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Michael IELTS Band 9
Professional Teacher
Everyday UK expressions: “I could do with …”

Imagine that you have come home from a hard day’s work, and you feel that you need something nice to help you relax and forget the stresses of the day.  You might say at that point:

“Right now, I could do with a nice cup of tea and some cake. I know I’ll feel better after that.”

Could do with + something” is a really common idiomatic expression in the UK in everyday conversation.         What we “could do with” is something that we want, that we tell ourselves that we need, and which we believe will give us something good.

We often say the expression internally to ourselves. But we can also say it out loud.  We can even say what another person “could do with”, in which case it becomes advice e.g.

“You could do with a new suit – that one’s really old-fashioned.”

To give another example, if it is a really hot day, and you are dirty and smelly after working hard outside, you might say to yourself or your colleagues:

“I feel so hot and dirty. I could really do with a cold shower.  I think I’ll have one as soon as I get home.”

Other things which we sometimes “could do with” are help, a hug, support, and some coins to buy something from a snack machine! 

Of course, the words “could do with” can also be used literally, and so we need to examine the context to decide if they are being used literally, or if they are idiomatic.  So I have three challenges for you:

1.       This is a link to a sentence database with the results of a search for sentences including “could do with”:  The first page has three sentences which clearly use “could do with” in the idiomatic way I have explained.  Which sentences are they?  Are the sources all British?

 2.       Can you write about a common situation in your life when you tell yourself (or someone else) that you “could do with something”?  Try to use the expression.

 3.       Do you know another idiomatic expression with the same meaning which is more commonly used in the USA?

All right answers will get an upvote from me.  I know, I am so kind!


Sep 18, 2016 7:28 PM
Comments · 10
I like these UK expressions. I got confused when people asked me "Are you all right?" as a conversation starter when I was in London. 
September 18, 2016
Hello, Michael! I think "I could really use..." is close American expression. For example, "I could really use some fresh air". Am I correct? 
September 18, 2016

1. They are 2d, 3d, 4th:

No, not all the sources are British: the 4th sentence is from Time, it's American.

2. Today at work after washing up the glass water bottle (pitcher?)I was pouring hot water in it and it broke! I paniced and screamed. My colleages ran up to me and asked, "what happenned? do you need anything?", -  and I said, "Yes, I could do with your help".

3. No, I don't know any.

September 18, 2016

I could do with a siesta.

This section ... could do with an overhaul.

The Tigers could do with a cool head.

May 16, 2017

I don't know why I couldn't do with more character(Write).Am I right in using it here?

2--After a long and  hectic train journey I could do with a nice and peaceful sleep and after that, I could do with my day nicely.

3--I really don't know about another expression more common in the US but does "could think of" work here??

Thank you and yes,you are Kind:)

September 19, 2016
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Michael IELTS Band 9
Language Skills
English, French, German, Italian, Spanish
Learning Language
German, Italian