Mini-Scripts for learning English
Here are 100 scenario’s that you may find useful in learning to speak English……..read through them and see how many useful phrases you can learn!
As a visitor or new resident to the UK, it’s likely you’ll use airlines to travel back to visit family, or go on holiday. Booking a flight abroad can be expensive if you don’t understand exactly what your paying for so it helps to know how to speak English.
Firstly, you’ll need to let the agent know where you wish to go;
“I would like to book a flight to …”
“I want to go somewhere hot/with nice weather.”
“I don’t want a long haul flight.”
You can also make more specific requirements about the type of flight you wish to go on;
“I’d need extra leg room.”
“I’d like first class.”
“We’ll need in flight meals.”
“Will there be a movie during the flight?”
“Can we add priority boarding?”
Once you’ve boarded your flight, you should have all of the extras you paid for. However, if there’s something missing or anything else you require, here are some useful phrases/questions;
“Do you have baby changing facilities?”
“Can we purchase snacks/drinks?”
“Can we buy earphones to hear the movie?”
“What time are we expected to land?”
Travelling with children can be quite daunting, particularly if you are travelling long haul, and so it’s important you receive all that you can to help things go smoothly. Especially if you intend to travel often.
Whenever a New Year comes around, people like to talk about their resolutions and about any goals or plans they might have. If you learn how to speak English you might enjoy taking part in conversations around this time of year. They can provide you with lots of ways to discuss various matters with different people.
“Have you made any resolutions for the New Year?”
“What plans do you have for the year ahead?”
“Have you started thinking about taking a holiday this year yet?”
“I am determined to give up smoking this year.”
“I have started my diet and I am hoping to lose a stone in the next few weeks.”
“I am thinking of becoming self employed this year.”
“I have lots of plans and ideas for making this year one to remember. Do you have any similar ideas or plans?” As you can see this is an opportunity to ask some questions as well as offering some information about your own life. This is good to remember if you are getting to know new people or you are eager to get involved in more conversations. Remember not to ask too personal questions, such as asking people if they are intending to lose weight or stop smoking. This is information they should provide for you if they want to! In any event, those resolutions can start many an entertaining conversation to give you good English speaking practice.
England isn’t the only country in which knowing how to speak English will be beneficial to you. Many European countries and North America tend to speak English or use it as a second language as well as other tourist destinations world wide. If you book a holiday in a country that doesn’t speak your native language, try using English.
When you first arrive at your accommodation on holiday, here are some questions you might need to ask;
“Where is our room?”
“Where is the hotel reception?”
“Where is the swimming pool?”
“What time is breakfast?”
“What time will we check-out on our last day?”
“What time is dinner?”
On a day to day basis here are some questions/phrases you might find useful;
“Where is the local shop?”
“How do we get to the beach?”
“Are these sun loungers being used?”
“Where can we book a taxi?”
“Can we book some excursions?”
On holiday you may meet people from other parts of the world who cannot speak your first language. English is usually a good common language.
Here are some conversation starter ideas between two people for which English isn’t their first language;
“Where are you from?”
“Where is that?”
“Do you holiday here often?”
“How old are you’re children?”
“How long have you been here?”
“Could your recommend places to visit?”
“Would you like to meet for dinner?”
Because English is such a common language worldwide, it helps to know the basics.
A popular past time in the UK is to go and see a concert. There are hundreds of musical artists who cover all genres and so there’s bound to be something to everyone’s taste. To ensure you get to see something to your taste, it’s best to know how to speak English to a good level. Firstly, if you’re not sure which artist you’d like to see, you can ring your local venue or ticket supplier and tell them what you’re looking for;
“I’d like to see a classical/pop/rock artist.”
“I have a budget of around £… per ticket.”
“I need good seats.”
“I would like a big/small venue.”
“Is … touring at the moment?”
If you already know which artist you would like to see, here are some phrases you might need to help you book;
“I’d like 2 tickets to see…”
“I’d like to see them at…”
“Do you have tickets left for the 4th June?”
“How much is each ticket to see…?”
On the evening of the event, here are some questions/phrases you might find useful;
“Could I buy a poster/programme/glowstick?”
“Can I purchase a bottle of water/packet of sweets?”
“How much is car parking?”
“Where is my seat?” “Where is block/aisle…?”
Venues cater for disabled guests if you make them aware a member of the party requires support. Children are also welcomed at most music events, although it’s not recommended for very young children.
Sometimes, you may have a social event upcoming before pay day rolls around but if you need to buy something to wear you can take out a store card. What’s more you’ll more than likely receive a discount on your purchases. However, you’ll need to know how to speak English to ensure you understand the terms and conditions and avoid charges.
Firstly, here are some questions worth asking when you take out a store card;
“How soon do I need to start paying back?”
“Can I pay smaller installments?”
“How much is the interest?”
“Will I receive invoices?”
“How can I pay back?”
Whenever you wish to use your store card, you’ll just need to let the cashier know by saying,
“Can I put this purchase on my store card?
” You should be able to pay off your store card in store, online or by phone. You’ll just need to let the assistant know;
“I wish to pay off my store card.”
“I wish to pay £.. off my store card.”
“How much do I owe on my card?”
As long as you keep up to date with payments, you shouldn’t have any trouble with a store card, however here are some useful phrases just in case;
“Why have you charged me interest?”
“Why did my payment not register?”
“I haven’t received an invoice.”
“I made a payment instore/online last month/week.”
“I haven’t put that amount on my store card.”
A store card can be helpful when used appropriately and paid off on time.
If residing in the UK, it’s best to protect your belongings by taking out contents insurance. This means that if you have a flood or fire or are burgled, you’ll be able to claim back the cost of the belongings you have lost and so can replace them. There are lots of variations on the types of policies you can take out and so you need to know how to speak English in order to get what’s best for you.
Firstly, you’ll need to explain to the customer services assistant what you’ll require;
“I’d like my policy to include water/fire/third party/accidental damage.”
“I’d like to pay around £10/£20… a month.”
“I’ll need to insure around £… worth of property.”
“I’d like to include items that will be stored outdoors.”
“I’ll need to insure items that will travel with me.”
On making a claim, here are some things you might need to say;
“We’ve had a flood in the kitchen.”
“There’s been a minor pan fire and I need to make a claim.”
“We have been burgled.”
“How long will it take for us to receive our money?”
It’s important you know what your policy involves before taking it out, otherwise you may not get what you’d expect if you should need to make a claim.
If you drive a motor vehicle it’s a good idea to get breakdown cover. It’s fairly cheap and could save you from being stranded miles from home if your car suddenly breaks down. You’ll need to the basics of how to speak English to a roadside assistant.
Firstly, you need to choose which company you are going to take out breakdown cover with. It’s important to look at what each policy covers compared with your circumstances. Here are some things you might like to ask before you sign up to a company;
“How much is the annual fee?”
“Does this include transporting my car home for me?”
“Will you take my car to the garage if I break down at home?”
“How long on average do you take to get out to customers in need?”
“How soon can cover begin?”
Once you’ve taken out cover, remember to keep the number and ideally your policy details with you when you’re out in your car. In the case of a break down, here’s some help with what to say;
“I’ve broken down near…”
“I’m on the …road in …”
“I have a puncture.”
“I think the problem may be with the …”
“My children are in the car, how long will it be?”
“I’m in quite a dangerous spot.”
Without break down cover, you’ll have to find your own way of having your car towed back home and it can be very costly and time consuming. Furthermore, it’s safer if you have children to know that assistance is available around the clock.
Although public transport in the UK is easily accessible for most people, most families own a car to enable them the freedom to travel as and when they wish. If you choose to buy a car it is very important that you know how to speak English and have a good understanding, otherwise you could spend a lot of money on an unreliable car.
Whether you wish to buy a brand new or used car from a dealer or buy a used car privately, you’ll need to know where to look. The internet is a good place to start as you can limit your search to exactly what your looking for and then head off to view the car. You could also make your way around local dealers to have a look at what they have.
Here are some question/phrases you might need;
“I’m looking for a 3/5 door car.”
“I need a family car.”
“I want a sports/fast car.”
“I’d like a diesel/petrol car.”
Once you have found a car you like, here are some things you might wish to ask about it;
“How much is the tax?”
“What insurance category is it?”
“Can I take out finance?”
“When can I drive it away?”
“Will it have tax when I pick it up?”
“Does it have a full service history?”
“Will it have an MOT?”
Buying a car from a private seller is quite risky as you’re not covered if it isn’t good quality. It’s best to take a mechanic with you to view the car and give it a check to ensure it doesn’t need any major work.
As previous covered, a popular past time for men in the UK is going to the pub for a beer and game of pool/darts. Similarly, women in the UK enjoy visiting a cocktail bar so that they can dress up and catch up with friends. If you can learn how to speak English within this setting, you may find you’ll be invited out more often with new friends, or even make new friends.
Most people choose to book a taxi to the cocktail bar if they will be consuming alcohol. This saves having to leave your car there.
Here’s some phrases which may help;
“Can I book a taxi to … please?”
“I live at…”
“Can I arrange to be picked up at the end of the night please?”
When you first arrive and meet your friends, here are some ways you could greet them in this setting;
“Hi, how have you been?”
“Would you like a drink?”
“Your dress looks lovely.”
“Those shoes are so nice!”
“Can you believe the weather??”
“Have you arranged a taxi back?”
To keep the conversation flowing, here are some good ideas;
“Are we heading elsewhere after here?”
“Could you recommend some good eateries/bars/shops in the area?”
“How’s work at the moment?”
“How are your children/family?”
“Are you still with that guy/girl?”
“Where do you shop, your clothes are lovely?”
In order to ensure that you get to meet up again, how about making some suggestions;
“We should get together again!”
“I really enjoyed tonight, can we make it a regular thing?”
“Maybe we could all go shopping/for a meal one night?”
Socialising outside of work is a great way to make friends with your work colleagues. Going for drinks with new or old friends can often lead to more fun nights/days out being arranged so it pays to be able to communicate on a social level.
During this time of year, you may host a party. In order to ensure you give your guests a good night and enjoy yourself it helps to know how to speak English so to communicate the evenings plans and enjoy conversations. Before the evening, you’ll need to invite you’re guests. If it’s a formal party it’s best to send invitations in the post, however guests can be invited by phone or social networking site to an informal party.
On arrival, it’s polite to greet your guests. A simple “Hi,” will be ok if you’re busy or don’t know your guest too well, however, if you wish to add a more personal greeting, here are some ideas;
“How are you?”
“How are the children/wife/husband etc.”
“Thanks so much for coming.”
“Welcome to our home.” “Drinks are available…”
“Shall I take your coats?”
If you’re hosting a party, it’s polite to mix with all of your guests as much as possible. Here are some possible conversation starters to help you engage in conversation with your guests;
“What do you think of the venue?”
“The food was made by a caterer, my wife…?”
“Thanks for your gift.”
“How was your holiday?”
“Have you had a good year?”
Try and make sure you say goodbye to all of your guests and thank them for coming. It’s important to make people feel that you appreciate them coming. If you host a party that requires guests to bring gifts, then it’s polite to thank them. You could even send out thank you cards after the party. Your guests probably won’t expect you to do this, but will be pleasantly surprised if you do.
At this time of year you’ll likely be finishing (or starting) your Christmas shopping. Whether it be food or gift shopping, the shops you visit will be very busy and shop assistants rushed off their feet. When you learn how to speak English, it will help if you learn how to be brief and to the point in asking for assistance as you’ll be more likely to achieve help and get what you require.
If you’re looking for a specific gift or decoration and struggling to find it, here are some ways to ask;
“Could you tell me where the … is?”
“What aisle is the…?”
“Where are the Christmas decorations?”
“Could you show me where the toys are?”
“Do you sell perfume?”
In England, most people will visit the supermarket in the build up to Christmas in order to stock up on festive treats. Supermarkets will be busy over Christmas and sometimes you may not be able to find what you need. Here are some ways you could find what you need in the supermarket;
“Where is the party food?”
“Could you help me find the home baking aisle?”
“Where do you pay for your items?”
“Is there a self checkout aisle?”
“Have you got any … in stock?”
Christmas time can be very hectic, and people who work on the high street and supermarkets can be very busy. You’re more likely to get the required help if you’re polite and to the point.
Since it is getting close to the end of the year, you will probably end up going to a celebration of some kind. Learning how to speak English will help you enjoy the experience even more, as you see in the New Year with lots of different people.
Here are some sentences and phrases that might come in handy for this special night.
“Happy New Year!”
People will say this to one another when midnight strikes and the New Year begins.
“Have you enjoyed this year?”
You might use this sentence to start a conversation with someone. You can compare how the year has gone for each of you.
“Are you looking forward to starting another year?”
Again this is a good conversation starter to have in mind.
“Have you made any New Year’s Resolutions?”
Lots of people make resolutions to change habits or do something new in the New Year. Not everyone wants to share them but many do, as it enables them to make their resolutions more concrete.
“I have decided to lose weight/stop smoking/get more exercise in the New Year.”
You can use any one of these options or choose your own resolution to complete the sentence when talking to someone else about New Year’s Resolutions.
