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20 Short English Quotes for Quick Motivation

20 Short English Quotes for Quick Motivation

Quotes and proverbs are great tools for finding inspiration and fresh, new ways of looking at life. However, many well-known quotes are long and can be difficult for English learners to understand.

However, there are still plenty of great quotes that aren't very long at all. In this article, we'll present 20 short English quotes that are just 10 words or less — the perfect length for people whose English isn't quite fluent yet. We hope you find something useful and inspiring in this list!

“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”

A diverse group of friends smiling while posing together for a photo

This first quote on our list is by the Irish poet and playwright Oscar Wilde. Here, "taken" means "unavailable" or "already belonging to someone else." So this quote encourages us to accept and appreciate the things that make us unique instead of trying to copy others.

“People change and forget to tell each other.”

This quote is from American playwright Lillian Hellman. It expresses how a person’s thoughts, actions and feelings can change frequently, even though people often do not communicate these changes to one other. This lack of communication can lead to misunderstandings and problems in relationships.

“Nothing will work unless you do.”

These are the words of Maya Angelou, a famous American poet and civil rights activist. It expresses the idea that even if you have great plans and ambitions, they will be worthless if you don’t work hard to make them a reality.

“Never to suffer would never to have been blessed.”

This quote comes from the famous American writer and poet Edgar Allan Poe. It means experiencing challenges is an essential part of life, and that these difficulties lead to personal growth and wisdom that would not have been possible without them.

What matters most in life is often invisible.

In other words, emotions, experiences and relationships are frequently more valuable than things like money or physical objects.

“We can only learn to love by loving.”

A young couple in love, smiling and embracing each other

This quote is from Iris Murdoch, an important British writer and philosopher. It means that love is something that cannot be understood or learned by simply studying or observing. Instead, it requires a direct, personal experience.

“Genius is the recovery of childhood at will.”

This quote comes from French poet Arthur Rimbaud. It means that great intelligence and ability comes from reconnecting to the unique creativity and curiosity that children have whenever you choose to.

“Wisdom begins in wonder.”

Another thing that children often have a lot of is a sense of wonder. This quote, from the ancient Greek philosopher Socrates, says that gaining knowledge and understanding starts with that special feeling of curiosity. In order to become wise, we first must look at and question the world around us.

“And still I rise.”

This is another quote belonging to the poet Maya Angelou. It expresses the feelings of strength and hope as well as the knowledge that no matter what challenges we experience, we have the ability to stand and achieve success.

“Be curious, not judgmental.”

These words are from Walt Whitman, another important American poet. It suggests that instead of looking at other people critically, we should live life with an open mind and try to understand and learn from people whose experiences are different from our own.

“Everything you can imagine is real.”

The famous Spanish painter Pablo Picasso said these words, which focus on the amazing power of our imaginations. In other words, it says that our thoughts and ideas can have a big impact on the reality that we experience every day.

“You cannot shake hands with a clenched fist.”

A man in a business suit holding out a fist

“Clench” is a verb that means "to close tightly." Therefore, this quote from former Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi suggests that it is impossible to have a peaceful exchange with someone if one or both sides are focused on fighting or arguing. Instead, open communication requires everyone to let go of aggressive feelings.

“You can disagree without being disagreeable.”

These are the words of the influential American lawyer Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and they are similar in meaning to the previous quote. They express the idea that it is possible to disagree with someone without being rude or impolite. It encourages respectful communication at all times, even when we do not share the same opinions.

“Think big thoughts, but relish the small pleasures.”

"Relishing" something means getting great enjoyment from it. This quote from American author H. Jackson Brown, Jr. encourages us to have large ideas without forgetting the nice, smaller things that life can give us every day.

“Have no fear of perfection; you’ll never reach it.”

This quote comes from Salvador Dali, an important Spanish artist who painted well-known surreal images. This refers to the idea that being or making something completely perfect is impossible. Instead, true growth and artistry is found in effort and always working to become better.

“The greatest danger to our future is apathy.”

This next quote is from Jane Goodall, who was a famous primatologist, or a person who studies primates. The Oxford Learner's Dictionary defines "apathy" as "the feeling of not being interested in or enthusiastic about something." Therefore, the quote is a warning that we must all be passionate about something — and be willing to work for it — in order to have a bright future.

“If you’re going through hell, keep going.”

In this quote from Winston Churchill, the British Prime Minister during World War II, we are encouraged not to stop moving, even if we are in a very difficult situation or challenge. In other words, never give up!

“Despite the forecast, live like it’s spring.”

A woman in a white dress holding a basket of flowers in the middle of a flower garden

These encouraging words come from Lilly Pulitzer, an American fashion designer and businessperson. Here, she advises us to keep a positive, hopeful and joyful attitude (like the feeling of spring) even if challenges and difficulties may come in our lives (forecast).

“Whatever you are, be a good one.”

This quote is from former US president Abraham Lincoln. It means that we should try to be the best in whatever job or position we are in, always working to improve and to do better.

“Dreaming, after all, is a form of planning.”

The final quote on this list is from Gloria Steinem, an important American writer and feminist. It suggests that dreaming and picturing a future is actually the first step in the planning process. In other words, before they become a reality, our goals and hopes for the future begin here.


Quotes do not need to be long to have a powerful emotional effect on us. Have any of the quotes we've covered in this article "spoken" to you?

We hope you have found this list encouraging and that it has motivated you to accomplish something, whether it is learning English or improving your life in some other way. If you ever feel like you need a little motivation, come back to this article for inspiration!

This article was adapted from an original written by Sana Nozaki.