Learn very useful expressions you can use to talk about success and failure in a new English Express episode—a podcast from English Plus Podcast Network.

Audio Episode

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Interactive Transcript


[00:00:00] Welcome to a new English Express episode. In this episode, we will talk about ways to express success and failure in English. You can find the transcript on my website, And now without further ado, let’s talk about different ways you can express yourself in English to talk about success and failure.

[00:00:29] So first, let’s talk about when things go well, what expressions can we use to talk about success? Or when things go well, we can say something makes all the difference to something, or just something makes all the difference. That means it has a very good effect on a situation or a thing. This thing you did makes all the difference.

[00:00:50] That’s the very good effect. It is a success. So remember the expression is, makes all the difference. Or we can say something works or goes or runs like a dream. That means works, goes, or runs very well indeed. Or we can say works like magic. It works immediately and very well indeed. We use that a lot for medicine, sometimes, it works like magic. I had a splitting headache and when I took this medicine, whatever it is, it worked like magic. It worked immediately and very well indeed, but of course you can use it for other things as well. Or when you wanna talk about something that keeps getting better and better, you can say this thing, whatever it is, again, you fill in the blanks, goes from strength to strength. That means it keeps getting better and better. Now, sometimes you have a problem and you’re looking for a solution. You try different things. None of them work, et cetera, until you do something and this thing solves the problem very well. What is the expression you can use to express this idea?

[00:01:51] You can say this thing does the trick. It does the trick. When something does the trick, that means it solves the problem very well. So another successful thing, another way to express success. So again, quickly remember those expressions makes all the difference. Works goes or runs like a dream, or works like magic, goes from strength to strength and does the trick.

[00:02:13] You can use these expressions to talk about success, but as I promised you, we’re not going to express success in this episode, we’re going also to express failure. Because failure is also part of success. So we need to learn expressions we can use to express failure as well. What if we talking about some success, but this success has negative effects as well as, or instead of positive ones.

[00:02:35] There’s a very interesting expression we can use here and we can say someone, or actually we can say also something, but let’s stick to someone. Someone is a victim of their own success. That means this success has negative effects as well as, or even instead of those positive ones. So I wouldn’t call that a success.

[00:02:53] It is kind of a failure because it has more negative effects than positive effects. So the expression, again, someone is a victim of their own success. Or again, you can say something is a victim of its own success, but we usually use it for people. What if we want to talk about someone and his or her chances to achieve something, and if we wanna say they have no chance at all, we can say someone doesn’t have the ghost of a chance.

[00:03:18] Or of course we can simply say, doesn’t have a chance, but here, because this is an expression, right? So we need something different, we can say, doesn’t have the ghost of a chance of doing that thing. And what if someone stops working or stops trying to succeed because they know they will not succeed. What do we say then? We can say someone gives up the ghost.

[00:03:38] So we’re still talking about ghosts here, right? Someone gives up the ghost. If you give up the ghost, that means you stop working or trying to succeed at something because you know you will not. And that’s a very bad thing because guess what? Success is just around the corner. Just keep trying a little bit more and you’ll get it.

[00:03:54] And finally, what if something has an effect? And usually we’re talking about a negative effect that changes someone forever. Of course we can use it for things, but I’m trying to focus more on people. So someone, let’s stick to someone here. We can say that this thing left its mark on this person. Whatever this accident or this incident doesn’t have to be an accident or something, or even someone leaves their mark or its mark on someone. That means they have a lasting negative effect. So again, you can talk about someone being the victim of their own success. Someone doesn’t have the ghost of a chance. Someone gives up the ghost or something, leaves its mark on someone. These are expressions we use to talk about failures.

[00:04:38] And with that, we come to the end of this episode and that was everything I wanted to share with you in this English Express episode. Don’t forget to visit my website,, and check on the great learning opportunities you can find there. All the links you need are in the description of the episode, so what are you waiting for?

[00:04:54] Take your English and learning to the next level and never stop learning with English Plus. Thank you very much for listening to this episode. This is your host, Danny. I will see you next time.

<a href="" target="_self">Danny Ballan</a>

Danny Ballan


Danny is a podcaster, teacher, and writer. He worked in educational technology for over a decade. He creates daily podcasts, online courses, educational videos, educational games, and he also writes poetry, novels and music.

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