A New Year’s party is a great opportunity to meet lots of new people and see out the old year while bringing in the new. Make sure you enjoy the opportunity to practice your English skills this New Year’s Eve.
In the UK watching TV is a popular past time, particularly at the weekend whilst having take-away food and some drinks. There are five main TV channels, however most modern televisions will come with free digital TV. Lot’s of households choose to pay for an extra TV package such as Sky TV or Virgin Media. Quite often you can buy a combination which includes telephone, BT connection and internet access packages. In order to get the package you require for the money you wish to pay, you’ll need to know <em><span style=”text-decoration: underline;”><strong>how to speak English.</strong></span></em>
Before you pay different companies for a phone line and Internet access, it might be worth seeing if you can get a better deal by taking all packages out with one company. Here’s how to ask the basic questions required;
“Do you do a package that combines landline, internet and tv?”
“How much is your full package?”
“What is the cost of your basic package?”
“How much is each subsequent tv package?”
“I’ve been quoted £x by this company, can you beat it?”
Once you’ve found the company you wish to take your TV package out with, hopefully your contract should run smoothly. However, here are some problems you may need to call them about;
“I can’t access my account online/through the TV.”
“I’ve forgotten my PIN number.”
“My box doesn’t seem to be working.”
“How can I order movies?”
“Why has my money not been taken?”
“Why is my bill so high?”
“I’d like to cancel my account please.”
“I need to upgrade/downgrade my package.”
By taking out cable TV you have access to hundreds of channels that you wouldn’t usually get. They also offer facilities such as pausing/rewinding/ recording live TV. It’s is a great opportunity for socialising within the comfort of your own home.
If you are single when you move to the UK, you might eventually end up going on a date to meet someone new. When you learn how to speak English it is a good idea to make sure you learn some phrases that can help you cope with this new situation.
“It’s nice to meet you.”
“I have been looking forward to meeting you.”
“Would you like to go for a drink?”
“Shall we go for a meal?”
“I felt nervous before I got here, but now I am really enjoying the evening.”
“Shall we arrange another date?”
“I enjoyed the evening, and I would like to see you again.”
“What would you like to drink?”
“I work locally: how about you?”
“What do you like to do in your spare time?”
“What are your hobbies?”
“What are your interests?”
“Perhaps you would like to go to the cinema to see a film.”
“Can I ask you to lunch tomorrow?”
“Would you like to meet again soon?”
Remember to pay attention to what the other person says when you are on a date. By learning more about them you will have more to talk about. You will also notice that a first date requires just as much listening as talking, so this is a good way to learn more as well!
Have confidence in your English skills, and if you can find out a bit about the person you are meeting before your date, so much the better.
Living in the UK means you’ll have dealings with your local council. They organise jobs such as having your wheelie bins emptied, filling in potholes in the road, local road and building works. For these services, households pay council tax. Therefore it’s likely that you’ll need to communicate with your local council at some point and so you’ll need to learn how to speak English in order to do this.
The majority of households will be eligible to pay council tax, and so when you move into your new home you’ll need to phone the council to organise this. Here is some information you may need;
“I have just moved into this address and need to arrange council tax.”
“What council tax band am I in?”
“What if there is a student living here?”
“I’m a single person living alone.”
“Can I pay monthly?”
If you live in council accommodation there may be times that you need to contact the council about your home. Here are some problems you may need to mention;
“We seem to have a damp problem.”
“We have a problem with our windows.”
“The toilet has a leaky pipe.”
“We seem to have some water damage.”
Other things you might need to call the council about include;
“There’s a large pothole outside my home.”
“I’ve acquired a parking ticket I don’t believe I deserve.”
“A drain is overflowing.”
“A tree has fallen in the road.”
“Could you tell me why there are roadworks on my street?”
The council is always a good place to start when you have issues within your local area. If they can’t help, it’s likely they’ll know who can.
Women in the UK like to indulge in beauty treatments as a past-time. Whether it be a spa day, having her nails or hair done or a spray tan, women enjoy pampering themselves and it can make for an excellent birthday or Christmas gift. It helps to learn how to speak English so that you can enjoy your favourite hobbies.
Lots of women enjoy going to the hairdressers and having their hair done professionally. It’s important you know what to ask for to ensure you don’t end up with a hair style that you don’t like. Here are some things you may wish to ask or express;
“I would like my hair trimmed.”
“I’d like my hair cut short/trimmed.”
“I’d like my hair dying dark/blonde/red.”
“I’d like highlights.”
“I’d like my hair styling for my wedding.”
“I’d like some layers adding.”
Visiting a nail salon is also popular in the UK, and you’ll notice lots of women of all ages have nail extensions. Prices can vary across the country and depending on what you want. Some things you could ask for include;
“Could I have white tips please?”
“Could I have my nails airbrushed?”
“I just want my own nails painted.”
“Do you do gel nails.” (Gel is less harsh on your own nails).
Having a spa day can be very relaxing, and women often visit a spa for hen do’s and other special occasions. Some things you might like to say/ask at a spa include;
“I’d like a facial please.”
“Would I be able to have a pedicure/manicure.”
“I have dry skin on my hands, what can you do for them?”
“Do you have a jacuzzi?”
“Can I purchase gift vouchers?”
Being able to communicate about your past times is as important as any other aspects of the English language if you’re to enjoy your time here in England.
If you own your own home there will be times when you need assistance in fixing problems that may crop up. When you learn how to speak English you should make sure you know how to ask for such help, and how to make sure you are hiring the right person for the job.
Here are some useful sentences that will help in this respect.
“I have a leaky tap – can you fix it?”
“I need to have a new bathroom fitted as the old one is starting to cause problems.”
“Can you fix my oven? It’s not working.”
“I tried to use the tap this morning but when I turn it nothing comes out.”
“What do you charge for a call out fee?” (Some trades charge a call out fee on top of what they charge for repairs or replacements.)
“Do you inspect the problem and provide a free quotation for the work required?”
“What happens if I get the same problem again? Do you have an emergency call out number?”
“What is your charge per hour?”
“How long will it be until you can come out and fix the problem?”
“How do you accept payment?”
As you can see it is well worth learning as many sentences as you can to help you in this kind of situation. You should always make sure you know exactly what the problem is, what the tradesperson can do to fix it and how much it will cost before agreeing to any work.
Most people in the UK own a mobile phone. They range from basic phones on which to use for texts and calls to smart phones with wifi internet access and app stores. If you use a mobile phone regularly you’re probably best taking out a contract phone as this allows you a high volumes of texts, calls and internet access, on a top phone, for a regular monthly price. However, as there is so much choice, it’s important to know how to speak English in order to communicate exactly what you want and for what price.
When you enter a mobile phone shop, start by explaining what you’d like and what you intend to pay. For example;
“I would like a pay monthly/pay as you go mobile phone.”
“I would like a smart phone.”
“ I just need a basic phone.”
“I need a phone that allows good internet access.”
“I have £x to spend today/per month.”
A sales assistant will be able to recommend a phone and/or contract that suits you. When you sit down and discuss a contract with a sales assistant here are some things you might want to ask;
“Can I cancel the contract at any time?”
“When can I upgrade?”
“Can I lower my tariff at any time?”
“What app store will I have access to?”
“What happens if I use my phone abroad?”
“Do you offer insurance?”
Be sure you get what you want for the price you want at the time of signing the contract as it’s very hard to change or cancel things after the 14 day cooling off period you’re legally entitled to.
If you live in the UK or are going to be visiting regularly, your children will benefit from being able to communicate in English. The best time to learn a new language is whilst your young, so why not start now.
When teaching your baby how to speak English, it’s best to start with the basics. If your baby is learning English from it’s first words, then they’ll find basic sounds easiest to pick up. Here are some of the sounds English speaking babies tend to pick up early on and how they are translated by their parents;
“Mama,” – Mommy
“Dada,” – Daddy
“Nana,” – Nanny
“Baba.” – Baby
By attributing these sounds to people it builds the foundations for future communication skills.
Next, it’s easiest to teach your baby the sounds they will most likely come across in their daily life. Young children will generally use actions to describe what they want, or if your child is already fluent in your native language they will likely refer back to what they know. Incorporating a new language into your babies daily life isn’t too hard if they follow your lead. Here are some ideas;
- When you’re child asks for a drink or points to their sippy cup, simply say, “Drink,” and ask them to repeat it.
- When you’re child asks for a snack or points, say, “Crisps/ sweets/ apple.” Or if your child is very young you could be more generic and say, “Din din (dinner)/ yum yum (yummy snack).”
- If you’re child is showing signs of tiredness you could ask, “Tired? /Bedtime? /Sleepy?” Or for younger children, “Ty ty (tired)/ Beddy (bed)/ Night night.”
- At mealtimes you could say as you pass the plate or dish, “Dinner/ food/ tea/ lunch.” Or for younger children you could try, “Din din/yum yum.”
The more you repeat these words alongside your actions the sooner your child will learn to say them and associate them with their meaning.
It can be difficult to buy a property in the UK at the moment and so lots of people choose to rent. Either way, if you wish to find somewhere to live here, you’ll need to know how to speak English within the settings of an estate agents and bank.
If you intend to buy or rent a house you’ll first need to approach an estate agent. Here are some phrases that might help you at this point;
“We are looking to rent/buy a property.”
“Our budget is…”
“We’re looking for 2/3 bedrooms.”
“We’d like a terrace/semi/detached house.”
“We’re looking for a cul de sac.”
“We would like a drive/garage.”
“We’d like it in/near town.”
“We’d like to arrange a viewing.”
Once you have given the estate agent your specification they will have a look at what closely matches this for your budget. The next stage will be looking at potential properties. Here are some phrases you might find useful;
“The kitchen/bedroom/garden is too big/small.”
“It’s not very child friendly.”
“Is there something like this nearer/further from town?”
If you intend to buy a house, you’ll need to visit the bank. The smaller the mortgage you need to take out, the better chance of being accepted. Here are some questions/phrases you might need whilst in the bank;
“We’d like to apply for a mortgage.”
“We have £… to put down as a deposit.”
“We’d like a …% mortgage.”
“What will the repayments be?”
“Can I get a fixed rate?”
Knowing how to ask the right questions and express your opinions well will ensure you get what you’re looking for when moving into your new home.
If you have just taken a new job you will have the task of getting through the first day. This is always a little nerve wracking but if you are learning how to speak English you are likely to feel even more nervous. These phrases will probably come in very useful on the first all important day.
“Hi my name is…” Just add your name and you can use this phrase to introduce yourself to everyone.
“I am the new assistant.” Change the last word in this phrase to tell everyone what your role will be.
“How does this work?” If you need advice on any piece of equipment or process, use this phrase to get the answers you need.
“Will I be doing any training?”
“What will my duties be today?”
“Who will I be working with?”
“Can I meet the other members of staff?”
On your first day you are bound to meet other people and perhaps even your immediate boss. These phrases will come in useful in these situations.
“I am enjoying my first day here.”
“I am learning lots of new things and enjoying the experience.”
“It’s nice to meet you in person.” This is ideal if you have written to your new boss or spoken to them on the phone but never met them before.
The first day in any new job is nerve wracking, but as you can see it is useful to know some appropriate phrases to help you get through it successfully.
When at work, there may come a time when you feel you might need to raise an important issue with your boss. It may be that you feel bullied, or you have witnessed another member of staff doing something that needs mentioning. Either way, you’ll need to know how to speak English well enough to communicate this sensitive matter.
If you feel that you are being bullied in the work place, it pays to keep a diary of events so that you have something to present to your boss. Here are some phrases that may help you put your point across;
“I’m beginning to feel victimised,”
“There have been some incidents that I feel need raising.”
“I’ve kept a diary of incidents and I now feel I need to take things further.”
“I feel that these incidents/people are preventing me working to my full potential.”
When raising this issue, avoid attacking the other person to your boss. Explain the facts and your boss should deal with the situation so that this issue is resolved.
If you have seen another member of staff behaving in an unacceptable way then you’ll need to report it to your boss. This could include seeing somebody else being bullied or seeing somebody stealing etc. Again, it’s best to avoid blaming and accusing somebody and just convey the facts. These phrases might help;
“I’ve seen/become aware of something that I think needs raising.”
“I noticed some incidents that I think are making somebody feel uncomfortable.”
“I saw a member of staff acting untoward around the tills last night.”
If you notice something minor, such as somebody arriving late or taking a long lunch break, it’s best not to make a big deal, or at least mention it to them before you approach your boss. Taking a minor issue to the boss could result in you being isolated by your colleagues.
Most of us watch television to some extent. When you are learning how to speak English this can be a good way to kick off a new conversation with someone. You can also learn other English phrases through watching the programmes themselves.
If you want to start a conversation on this topic, the following sentences might come in handy:
“Did you watch any television last night?”
“Did you see EastEnders last night?” (You can substitute this programme name for any other programme you want to discuss.)
“Is there anything good on television tonight?”
“I don’t think there are many good programmes on television at the moment.”
“I would like to watch more nature programmes, but I can never find any to watch.”
Occasionally someone might watch a programme and ask you about it. These sentences can help further the conversation.
“I didn’t see that programme – what was it about?”
“Oh yes I saw it – what did you think of the ending?”
