English Conversation: The Meaning of Hand Gestures

English Conversation: The Meaning of Hand Gestures

Hello. My name is Emma, and in today’s
video, I am going to teach you all about how we use
our hands in English. So there are many ways we use our
hands in English. I’m going to teach you a lot of different ways we use them.
A lot of students get very confused with this, because the way we use our hands varies from
culture to culture, so what we do in Canada and England and the U.S. might be very different
than with what you do in your country. Okay? So pay close attention
to these differences. So to start with, let’s
look at: “knock on wood”. If you’re living in an
English-speaking country, you may have noticed sometimes people have a
wooden object or a desk, a table, something made of wood, and
they knock on it. Okay? You might wonder: “What
does this mean, knock on wood?” In English tradition, if you say
something good, for example: “I did very, very well on my test. I
killed my test. I did amazing on my test”, you might knock on wood to make
sure that you don’t jinx it. Okay? I’ll give you another example. Imagine if I want to go on a picnic, and I’m
a little afraid about rain, I might say: “Oh, you know, today’s supposed to
be a very sunny day. Knock on wood.” I’m knocking on wood to prevent rain.
Okay? So it’s a superstition we do in order to kind of
protect ourselves from the opposite happening. Okay?
One last example: -“How did your interview go? How
did your job interview go?” -“Oh, it went well.”
[Knocks] Okay, so that’s why we knock on
wood, it’s a superstition. All right, let’s look at some
of these other ones. “Quotes”. A lot of students have asked
me: “What does this mean?” Okay? So, for example,
somebody might say: “Yeah, she’s beautiful.” Or: “He’s really smart.” This kind of has a sarcastic tone to it.
It means somebody has said somebody is beautiful, but you don’t
believe it. Or somebody has said somebody is smart, but you don’t believe it. So if you
hear someone saying something, and you’re, you know, pretty much using their words but you
don’t believe it, you can do quotes. Okay? Another example: “Yeah
that movie was awesome.” Okay? So it means you
don’t believe it. English is fun. Your teachers
might tell you English is fun. When you’re talking
to your friends, you might say: “English is
fun”, if you don’t believe it. All right, the next one: “crazy”. All right?
In English, if we think someone is crazy, we go… Okay? So, for example: “That guy,
he’s very…” [Clicks tongue] It means he’s very crazy. Okay? “Fingers crossed”. A lot of the times in English,
we take our fingers and we cross them, and we go like this. This means we’re hoping
something happens. Okay? So, for example: I hope you like this
video, fingers crossed. Or: I hope I did well on the
test, fingers crossed. Okay? So this means you hope
something is happening. Now, this is a little different from if you take
your finger and you put it behind your back. If you take your finger… Your fingers
crossed and you put it behind your back, it means you’re telling a lie.
So, for example: “Oh, I loved the movie you made. The
movie you made was incredible.” If my fingers are behind my back,
it means I’m lying to you. “I never talk to that guy.” Okay? Fingers behind my back,
it means I’m lying. Okay? Now, this one you might know, I
think it’s a very common one: “OK”. It can also mean: “nice work” or “A-OK”. So that
means something has gone well. We have this one which is a very rude one.
This, which means… And sorry, I’m not doing this
to you; I’m just teaching it. This means “up yours”, which
pretty much in English means “fuck you”. Okay? So if you ever see
somebody going like that, it’s not polite. It means up yours or fuck you. Oh, we have one… Two more. “Peace sign”. Okay,
when we’re talking about peace in English, we often go: “Peace.” So this is against war. In the 1960s,
there were people called Hippies, they were always going: “Peace.” This is
very different than the V sign, this. Peace is like this, the V sign is like this. The
V sign is something that is almost the same as this. In England, in Australia, in New
Zealand, if you do this to somebody, you’re pretty much telling them: “Fuck you.” Okay?
So be careful. “Peace”, versus “Fuck you.” Finally: “money”. Okay? In English, when we’re talking about
money, we often go like this. So, for example: “Do you have money?
I need some money?” Okay? So we just
take our fingers and we just rub them together. Okay, we have this, devil’s
horns, also known as “rock on”. So whenever you go… If you like music, a lot of the times
if you go to a rock concert, you go like this, you do this when you like the music. Okay? And it means
“rock on”. So this one has to do with music. Okay, “come here”. In Western culture,
when we want somebody to come, we go… This is different than in other cultures.
Some cultures, it’s like this. We don’t do that in Western culture. Our
hand is up, and we… We call forward. If we want someone to
hurry, we might go… Okay? So we use that
to say: “Come here.” We also have… This is
sometimes almost like a negative “come here”, like you’re in
trouble, if I go, I take my fingers, I have just the one
up and I go… It means: “Come here”, but usually
parents will do this or maybe your boss, and sometimes… Well, it often
means you’re in trouble or there’s a problem. Okay? Okay, “me”. Now, in different cultures, we
point to different areas of our self when we’re talking about ourselves. In
Western culture, we point to our chest. Me. In some cultures, people
point to their noses. Me. In Western culture, we don’t do
that; we point to our chest. Me. Okay? We also have: “I don’t know”, or “I don’t understand”,
or “I don’t care.” Okay? So I shrug can mean “I
don’t know/I don’t care.” “Please/I beg you”. If you want somebody to do something,
you can put your hands together, like this, and say: “Please, please, please.
I beg you. Please keep practicing English. Please keep watching
engVid.” Okay? So that’s something we
can do to mean “please” or “I beg you”, which is
pretty much the same thing. Okay, this one: “shoot me now”.
Shoot is what you do with a gun, so we take our gun, and we just pretend to…
[Shooting noise]. Okay? Shoot me now. We
often do this when we’re bored. Okay? So if you’re watching a very
boring… If you have a very boring class, or somebody is… You’re watching something
very boring, you might say: [Shooting noise], which means: “Please kill me. Shoot me now.”
Or if something is really terrible, like maybe you did really bad on an assignment:
“Ah, please shoot me now.” Finally we have: “call me”. Okay? This means: “Call my cellphone or
call my telephone.” Okay? So now let’s look at some more expressions
