Friends premiered 27 years ago, yet it remains the most watched series in the history of television. Nowadays it’s safe to say that it’s become a classic and a must watch for anyone who loves American sitcoms. The show’s enduring popularity isn’t just down to a devoted fan base of nostalgic 30- and 40-year-olds. It’s also due to a new surge of binge-watching Gen Z-ers who see themselves in its characters, even though Friends premiered before they were even born! This is a great series to watch if you want to learn everyday English. But what expressions have been made famous just because of Friends? How has this series contributed to the English language?
How you doin’?
Who doesn’t know Joey’s notorious pickup line? Remember that a pickup line is something someone says to flirt. Although this infamous expression is grammatically incorrect, it’s quite authentic as most native speakers omit the auxiliary verb, and most Americans drop the ‘G’ when using a gerund. You should think of it as an example of connected speech. It just sounds like you’re speaking fast. So, next time you want to pick up an English speaker, why don’t give Joey’s famous expression a go? It’ll definitely put a smile on that person’s face.
The friend zone
Beware of the friend zone! Since Friends, this expression has become popular in everyday speech to describe a certain type of relationship. For instance, it’s used to describe Ross’ and Rachel’s relationship during the first season when Ross is pining for Rachel, and she has no idea. So, you should use it when you have a crush on someone, but they only consider you a friend, which makes it harder and harder for that person to change their perception of you and be attracted to you. Ross finally makes it out of the friend zone, but not many do!
Could I BE anymore….?
Chandler is one of those characters you either love or hate. But one thing we can all agree on is that he is a comedic genius. His jokes are perfectly timed and the irony in them has us on our sofas bursting out laughing. But we all know that his most famous expression is “Could I be anymore….?”. This is a hyperbolic way of speaking. It means that we stress the main verb for comedic effect. It’s used when the answer to the question is obviously no. It’s perfect for when we’re being ironic. For example, could that dress BE any uglier?
Oh my God!
This expression is famously attributed to Chandler’s recurring girlfriend Janice. Due to her highly nasal and whiny voice, it will forever be remembered in the history of television. We use it to express shock, surprise, or disappointment. But you have to add in a long pause between words to do Janice honour! This can also be reduced to OMG in texting and even in speaking.
We were on a break
This line was used throughout the series to justify why Ross’ and Rachel’s relationship ended. To be on a break or to take a break means you are taking a rest from something. However, if two people who are dating break up, it means that they’ve ended their romantic relationship. When you take a break, you don’t end the relationship, but you take a pause to reflect on it. This funny theme is brought out many times throughout the series because, whereas Rachel thought they were taking a break, Ross considered it as breaking up.
This technical term was made famous by season 5 episode 16 when Ross buys a sofa for his apartment and tries to take it up the stairs with Rachel and Chandler because he refuses to pay any delivery fees. Pivot means to turn on a point or shaft. This word choice is quite funny when Ross could’ve used a much more common word like rotate or turn. Friends fans associate this term with the series and you can find it on t-shirts and mugs all around the world. Do yourself a favour and type in Ross Gellar on google and then click on the sofa under his pictures. You’re in for a surprise!
He’s her lobster
Phoebe uses this peculiar expression to describe the inevitable reason Ross and Rachel are meant to be together. A lobster is a type of shellfish which is associated with fine dining and usually costs an arm and a leg. It’s common knowledge that lobsters will pick just one life partner, like penguins. Since Phoebe is a little odd, she uses this expression instead of the more common “she/he is their soulmate” to describe Ross’ and Rachel’s relationship.
Friends has definitely had a major impact on our lives and it’s perfect for practicing your listening skills at home and learning new vocabulary. So, if you still haven’t seen friends, I highly recommend getting an HBO max account and binge-watching all 10 seasons. Trust me, you won’t regret it!