“Are there more episodes or was it a one off?”
“Yes I saw the programme: I thought it was rather good. What did you think?”
All of these sentences give your opinion or point of view and continue by asking a question to the person you are talking to. This will help to build the conversation and thus can be very useful indeed.
Television is a big topic of conversation for many people on a daily basis. It’s certainly a good idea to be able to get involved with friends and work colleagues whenever you can.
It is common at Christmas time to attend a party with those with whom you work. Generally this will include your boss. As you learn how to speak English you’ll recognise that in this situation it is acceptable to be less formal than at work, but not completely informal.
If you find yourself in a situation you need to make conversation with your boss in an informal setting, here as some things you could ask or say;
“Nice to see you.”
“I love you’re dress/jacket/shoes.”
“Is your wife/husband here?”
“This is my wife/husband/son/daughter.”
“Have you been here before?”
“I’ve had a wonderful night, thanks for putting on this Christmas party.”
At these events, you’ll inevitably need to converse with your work colleagues. You can be a little more informal with colleagues other than your boss, but it’s always best to be more polite and reserved than you would be with your regular friends. It also pays to avoid getting involved in office gossip. Here are some things you could say/ask that would be more appropriate;
“Would you like a drink?”
“Are you drinking red wine? I love red wine!”
“Shall we go and dance?”
“How’s your family keeping?”
It’s OK to talk about work with work colleagues, although you may find that it’s not always a topic of conversation that they wish to discuss outside work. However, if you are able to find common interests amongst your work colleagues, you may find that they become people you can socialise with both in and out of work.
If you are pregnant or have young children, it’s often helpful to attend baby groups in order to make new friends with shared interests. When learning how to speak English it will probably be useful to learn phrases and question to ask other new mums.
Firstly, you’ll be best to find out when and where your local groups are. In most towns they will be run by surestart centres and so it might be worth ringing them first. The more information you give them, the more likely you are to be directed to a group that suits you;
“My baby is…weeks/months/years old.”
“I’m breast/bottle feeding.”
“I want to play/chat/sing with my child/other mothers.”
“I have access to a car/bus.”
“My child has special needs.”
There are groups to suit most parents and children. Women who choose to breastfeed often find it useful to meet with other mothers who breastfeed to receive advice and support. If you choose to visit a breastfeeding support group, here are some things you might like to ask or say;
“Do you have any advice on getting baby to latch on?”
“Do you have any advice on how to reduce soreness?”
“How often does your baby feed?”
“How well does your baby sleep?”
“Do you have any advice for discreet feeding?
Lots of women also find it useful to attend baby/toddler groups to meet other new mums. These phrases/questions might help;
“What is your little ones name?”
“How often do you come here?”
“Do you attend any other groups?”
“What activities do they put on here?”
“Do you all meet outside of this group?”
Midwives and health visitors will recommend you get you and baby out of the house if you can, which is why most women head towards these groups. If you can communicate with the parents in these groups, you may find you make some long term friends.
If you buy items from High Street stores there are bound to be times when you need to return some of them. If you are learning how to speak English you can find some phrases to use that will help you in this situation.
“Where do I need to go to return this item?”
“Where is customer services please?” (This is often the place you will need to go to in order to return something)
“Where is the returns department please?” (Some stores do have a dedicated returns area to go to)
“How can I return this item?”
When you get to the right part of the store and you find a shop assistant to speak to, you can use these phrases.
“I want to return this item because it is faulty.” Alternatively you can say it does not work.
“I want a refund on this item please. I have my receipt.”
“Can I exchange this item for another one please?” This might be suitable to use if the item you bought doesn’t work, and you want one that does.
“Can I exchange this jumper for the same one in a different size please?” This is suitable if you have bought an item of clothing and the size isn’t right. In this situation the shop assistant might ask you to go and fetch the item you want to swap it for. You can always pick up the ideal item before you queue to exchange them.
If you choose to reside in the UK, your children will go to an English school. Therefore when you learn how to speak English, you’ll need to be able to communicate with the school staff to ensure the progress and safety of you’re children.
Firstly you’ll need to choose which schools you’d like to put your child forward for. Here are some things you might like to ask to help you choose;
“Where can I find your OFSTED report?”
“How many pupils do you have in each class?”
“Are you a religious school?”
“What results do your pupils achieve?”
During your child’s school life, you’ll be required to attend parent’s evening. This is an evening set aside for you to come along and discuss with the teacher how your child is getting on and if there is anything you could do to help. Here are some questions you might like to ask at parent’s evening;
“Is he achieving as he should be?”
“Is she well behaved?”
“Does she interact well in class?”
“Has he got a good group of friends?”
“Is there anything more we can do at home?”
When your child is at school, you can always discuss any worries or concerns with the teaching staff at any time, either by calling or making an appointment to meet. Here are some concerns you may need to discuss with their teacher;
“Is my daughter being bullied?”
“Is my son acting like a bully?”
“We are divorcing and are concerned of the effect it might be having on our daughter.”
“My son has lost his Grandad and he’s upset.”
“A friend will be picking my daughter up from school this evening.”
Making sure you can communicate effectively with the people looking after and teaching your children will ensure that they get the best out of attending school in the UK.
In lesson 66 we learned how to ask for help if there’s something you’re not sure about whilst on the roads. In this lesson in how to speak English we will cover learning to drive and some of the things you might want to ask.
Firstly, you’ll need to decide which company you would like to book your lessons with. Here are some things you might like to ask to ensure you make the right choice;
“How much is each lesson?”
“Do you offer a discount if I book a block of lessons?”
“Is the instructor male or female?”
“Will I get the same instructor for every lesson?”
When you’ve decided on an instructor you can start your lessons. On your first lesson, here are some things you might want to ask or say;
“I’m a little nervous.”
“Will we get straight on the road?”
“When will I start learning my manoeuvres?”
“When shall I book my theory test?”
When you’ve had enough lessons, you might want to think about your tests. In the UK you have to pass a theory test before you can book your practical test. Here are some questions you might have with regards to your tests;
“Do you have any recommendations on revision materials?”
“How much will it cost to hire the car during my test?”
“How much will my theory/practical test cost?”
“Where are the test centres?”
On passing you’re practical test, the examiner will take your provisional driving license and apply for you’re full license. It will help to have a good grasp of the English language when you consider learning to drive and when you approach both your theory and practical tests.
There are times in a persons life which may not be positive. It’s in these situations that it’s important that you don’t offend and so when you learn how to speak English it’ll be beneficial if you know the right thing to say. One of these situations may be divorce. The break up of a marriage will be difficult for all parties involved, especially if there are children. It’s probably best not to ask questions about why it’s come about, however you could offer some advice and sympathy;
“I’m sorry to hear you’re divorcing.”
“I can offer some company if you’d like?”
“When I got divorced I found it helped to…?”
“Do you need any help with childcare?”
Probably the hardest thing a person can experience is the death of a loved one. Everybody deals with such a loss in their own way bit most people will need support. Here are some things you could say in this situation;
“So sorry to hear of your loss.”
“Hope you’re doing ok?”
“Would you like to get together for a chat sometime?”
“How are the rest of the family?”
“When did he/she pass away?”
When talking to somebody who is dealing with a difficult situation, it’s more polite to use euphemisms. Some examples of this could include;
“When did she die?”- “When did she pass away?”
“When did he leave/walk-out?”- “When did it end?”
If you don’t know the person you’re conversing with too well, it’s best not to ask too many questions after sharing your sympathy. If you know the person well, you could arrange a date to meet and offer your support.
If you go out to a restaurant or pub you will probably be ordering food. This could be a simple snack or a more complex three course meal. When you learn how to speak English you will learn several phrases that will be useful in this situation. Here are some you can use.
“Can I see the menu please?”
“Do you have a drinks menu?”
“What is the soup of the day?”
“What are the specials for today?”
“Can you recommend anything in particular?”
“Can we have a table for two please?” (you can of course adjust this figure to suit the number of people you are dining with)
“May we sit by the window please?”
During the meal:
“Can we see the dessert menu please?”
“Can we place our order please?”
“Do you have any vegetarian dishes?”
“Do you have any sauces to go with our meal?”
“Can I see the bill please?”
You might also find these phrases useful depending on where you are going to:
“Do we order food at the bar or at the table?”
“Where are the toilets?”
“What time do you close tonight?”
As you can see there are a wide range of phrases that can help make eating out a much easier situation to be in. The more you learn the easier it will be to enjoy a meal out without running into language problems. It also helps to read English more easily because you will find it easier to read the menu!
Whilst in the UK, whether visiting or residing here, it’s likely that there’ll be times your in the presence of someone experiencing a major life event, either good or bad. When learning how to speak English, it’s important that you know the right things to say in these situations as saying the wrong things could easily offend.
We’ll start with joyful events such as getting married. If somebody informs you they are getting married, it’s polite to congratulate them. You may also wish to ask them some questions about their plans for their big day;
“When’s the big day?”
“Have you picked your dress?”
“Where are you holding the event?”
“Where’s your honeymoon going to be?”
Regardless of what your experience of marriage might be, it’s polite to be positive about somebody else’s experience and wish them well.
This rule continues onto the experience of having a baby. It’s polite to be positive about what the future might hold regardless of your experiences. It is OK to offer advice so long as it’s not too intimate. You may wish to ask some questions or share some of your experiences;
“When is your baby due?”
“Do you know whether you’re having a girl or boy?”
“When I had my little boy/girl…”
“When my wife had our baby…”
“Hope you’ve had a good pregnancy!”
Beware if you’re going to comment on a woman’s ‘bump.’ Some women may feel insecure at their growing figure and may take offence to any discussion on it. Similarly, it’s best to avoid touching a woman’s ‘bump’ as this is fairly intimate and naturally she may be protective.
When somebody is experiencing a positive life event they usually enjoy talking about it and so asking questions is a good way to start a conversation and show an interest in somebody.
Another popular past time here in the UK is taking a trip to the pub whether it be watching/playing sports or having a beer. When learning how to speak English it may help you to have more fun if you can socialise with locals.
You may decide to visit the pub to play some sports such as pool or darts. Here are some questions/ phrases you might require;
“Do you fancy a game of pool/darts/dominoes?”
“Shall we play singles or doubles?”
“Who’s playing who?”
“Shall we play again?”
“Who’s playing next?”
Another major reason people choose to visit the local pub is to watch sports. The most popular sport to watch in England in football. Most major games are played at the weekend and this is generally when pubs are at their busiest. Pubs will also show major rugby, tennis, golf games etc. Here are some sayings you may find useful if you visit the pub to watch sports;
“Are you showing the football/rugby/golf etc this week(end)?”
“What time does the game/viewing start?”
“Can I reserve a seat/table?”
“Are you coming to watch the game Saturday/Sunday?”
“Will there be food served?”
In the UK some people just visit the pub for a social drink and chat. Generally this is a past time carried out by men either after work or at the weekend. Here are some phrases which you may find useful in this situation;
“Are you coming down for a drink tonight/tomorrow/the weekend?”
“What are you drinking?”
“Can I have half a pint/pint of beer?”
“Can I have some crisps/nuts?”
Conversation in the pub setting are generally informal. You may hear swearing and cursing, which is expected in pubs, although still generally frowned up throughout the UK. If you are male, then popping down to your local pub may help you make new, local friends. However, women don’t tend to go to the pub, particularly not by themselves, and so if your female it might not be the most social of outings. Pubs aren’t generally seen as a family outing.
If you remember a few lessons ago we looked at different things you could say in English to agree with someone. Of course when you learn how to speak English you may not always agree with them. If you disagree there are lots of ways you could voice this in a conversation as well. Here are some suggestions you might like to use.
“I don’t agree with you.”
This is a way of saying you don’t agree with a person’s opinion.
“I don’t agree with that.”
This example may seem very similar to the above, but here you are saying you do not agree with a particular statement the person has made, rather than what they are saying in general.
This is one of the simplest ways of saying you have a different opinion to the person who is speaking.
“I think you are wrong.”
This is a more confrontational thing to say – be ready to put your side of the argument if you use this!
Sometimes you might want to get more information instead of simply disagreeing. So for example you could say something like this:
“I don’t agree: why do you think that?”
“I’m not sure I agree with you. What made you reach that conclusion?”
As you can see disagreeing with someone doesn’t have to mean having an argument with them. In fact it can mean having a very constructive conversation, which should always be enjoyable for you as you learn English.
When you have more and more conversations in English, you will have to learn how to end them. It is not common simply to stop talking: you have to finish off the conversation in some way. So when you learn how to speak English the following sentences will help you conquer this particular area of speech.
“It was nice talking to you.”
“See you soon.”
“Thank you for the chat.”
“Thank you for talking to me.” (This is more commonly used if you have sought help or advice from someone and you want to thank them at the end of the conversation.)
“Thank you for your time.” (This is another way of saying the above.)
“Thank you for helping me.”
“It was nice to see you – I hope we can talk again soon.”
You may also want to arrange another meeting before you finish your conversation. In this case you can use one of these sentences once you have made your arrangements.
“Ok I will see you again then.”
“Take care – I look forward to seeing you again soon.”
“See you then!”
You might also use a more informal way of finishing the conversation if you know the person well.