we use with our hands, some more gestures, and what they mean in English. Okay, so the next expression I want
to teach you with your hands is: “It went over my head.” Okay? So it’s when
you go: “Whoo”. What this means is that
something is so difficult, and complex, and confusing,
you don’t understand. So, for example, when
I think about math, whoo, it means math is very difficult; I don’t
understand it. Or if I think about, you know, certain science principles, maybe, you
know, I might not understand them, so it goes over my head. It means I don’t
understand because it’s too difficult. I hope you don’t do this, but some of you might
think about English, whoo. Okay? Or English grammar,
and that means it’s so difficult it
went over my head. Okay, we also have “thumbs up”. You do this if
something is good. In some cultures, I think it
might mean something different, but in Western culture,
this means good. We also have “thumbs down”,
which means bad. Okay? So: “How was your presentation?” It means-okay-“It was terrible.” Okay? We have: Shh. “Be quiet.” Shh. We also have: “What?” This
means the opposite; it means “speak louder”. Okay? “I can’t hear you,
please speak louder.” Okay, the next one: You’re dead, is when
you take your finger and you go: “Kee”. Okay? So if you want to tell
somebody they’re dead: “Kee”. Okay. We also have another threat. If somebody makes
you really angry… Well, I’m not saying to do this, but if you see someone go like this,
shaking their fist, and they have a very angry face, like… It means: “I’ll get you”, or it can also
mean, like, you know, “Fuck you.” Okay? And it’s done high up. Okay. Now, one thing we do in English, this, can
mean two things. If you see the police officer and they have their gun out, and you go:
“Whoa!” This can mean: “Don’t shoot.” Okay? “Don’t shoot your gun.” It can also mean: “Relax.” Okay?
“Calm down.” So, if somebody is very angry at you, if somebody’s yelling
at you, they’re very angry: “Whoa!” Okay? It means: “Whoa, calm
down” or “relax”. Okay, this is an important one.
It means “let’s drink”. Okay? So I might
say to somebody: “Hey, today, let’s get
beer or let’s drink.” If you point to somebody,
though, and if you go: “That guy”, [clicks tongue], depending on how you do
your face, it can also mean that person drinks too much. So when you go
like this, it usually has to do with alcohol. It can mean either:
“Yeah, let’s drink.” or “That guy, he drinks too
much; he’s an alcoholic.” Okay? Next, we have the
word “hitch-hike”. Hitch-hike is when you need
to get somewhere, so you put your thumb out and you’re on the road, and
hopefully if you do this, a car will come and pick you up. So it’s a way to travel.
When you don’t have transportation, you can put your thumb out if there’s a road, and
somebody in a car may pick you up. That’s called hitch-hiking. Okay? So in some cultures
something like this is rude; in English if you’re walking on the street and you do this,
it means: “Please pick me up in your car.” Okay, this one is also a very, very important
one. If you go to a restaurant and you want to pay for your meal, sometimes the waitress
or the server, they take a very long time to come, so what you can do is you can make
eye contact with your waiter or waitress, and you can go… Okay? So you pretend this is a
pen, this is a paper, that means: “Cheque, please.” or
“The bill, please.” So you don’t even have to say
anything; you can just look. It means: “Please
give me the bill.” Okay, if you want something done
fast, we say: “Snap, snap.” Snap, snap means do it quickly,
do it very fast. Okay? You know, I finished my
homework snap, snap. It means I did it very quickly. Or: “Get me a coffee.”
[Snaps fingers] Snap, snap. “Get me a coffee very quickly.” Okay, we have this
one: “go away”. Okay? So, you know, our… Our…
The back of our hand, and it pushes away. Okay, this one you might see if you ever watch
the Oscars or some sort of award ceremony, maybe a baseball game or a hockey game, you
might see somebody clasp their hands together, so they put their hands together and they
shake them, and they shake them. Okay? This means: “Yay, we won.” Okay?
“We won the award.” or “Yay, I won the game.
We won the hockey game.” So this is kind of victory or,
you know: “We won, we won.” Okay, the next one: “blah, blah”.
In English, “blah, blah” means… Well, it doesn’t really mean anything. We
use it when someone is talking too much, and we say: “Blah, blah,
blah, blah, blah.” Okay? So it just means a person is talking
too much. So we might take our hand and go: “Blah, blah, blah, blah”, and it means,
you know, this is what this person sounds like, blah, blah. It means
they’re talking too much, and we don’t really care
what they’re saying. This: “loser”. A loser is
someone who is not cool. Okay? So a loser is somebody
who is not cool. In the 90s, although some people do this,
but really in the 1990s, if you went like this, it meant… So you make an “L” and
you go like that. It meant you were insulting somebody, it meant you were calling them a
loser, or somebody who isn’t successful and who is stupid, pretty much. So if you go
like that, it’s an insult in English. It’s not so common anymore, but it was
something that was very big in the 1990s. Okay, finally: “anticipation”. Anticipation means we are
excited for something. Okay? So imagine Christmas is
coming: “Oo, I can’t wait.” Or, you know, the new Ironman
movie is coming out: “Oo, this is so exciting.” You know, I’m going to get to
watch another engVid video: “Oo, I can’t wait.” So we use this to mean
anticipation or excitement. We’re very excited for something, we can
rub our hands together, like this. Okay, the last one I want to teach
you, this. It’s from Star Trek, and it means “live
long and prosper”. So for anyone who’s a Star Trek fan,
this is a very big hand gesture a lot of people do in English society and I guess
worldwide, showing that they’re a fan of the TV show and the movie Star Trek. So I hope you’ve
enjoyed this video. Again, we use our hands
a lot to communicate. They say that 80% of language
is actually body language, so it’s really
important to learn the different things your hands
can do and what they mean, because in some cultures, certain things might be offensive;
but in other cultures, they’re not. Okay? So it’s important to know
what is offensive in English, for example, this is
offensive; versus: What is something that is
not offensive, like this? This is totally fine to
do in English. Okay? So I invite you to come check out
our website at www.engvid.com. There, you can do a quiz where you can practice what you’ve learned in
this video, and make sure that you’ve actually learned it and mastered it. Okay?
I hope you’ve enjoyed this video, and until next time, I’m
excited to see you guys. And I’ll see you later.
Take care.

