The meaning of – I could do with….

There are some English phrases that you probably won’t find in a text book or hear about when you study English at school but they are used often by native speakers in everyday dialogue. Today’s phrase is one of those. If you can use it in conversation in an appropriate situation, it will make your speaking sound very natural!

WHAT DOES IT MEAN?
We use I could do with….. to talk about something that we want or something that would make our lives easier/better in that moment.

HOW CAN I USE IT IN REAL LIFE?
Here are 5 natural examples:
Perhaps you are cutting a loaf of bread and the knife is blunt so it’s hard work.
You say to your boyfriend “I could do with a sharper knife really. Can you pass me one from that drawer.”
Perhaps you are in a clothes shop with your friend.
You say to your friend “I could do with a new pair of black trousers for work. My other ones are looking a bit old now.”
Perhaps you are confused about how your new laptop works.
You say to your grandchild “I could do with your help when you’ve finished your homework!”
Perhaps you are spending too much time in the office at the moment and you feel tired and in need of a break.
You say to your wife “I could do with having some time off work. I’ll speak to the boss about my holiday allowance tomorrow.”
Perhaps you are cooking and you ask your brother to taste the sauce.
He says “It’s not bad but it could do with a bit more salt.”

LANGUAGE PATTERNS
Notice the structure of this phrase:
I could do with + noun (a sharper knife, some new trousers, your help)
I could do with + ing verb (having some time off)
It could do with + noun (a bit more salt)

CHALLENGE
Is there anything that you need/want in your life right now?
Post your example sentences in the comments below and I’ll check them for you 🙂

Published by

TheEnglishEnglishTeacher

Nicki is a Cambridge qualified, experienced English teacher for foreign learners. She loves helping English learners to learn real English and communicate with confidence!

2 thoughts on “The meaning of – I could do with….

  1. It does mean:It or he or she need.
    My example:
    I could do with studying English hard.

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    1. You are on the right lines Hend. I would say it’s somewhere between ‘a want’ and ‘a need’ or something that would make your life better/easier in that moment (e.g. I could do with a holiday!). Your example is good but sounds slightly unnatural, possibly due to the lack of context. I think a noun would make it sound more natural. How about ‘I could do with some English lessons’ or ‘I could do with a week of intensive English study’? If you wanted to use a verb, perhaps ‘I could do with spending a few weeks just focusing on my English’ would express what you mean?
      I hope that helps. Thanks for trying my challenge. Feel free to post comments on any of my blogs to have more practice 🙂

      Like

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