“See you later.”
“Bye for now.”
As you can see there are lots of ways you can end a conversation in English, no matter who you might have been talking to. The more variations you know, the easier it will be to end a conversation appropriately.
When using the roads in Britain, it’s important that you know the rules and what’s expected. If you intend to live in Britain you’ll need to gain a full British driving license to continue to drive. This will teach you the laws and what’s acceptable on British roads, however it’s highly likely you’ll still come across things you don’t know and so when you learn how to speak English it’s essential that you can understand how to use the roads safely.
Although the most popular motor vehicle used in the UK is the car, most of what is covered in this lesson can relate to all vehicles. Here are some questions that you might need to ask to jog your memory of the basic regulations you might encounter on a daily basis;
“What is the national speed limit?”
“What is the speed limit on a dual carriageway/motorway?”
“What do double yellow/single red lines mean?”
“What does this sign mean?”
It is also a legal requirement to ensure your car is road worthy. Here are some phrases/questions you may need to ask a mechanic and/or the DVLA;
“My car needs an MOT.”
“How much will it cost to fix?”
“When does the MOT expire?”
“When does the road tax expire?”
“How much is the tax on this car for 6/12 months?”
“How can I register this car in my name?”
If there’s something you feel you’re not sure of, whether they be whilst your driving or with regards to your car you can always find the answers on the internet (www.direct.gov.uk). Always be sure you are following regulations as, not only could you cause a serious accident, law enforcement can be strict and punishments harsh.
Even though the weather in the UK isn’t always nice, there is still the opportunity to go swimming thanks to the many local leisure centres. Most towns offer a leisure centre with facilities including gyms, classes for adults and children and swimming pools for adults and children. Swimming can be good fun and exercise for all the family and so when learning how to speak English it would be helpful to be able to communicate with people within this setting.
On entering the leisure centre the receptionist will need to know why you’re there and how many of you wish to use their facilities. These questions/phrases may help;
“What facilities do you have on offer?”
“How much is it for a child/adult to swim?”
“What facilities can children access?”
When taking the family swimming, or swimming by yourself there are some things you may wish to know;
“Do you have communal changing rooms?”
“Do you have a children’s pool?”
“Are their lifeguards at the poolside?”
Because leisure centres offer multiple facilities, here are some other things you might want to ask for future reference;
“Do you have a cafe/restaurant?”
“Do you host children’s parties?”
“Do you have a bar?”
“Do you offer kids clubs?”
“Do you do swimming lessons?”
The more you know how to ask, the more you and your family can get from the places you visit.
Libraries are wonderful places to visit if you want information and to borrow books to read without having to buy them. If you are learning how to speak English you should learn some useful phrases that will come in handy whenever you want to visit a library.
“Can I join the library please?”
“How do I join the library?”
“Can I get a library card?”
“How do I apply for a library card?”
“Do you need to see any identification (I.D.)?”
“How many books can I borrow at one time?”
“How long can I keep my books for?”
“How can I return them?”
“How many other services are there at the library that I can take advantage of?”
You might also want to familiarise yourself with the layout of the library when you first get there. For example you can ask these questions to get assistance with this.
“Where can I find the helpdesk?”
“Where are the non-fiction books please?”
“Can you tell me where I can find the fiction books?”
“I am looking for a particular book. Can you help me find it?” (This will ensure you get the right service from the assistant, who will show you to its location.)
“Where is the exit?”
“Do you have any chairs or tables I can sit down at to read?” (This is ideal if you want to look through books without taking them out of the library.)
As you can see, learning a variety of sentences for this situation is a very good idea indeed.
A bakery is a store you are likely to visit quite often in an English speaking country. When you are learning how to speak English it is good to learn some phrases that will help you in this situation.
One of the most popular items to buy at a bakery is of course bread, so make sure you know the following sentences.
“How much is a loaf of bread?”
“How much are a dozen rolls?”
“How much is a French stick?”
“Do you sell any different types of bread?”
“Do you sell gluten free bread?”
“What is in your bread?”
“Is your bread baked on the premises?”
You may also want to buy cakes at your local bakery, so these sentences might come in useful as well.
“How much is a cream cake?”
“What cakes do you have available today?”
“Do you have any cakes available without nuts/fresh cream?” (depending on your needs and requirements)
“Do you have any calorie information for your cakes?”
You might also need some other general sentences such as these:
“Do you make sandwiches to take away?”
“Do you also have a cafe where you can eat in?”
“What is the total price please?”
“Do you have a bag I can put everything in please?”
If you go into a bakery on a regular basis you will find you can benefit from using as many of these sentences as you can. It will help you in conversation and also help you to learn more about what they sell.
Another popular past time in the UK is visiting the cinema. Most towns and cities have a cinema with a large choice of films to watch. When learning how to speak English, learn how to communicate your needs and wants during social outings to ensure you get the most from your money.
Firstly you’ll need to choose which film to watch. Here are some things you might wish to ask or make known before paying for your tickets;
“I prefer romantic/comedy/thriller/action films.”
“What can you recommend?”
“Which films are best sellers?”
“Which are the new releases?”
Once you’ve chosen which film you would like to watch you’ll need to purchase your tickets;
“Could I have 1/2/3… tickets to see…?”
“How much are tickets to see…?”
“Do you offer priority/gold seating options?”
“I’ve pre-booked/paid for my tickets online, where can I pick them up from?”
For a full cinema experience, most people will purchase refreshments. Generally you can choose from popcorn, ice cream, sweets and hot dogs although this can vary from cinema to cinema. These questions might help;
“How much is a hot dog/popcorn/ice cream tub?”
“Do you do a smaller option?”
“Could I have a pepsi/fanta/bottle of water?”
“Do you do a diet/small/large version?”
“Where can I pay for my pick n mix?”
Going to the cinema can be a great afternoon or evening out for all the family, and so being able to communicate within this setting will help give you the confidence to take your family along.
If you choose to live here in the UK you may choose to get married here. Weddings are a big celebration here and businesses can often see it as a chance to profit so it’s important you know how to speak English correctly to ensure you get what you’re expecting for your money.
In this lesson we’ll cover the basic elements of organising a wedding and any question/phrases that may help you to get what you want and ensure you don’t spend more than you need to.
Firstly, when organising your venue you need to choose whether you would like a church or registry office. Either way, here are some questions that you may wish to ask. Some of these will also apply to your reception venue.
“Do you have the following date free?”
“What packages do you offer?”
“What time can we marry?”
“Can we decorate the room/church?”
“What extras do you offer?”
“When can we have access to the venue?”
Secondly, and probably the most money you may spend after your venues, is the brides dress. You can easily be talked into spending thousands of pounds so it’s best to be sure your getting your moneys worth. These questions/phrases may help;
“I’m looking for a fitted/princess/full wedding dress.”
“I want it white/ivory.”
“Can I try on this one?”
“Can I try a tiara/veil/shoes on too?”
“How much of a deposit will you require?”
“When will it arrive?”
“Do you offer an alteration service?”
Booking a wedding can can be costly and so it’s important to know how to be firm and when to walk away. Don’t be afraid to ask what else can be included in the price or if discounts can be made.
Sometimes, no matter how good you are at learning how to speak English, you will struggle to understand things. In this situation it is wise to know some sentences and phrases that you can use to help get the information you need. If you are ever stuck and unable to understand someone, remember these.
“I’m sorry, I don’t understand.”
This is a basic way of apologising for not getting the meaning of what has been said. The sentence should ensure the other person says it again in a different way so you do understand it.
“I don’t understand what you said. Can you repeat it please?”
Here you are telling someone you didn’t understand their sentence. You are also asking them to say it again – ideal if you think you can grasp the idea but want to confirm the meaning.
“I don’t understand – could you explain in another way?”
If you didn’t understand what was said at all, you can use this sentence to ask the person to say it again in another way.
“I’m sorry I didn’t quite get that – did you mean..?”
This sentence can be ended with what you think the person meant, so they can either confirm the meaning or put you right by explaining it to you in another way.
As you can see it works well to know a few handy sentences that can be used in these situations. You are bound to need them eventually!
Whether it’s watching it or playing it, football is very popular here in the UK. When you learn how to speak English, it’s always helpful to learn some of the social topics that the British people talk about and football is one of them.
There are many opportunities to play football here in England. You could play informally over the park with friends, saturday/sunday league football games or semi/professionally depending on your skills. Here are some phrases you may find helpful when playing a game of football;
“I play in goal/defence/midfield.”
“Pass me the ball.”
“Let’s change tactics.”
“That was a foul.”
“That was offside.”
Watching football is also a popular past time in England. Knowing how to talk about football in this context could help you make new friends with similar hobbies. Here are some conversation starters you may find helpful;
“Which team do you support?”
“Whose your favourite player?”
“What do you think of the new manager?”
“Do you watch them play much?”
“Who are they playing next?”
“The referee’s not very good!”
Although you won’t encounter this topic on a daily basis, it may help you integrate with work colleagues or neighbours more easily if you begin to learn the basics of popular hobbies. You may also find that you discover a new hobby for yourself.
Following on from our lesson on studying, lesson 58 in how to speak English will cover language you might find helpful when finding for a job.
There are several ways that you can search for a job in England. Firstly you’ll need to write a CV that demonstrates your skills and experiences and you can go from there.
One idea is to approach businesses personally. Here are some questions/phrases you may find useful if you choose to take this approach;
“Do you have any jobs available?”
“Would you mind if I leave a cv?”
“I can do voluntary work.”
“Can I have an application form?”
“I’ll take a temporary position.”
“I’ll work overtime.”
You could also apply online and take the opportunity of a formal interview to sell yourself. You need to be enthusiastic and confident and know the right things to say. Here are some helpful pointers;
“I have experience in…”
“My qualifications are…”
“I am reliable/punctual/enthusiastic/flexible/friendly.”
“I think I’ll be good at this job because…”
In closing an interview the interviewer will likely ask if you have any questions. It will make you seem more interested in the job if you have a relevant question to ask. Here are some ideas;
“Is there the opportunity for training?”
“Do I have the opportunity to progress in the company?”
“Will I have the opportunity to work in other cities/countries?”
Always be friendly, formal and polite. There are great opportunities for overseas workers here in the UK.
Quite often, people will come from abroad to study in the UK. Whether you’re here just to study or have chosen to reside here and therefore enter the education system it will help, when learning how to speak English, to know the basic questions to ask with regards to your course.
Firstly, here are some questions you might like to ask when considering enrolling on a course;
“What are the entry requirements?”
“How much will it cost?”
“Can I get funding?”
“How long is the course?”
“What are the hours?”
These are the basic questions you should probably ask to determine whether a course is suitable for you.
Your first day may be daunting, particularly when your in a country in which the language is not your first language. Hopefully these questions/ phrases will help;
“Could you tell me where this room is please?”
“Could you tell me where to find this tutor/lecturer?”
“Where can I find the library?”
“How do you join the college/university groups?”
“Where do I get my student card?”
During your course there may be times you need assistance or information. Here are some more questions/phrases that you might find useful;
“When is my assignment due?”
“When is graduation?”
“How can I find the student union?”
The UK boasts a great education system with qualifications that are recognised worldwide. There are many opportunities for overseas students to study here.
When you are involved in a conversation with someone, you will probably have situations where you agree with what they are saying. It is good to have a variety of ways in which you can do this, so you can choose the most appropriate phrase for the conversation.
When you learn how to speak English, make sure you learn these phrases.
This is a basic way of saying you agree with a statement the other person has made.
“I think you are right.”
If the other person has said something about a particular person or situation, you could say this instead. It means you agree with their opinion or point of view.
“That is correct.”
Someone might make a statement that you agree with; if it is a factual statement you can use this sentence to respond with.
“Yes, that’s right.”
This is another way of saying that you agree with something that someone has said.
“I couldn’t agree more.”
If you feel really strongly about something someone has said, you can use this sentence to let them know how you feel.
“Yes, but why do you think that?”
It might be that you do agree with someone, in which case you can say yes and nod. But if you want to know more about their point of view you can use this sentence to get the information they need.
As you can see there are lots of ways of agreeing with someone during an English conversation.
Whether talking to close friends or family, work colleagues or a stranger, it always helps to be able to express an opinion. That’s why when learning how to speak English, you should learn at least the most basic of opinions and build from there.
There are all sorts of different scenarios in which you may wish to express a positive opinion. Sometimes you may be asked or sometimes you may wish to pay somebody a compliment. Below are some examples;
“Yes I think the weather is super today.”
“I think it’s fantastic news!”
“I cannot wait until this evening!”
“Your dress is beautiful.”
Sometimes you may also wish to express a lesser positive opinion. For example somebody may ask for your opinion on an item of clothing they have brought and to avoid hurting their feelings you may express a lesser positive view;
“Yes that dress is nice,” as opposed to “Your dress is beautiful.”
It is seen as polite to express a lesser positive opinion as oppose to a negative one when talking to a stranger or acquaintance about something that may be personal to them. If you’re talking to a family member and you feel that your honest opinion may be more constructive to them, then it is more acceptable to express a negative opinion, although not too harsh.
