Como digo em inglês: Tá na ponta da língua

By Ana Luiza | Podcast Inglês Online

Jul 20
Como digo em inglês Tá na ponta da língua

Hey… what’s up?

No podcast de hoje, você ouve como dizer coisas assim:

  • Estou quase lembrando… tá na ponta da língua!
  • Gostou do ………..? Você não viu nada ainda!


Hi, this is Ana Luiza with a new episode of Inglesonline podcast. To see the transcript and download the audio for this and other episodes, go to and click on “Podcasts”. And thanks to everyone who’s been listening and sending me mail, and leaving comments! I love doing this podcast and I really enjoy hearing from you guys and learning how the episodes have helped you.

Alright! So, a few weeks ago I talked about the expression ‘tip someone off’ and today we’re going to, once again, talk about the word tip. A very common meaning of tip is the pointed end or extremity of something. For example, your fingers have tips… they’re called fingertips. Your tongue has a tip, and sometimes an iceberg has a tip too.

The two expressions I’m gonna talk about today are: ‘on the tip of my tongue’ and ‘That’s just the tip of the iceberg’.

So, you know when you almost remember something? Someone asks you, What’s the name of the hotel where you stayed last year? or What’s the name of that actor? or What did that person say about this or that? and you can almost remember, it’s on the tip of your tongue, but you can’t come up with the actual word, or the actual expression you’re trying to remember. It’s on the tip of your tongue but you can’t quite remember it. We have an identical expression in Portuguese, right? I’m not gonna say it.

So here’s an example. My friends and I were playing a game once and there was someone drawing a picture, and we had to guess what the title of a movie was based on the drawing. So, I had no idea what it was, but my friend said she knew it. She had the title of the movie on the tip of her tongue. She kept describing the movie, she remembered the names of the actors in the movie, she even knew what the first letter of the title was. She said it started with a J. It was on the tip of her tongue, but in the end we ran out of time and she couldn’t remember it. And when the other person told us which movie it was, my friend said, “Yes, that’s the title! It was on the tip of my tongue the whole time!” So, it was on the tip of her tongue, but she couldn’t actually remember it in time to win the game.

And here’s another expression: the tip of the iceberg. You know what an iceberg is, right? When you see a picture of an iceberg, you’re only seeing a small portion of the iceberg, because, well, most of it is underwater. Sometimes you only see the tip of the iceberg.

So, imagine you work in an office… you’ve been working there for a year. Then you go on vacation, a few weeks later you’re back to work and as walk into your office, one of your coworkers, let’s say his name is Bob… So Bob walks up to you and says: “Hey, you’re back! Bad news, unfortunately. The VP of Sales quit three days ago”. And you think, “Wow, that’s really bad”. And then you give your friend Brian a call.

Brian is also a coworker. So you tell him, “Hey, I just heard that the VP of Sales quit. That doesn’t sound good”. And Brian says, “Oh, you think the VP of Sales quitting is bad? That is just the tip of the iceberg, my friend”. And then, Brian goes on to tell you about other stuff that is even worse. The VP of Finance is threatening to quit too, the company is about to declare bankruptcy… So, the VP of Sales quitting? Yeah, that’s bad, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

What else? You could be trying to sell someone a computer… You could say, this computer has the fastest hard drive you’ve ever seen. You should buy it for the hard drive alone, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The processor is unbelievable, all the accessories you could ever want are included, and so on. So, the fast hard drive? That’s just the tip of the iceberg.

OK, that’s it for today. Leave your comments – tell us about the last time you had something on the tip of your tongue! Talk to you next time.

Key expressions

  • On the tip of my/her/his tongue
  • That’s just the tip of the iceberg


the actual word = a palavra propriamente dita

she kept describing the movie = ela ficava descrevendo o filme

coworkers = pessoas que trabalham com você na empresa

Bob walks up to you = o Bob anda/ vai até você

threatening to quit = ameaçando pedir demissão

the company is about to declare bankruptcy  = a companhia está para pedir falência

for the hard drive alone = só por causa do disco rígido

all you could ever want = tudo que você poderia querer/deseja


About the Author

Ana Luiza criou um blog de dicas de inglês em 2006, e depois de muito pesquisar o que faz alguém ganhar fluência numa segunda língua, criou seu primeiro curso de inglês em 2009.

  • Glauber says:

    Hi Ana!

    I really love your podcasts!! English seems to be easier with your explanations.

    It’s terrible when I had something on the tip of the tongue and don’t remember it. It happens a lot of times with me when I speak in English LOL..

  • Ana says:

    Ah, ok! Muito obrigada! =)

  • Ana Luiza says:

    OI Ana – tem dica aqui no blog sobre isso. Clique no link lá no texto do podcast, OK?

  • Ana says:

    Olá, Ana!
    Eu tenho uma dúvida neste texto. Eu não consegui compreender o que quer dizer “ran out of time”. Seria “nós corremos fora do tempo”? Fica meio estranho… se puder dá uma ajudinha. Desde já agradeço.
    Ah, Eu adoro o seu site. Está realmente me ajudando muito. =)

  • jeroni says:

    Thanks, you`re is very kind with us, we have learned a lot with you.

  • Ana Luiza says:

    Hi Juliana!
    Aproveite os materiais de áudio do seu livro de inglês para ouvir bastante – é assim que vc vai pegar inglês. Leia a série “Como Falar INglês” (link na barra lateral) e veja lá mais sugestões de áudio para básico, préintermediário, etc.

