lived in the city for a much longer time. The danger of expressions is using them incorrectly – without the right emotion, in the wrong situation, using a strange intonation or not understanding formality.

What’s up? (e)(s): an informal expression to say, “How are you?” or “Hi.” If you say this to your boss, or someone with authority, it can be perceived as rude. This expression is more commonly used among friends.

With time and practice, it is easier to learn how and when to use expressions. If you don’t understand an expression, ask them to explain it and when they would normally use it.

Proverbs in general are not very useful in conversation for students. They are very long, difficult to remember, and only used in specific situations. However, proverbs are often found in newspapers or magazine articles to explain or describe something. Often, native speakers say only the initial part of a proverb, instead of saying, When in Rome, do as Romans do, they will just say, When in RomeEven when people only use the first part of a proverb, the other person will understand the meaning because they are familiar with that specific proverb. Native speakers often learn proverbs through exposure, this means they probably didn’t study it in class. Perhaps they heard it many times on TV, or they read it somewhere several times, or their parents or grandparents used it a lot. And with repetition, they were able to guess the meaning and remember it.

Slang is extremely complicated because it depends on the group, generation, region, and country. Slang is highly dynamic and ever changing. It is very common in spoken English, but also increasingly used in text messaging or on social media websites such as Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. It is very difficult to predict the meaning, because a lot of times there is no relationship between the original word and the slang.  A lot of students have no trouble understanding their classmates or teachers in the classroom, but take them outside, into the real world, language becomes much less structured, casual and informal. Some students might not need to use slang at all because they will use English in a very formal business setting, but they might want to learn it to understand it when they hear it used in a casual environment such as a bar or on the streets. Students must also understand that slang can sometimes be rude, offensive, or even taboo. Always ask a teacher or a native speaker if the slang is rude and in what situation they would use it mostly. Using offensive slang in an inappropriate situation may cause anger or shock. An awesome online slang dictionary is Urban Dictionary

Idioms are high-level figurative expressions and common in conversation and writing. They are used to make language more colorful, fluently using idioms is very challenging but at the same time very impressive. Using idioms comfortably demonstrates a high level of fluency and mastery of the language. Often in examinations that test English ability such as the TOEFL or TOEIC, correctly using idioms gives you extra points for the speaking or writing sections. There are thousands of idioms in English and they can be easily grouped into different themes. Idioms are also country-specific, some idioms that are common in the United States might not be common in the United Kingdom, and vice-versa (the other way around).

The most important thing is to practice PEPSIs and language in the real world. Studying a language in the classroom is not enough. Try to find native speakers by talking to them on the streets, or use language exchange programs, or attend group meetings in your neighborhood or city (Meet Up Groups). Many of the PEPSIs you will learn, you won’t use in your daily life. Just like you don’t use all the vocabulary that you know every single day in your own language. However, learning them will help you gain more confidence, build fluency faster and understand others better.

What is PEPSI?


The first question I usually ask my new students is, “What is PEPSI?”  For a few seconds, they stare at me not really able to understand what I am asking. Then I ask, “Who likes PEPSI?”  Some of them blink, some of them continue staring at me, some of them  look down uncomfortably at their notes, and it is usually the funny or sarcastic one who replies, “Sorry, teacher. I like Coke.”  The class bursts out laughing in unison, and that is pretty much how most of my students are introduced to PEPSI.

So what is PEPSI?

PEPSI is an acronym. An acronym is a noun created by using the initial letters of a group of words, and it is pronounced as one word. For example, NASA or ASAP. Whereas, an abbreviation is the same thing but it is not pronounced as a word, an abbreviation simply means a shortened version of a word. For instance, ATM, NYC or Ave. (Avenue). Knowing the difference between an acronym and an abbreviation is not very important.

PEPSI stands for Phrasal Verb, Expression, Proverb, Slang, Idiom.

Phrasal Verbs (pv): A verb plus preposition/adverb which has a different meaning from the original verb. The meaning of a phrasal verb is sometimes difficult to predict, and some phrasal verbs can have one or two prepositions/adverbs (two-part or three-part phrasal verbs). There is another type of phrasal verb called a prepositional verb, these are phrasal verbs used literally, which are easy to understand. (e.g. She walked into the room.)

Intransitive Phrasal Verbs are not followed by an object (e.g. He showed up late to class.
Transitive Phrasal Verbs are followed by an object. Some transitive phrasal verbs are separable (e.g. She picked me up at the airport.)  whereas some are inseparable (e.g. I ran into her last week.), and others can be both.

To call off
To carry on
To come across
To come up with
To get along
To get over
To give up
To go on

[one_third_last] To look forward to
To look up
To hang out
To pass out

Expression (e) | Informal Expression (e)(s): Fixed social phrases that people mostly use in conversations and dialogue. Informal expressions are used when talking to friends or close acquaintances. Other expressions can be used in many different types of situations. For example, when you meet someone for the first time and you want to sound polite, you say, “How are you? Nice to meet you.” but if you meet a close friend, maybe you say, “What’s up?” or “What’s good?

Excuse me.
How are you?
Thank you very much.
What’s up?
My bad.
I’m broke.
Peace out.

[one_third_last] Same old.
Have a good one.
My condolences.
Take it easy.

Proverb (p): a short fixed sentence that expresses a general truth, teaches a lesson, gives a piece of advice or issues a warning. However, most of the time we use proverbs to give advice or educate since they express a piece of wisdom. Miguel de Cervantes, a Spanish novelist, once said, “A proverb is a short sentence based on long experience.” They tend to be very figurative and visual. They are often traditional and historic, so there is a lot about a culture you can learn from proverbs. Each culture has its own unique proverbs, but there are also many proverbs that English borrows from other languages. Elders and adults use proverbs much more than teenagers or children.