If you wish to express a negative opinion, it is much kinder if it is not too harsh unless you’re talking about something mundane. For example, if you wish to express a negative opinion about a decision somebody has made or an outfit they’ve chosen then you may wish to say,
“I don’t think that’s the best decision you could’ve made.”
“Those trousers aren’t my favourite.”
However if you are merely describing the weather or the news it is acceptable to use words such as, “Rubbish, useless, sad, boring, etc.”
Whenever you are in a strange place you haven’t visited before in the UK, you will be more likely to need to ask for directions. When you learn how to speak English you should have a few sentences in your repertoire that will help you in this respect.
“I am lost.”
This tells the person you are speaking to that you don’t know where you are. They are then likely to ask you “where do you want to go?” You can reply with “To the post office” or “To the train station” or wherever you want to go.
“Can you tell me where this road leads to?”
This is useful to know if you are walking down a road and you think you might be lost.
“Which way do I go to get to the airport once I reach the roundabout?”
If you are driving you might stop safely and ask a passerby where to go once you reach the next point in the road layout. You could change roundabout for crossroads or the end of the road, depending on where you are.
“Which is the quickest way to the shops?”
This is a good question to ask if you know there is more than one route to get to a particular place. If the person you ask knows their way around the local area you can be sure of finding out the fastest route to get from where you are now to your destination.
If you choose to reside in England, it may be that you choose to date. Obviously knowing how to speak English politely and correctly will increase your chances of a date being successful and meeting someone who you might have a lot in common with.
When you initially meet, it is polite to introduce yourself. First dates generally begin with light hearted, informal chat either about yourselves or recent news. Below are some ideas for conversation starters on a first date.
“What do you do for a living.”
“What are your hobbies?”
“Do you enjoy…?”
It is considered rude and too forthcoming to ask anything too personal on a first date, for example, what they earn, whether they intend to marry/have children or whether they are a home owner etc. However, If you wish to enquire about their close family, here are some questions you could ask;
“Do you see your family much?”
“Do you enjoy going out with family?”
As can sometimes happen on a first date, if the conversation becomes difficult, here are some good conversation starters;
“Did you hear that story on the news earlier…?”
“Have you seen the weather forecast for the week…?”
“Have you seen the movie…?”
“Do you watch…?”
Finally here are some ways you can arrange a second date;
“Would you like to do this again sometime?”
“We should go and catch that film you like.”
“I could take you to that restaurant you like.”
You’ll notice that the conversation is mainly light-hearted yet informal. Refrain from deep conversations on a first date as it can be seen as too much.
When you are in the UK you might have a reason to visit a Post Office, perhaps to send a letter back to your family abroad for example. There are various phrases you should learn when you learn how to speak English that will come in useful in this situation.
“How much would it cost to post this letter to [location]?”
In this sentence you are asking what you would have to pay to send your letter wherever you wish to send it to. Simply substitute the ‘location’ word with the name of the country. So you could say “how much would it cost to post this letter to France?”
“Can I send this letter through the post please?”
There are variations to this as well, depending on which service you want to use. First Class is faster, and Second Class will take longer. These are used to send mail within the UK. If you want to send a letter to another country you should use Airmail to ensure it gets there quickly. So for example you would say “can I send this letter via Airmail please?”
“Can I buy some stamps please?”
You can ask this question but you will be asked which stamps you require. Royal Mail has a system of charging different amounts depending on the size and weight of your letters. To ensure you pay the right amount it is better to take your letter into the Post Office and ask how much it would cost to post it, as seen above.
A big industry in the UK is that of weight loss. Whether it be joining a gym or weight-loss club you’ll probably come across many people attempting to lose weight or may even wish to do so yourself. In this lesson you’ll learn how to speak English within a gym setting.
On joining a gym here are some things you might wish to mention/ask;
“How much is the joining fee?”
“How much are the monthly payments?”
“Can I access personal trainers?”
“Do you have a swimming pool?”
“What facilities will I have access to?”
“I have the following physical limitations…”
When you join a gym you should have an induction with a member of staff. They will show you how to use all equipment and inform you of people who can help. However, if, when you’re using the gym equipment you become stuck, or you wish to use an unfamiliar piece of equipment, you may need to ask for help;
“Can you show me how to use this please?”
“Could you tell me which part of the body this works out please?”
You may also wish to approach a personal trainer for some motivation. Here are some phrases which may help;
“How much does a session cost?”
“Do you offer discounts if I book a block of sessions?”
“Could you tell me the best way to work out my tummy/arms/legs…?”
“Can you offer some dietary advice please?”
Using the gym can be an effective way to lose or manage your weight and by learning to use the appropriate language will ensure you get the most out of your membership.
Many business’s in the UK are run from office buildings by office staff of all levels. If you wish to gain employment in the UK there’s a chance you may become employed as an office worker at some level and so learning how to speak English within the office setting will help you to settle into your new role more quickly.
On your first day, you’re most likely going to need to ask questions which will aid you in doing your job. Some questions you may have;
“Where is the…kept?”
“Could you remind me how to use this computer system?”
“What do I need to do next?”
“How can I contact…?”
Settling into your new role will be much easier if you can engage with your work colleagues on a social level. When you’re a new member of the team, it’s best to begin with light hearted conversation such as discussions about the weather or the news. It is also acceptable to ask basic questions about each colleague and their lives for example;
“Do you have children?”
“How many children/what are their names etc?”
“What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?”
“Do you have a part time job?”
Whilst at work, it will be important that you can communicate effectively with your boss. Here are some questions you may wish to ask your boss;
“When will I be paid?”
“How will I be paid?”
“What training will I receive?”
“Am I eligible for a pay-rise/promotion?”
“Can I cut-down/pick-up some hours?”
“Can I book some annual leave?”
“I’m pregnant, could we discuss my options/plans?”
If you feel you have been treated unfairly there are many organisations you can gain access to online who can help you understand what your legal rights are.
It is useful to learn how to speak English within the setting of the bank, as you and the banker need to know and convey your needs and wants. Listed below are further scenario’s you may find yourself in and simple English which should help you out.
Below are some phrases and questions you might find useful when wishing to open up an account.
“I wish to open up a current/savings account please.”
“Can I have an overdraft?”
“What is my account number/sort code/pin code?”
“When will my card arrive?”
“When will my cheque book arrive?”
“Can I use my account online?”
Below are some phrases and questions you may find useful when using your account.
“Could I cash a cheque?”
“Can I transfer some money?”
“Can I pay some money into my account?”
“Can I increase/decrease my overdraft?”
“Can I cancel/set up a direct debit/standing order?”
“Could I cancel my account?”
In rare cases, you may need to speak to your bank urgently about managing your money and in these cases, some phrases/questions you may find helpful include;
“I’ve lost my card, I need to cancel it.”
“I’ve forgotten my pin, can you send me a new one?”
“I think I’ve been a victim of fraud.”
Learning to communicate with those who have access to and can help you manage your money will be very helpful if you intend to stay in the country for a long period of time or choose to live here. The more thoroughly you can communicate with your bank, the more effective you both will be in managing your money.
If you are going to be in the UK for a while you may well have to have a UK bank account. Learning how to speak English should therefore include a few phrases you will probably need in this situation.
Here are some examples you should practice if you ever have the need to go into a bank.
“Can I pay this in please?”
If you have a job in the UK you might need to pay money into your bank account. You can say this when you arrive at the counter and hand over your cash and the paying in slip.
“Can I take some money out of this account please?”
If you need to take money out of your account, this is the sentence to use. You can also say “Can I withdraw some money from this account please?” This is a different way of saying the same thing.
“The cash point isn’t working.”
Many UK banks have cash points outside which allow you to withdraw cash. If it is not working you can go inside and let them know. You can also get your money out inside the bank. Sometimes you will hear the cash point referred to as a “hole in the wall”.
“Can you tell me the balance on my account please?”
If you don’t know what your balance is, ask the cashier to tell you. Alternatively you can use a command on the cash point, which says “request balance” or something similar.
Whether you’re visiting the UK or moving here there’s a good chance you’ll be introduced to social networking as a means of staying in contact with friends all over the world. When you learn how to speak English you’ll notice there are rules and regulations you must follow in order to make sense and sound fluent. However, when you use social networking or text messaging, these rules can be relaxed, sometimes rather extremely.
When using social networking it is acceptable to drop words from sentences that would usually be required. For example;
“I am going to the shops,” could become, “Am going to shops.”
“I need some milk,” could become, “Need milk.”
If you were to speak like this to people in every day life, of course you would either seem rude or low on English language skills.
It is also acceptable when using social networking/ text messaging to use shortened versions of words. For example;
Lot’s of people use acronyms when communicating online. Below a few of the most common are listed, but these are something you will become familiar with the more you choose to use social networking.
Lol- lot’s of laughs/lots of love
brb-be right back
sil/mil etc- sister in law/ mother in law
It is not generally accepted to use social networking rules when communicating in real life terms, at best it is very informal. It is assumed that the aim of social networking is to convey the message as quickly as possible in it’s shortest understandable format, whereas in real life, people will like to feel that you are willing to invest more time in engaging with them. Using social networking is a cheap and convenient way to keep in touch with people all over the world, but be aware that you should stick to the agreed rules of conversation when speaking to people in real life.
Anyone who is living in the UK rather than visiting for a holiday will have the need to use certain services. A good example is visiting the hairdresser to get a haircut. Learning how to speak English in this situation will be immensely helpful. Here are some sentences you should learn to help you.
“Can I book a hair appointment please?”
“Can I book an appointment for a trim please?”
“Could I book an appointment for a cut and blow dry please?”
These are all ways of asking for an appointment. You will probably be asked what type of cut you want at this stage, so the hairdresser knows how long the appointment should be for.
“I would like a restyle.”
“I would like a perm.”
“I would like my hair to be coloured.”
These sentences all relate how you want your hair to look. For example you may want it to be coloured, restyled or permed.
Sometimes you might want advice on how to style your hair, so these sentences may come in useful:
“Which style would suit me most?”
“Can you advise me on a different style that suits my face?”
“Do you think I should have my hair shorter?”
“Perhaps a fringe might be better?”
The hairdresser will always ask you what you want before they start to do your hair. This is the time to ask questions if you need to. Always be sure you are understood before the appointment begins.
If you’re staying in the UK for a long period of time there’s a good chance you’ll need to visit a supermarket for you’re food. In UK supermarkets there is a huge choice of products and brands and it can sometimes be confusing to find what you may need and so the following tips should help you along in learning how to speak English.
Supermarket aisles are generally well signed, but on some occasions you may struggle to find the exact product you’re after. Below are some questions you may find helpful in this situation;
“Do you stock…?”
“Where can I find the…?”
“Could you tell me which aisle the… is in?”
Each individual item usually has a price tag displayed above or below it. However, on some occasions you may not be able to find the price of an item. Alternatively you may wish to find the same item at a lower price. Here are some useful questions regarding the price of items;
“Could you tell me how much this costs please?”
“Do you stock a brand that is cheaper than this one?”
Most large supermarkets in Britain house their own bakery and delicatessen areas. Often buying fresh can be cheaper than buying pre packaged food. Here are some questions you may want to ask at the fresh food stands;
“How long have these been on the shelves?”
“Do you make/sell…?”
“Could I order…?”
If anyone in your family suffers with an allergy or dislikes certain foods you may find you’ll have specific questions with regards to some foods. Listed below are some questions you may find helpful;
“Does this food contain nuts/wheat/dairy/any allergens?”
“Is there an age restriction on this food/drink?”
“Could you tell me where the wheat/dairy free foods are stocked?”
Questions are an essential part of learning how to speak English. There will always be times when you need to know the answer to something, so the more questions you are able to ask, the fewer problems you will come across.
One good question starter to know is “Could I..?” This is basically asking for permission in some way. Let’s focus on some possible ways you can use this to start a question.
“Could I book an appointment please?”
Here you are asking whether you can arrange an appointment with someone. The normal reply would be either yes, you can arrange an appointment, or no, they are fully booked. If you can book an appointment you would then proceed to another question and ask for a time and date.
“Could I sit here?”
If you are looking to sit down somewhere where other people are already seated – normally on the same bench or at the same table for example – it is proper manners to ask this question to gain permission before sitting down.
“Could I check whether you will be open tomorrow?”
This is a good question to know if you want to go to a shop or outlet and you wish to know their opening times.
“Could I ask you a personal question please?”
If you are talking with a friend or relative or someone you know very well, you might use this question if you want to ask a personal question.
When learning to speak English it will help if you can speak in complex sentences and convey more information. It will also make you sound more fluent when you speak.
For example, when you are in the early stages of learning to speak English you may only be able to communicate basic words and phrases. For example;
“What is the time?”
“Your hair looks nice.”
“I am hungry.”
However, as your grasp of the English language continues to grow, you should look to expand the complexity of the sentences you used. For example you could explain why you’re asking or conveying the information you are.
“What is the time please? I’m worried I may be running late.”
“Your hair looks nice, I’m thinking of cutting mine short.”
“I am hungry because I haven’t eaten since breakfast.”
You could also give further information;
“What is the time please? I’m worried I may be running late for an important meeting.”
“You’re hair looks nice. I’m new to the area and need my hair cutting.”
