16 Useful English Expressions You Can Use When Things Go Wrong

What do native English speakers say when they make a mistake? Here are several phrasal verbs and idioms integrated into the English language and are now commonly used in spoken English. These phrases and words are basically informal in their usage. So, you will hear these in daily conversations when referring to a mistake that happened.

Here are what people commonly say when things go wrong.

  • “Oops!”
  • “Oh my!”

Phrasal verbs:

 All these are just expressions to say, “Oops! I made a mistake!”


“I mucked it up!” and “I messed up!”


  • I messed up my marriage!
  • I messed up my college education.
  • I messed up when I added too much sugar in my cake mixture.
  • I really messed up my car! (This means you had an accident and you destroyed your vehicle.)

“I screwed up!”


  • I screwed up my career!
  • I screwed up my chance to get back with Jane.

When used as an adjective:

“You are a screwup.”

This means that they always make mistakes, they are not doing things as they should, or they make a lot of stupid decisions. You usually hear this in movies where, for example, a father yells at his teenage son and says, 


  • “You are such a screwup! You can’t do anything right around here.”

Grandmother expressions

We call these as such because they are not offensive or strong phrases. It’s an excellent way of saying, “Oops!” These can also literally mean that you commonly hear these from grandmas. Younger kids use these expressions a lot as well.

“Oh darn!” “Oh dash!” and “Oh my gosh!”


Person A: Adam spilled coffee on his printed report.

Person B: Oh my gosh! Really?!


“Oh my goodness!”


  • Oh my goodness! Matt fell off the tree!

Another popular one, especially in movies, is “Oh my God!” But for some, they don’t want to say or hear “God,” so using this may get them offended.

More expressions:

“That sucks!”


Person A: “I left my bag on the train this morning!”

Person B: “Well, that sucks!”


“I blew it!” (past tense)


  • I blew the project!
  • I blew my performance in that competition!

**Another way to talk about “blew” is when using money.

  • “I blew all my money on shopping!”
  • “I blew all my money on gambling!”
  • “I blew all my money on traveling!”
  • “I blew all my money on partying!”
  • “He’s blowing all his money on girls.”

This is not a good thing because you spent all your money only on one thing, and you didn’t save any for more essential needs.

“It crashed!”

This expression is applied to computers or gadgets.


  • “His computer crashed in the middle of his presentation!”

So, you say this if you’re working on something and then suddenly it’s gone, or something went wrong. This is also used for software or electronics, like when something is destroyed temporarily. 


“Bit it!”

For instance, you’re learning skating, but you keep falling, so you say, “I bit it!”


  • “My A/C (air conditioner) bit it.”



This means something is broken or doesn’t work anymore and needs a repair.


  • “My computer choked.”
  • “My blender choked.”
  • “I choked on my test.” (This does not mean literally choking. This only means you failed.)
  • “I choked the job interview.” (This simply means you didn’t do well.)


” I aced it!”

Lastly, this phrase is the exact opposite of messing up something. This means it was a great success!

So if you messed up or when you screw something up, it’s alright. It’s just a mistake. You can make it right the next time. 


When you make mistakes in learning English, it’s no big deal. Just pick up yourself and try again. Making mistakes in English means, you have the chance to make it right the second time around! With constant practice, you will surely ace it!

I have a passion for the English language because it is such a powerful tool for creativity and personal development. I've been writing articles since I was in High School. I represented my school in English writing competitions in the city, regional, and national levels. When I was in college, I wrote a short story which was published in the University Literary Portfolio. In 2006, I worked as a call center agent in Cebu City. In 2007 up to 2008, I worked as an English accent trainer in a startup call center company. I have also been offering ESL lessons as a freelance tutor since February 2016.