100 thoughts on “English Conversation: The Meaning of Hand Gestures

  1. Helo Dear ,
    Thx from Croatia. Question
    What this rock on in 6 min. other side of the hand when you looking back middle finger and ring finger??? I know something like v in England and v in Peace ???
    Thx a bunch
    Love and Re5pect

  2. in Indonesia we knock the Wood (table) when we want to ask a question, so the speaker is able to see or hear. we can also raise our hand but sometimes we knock the table before raising our hand

  3. You need to do some more research..They are freemason and occult symbols you don't have a clue what your talking about

  4. The one who use finger crossed gesture is the stupidest man on earth. Who would be that much stupid to use a gesture to tell a lie. Pathetic

  5. when u put cross fingers behind ur back it means u lying thats true meanwhile in India " sale anti ganti bandhi hai tune " ?

  6. In Latin countries, we've got "toco madera" with the exact same meaning than your knock on wood.

  7. I thought "know on wood" was something like "swear to god"..
    "I'm not making this up I swear to god" it would be like "I'm not making this up knock on wood"

  8. You should probably explain why the V facing out is so rude in Britian lol. It originated from the 14th century during the 100 years war with France. The English and Welsh longbowmen used it as a way to show the French they still had their draw fingers, the French where known to cut them off enemies. So essentially a big "fuck off we can still draw a longbow".

  9. you forgot the one where we find something gross, we usually "stick" our finger in our mouth and stick out our tongue

  10. It's very interesting!! Here in Brazil the first one (Knock on wood) is used in the opposite way! When something bad can happen, people usually knock on wood!

  11. Most of these gestures are the same by us (the Czech republic) but it's interesting that e.g. what you have said means anticipation, it can mean both anticipation and urgent "please" depending on your facial expression.

    And we have a special gesture similar to "I'll kill you" by appearance and to "too difficult" by mean. We do it by stroking across a downside of a chin with the back of the fingers (like "I'll kill you" but higher and with all fingers) and it means "it's too much for me" or "I am angry with it" or "that's enough" or "I'm fed up with it" or something like that. It expresses my feelings, not any wish, will or command, and it can say "I'm done with it" too. It means "I feel like having it to my neck" or "to my chin".

  12. In Eastern Europe when you knock on wood, it means you do not want something bad to happen when you talk about something bad and you do not want to happen. I see that in Canada if you talk about something beautiful and you don't want something bad to happen, it beats in wood. At me, if you talk to me about something unwanted and you want to remain undesirable, you knock on wood.

  13. although there is a huge distance from my country (Romania, Eastern Europe), all the expressions that are displayed, apply also in my area

  14. I'm an English speaker from America, and I have a hand gesture question. Often while watching British shows I see a character tap the side of their nose with their index finger. I see it used when mystery is involved. I can guess what it means, but totally enjoyed your presentation and would like to hear a proper answer from a pro. What does it mean when a person taps the side of their nose with their index finger? 🙂

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