“I’m hungry, the fruit I had for breakfast wasn’t very filling.”
Using simple adjectives can also transform a sentence from basic to complex, for example;
“The time is passing so quickly today.”
“Your hair looks very stylish, I’m thinking of cutting mine short.”
“I’m very hungry this afternoon, the tropical fruit I had for breakfast wasn’t filling.”
Try these tip when out and about and you’ll find you get a more engaging conversation.
When you learn how to speak English, it will help to be aware of how to be polite. The English take politeness very seriously and been able to speak courteously, as oppose to basic English, will ensure you sound much more fluent.
On approaching a stranger, it is polite to say, “Excuse me.” On most occasions the person you’re talking to will turn around or acknowledge you.
When you begin asking you’re question, it is most polite to start, “Would you mind…” For example;
“Would you mind telling me how to get to the bus station?”
“Would you mind taking out order please?”
If you require the attention of the person for a longer period of time you’d be better off asking them for their help. For example if you wish for them to take a look at your map you may wish to say;
“Could you help me please? I’m looking for the nearest bus station and I cannot seem to find it.”
“Could you help me please? I’m looking for the traditional English dishes on the menu.”
By asking for their help in the first instance the passer by will be aware you may require their attention for a while longer.
It is very important in England to say please after asking for help. For example;
“Would you mind telling my how to get to the bus station please?”
“Could I order a fish and chips please?”
It is just as important to say thank you after receiving their help and advice.
By using manners and showing courtesy it will show that you have taken the time learn not only basic aspects of the English language, but the values that British people have.
When you learn how to speak English, you will probably learn it in it’s proper form. You’ll notice slight differences between how native speakers use language compared to it’s proper form, and learning to use these will make you sound much more fluent.
When you hear native English speakers having a basic conversation you may notice that separate words are joined up to make one. For example:
“I could not do that,” may become, “I couldn’t do that.”
“That chair is not safe,” may become, “That chair isn’t safe.”
“I really should not have another one,” may become, “I really shouldn’t have another one.”
As native English speakers can speak and comprehend English at an expert level, it is acceptable to use short cuts such as linking words two words together. This short cut can be used on both a formal and informal level.
Another acceptable shortcut native speakers use includes the omission of words on the assumption that the recipient will still be able to comprehend what’s being said. Below are some examples;
“Could you pass me that please.” (Said when the recipient is already paying attention to an item).
“It could be (that) the batteries aren’t working.” (Omitting the word that for efficiency).
“I would look over there.” (Said whilst using actions to signal where).
This type of short cut is generally informal.
It is also acceptable to shorten long words to make a speedier conversation. For example;
“This is fab!” – A shortened version of fabulous.
“Watch out for the crocs!” – Short for crocodiles.
This short cut is also very informal.
Most fluent English speakers will be able to follow conversations which use the above short cuts and although it’s generally safer to use them informally, it will make your spoken English sound much more fluent and you will learn how to speak English much more quickly.
If you are learning how to speak English then you should note that sometimes the beginning of a single sentence can be very useful as the beginning of many other sentences as well. A good example of this is the use of “I am.” Let’s take a look at how you can use this to construct many useful sentences.
“I am looking for help.”
“I am looking for the train station.”
“I am going to see my parents today.”
“I am going to go to bed now.”
“I am thinking about moving home.”
“I am thinking about taking an early lunch.”
“I am considering the idea of looking for a new job.”
“I am considering his proposal carefully.”
You may also notice that each one of these sentences that begins with “I am…” can be extended by adding the word “because…” and another portion of the sentence. This enables you to give a reason for the statement you have already used.
“I am looking for help because I am lost.”
“I am going to see my parents today because my mother is poorly.”
“I am thinking about moving home because I don’t like this area.”
“I am considering his proposal carefully because it might provide me with more money.”
You won’t always need to use the extended sentence to give a reason, but if you use one of the sentences given at the beginning of this post and someone asks you why, you can answer by adding the second half of the sentence giving the appropriate reason. Doing this will help you to improve your ability in how to speak English.
How to speak English by holidaying in the UK
If you’ve come to the UK for a holiday you may be staying in a hotel, bed and breakfast or on a caravan site. Of course, your needs should be met but at times you may wish to ask for extras or enquire about local tourist attractions and days out.
On arriving at your accommodation some questions you might need to ask include:
“What time is breakfast?”
“Is there a set time the doors are locked?”
“Is there somebody who could help with our luggage?”
“Do you offer room service?”
“Do we have access to the internet?”
Generally, you will either order breakfast from a menu, or in larger hotels and/or complexes you may be offered a buffet breakfast. Some phrases you may find useful at breakfast time:
“Can I have tea/coffee/juice please?”
“Breakfast was lovely/tasty.”
“I didn’t enjoy…”
“Is the cost of breakfast an additional extra?”
The receptionist at your accommodation is a great source of information for trips and local tourist attractions. Some things you may want to ask:
“Could you recommend a good restaurant?”
“Do you have any information on family days out?”
“Where Is the nearest zoo/farm/fair/theme park?”
“How much does it cost to get in?”
“Could you arrange a taxi for us?”
The staff at your accommodation will be happy to help you enjoy your stay in the UK and may be able to advise you of great local fun that you wouldn’t normally have found. It’s also a way to learn how to speak English quickly and easily.
One of the hardest things to do when you are learning English is to have a conversation with a native English speaker. You may feel you are out of your depth. But providing you let them know before you begin that you are learning English, they should speak more slowly and help you understand and take part in the conversation.
These short sentences will help you play a role without feeling too stressed or out of your depth:
If the other person says something you agree with, you can say this to let them know you share the same viewpoint.
“Why is that?”
If they talk about something occurring and you don’t know why it occurred, ask this question to get more information.
“That happened to me.”
Has the other person spoken about an event you have experienced as well? If so, use this sentence to say so. You can then start to speak about it to practise your English even more.
You can also say things that will help express your point of view without asking a question, simply by using a single word. For example you could say “Strange…” or “Interesting…” and so on. It is good to look up some of these single words that can be used as a sentence on their own, because they can help you navigate your way through most conversations.
However, be brave and use longer sentences as well! It all helps you to learn English even more thoroughly than you do now.
When using the English language, speakers use tenses to express time. By learning how to distinguish between tenses you will be able to communicate more fluently and it will become easier to look up unfamiliar words using a dictionary.
Generally, it will be the verb which changes tense. Below are some examples of basic verbs and how they change.
Perfect tense Present tense Past tense
I will bake a cake I am baking a cake I baked a cake
She will run a race Sheis running a race She ran a race
He will look after the baby He is looking after the baby He looked after the baby
You’ll notice patterns forming in the above examples. The perfect tense is generally what you’ll need to look for in a dictionary. All present participle verbs require the ending ‘-ing’ and most past tense the ending ‘-ed.’
Of course not all verbs follow this rule and below are some examples of those which don’t follow the ‘-ed’ rule.
Perfect tense Present tense Past tense
I will sit down I am sitting down I sat down
I will give a gift I am giving a gift I gave a gift
Again, the perfect tense is what you’ll need to search for in a dictionary.
There will be countless times when you want to ask a question in English in order to get some information in return. Every question starts with a particular word that will make it easier to get the information you seek. Here are some of the most popular question starters and how they should be used.
You can use this when you want to know the reason for something. For instance “Why am I not allowed to enter?” or “Why is the weather so cold today?”
This is used when you wish to know the solution to something. For instance “How can I reach the train station?” or “How do people save for something they want to buy?”
This is most commonly used when asking for directions. It is very useful in this sense. “Where is the high street?” for example or “Where is the tourist information office?” You can also use it in other situations to ask questions like “Where do you live?” or “Where would we be without money?”
You can ask permission to do something with this sentence starter. “Can I go with you to the cinema?” or “Can I buy this item?” are good examples.
If you have a question relating to a person, use this. “Who is that person?” or “Who is in charge here?”
Try all of these in various situations in your daily life and learn how they are used to get information of varying kinds.
If you are a resident of the UK or are visiting here as a heavily pregnant woman or with a family member who is heavily pregnant, the situation may arise in which you’ll need to communicate with maternity staff.
In the first instance you’ll need to inform medical staff that you/you’re partner is in labour. It’s best to phone a local hospital in advance. The phrases below are an idea of the information that you’ll need to relay.
“I am/ my partner is in labour.”
“My (partner’s) waters have/ haven’t broken.”
“I am/ She is… weeks pregnant.”
“My/ her contractions are … minutes apart and lasting…”
Based on the answer to the last three questions above, a midwife will advise you to either remain at home for a while longer or come into hospital to be assessed.
On arriving at hospital a midwife will assess you and you may be moved to the delivery ward where you can ask for pain relief.
“I would like gas and air/ pethidine injection/ epidural injection.”
“I would like minor pain relief.”
“I need stronger pain relief.”
Below are some phrases you may find useful after you’ve given birth.
“Could I have a drink please?”
“How much does my baby weigh?”
“Could I have some help please?”
“Could you help me with breastfeeding?”
“What checks is my baby having?”
“When are visiting hours?”
“How long will I need to be in hospital?”
“When will my post natal checks be?”
Whilst you are in the UK it is unlikely that you should require help from the emergency services, however it’s best to know the basic language should the situation arise.
To reach the emergency services in the UK you’ll need to dial 999 where you will reach an operator who will ask which service you require. Simply, “I need… (an ambulance/the police/the fire brigade),” is sufficient in these circumstances.
If you require police assistance you’ll be asked what you’re situation is and noted below are some useful phrases you may need.
“I have been mugged/robbed/burgled.”
“I have been attacked.”
“A shop is being burgled.”
“The suspect is/isn’t armed”
If you require urgent medical assistance you will need to call for an ambulance. The operator will ask you about the condition of the person in question.
“The patient is conscious/unconscious.”
“The patient has a head/back injury.”
“The patient is elderly/a child.”
Finally, if you are in the situation in which you discover a fire, you’ll need to call for the fire brigade. They will need to know details of where and how the fire began.
“It is a house/factory/bin fire.”
“The fire is small/large/spreading.”
“There are/aren’t people trapped.”
“How long will help be?
An idiom is a saying that does not make sense when you look at the individual words. For example the phrase “it is raining cats and dogs” means that it is raining very heavily, but it is not literal!
Here are some other popular English idioms you may use or hear in daily conversation, and their meanings.
“This is a blessing in disguise.”
This idiom is used to describe an event that seems disappointing or negative in nature, but actually turns out to be a good thing. For instance you might miss a train and end up bumping into someone you have not seen in a while.
“This only happens once in a blue moon.”
The phrase “a blue moon” is used to describe an event that only happens very rarely. For instance “I only have a sleepless night once in a blue moon.”
“I am going to hit the sack.”
This means you are going to sleep or going to bed.
“This is the icing on the cake.”
This phrase is used to describe an event (normally a good one) that makes a good situation even better.
“Penny wise, pound foolish.”
This term describes someone who saves their pennies but has a tendency to spend larger sums of money they may not even have.
As you can see there are lots of idioms that you will hear in daily life and may even use by yourself. Just be sure you know the exact meaning of them before you use them.
Visiting a shopping centre.
One common past time in Britain is shopping. Most major cities in the UK host considerable shopping centre’s in which you have access to both high street and designer boutiques alongside popular restaurants and coffee shops.
On entering a shopping centre you may need some assistance in finding what you’re looking for. You may need to ask:
“I’m looking to buy…Can you tell me where I might find it?”
“Could you direct me to Topshop please?”
“Where are the lifts?”
“What time are you open until?”
On entering a clothes shop some useful questions might be:
“Do you have this in a size…?”
“Do you have this in a different colour?”
“Can I pay for this with a credit/debit card?”
“What is your returns policy?”
If you intend to spend the day at a shopping centre you may choose to have a coffee or lunch. Some questions you may find useful include:
“Do you have a vegetarian option?”
“Do you have a children’s menu?”
“Do you have baby changing facilities?”
There will be many occasions when you will go out for a meal, perhaps with friends or with family. In this situation it helps to know and be aware of a range of sayings and phrases you are likely to come across.
“Can I see the menu please?”
Normally you will be handed the menu when you arrive at the restaurant. It may also be on the table already. But if neither of these is the case you can use the above sentence to ask for it.
“What are today’s specials?”
Most restaurants have a range of dishes that change every day. These are called specials. This question will ensure you can find out what they are. You can vary it in order to find out what the specials are for a particular meal too. For instance, “what is the soup of the day?”
“Can we have a window seat?”
If you want to get a seat by the window so you have a view of the outside world, use this sentence to ask for it. You can adjust it so you get your preferred seat in any other part of the restaurant as well.
“Can we have the bill please?”
At the end of your meal when you are ready to leave, use this sentence to get the bill so you can pay it and leave. Remember to say “thank you” and to leave a tip, either as part of the payment or in cash.
In he UK you have several choices of transport to enable you can get around. Listed below are the most common choices and some helpful phrases for each.
Using the bus is fairly cheap and regular and buses in the UK tend to run on time. However, buses only tend to run locally. Bus timetables can usually be found online.
Useful phrases when using the bus may include:
“Can I have 2 tickets to… please?”
“Does this bus stop at…?”