An apple a day keeps the doctor away.
A penny saved is a penny earned.
A picture is worth a thousand words.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
Money doesn’t grow on trees.

[one_half_last] One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.
Rome wasn’t built in a day.
There are plenty of fish in the sea.
Time is money.
When in Rome, do as Romans do.

Slang (s): informal words or phrases that are used in particular situations or among specific groups of people. Slang is more common in speech than writing, and more common with young adults. Slang is generational, and region-specific. American and British slang is very different. Words that have an alternative meaning.

Awesome (adj)
Bucks (n)
Cool (adj)

Chicken (n)
Chill (v)
Dope (adj)
Flop (n)
Grand (n)

[one_third_last] Lame (adj)
Sweet (adj)

Suck (v)
Wasted (adj)

Idiom (i): a figurative expression that has a different meaning from its literal meaning. Idioms are colorful figures of speech commonly used in conversation and writing. Idioms play with language, and sometimes the meaning is clear but often the meaning is unpredictable. Idioms can be grouped together according to their theme, for example, animals, body parts, color or money.

A heart of stone
A piece of cake
A melting pot
An early bird
Once in a blue moon

To beat around the bush
To blow one’s mind
To go from rags to riches
To go off the beaten path
To see eye to eye

[one_third_last] To have deep pockets
To pull someone’s leg
To make ends meet
To stab someone in the back
Speak of the devil


PEPSI – Money
Image: Bags with money

Bags with money


A: Teenagers these days are loaded. They are born with a silver spoon. They don’t have to work because their parents have very deep pockets.
B: They’re also pretty wasteful, and they spend money like water. They don’t understand that money doesn’t grow on trees.


Loaded (s)(adj) – to have a lot of money, wealthy, rich.
To be born with a silver spoon (i) – someone born into a rich family.
To have deep pockets (i) – to have a lot of money.
To spend money like water (i) – to waste or spend too much money.
Money doesn’t grow on trees (p) – advice: you should be careful how you spend money because it’s difficult to earn money. Or, you don’t have money

A: Could I borrow 100 bucks?
B: Why do you need 100 dollars?
A: I need dough to buy some shoes. I don’t have money. I’m broke.
B: No problem. Here is a Benjamin.


Bucks (s) – Dollars (more common, plural).
Dough (s) – Money. Synonyms: bread (s).
I’m broke (e)(s) – I have no money, I’m poor.
Benjamin (s) – $100 (Benjamin Franklin is on the bill).

A: How much money do you earn a year?
B: I am paid peanuts. I earn about 20k a year.
A: 20 grand? It’s difficult to make ends meet with $20,000.
B: It’s not a lot of money, but I can get by.


To be paid peanuts (i) | to pay peanuts (i) – to be paid a low salary.
K (or k) | Grand (s) – 1000 | $1000. Synonyms: G, Stack (s)
To make ends meet (i) – to have enough money to cover basic expenses.
To get by (pv) – to live/to survive (to have enough money to survive).

I need to save up money for rainy days and I have to put aside money to buy a new car. My grandfather always told me “A penny saved is a penny earned.


To save up for a rainy day (i) – to save money for an emergency situation in the future (health issues, retirement, job loss, unexpected expenses, accidents, theft, death).
To put aside (pv) – to save money for a specific purpose.
A penny saved is a penny earned (p) – advice: save money, even if it’s a small amount.
Penny ($0.01) < Nickel ($0.05) < Dime ($0.10) < Quarter ($0.25) | (US)

A: When are you paying back my money? I’m running out of money.
B: My bad. I will give it back to you as soon as possible. I’m sorry. I have to pay off my bills first.


To pay back (pv) – to return money you owe.
My bad (s)(e) – I’m sorry. My fault. Pronunciation: /ma bad/
To run out of something (pv) – to be nearly used up (empty).
To pay off (pv) – to finish paying something.

A [Gucci store]: Do you need any help?
B: Just browsing…Actually, how much for this Gucci bag?
A: $100, it’s on sale.
B: Wow! It’s a steal!


Just browsing (e) – Just looking around while shopping.
It’s a steal! (e) – Something really cheap. Opposite: It’s a rip off (e)(s).

PEPSI Discussion Questions 

  1. Do you know anyone who is loaded or was born with a silver spoon? How do you know? 
  2. Tell me about someone who has deep pockets.
  3. Have you been spending money like water recently?
  4. Did your parents tell you ‘money doesn’t grow on trees’? Now that you are older do you agree or disagree with this proverb?
  5. A friend borrowed $100, but he or she hasn’t paid it back? What would you say or do in this situation? What if it were $1000? $10,000?
  6. Do you use slang to describe different amounts of money in your own country?
  7. How much money do you need to make ends meet each month in your city/country? Is it difficult to get by? What would be your dream salary?
  8. How much money have you saved up? Are you putting aside money to buy something in the future or for a rainy day?
  9. What would you do if you were running out of money? Would you try to find a part-time job, call your parents, ask your friends to lend you some money?
  10. Do you have any personal debt? When are you planning to pay it off?

For the questions above, you can also change US dollars to a different currency when you ask these questions. Remember, talking about money is usually a very personal topic. In some cultures, it might be very common to ask about money and each others’ salaries. However, in other cultures, it might not be typical. If you feel the other person is offended, distant, or defensive, then apologize for asking a personal question and ask them which question they would be comfortable in answering. If none, change the subject.