  • juliana miranda says:

    ñ entendi nada sou iniciante como vou ler td isto ainda estou ns sexta serie

  • Josimar Machado. says:

    Uau that post is totally amazing. I always wanted to know how to say that because there was many times that I just forgot what i had to say and the only thing i could say was “I forgot” s: anyway that helps alot smile thanks, you’re great!

  • luh says:

    Hi! I loved this podcast!^^
    Congrulations and thx a lot, Ana!

  • Ariany says:

    Hi there!
    I loved it and I really enjoyed !
    This is my first time..but I’ll spend more time here!
    Congratulations for yor pronunciation. It’s really nice to hear you.

  • mariana says:

    ohhhh…i loved it!
    It’s my first time here..and i really loved it!

  • edson viana says:

    it´s very nice thanks a lot and when you will put the next mp3
    thanks a lot and congratulations.

  • Hadassa says:

    ohhhh…i loved it!
    It’s my first time here..and i really loved it!
    Thanks for this!

  • Ana Luiza says:

    One more thing! I also read a lot in English, mostly Internet forums on topics I’m interested in. But listening is stilll the #1 thing I do.

    Fernanda – you could say it like this:
    “Writing a comment is a wonderful way to exercise my English”
    It’s nice to see your enthusiasm!!

  • Ana Luiza says:

    Hey everyone! THanks for commenting.

    Enio – I lived in the USA for a few years, but I’ve been back in BR for almost 10 years now.
    I don’t speak English every day to be honest, sometimes not even every week.

    The thing I do that keeps my English fluent or nearly fluent is, I listen to English 3-4 hours a day, every single day – mostly podcasts on my mp3 player, also TV and radio.

    Do you see “Como ter progresso na fluência” on the sidebar? Click the link – it’s a series of articles where I talk about exactly this topic. Enjoy! It’s fun once you’ve found audio that you enjoy… It doesn’t take long to notice you’re making progress if you listen consistently.

  • Enio Michel says:

    Hi, you are a very good english speaker. how long time have you practiced?
    By: Enio Michel

  • Fernanda says:

    Hi, Ana Luiza, this podcast is so good as the last one! i think this expressions are important for informal talking when we want to be accept in another language. And, write a comment is a wonderful way to exercise my english. thanks a lot and im keeping up my learning (thats correct?)

  • hgfhgh says:

    that,s great i appreciate it very much these podcasts…i ve been learning in a kind of way that i could not expect at all…so congratulations everyone who created it….

  • Ana Luiza says:

    Hi Romar – you’re welcome. Right now, I don’t… You might be interested in the Curso para Iniciantes?

    Angela – thank you for commenting, I’m VERY happy to know it’s been useful!

    Thanks, Osvaldo… enjoy

  • I loved this podast… the way….i love all the podcasts….keep teaching us and improve our english…have a nice day

  • Angela Susin says:

    Hi Ana Luiza,
    I’d like to congratulate you on this wonderful job. I always give your site address to my students when they ask me for extra listening or reading material. I also benefit from your excellent tips and podcasts, let alone your excellent pronunciation. Congratulations!

  • Romar R. Vallory says:

    Hi Ana Luiza.

    Thank you for your work, it ´s really very important.
    I would like to know if you have a site for talking to you, I mens, skill my speech with you.


  • Ana Luiza says:

    Hi Marly – you’re very welcome, enjoy wink

    Henrique – ah, I see! Killing two birds with one stone.

    Hi Bruno – congratulations!! Very happy to know you’re knocking yourself out over here, and yes, I got that – without a doubt… Keep up the listening, you won’t regret it.

  • Bruno Freitas says:

    Confundi as expressões.
    Escrevi tipped myself out, mas queria escrever knock myself out. =/ Num sei nem se está certo.


  • Bruno Freitas says:

    Hi Ana,

    It´s realy fantastic!
    There six month ago I’m following your blog. I was unable to write one text alone, without any help. So, now I tipped “myself” out (it’s correct…?) to write, I can read and understanding almost all that I have been heard. Of course, on basic level.
    Without a doubt, this is the most wonderful site of English’s tip that I have ever seen (Do you liked this, don’t you?).
    Ana, congratulations! I have all of your podcast in my Ipod, and I listen them every day and once a time that I heard e learning something new.

    Thanks a lot for all!

  • Henrique says:

    Thanks a lot ^0^
    I’m learning chinese by english… so i can improve my english a little bit more… raspberry

  • MARLY ARAUJO says:

    VEry good! Your tips are helping me so much. I have learned a lot. You’re vety kind. Thank you. God blesses.

  • Ana Luiza says:

    Hi Marco,

    Great that you could get/understand lots of things.

    Olha, em geral quando eu penso em traduzir EVEN me vem a palavra ATÉ.

    Mas eu acho que nessa sentença o EVEN pode ser entendido como ênfase. O importante é que vc “pegou”.

  • Ana Luiza says:

    Hey Vera, great that you understood the audio – that is really good for an elementary student. Are you sure you’re elementary? smile

    Hi Henrique! Heh, I’m flattered, and I love doing the podcasts anyway. By the way – your writing is really good. What’ve you been doing?

  • Marco Brainiac says:

    Hi Ana,

    It was a fantastic podcast.

    I could get many things.

    “EVEN” in:
    And then, Brian goes on to tell you about other stuff that is EVEN worse.

    “EVEN” in portuguese would be “BEM”?

    Thank you a lot

  • Henrique says:

    I almost remember a good teacher like you that i had, it’s on the tip of my tongue… raspberry
    But not problem, this podcast it’s just the tip of the iceberg about ur skills… ^0^

  • Vera Abreu says:

    Dear teacher,
    I love it this podcast because I understood clear.
    I1m elementary student.
    vera Abreu

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