Not sure how to spell a word? Hesitate no longer.

15 Jan. “The ball is in your court.” When to use this English expression.

The English expression “the ball is in your court,” is a very frequently used expression. Although it originates from sport, as the words “ball” and “sport” may suggest, it is now used in a less literal sense.


The expression is used in order to tell someone that it is up to them to take the next step. Generally, it relates to making a decision of some sort and is commonly used in informal negotiations for example after an offer has been made someone may say “the ball is in your court to decide whether to accept it.”


The phrase was first used in a literal sense during tennis matches in the early 1900s in order to denote who should serve or return the ball next. It is the unclear how long it was before it was extended to be used in a less literal and more metaphorical sense. It is, however, suggested that it firstly was extended for use in other sporting games before it became commonplace in other, non-sport related activities.


An example of the usage of this expression can be found in an article on the BBC news website from July 2015 about the economic situation in Greece. The title of the article is Greece debt crisis: ‘Ball lies in Greece’s court’ -Juncker, and this is used to express the fact that Jean-Claude Juncker stated that Greece had been offered advice but ultimately it was up to the government to decide what action to take.

So, the ball is now in your court to go ahead and begin using this expression!

Ne ratez pas

Should I be pleased to be described as “the laughing stock?”

publié le 4 June

Have you ever been described as "the laughing stock?" Do you want to know if this is a compliment or not? If this is the case then keep reading and th...

voir plus

What does it mean if something happens at “the eleventh hour?”

publié le 2 June

The English idiom, "at the eleventh hour" is often used in conversation. It can seem rather confusing if you do not have prior knowledge of what it me...

voir plus

Is it a good thing to “kill time?”

publié le 2 June

This English expression is very commonly used, particularly in general day-to-day conversation. If you want to find out when and how to use it, read t...

voir plus