“How much is a ticket to…?”
Using a taxi is more expensive than using the bus, however getting to your destination is usually quicker. Taxi’s will take you further than local buses and you can arrange times to suit you. Local taxi numbers can be found online.
Useful phrases when using a taxi:
“How much will it cost from here to…?
“Do you have a car seat for a baby?”
“How soon will my taxi be?”
“Can I arrange to be picked up?”
If you are visiting London, the underground is a very cheap, quick method of transport if you wish to travel locally or visit landmarks. Ticket machines also accommodate for none-English speakers.
Useful phrases when using the London underground:
“Which platform is the tube to…?”
“How much is a day pass?”
If you wish to travel from city to city, trains are the most common choice. Most major cities are inter-linked via the train system and ticket prices vary.
Useful phrases when using the train service:
“What platform will the train to… board at?”
“How much is a ticket to…?”
“Is my train delayed?”
This word is very useful to begin lots of sentences. It may be used to ask a question relating to you, or to other people. Here are some examples of how you can use it.
“Can I sit down here?”
Here you are asking if you can do something. This will relate only to you, so you could say, “Can I go this way?” or “Can I use this map?”
“Can we get some help please?”
By using the word “we” after the word “can”, you are speaking about more than one person. This is suitable to use if you are with one or more other people. You might be with a friend for example, or there might be a whole group of you who need some help. This can also be used in many different situations: “Can we go this way?” or “Can we get some hotel rooms for the night please?”
“Can you help us?”
When you use the word “you” after the word “can”, you are asking another person if they will do something for you. If you were to say “Can you give me some directions please?” you would be asking the other person to direct you in the right way. You can also change the word “me” to “us” if you are with one or more other people. So you might say “Can you help us to find the train station please?”
As you can see, “can” is a good way to begin a sentence when you need help of some kind.
Using pronouns correctly will ensure you give and receive the correct information when engaging in conversation. When asking questions it is also helpful for the recipient to know who requires what information or service.
When talking about yourself you will generally begin with, “I.”
“I can speak English.”
“I would like a coffee.”
However, if you are travelling with somebody and you wish to speak about you both you should use, “we.”
“We need some change.”
“We want to go.”
In some cases you may need to speak about somebody else but exclude yourself. In this case you can choose to use, “he/she,” or, “my wife/my friend/my son,” etc. The latter tends to be regarded as more respectful to the person you are referring to.
“She likes pizza.”
“My wife would like to order.”
“My son is in a band.”
If you are speaking to somebody familiar you could also be more personal by using names.
“Sarah has gone to school.”
“David is looking for work.”
When referring to a group of people, it is polite in the first instance to give some information before then referring to them as, “they.”
“This is my class. They are geography students.”
“My class are geography students and they enjoy it.”
There may be times when you find yourself lost in the UK and so it will be helpful if you can ask for directions.
If you find yourself lost, or are looking for a place that you can’t seem to find such as a near-by building you’ll probably ask a passer by for help. In English, it is polite to open with, “Excuse me please.” This will gain the attention of the passer by and inform them that you wish to start a conversation.
If you’re looking for a building you should begin with either, “Do you know,” or, “Can you direct me.” For example, “Do you know where the train station is?” or “Can you direct me to the train station?”
Their response should tell you in which direction you should be heading and how far. They may also note iconic buildings/landmarks you should pass if you’re heading in the right direction.
Listed below are words/phrases you may find useful in understanding the directions you’re given:
Left/Right- an indication of which direction you should turn at any given point or an indication of where you should look in order to spot an iconic landmark.
Street/road/lane/avenue- Common endings for the names of roads in the UK.
Straight on/ forward- Continue heading in the same direction.
Island/roundabout/traffic lights- All traffic controls common in the UK at which you will need to consider your route. These are commonly used items when giving directions.
William Shakespeare is well known around the world as a playwright, but he is best known in England where he wrote his plays. Even though you may not have read them you will be interested to know that some common phrases in the English language were created by Shakespeare himself.
Here are some of the more common ones:
“A foregone conclusion.”
This means that the event that is taking place can only have one ending. For example if know someone will behave a certain way in a certain situation, you could say their actions were a foregone conclusion.
Sometimes someone may laugh so hard at something that their sides start to ache and cause pain. In this situation you might say “they are in stitches.” This means to be in pain similar to if you had actual stitches through a wound.
This phrase is often used to describe someone who is happy. If you like walking on a sunny day for example, you might say you are walking to your heart’s content.
“A sea change.”
This one is more unusual. The phrase is used to describe a total change in a situation. This could be a situation of any kind, provided it changes completely and totally. If it is sunny in the morning and cold and wet in the afternoon for example, you could say there has been a sea change.
There are many other phrases that Shakespeare added to the English language. See if you can find any others that are in common usage.
There will be times when you struggle to understand what someone is saying when you are having a conversation with them in English. For example you might not hear a certain word or they might use a word you have not heard before.
In these situations it is best to know how you can ask for help so that you are able to properly understand the conversation and its meaning.
“Could you repeat that more slowly please?”
Sometimes someone will say something too fast for you to comprehend. If this should happen, you can use this sentence to get them to repeat it at a slower pace. Don’t be afraid to ask them to repeat something.
“I didn’t understand that word. Could you tell me what it means please?”
If you hear a word and you do not know what it means, ask the person to explain it to you. There are many words that mean roughly the same thing, and this will help you learn what some of them are.
“Am I correct in thinking that this is what you mean?”
Sometimes you may think you understand what the person means, but you cannot be sure. In this situation you can use the above sentence and add the meaning you have picked up from the conversation. The other person will then either confirm or deny the meaning and provide an alternative meaning if you were wrong.
As you can see, asking for help is a very important part of polishing your English skills.
There are several times of the year when we find ourselves in the position of giving gifts to others. Christmas isn’t too far away and we also have birthdays from time to time that mean we might want to give a gift to someone.
The following statements will help you in these situations.
“I have a surprise for you!”
This is appropriate when you are surprising someone with a gift. You would use this sentence if they did not know you were buying something for them.
“Please accept this gift as a token of my appreciation.”
This is normally what we say when we buy a small token gift as a thank you for something, for example for inviting us to dinner. This allows us to say thank you as well as treating the recipient to a small gift.
“I have bought a little something…”
If you have purchased a small gift for someone you might want to use this sentence when you present it to them.
“I have a gift for you.”
Here you are telling the person you have a gift for them. This is a basic sentence that is suitable for all kinds of situations. It can be used with small or large gifts, and with all kinds of people.
It certainly helps to know a few sentences such as these that you can use in situations where you want to give a present or gift to someone you know.
There will doubtless be times when you will need to call people on the phone and use your English skills to hold a conversation. This may not seem very different from talking to people face to face. But remember that you will not be able to use hand gestures or facial expressions to help you get your message across.
Here are some pointers to bear in mind.
What is the purpose of your call?
Construct a sentence beforehand that will convey what you wish to know. For example:
“I am calling to book an appointment.”
“What are your opening times?” (if you are calling a shop)
“I am phoning to see how you are.” (if you are calling a friend or relative)
Remember you can ask people to repeat whatever they say.
If you don’t understand something someone says on the phone, ask them to repeat it:
“I’m sorry, I didn’t catch that. Could you repeat it please?”
“Could you say that again please so I can write it down?” (this may be necessary in order to catch specific details)
Ask people to speak more slowly if necessary.
These sentences can also be very useful when it comes to having a conversation on the phone:
“My English is not very good. Could you speak slowly please so I can understand you better?”
“English is not my native language. It may take me a little longer to understand your meaning.”
As you can see, there are ways to make life easier when you are having a phone conversation.
If you are travelling from a foreign country into England for the first time, it is good to acquaint yourself with some of the most common phrases and terms that are used as you enter a country.
You may find the following sentences helpful.
“Here is my passport.”
When you go through passport control you may be required to show your passport. If this occurs you can say the above sentence when you hand over your passport for inspection.
“Where is the exit?”
When you get off the plane you will need to make your way through the airport. There will be signs you can read but if you get stuck you can use this sentence to find out where you can leave the airport.
“I packed my own bags.”
You may be asked to present your luggage for inspection by customs. If you are, the customs officers may ask you if you packed your own luggage. Use the above sentence if you did pack it all yourself.
“Where do I collect my luggage?”
When you get off the plane you will need to go and get your luggage. If you are not sure where to go, you can ask an official this question to find the right place to collect it.
As you can see it helps to have a few useful sentences you can fall back on when you arrive at an English airport. It will make your journey far easier to manage.
There will be occasions when you have to say sorry for some reason. It is therefore good to know a few sentences that will help you cope with situations like this.
This is the shortest way to say you are sorry. You can use this in all manner of different situations, and as you will see below you can also use it to begin a longer sentence that tells someone why you are sorry.
“I apologise for hurting your feelings.”
Sometimes you may say something that offends someone else or hurts their feelings. In this case you can say you apologise (another way of saying sorry) and explain why.
“I am sorry I cannot be there on that date.”
“I am” is the full version of the abbreviated “I’m”. This shows how you can use this sentence starter to help you apologise to someone if you cannot attend an appointment or get together.
“Please forgive me – I broke your vase.”
Asking for someone’s forgiveness is a good thing to do if you have done something that might upset them. The example above shows what you could say if you have broken something of theirs.
It is good to work through these examples and think of cases where one way of saying sorry is better than another. For example if you bump into someone by accident on the street, it is better to say “Sorry” than it is to say “Please forgive me.”
It is well worth learning more about English money if you are staying in the country for any period of time. You will use it often, perhaps day to day, and so learning some phrases about money will also be useful.
“Do you have any change?”
This is commonly used if you have a banknote and you need to exchange it for the same amount of money in coins.
“How much does this cost?”
You would say this when you want to know the price of something in particular.
“Can I have a total for these please?”
You might use this if you want to buy more than one thing and you want to know how much they will cost all together. You will need to know whether you have enough change to buy them all.
Banknotes and coins
There are several banknotes in use in the country. A £50 note is the largest but you don’t see these very often. More commonly seen are the £20 note, the £10 note and the £5 note.
When it comes to coins you will see the following – the £1 coin, 50p, 20p, 10p, 5p, 2p and 1p. It is worth familiarising yourself with all of them so you will find it easier to sort out the right money whenever you buy something in a shop.
Money is an essential part of daily life in any country. Will you be prepared to cope with and speak about money in English?
Being able to tell someone you are able to do something is very useful when you are learning to speak English. This way to begin a sentence can be used in lots of different situations so it is wise to learn the different ways of using it.
“I can help you.”
If someone asks for help you can use this sentence to say you can help out.
“I can do that.”
Has someone asked you whether you can do something for them? Use this sentence to reply to them if you can.
“I can meet you at that time.”
When you are arranging a meeting with someone, they may ask you whether you can meet them at a specific time. Saying “I can” is a positive answer, and another way of saying “yes”.
“I can give you what you need.”
There may be times when someone asks for something specific. For example they may ask you for references if you apply for a job. In this situation you can say the above sentence. Alternatively you can change it to provide a more accurate answer. For example “I can give you the references you want.”
“I can” is a positive start to a sentence. It tells people that you are going to say yes to something. As such it is helpful to know it and to experiment with different ways of using it in everyday speech. You will always find it useful.
There will be many occasions when you have to organise a meeting with someone. It may be a casual get together or a more formal meeting, perhaps a job interview for example. But in any case it is important to get all the details so you know when and where the meeting will take place.
“What time shall we meet?”
If you are going to meet someone you need to agree on a time. This question lets the other person decide the meeting time.
“Shall we meet at 2pm?”
This allows you to decide what time you would like to meet up. If the other person indicates that you can make the choice, you can use this sentence and replace 2pm with whatever time you feel is appropriate.
“What time will the appointment be?”
This is a more formal question; you can also replace the word appointment with interview if that would be more appropriate.
“Where shall we meet?”
You must also find out where you are going to meet the other person. This question is a polite way of finding out this information, no matter who you may be speaking to.
“Where would you like me to attend the interview?”
If you are attending a formal get together, meeting or interview, this sentence is a better one to use.
Whatever questions you use and however you use them, make sure you are clear on the answers before moving on with the conversation.
The word ‘how’ is a good way to begin many questions. It is a useful question starter to know because it means you will get more information than just a yes or no answer.
Here are some examples of how you can use it in real life.
“How can I get to the station?”
This is a good word to start a sentence with when you need directions. How can you get from A to B? How can you get to the station without running into any traffic? Basically you are asking someone how you can do something.
“How does this work?”
Sometimes you might need advice or instructions about making something work so you can understand how to use it better. To be polite you should add the word ‘please’ to the end of the sentence and then thank the person who helps you.
“How much does this cost?”
If you need a price for an item you are thinking of buying, ask this question. In this situation the answer will not be a complicated one; you can also say “What does this cost?” as an alternative if you wish.
“How can you tell which item works best?”
If you want to get advice from someone when you have a choice to make, this is a good question to ask. It can be used whenever you are comparing two things and you want to know which one will be best for you.
Talking about the weather is a common topic in the UK. The weather can change dramatically from one day to the next, and this means it is wise to know some phrases that could be useful.
