Behind one's back

Most Important Level 2

"to do something behind someone's back"

Meaning: to do something or talk about something without another person's knowledge

Similar Expressions
  • She was talking about me behind my back.
  • She was talking about me when I wasn't there.
  • She was talking about me without me there.
When do we use it?

We use this expression when a person or people do something without another person knowing about it. This sentence almost always has a negative meaning. So, if we are planning a surprise party for somebody, then we are planning a party for them without them knowing. However, we would not use this expression in this case because it is a positive thing.

Here are some common ways that we use this expression.
  • to talk behind someone's back
  • to do something behind somebody's back
  • to plan something behind someone's back
  • to make fun of someone behind their back
  • to criticize someone behind their back
How do we use it?

We can add or leave out different parts of this expression. Follow the sentence patterns above and look at the examples below to see how to use this expression.
  • They did it behind my back.
  • She was talking behind your back at the meeting yesterday.
  • Greg made fun of James behind his back.
  • Susan always criticizes her boss behind his back, but she never says it to his face.
Example English Conversation

A) Why are you mad at Karen?
B) I found out that she was talking about me behind my back and she was spreading untrue rumors about me.
A) That's not nice. If she has a problem with you, then she should tell you to your face.

It is important that you know English expressions and idioms if you want to have fluent English conversations with native English speakers or other advanced English speakers. Do not try to learn many expressions and idioms at one time. Instead, study a few of these free English lessons each week and learn the words or expressions well. This will help your English vocabulary improve steadily, and you will start speaking English like a native speaker.