Here are some you could use in generally conversation.
“It is cold today.”
You can use this when the weather is cold and you need to wrap up to keep warm. It can be used in the winter months, but some days during the summer can be cold too!
“It is warm and sunny today.”
This is a good sentence to use when discussing good weather with someone. If the temperature is high and the sun is shining, this sentence is ideal to know.
“What is the weather like today?”
There may be times when you don’t know what the weather is like but you would like to find out. You can ask this question to get the required information from someone else.
“Will it be fine later?”
Sometimes you may have plans to go out and you want to know what the weather will be like. Saying ‘will it be fine?’ means you are asking if the weather will be good. If someone says the weather is fine it usually means it is dry and bright.
As you can see it is good to know some useful and commonly used sentences concerning the weather. You will find you could use them a lot in general conversation.
No matter how fit and healthy you are, there may be times when you don’t feel well. It is therefore important to understand ways in which you can describe how you feel.
Here are some examples.
“I don’t feel well.”
This is a general phrase that tells someone you feel poorly. You must elaborate on your symptoms if you want to get a diagnosis from a doctor.
“I have the following symptoms…”
This is a good sentence to start with if you are going to tell the doctor what your symptoms are. You can then list them by saying things such as “I have a headache” or “I have spots” or “I feel hot all the time”.
“What can I take to make me feel better?”
This is a good sentence to ask when you have told a doctor about your symptoms. You are asking for something that will reduce the severity of the symptoms until they go away on their own.
“My head hurts.”
Here you can substitute ‘head’ for any other part of the body you have a problem with. For instance you might say “my hand hurts” if you have fallen over and landed on it. If you are talking with a pharmacist (someone who works at a chemist) or a doctor, they will probably ask you how you did it or when the problem started.
As you can see, these sentences will help you share and get information about any health issues you may have.
Sometimes you may want to tell someone how you are feeling. It is a good idea to learn a number of different ways to do this, so you have a variety of ways to express how you feel.
Here are some examples:
“I feel unwell.”
There will be times when you don’t feel well for some reason. You can use this sentence to tell someone how you are feeling physically.
“I am happy.”
There are lots of reasons why you might feel happy. But it can be nice to share these positive feelings with people you know.
“I am glad you came.”
If someone has arrived and you are pleased to see them, this sentence will let them know how you feel.
“I feel sad you are leaving.”
If you have a friend or relative who is going home or leaving for some period of time, you can use this sentence. It is more appropriate in situations where you won’t see a person again for some time. If the person is only leaving for a short time you would probably say ‘See you again soon’ or ‘I am looking forward to seeing you again’ instead.
“I am confused.”
If you find yourself in a situation and you don’t understand what is going on, you can use this sentence to state how you feel. It will help you gain more information.
Practice some of these sayings and use them in conversation to familiarise yourself with the different situations.
It’s good manners to know how to say thank you. If someone gives you something or does something for you in some way, you should always say thank you.
But there are variations on this phrase. Here are some of them.
This is a simple and casual way to say thank you to someone. It is suitable for thanking someone you don’t know, for example in a restaurant or other similar setting.
This is very casual and is only typically used among people who know each other well.
“Thank you very much.”
This says more than just thank you. It is used when you want to let someone know you really appreciate what they have done. For example you might say this if they have given you directions when you were lost, or provided you with information you really needed.
“Thanks a lot.”
This is a more casual version of the thanks given in the above example. You are saying the same thing, but in a more casual way. It can be used to thank people you don’t know, but it is more proper to use the version given below.
“Thank you – I appreciate it.”
This is a good way of saying thank you to someone you don’t know if they have helped you in some way. It tells them you are grateful and you really value what they have done for you.
Try some of these variations whenever you say thank you to anyone from now on.
There is a big difference between formal and informal greetings. If you meet someone you have never met before – perhaps in an interview or just for the first time – you will use formal greetings. But if you meet someone you know well you will use informal greetings.
Here are a few examples of informal greetings that you can use when you meet friends:
“Hi there, how are you doing?”
This is a casual greeting that allows you to say hello (hi is a variation of hello) and also ask how the other person is.
“Hey how are you today?”
Hey is another version of hi and hello. ‘How are you today’ is also another way of asking how someone is.
“Hi I was wondering where you’d been!”
If you have not seen someone in a long time you may use this greeting as a way of finding out where they have been. This should only be used in casual situations; if it is used in formal situations it could appear to be bad manners.
You can also simply say ‘hi there’ or ‘hey there’ without adding the other part of the sentence if you wish. In this case you may find the other person says hi and then asks how you are. You can then respond by telling them how you are, or where you have been, depending on what you have been asked.
Remember that in casual situations you should relax a little more when speaking English. Whoever you are talking to will support you as you continue to learn!
It is always useful to learn some sentence starters that can help you form lots of different sentences. One of the most useful ones of all is “I am”.
“I am…” allows you to tell people about yourself. It also allows you to provide information before asking a question. Here are some examples of how you can use this sentence starter to provide or get the information you want.
“I am hungry…”
In this example you can use the sentence starter to tell someone how you feel. This allows you to say you are hungry, thirsty, tired, happy, sad and any number of other feelings.
“I am here to study English.”
You can also use the sentence starter to tell someone what you are here for. For instance you could also say “I am here to buy some food” or “I am here to meet a friend”.
“I am trying to find the train station. Could you tell me where it is please?”
As we can see from this example, it is possible to use the “I am” sentence starter to introduce a question. First you tell people what you are trying to find, then you ask them for assistance. Another example is “I am looking for a hotel. Could you help me find one please?”
“I am looking for somewhere to eat.”
You can also use the “I am” sentence starter if you are looking for something or someone. “I am looking for David” would be another good example.
Try learning some different variations of this today!
We have already covered greetings to some extent, but it is useful to have some basic greetings memorised as well. This is because you will need them virtually every time you meet someone.
Most formal greetings start with one word – “good”. All you have to do is to use this word and add the relevant end to the short sentence.
Here are some examples:
“Good morning”: this is the greeting you would use in the morning. Any time up to midday, or twelve noon, is ideal for using this greeting. It is more polite than simply saying “hello” or “hi”.
“Good day”: this is a much more formal greeting that is rarely used. If it is selected it can be used at any time of the day.
“Good afternoon”: this is used after twelve noon and before it gets to the evening. Again it is a formal greeting and should be used if you are meeting someone for the first time at the appropriate time of day.
“Good night”: you should say this to someone when you are seeing them for the last time during the evening. It is the usual term to use if you are going to bed and you want to bid farewell to whoever you are with. It is also common to say “see you in the morning” if you will see the person or people the next day.
Practice these greetings and learn when to use them during daily conversation. You will find you use them often!
Today we are going to focus on part two of our lesson on asking questions. We learned about three question starters last time, and today we shall learn three more. These will help you find out information in lots of general conversations and situations.
“Would you..?” or “Could you..?”
This is the question starter to use if you want help with something. For example, “Would you help me find the bus stop please?” or “Could you help me pack my shopping please?” You will notice you would typically add “please” at the end of the request, as you are asking for help. When the help is given, you would say “thank you” to the person who helped you.
“How much is..?”
This is a very common question starter that is very useful when you are out shopping. All you have to do is add the name of the item or service you are interested in buying. For example “How much is a loaf of bread?” or “How much is a bus ticket to London?” or even “How much is it to go swimming?”
You can use this question starter if you want to identify something. For example “What is that building over there?” You can also use it to find out what the time is: “What is the time?”
Be sure to come back again in a few days when we shall have another lesson ready for you!
Today we are going to look at questions. No matter who you are talking to when you are speaking in English, you will find it is quite common to have the need to ask questions. There may be additional information you need to know in order to make a decision, for example.
Knowing how to ask questions in English means you will be able to handle many more situations more easily. You can go shopping, chat with someone new and find out a lot more in any situation.
Here are some common question starters and some examples of how to use them and how beneficial they are.
This can be used when you need to find out whether you are allowed to do something, i.e. “Can I use the toilet?” or “Can I buy a coffee, please?” You can ask for permission by using this question starter.
If you need to find out the location of somewhere or something, use this question starter, i.e. “Where is the bus station?” or “Where is today’s newspaper?”
“How can I..?”
This is different to “can I?” because you are able to ask how you can do something, rather than whether you are permitted to do it. So for example you can ask “How can I get to the bus station from here?” If you were to ask “Can I get to the bus station from here?” you are asking a question that will have a yes or no answer. By asking “How can I..?” you will get an explanation of how you can achieve your aim.
Come back soon and we will share some more useful lessons with you!
As a non native English speaker you should be aware that there are significant differences between the words used by Americans and the words used by people from England and the United Kingdom. So lets examine some of these differences.
British English Word American Word
There are hundreds of words that are used by people living in the United Kingdom which are not used in the United States and it’s important to know and understand these differences. Take a look at the following video for some more examples;
LOOK OUT FOR THE NEXT LESSON COMING SOON!
Today we are going to look at some typically English expressions and phrases. These are used frequently by native English speakers and sometimes confuse non native speakers.
1. Sick and Tired – this means that someone is fed up or bored with something. Here are some examples;
“I’m sick and tired of the same food day after day”
“I’m sick and tired of this bad weather”
2. Call it a Day – this means to finish and stop doing something. Lets look at some examples;
“Ok, we have been doing this now for several hours so let’s call it a day!”
“Do you want to call it a day?
3. Get on my Nerves – this is usually used to express the opinion that someone is irritating. Examples include;
“He really gets on my nerves”
“Everytime I see her she really gets on my nerves”
4. To Give a Hard Time – this means to make it difficult for someone. Here are some examples of the expression being used;
“They really gave me a hard time”
“The next time I see them I will give them a really hard time”
5. To Throw in the Towel – this means to give in and to admit defeat. Examples are;
“Are you ready to throw in the towel?”
“I tried a number of times but in the end I threw in the towel”
These expressions are very common in the English speaking world and are used quite frequently. If you use them when speaking English then you will appear much more natural in your English speaking ability.
Check out the video below for more expressions and phrases used by native English speakers in everyday language.
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Grocery shopping is a regular activity in English speaking countries. Most grocery shopping is done at large shops and stores such as malls and supermarkets. Some typical phrases you might need are as follows:
“Do you have any……….” – this is used to speak to an assistant when you cannot find what you need.
It is common for a check out assistant to ask if you need help with packing……your response should be:
“No….I’m fine thanks” – meaning that you will pack your own items.
“Yes, I’d appreciate that” – meaning that you want them to help you pack your own groceries.
Another common instruction is for the assistant to ask you to enter your charge card into the payment machine. They commonly say…..”That’s £xx in total” – this tells you how much you have spent and is also an invitation to pay.
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Ok, today let’s look at making small talk. What does this mean? Well it means to make conversation with someone. When making conversation, the subject is normally one which is simple or a very common topic in the country in which you are speaking. If you are in the UK, for example, then a common topic of conversation is the weather – simply because it is varied and changes frequently. You might say;
“What is the forecast for this afternoon?”
Its also common to ask about a persons family, particularly if you know something about them already;
“Is rain forecast?”
“It’s very cold today”
“How is the family?”
“Did your son graduate yet?”
It is worth remembering that small talk is considered polite and a sign of good manners. Its also used when there is only a small amount of time available for a conversation. At the end of the conversation people usually make an excuse to leave such as;
“Excuse me, I need to run”
“Great chatting but I have to go”
The golden rule is to BE INTERESTED and use their name in conversation – just once or twice!
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Two of the most common words used by English people are “Please” and Thank You“. Most English people are taught these two words and how to use them from a very young age.
The word please is often used when asking for something or accepting something that someone has offered to you.
The words Thank You are often used to show appreciation.
Let’s look at an example and imagine that you are in a restaurant:
You: Could I see the Wine List please?
English Speaker: Yes, certainly sir. Here it it.
You: Thank You!
Expressing appreciation can be done in a number of ways. You may have said “Thanks a Lot” or “Thank You Very Much” instead of simply “Thank You“. They all mean the same thing.
English people are taught to be polite wherever possible and these two expressions are the most common.
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Once you have introduced yourself or been introduced by someone else then it is normal to enter a brief period of polite conversation. This normally means a discussion during which you find out more about the person. Let’s take a look at an example and continue from our last quick lesson;
You: “I’m good thanks. So, what do you do for a living?”
English Speaker: “I work in a bank. What about you?”
You: “I work in computing” How long have you worked in the bank?”
English Speaker: “I’m not sure. I think it’s about 9 years”.
You will notice here that it is common to ask about work and what a person does for a living.
Notice also the use of the the word “I’m” which is a very commonly used abbreviation for “I am”.
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A good starting point when learning how to speak English is to know how to greet people. This is an important aspect to learn since English people believe that the ability to meet and greet correctly is a sign of good manners and English speaking ability. Let’s look at some examples of a typical exchange between English speakers;
English Speaker: “Hello, it’s nice to meet you”
You: “Hello, it’s a pleasure to meet you too. How are you?”
English Speaker: “I’m fine thanks, and you?”
You: “I’m good thanks. So, what do you do for a living?”
In this exchange, the English Speaker has introduced themself and you have responded by asking about their career – “So, what do you do for a living?”
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